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THE VETERAN

Page 21
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10,000 Join Iraq War Vets in Madison March and Rally

By Kim Scipes

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March 19, 2011

IVAW members on stage, Madison, Wisconsin.
Photo by Andie Wood.

Got back from Madison a couple of hours ago, took a nap, and want to share some comments.

The anti-war veterans' organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), sponsored a rally and march to the Wisconsin State Capitol today in Madison. On the 8th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, ordered by George W. Bush, it seemed very appropriate for IVAW to mobilize.

We assembled in the University of Wisconsin (UW) Library plaza, marched up State Street, were met by the Firefighters and their bagpipers, and marched around the Capitol. There were a significant number of people behind us—I was in front, as part of security for the IVAW contingent—and many people waited for the march, both on State Street and at the Capitol.

IVAW certainly touched a nerve of those who came out: there was much appreciation, many thank you's for the vets, and we were all greeted quite warmly.

There were a large number of speakers at the Capitol, many union speakers, including the current and former Presidents of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

There were many union members in the crowd. I especially noted members of LIUNA (the Laborers), the Boilermakers, SEIU, AFSCME and the Teamsters.

There's one thing that IVAW added to the protests. IVAW CONSISTENTLY tied the wars in Iraq and Afganistan to the assault on workers here at home. Speakers today spoke again and again on the economic war against people across our society. Now, seeing the economic war going on against most of us has probably been often recognized by others, but it was the CONSISTENT tying this into the wars that I think was unique about IVAW's protest today.

I think this was a MAJOR contribution of IVAW's efforts today: recognizing that the corporate elite and most of our governmental officials were attacking Americans—and while initially directed at workers, has broadened with its attacks on education, health care, etc., through budget attacks—so as to keep funding their wars overseas. And today, the US attacked Libya.

What appears to be happening too is that more and more people are tying things together: first the attack on unions and collective bargaining, the escalating attacks on social services for all people, and now, with IVAW, tying this into the wars. My sense is that ordinary women and men are far ahead of their leaders, and particularly many labor leaders. Although many people are fired up about recalling Republican officials and depending on the courts for redress, I think most people recognize the need to do all of that AND also take things out of the box of day-to-day life. My sense from today is that many labor leaders want, perhaps desperately, to keep things within the realm of electoral politics, while a growing number of people at least recognize the need to go farther. Whether those who want to go farther can make that a reality or not is certainly an interesting question—but then again, anybody who doubted the staying power of these mobilizations a few weeks ago certainly must reconsider what they thought possible before. This ain't over yet!


Kim Scipes, Ph.D., served in the US Marine Corps from 1969-73, attaining the rank of Sergeant and receiving an Honorable Discharge. He currently works as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central in Westville, IN.

Madison, Wisconsin, March 19, 2011

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