Me: "Why are people so uninformed and apathetic about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?"
Right-winger: "I don't know, and I don't care."
A recent poll showed that almost twice as many Americans think that we are losing the war in Afghanistan as think that we are winning it. (Whatever "losing" and "winning" mean, in this context.)
But another recent poll reports that only eight percent of all Americans say that the war will be "most important to [their] vote for Congress." Which means that for 92 percent, it's not so important.
The war is like a dead skunk in the crawlspace. If it's there long enough, you just ignore it. But it's still there.
A few weeks ago, we conceived of an online "peace party," at our website www.CongressmanWithGuts.com.
We have been joined by some of our greatest voices for peace:
Director Oliver Stone, who volunteered to serve in Vietnam, volunteered for the infantry, and then showed us what he had seen, in movies like Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who is the only current Member of Congress to have voted against the war in Afghanistan, and is the founder of the "Out of Iraq" Caucus in Congress.
Director Robert Greenwald, who gave us the antiwar documentaries Iraq for Sale (in which I appeared, when I was prosecuting war profiteers), Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the War in Iraq, and now Rethink Afghanistan.
And today, Martin Sheen, who has defined the role of actor-activist for a generation, and who played Josiah Bartlet, the President whom we wished we had during the long, dark Bush years.
What's the point? We are trying to show that there is a community for peace. That the American people do care about peace. We want peace. And Lord knows that after a decade of war, we deserve peace.
We are not alone.
Marcy Wheeler, Digby, Steve Clemons, Bob Herbert and many others are voices of sanity. And in Congress, Jim McGovern is leading a fight to put a timeline on the latest supplemental funding bill for the war, and Dave Obey is delaying the supplemental funding until we fund our schools. Just last week, Dennis Kucinich was handing out articles on the floor showing that our war money is going to Taliban warlords in 'passage bribes' paid by private contractors. These articles were based on this study by Chairman Tierney, which was in turn based on this Nation article by Aram Roston.
We are not alone. Many are working to end these wars. But we need to make even more noise.
The war has killed thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis. Roughly a quarter of a million American soldiers have returned home with permanent brain abnormalities, a legacy that will be with us for half a century. At a time when people are losing their jobs, their health coverage and their homes, war has cost every man, woman and child in this country over $10,000. War and torture have made a mockery of the Constitution, and destroyed our standing among the peoples of the world.
And war hasn't made us any safer.
So we are having a peace party today. We have three goals in mind:
(1) Raise money.
(2) Raise consciousness.
(3) Raise hell.
And we're going to have to raise hell, because just as in 1968, neither political party is willing to speak out for peace. In 2006 and 2008, the Democratic Leadership was carried into power on the backs of voters who wanted peace. And now, they seem to think that the only way out of Afghanistan is to get in deeper.
As for the Republicans leadership, they have institutionalized warmongery. They never met a war they didn't like. If you don't believe me, then ask Glenn Beck.
Which party cares about peace? Schools? Health? Jobs?
For years, I prosecuted war profiteers in Iraq. I saw exactly what General Smedley Butler meant when he said, "war is a racket." I'm not going to change my mind about these wars any time soon.
But we have to change other people's minds. We have to get the American People to care enough about war to end it.
At some point, I will stop speaking out against the war.
When it's over.