From Madison to Madrid, anti-war activists prayed, picketed and protested over the weekend to signal their opposition to the occupation of Iraq. These demonstrations were particularly important as they came at a time when the Bush administration's spin machine - and an often stenographic national media - has been busy trying to create the impression that the war is going well and that opposition has died away.
Maybe in Washington, where Congress cannot seem to be bothered to deal with fundamental issues, it does seem as if the administration's spin has triumphed.
But it has not prevailed in America - at least not in that corner of the United States called Wisconsin.
Anti-war activism was seen in every corner of the state over the weekend. Events included a Fox Valley Peace Coalition rally in Appleton, a peace conference in Brookfield, a Prayer Service for Peace in De Pere, an anti-war teach-in in Eau Claire, a roadside vigil in Hayward, a candlelight vigil in Janesville, prayer services and outdoor rallies in Madison, a movie screening and discussion of the peace movement in Manitowoc, a rally where the names of Wisconsin's war dead were read aloud in Menominee, a march in Milwaukee, a Witness for Peace rally in Racine, a vigil at the farmers' market in Rice Lake, a Peace Vigil in St. Croix Falls, a Grandmothers for Peace march and rally in snowy Superior, a Remembrance for the Victims of War in Viroqua, a March for Peace in Watertown, a Picket-for-Peace in Wausau, and a Saturday night Bring Them Home Now march in Wisconsin Dells.
George Bush's war goes on, but so too does the opposition to it. And that is as it should be, since only an agitation from the streets - and the voting booths - will get this country's troops out of the quagmire where Bush and his aides have placed them.
Here in Wisconsin, it is vital that members of our congressional delegation feel the heat. Only Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, has been a consistent foe of the war. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Reps. Dave Obey, D-Wausau, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, have generally been critical but less consistent. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, is hardly an anti-war champion, but he at least asks the right questions. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, Mark Green, R-Green Bay, and Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, don't ask questions. They just follow the White House line.
Some will question whether it matters to keep the pressure on members of Congress, especially those members who have been wrong from the start. The fact is that it does matter. Members of Congress, even those who seem to be incapable of thinking for themselves, can change. Recently, Rep. Howard Coble, the Republican chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, broke ranks with the Bush administration to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Coble said he was "fed up with picking up the newspaper and reading that we've lost another five or 10 of our young men and women in Iraq."
The people of Wisconsin are fed up as well. And the focus of our protests should be clear: to get all of our members of our Congress to recognize that the Bush administration will never have an exit strategy. The only way out of Iraq is for Congress to force a timetable for withdrawal on the administration. And the only way that Congress is going to develop the backbone it takes to do that is for people in De Pere and Janesville and Manitowoc and Watertown to keep the pressure on.
© 2005 Capital Times