Left Justified: Planning to end a war

There is no “peace movement,” at least not one organized like the civil rights movement from the ’50s and ’60s. It’s mainly a cross section of local and regional peace and justice groups that have banded together to try to stop this madness.

Few national organizations have arisen to oppose the Iraq war. Two of the largest, A.N.S.W.E.R. and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), just went at each one another’s throats. Both have ideologies and ideologues. A.N.S.W.E.R. (and I don’t know what the letters stand for) is the more left-wing, with an extreme mix of leftover Communists and pro-PLO organizers that use a Stalinist form of decision making. UFPJ represents the progressive liberal quasi-socialists who can pretty much agree with only one thing at a time, and this time it’s “get the U.S. out of Iraq.”

Here on the local level, Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee has been around since 1983. Its membership is pretty much moderate liberal to progressive. Because there are so few socialists in Rockford, there have been few schisms within this little peace group. We kind of cling to each other as the majority of conservatives swirl around us.

Every now and then, we raise a banner of peace, protest the latest war, petition our congressman, and bring in speakers in the hopes of educating our neighbors. But as the war rages on, more people are getting involved, and even starting their own peace groups here in Rockford. I love it! The more peace organizations, the better, there’s more than enough work.

This coming Monday, Jan. 30, the day after the Chinese New Year and the first day of Muharram, RP&JAC hosts its first Coffee Talk of the season. An invited panel of area peace activists and representatives from progressive organizations will share strategies for ending the war in Iraq. First up is Progressive Meetup, local folks who take on a variety of topics and aren’t afraid of getting into politics (mainly Democratic). One of their representatives, Karen Gutierrez, will talk about a feminist anti-war group called “Code Pink.” This fun-loving group of ladies theatrically protests war.

Then, David Black will talk about the Green Party (yes, Virginia, there still is a Green Party). And we’ll have representatives from a newly forming Illinois coalition of peace groups that will try to lobby Congress to end the war.

Whether writing letters to our representatives or standing on the street corner waving an anti-war sign, the tactics are as varied as the reasons to end that mess in the desert. From long-time religious peace pilgrims who would never raise a weapon, to the pragmatists who think fighting terrorism has taken an incorrect turn, the peace movement has as many components as the war movement. You are invited, if you are of an anti-war spirit, to join the discussion this Monday, Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, 4848 Turner St., four blocks north and east of Alpine and State.

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

From the Jan. 25-31, 2006, issue

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