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Joan Wile

Joan Wile is the Founder of Grandmothers Against the War and the author of "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)

April 18th, 2011 8:15 AM


You'd think there is a huge Tea Party group in the U.S. and virtually no opposition.  But, that is strictly a myth created and perpetuated by the media. To the contrary, there is an alive and well anti-war movement populated by people from all over the country.  One wonders why the media seems so intent on promoting the Tea Party and ignoring the probably larger but less visible peace movement.
In New York City and environs alone, there are countless regular peace vigils -- to name a few, my own Grandmothers Against the War vigil at Rockefeller Center, which has been flourishing non-stop every week since January 2004.  The Women in Black hold two long-standing weekly vigils -- one at the Public Library on Fifth Ave. and one in Union Square.  There has been a vigil at Ground Zero for years and years.  There is a regular vigil in Queens, on Staten Island, in Brooklyn, in Rockland County, and on and on and on.   These are just ones that I personally know of.  If it were possible to compile a complete list of vigils in this area, I'm sure it would approach 100 or more.
Nationally, there are enduring California vigils in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Marin County, Sacramento; and Los Angeles; in Philadelphia, West Chester, Pottsville, to name just a few in Pennsylvania; Brainerd and Saginaw, Minnesota, a partial list; Fort Worth, and others, Texas; St. Petersburg and Inverness Fla, two of many.
But, peace vigils are just part of the picture.  There are continuous actions, events, protests, and demonstrations everywhere.  And, I don't mean only the few large-scale marches that periodically pop up in Washington DC and New York City.  For instance, here in the Big Apple, the Granny Peace Brigade has bi-weekly street events employing their Mz. Gizmo gadget, in which passers-by pour pennies into tubes labeled with 10 budget categories, revealing their wishes for a much better-prioritized national budget.  The grannies also encourage people to use the grandmothers' cell phones to make free calls to their legislators.
Theatres Against the War (THAW) in New York City has held street theatre events.  An artists group periodically has had banner drops in Grand Central Station.  A coalition of peace organizations held a song-fest in that venerable venue, as well.
Military Families Speak Out have set up "cemeteries" in public spaces throughout the U.S. containing a hundred or so white crosses to represent the war dead.  A group of protesters in Derry CA erected a blockade at the Raytheon plant producing bombs.  Anti-war groups are endlessly creative and endlessly dedicated. 
The problem is that these actions operate independently from each other for the most part, and don't inter-connect enough to be a visible grass roots tide.  We have to learn to coalesce into a mass movement as the Tea Partiers are reputed to have done (questionable?) so that we, too, can influence policy and put our candidates into office.
Accordingly, I hereby call on everyone reading this article who is part of a regular peace action to contact me at so we can begin to build that connection.  I also suggest that those involved in peace activities write your local newspapers and TV stations demanding that they cover your events.  Please submit other ideas to me for encouraging greater press and media attention.
This basically should be a no-brainer.  Poll after poll reveals that the majority of Americans want the wars ended right away and all troops and armaments brought home.  There is so much creative force and passionate commitment among us.  We can do this if we just pull our resources together.

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