today's assignment

I've got two things for you to do today, or at least this week. I'm a little late to both of these, but perhaps you missed them, too.

Thanks to Common Dreams, I read Norman Solomon's column about MoveOn.org's stance - or lack thereof - on the US's occupation of Iraq. I was extremely surprised to learn that MoveOn is not calling for troop withdrawal, and not even supporting the House of Representative resolution calling for a rapid exit.

This is very disappointing, given MoveOn's ability to reach millions of progressives, including many armchair activists who rely on their inbox for direction. (I'm not being snide. It's a reality, and MoveOn has tapped into it brilliantly.) I also find it more than a little strange, given this is the organization that helped produce and distribute "Uncovered".

MoveOn claims it is determined to remain a grassroots, member-driven organization, and avoid top-down organizing. According to Solomon, its leadership believes that there is no clear majority among membership about Iraq. But, Solomon says, they haven't been asked lately:
When I asked Eli [Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org] for clarification, he replied: "We've been talking with our members continuously on this issue. We've surveyed slices of our membership in January and in December, and surveyed our whole membership last spring. That's how we know there's a breadth of opinion out there."

But last spring was a year ago. And any surveying of "slices of our membership in January and in December" came before the Woolsey resolution offered an opportunity to find out how the MoveOn base views the measure. In any event, there will always be "a breadth of opinion" about this war -- a fact that does not trump the crucial need for clarity of purpose.

If MoveOn leaders were willing to submit the House get-out-of-Iraq resolution to MoveOn's rank-and-file in an up-or-down vote, the chances of a substantial majority would be excellent. Too bad the leadership of MoveOn.org is currently unwilling to find out.
Whether or not they're asking, we can let MoveOn know how we feel. If you're MoveOn member - and many American readers of wmtc probably are - please tell them where you stand on the issue. It's not easy to contact them - they prefer you post in their "Action Forum" - but you can give them your opinion by clicking here and choosing "other question or problem". A subject line like "support the peace movement" or "support US our of Iraq" and a simple two- or three-sentence statement should do the trick.

OK, that's one.

The second task is more time-consuming. Sorry about that. This weekend, while I was being paid to read (hey, someone's got to do it...), I read a long article in the New York Times Magazine by one of my favorite writers, Alex Kotlowitz, called "The Politics of Ibrahim Parlak". The story is no longer available through the Times' site, but it's been captured in a few places on the net, such as here at Smirking Chimp.

It's a fascinating and very sad story of how the so-called war on terrorism targets the wrong people and ruins their lives. Parlak is a model immigrant and would be a model American citizen. Instead, he is being treated as a criminal, a former terrorist, and facing deportation to a country that has already imprisoned and tortured him for his beliefs. The story raises questions about the very elastic and ever-expanding definition of terrorism, and what kind of society the US has become.

Please take the time to read the whole story, and if you are as moved as I was, visit this site to offer your support.

Thank you and enjoy your day.

P.S. I corrected the text from the political cartoon I quoted here. (I had written it from memory while I was at work.) Unfortunately I don't know whose cartoon it is.

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