Left Justified: Meeting U.S. Rep. Manzullo

Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee meets our congressman this Thursday. We want him to stop the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.

Yes, I know: “Fat chance.” Donald Manzullo has consistently supported the president since the invasion of Iraq. He didn’t support the non-binding House resolution against the surge. He may even support expanding the war to take on all Islamics.

But we gotta encourage our representative to be more peaceful. Like investigate where all that money went. Hundreds of billions of dollars, and Congress didn’t watch for war profiteering (and there’s always profit to be made in war). Some of the war contracts made it to the 16th Congressional District, here in northwest Illinois. Some of the war contractors have donated to the Congressman’s campaign war chest (I don’t see why he needs so much money; rarely has the opposition put up a strong candidate, and his district is gerrymandered so he will remain our congressman for life). The least he can do is keep half an eye on our military money.

RP&JAC will also ask Manzullo to keep an eye on the private contractors who are flourishing in this war. One of them, Blackwater Corporation, is operating a training facility in western Jo Daviess County (part of Don’s district). Having private corporations take on military jobs really crosses a line, and increasing the military-industrial complex is really complex. Or very simply: more war, more profit for Blackwater.

Our next concern the Congressman may support: more counseling for return veterans. The incidents of Iraq and Afghani American soldiers killing themselves are increasing. At least one is from Manzullo’s district: a soldier shot himself instead of returning for a second tour. The military must keep adequate records to show what is happening to veterans; counseling is a must; officers who ignore warning signs and say “ship ’em back to the front” should be retrained; and help paramedics identify stress. That’s our demands.

And finally, we want Manzullo to vote for a resolution that will keep the president from bombing Iran. What’s scary, Don may want the president to invade Iran (it’s just next door, and they have more oil than Iraq). I believe he thinks a war against the Muslim nations is inevitable. I got in trouble for suggesting so much in an article last year. When I met with our Congressman three years ago, that’s the impression I got. If I’m wrong, then he can publicly oppose widening the war.

Manzullo will not do anything unless you, the voter, tell him. Our representatives have usually become more liberal over the years. Don has become more conservative. His voting record is 100 percent with both the Christian Coalition and the American Conservative Union. It is zero with the environmentalists, 7 with anti-war groups (i.e., WAND).

Some of our peace members do not want to meet with the Congressman. “Why waste the time?” Why indeed? Because if we can get the Congressman to support a more peaceful approach, we will save lives and money. We have to learn how to lobby. And we’ve got no other recourse.

Our representative to Congress should at least hear the other side of an issue. Has the Congressman become callous over the years? He once said that a person should limit his term to 12 years. That was more than 14 years ago. And yes, he is meeting with the gold star mother who lost her son, and she is angry about it. I don’t envy him for that part of his job.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Feb. 21-27, 2007, issue

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