Across Rhode Island, many people refuse to believe the hype that General David Petraeus’s September report to the nation on the progress of the surge in Iraq actually means something. For many, the best way to win the war and its continued escalations is to simply end it; and this means continuing to build a stronger Rhode Island anti-war movement.
On August 13, nearly 200 people came to the Columbus Theatre on Providence’s West Side to see a screening of the Sean Penn-narrated film, War Made Easy, which depicts the cozy relationship between government deception and the mainstream media. The high turnout was a welcome surprise for the event’s organizers, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), and contributed to an engaging subsequent Q+A session with Loretta Alper, the film’s producer.
Event organizer Brian Hull, the coordinator of the PDA’s Providence chapter, says that events like this are taking the one-year old local chapter to the next level. “Before the film, we had about 60 members, and now we have about 120,” Hull says. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders who want to push the Democratic Party to the left — where it belongs — and to support real progressives running for office to join us.”
Meanwhile, on August 16, the national advocacy group MoveOn.org sponsored a news conference at Providence City Hall, with more than 50 people, to highlight the estimated $1.8 billion cost of the war to Rhode Island. The diverse group of speakers included Bob Walsh, representing Ocean State Action; Stephen Hogan of AIDS Project Rhode Island; Liz Marsis of the George Wiley Center; April Allen of the Service Employees International Union, District 1199; and emcee Sam Smith, a MoveOn.org member.
Walsh says that the $1.8 billion price tag for Rhode Island taxpayers is significant because it is three times the cost of the early ’90s banking crisis. It’s also similar to what the state raises from property taxes in a single year, or the combined revenue from sales and income tax in a year, he says, and money that should instead be spent on improving bridges, schools, housing, health-care, and other local needs.
“No matter what your political party,” Walsh asserted, “we need to come together and bring the troops home — and make sure we care for them — and bring these dollars home to support our children.”
Meanwhile, some Rhode Islanders are going right to the source of their frustration, joining a massive protest against a vacationing President George W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, on August 25.
Celebrity protesters marching on the Bush family compound are slated to include Cindy Sheehan, the Indigo Girls, US Representative Dennis Kucinich, and retired Colonel Ann Wright. Bus tickets from Providence ($20) can be obtained by calling event organizer Shaun Joseph at 401.868.4071.
Thus, while some Rhode Islanders hope to end by the war by gearing up for their favored Democratic presidential candidate, others are putting into practice their belief that only a viable and strong peace movement will end the conflict.
: This Just In
, Elections and Voting, Politics, Sam Smith, More