The New York Times mentioned our website www.ActionLA.org (parent site for www.PeaceNoWar.net), it is not a great article but
it's true that the importance of nationwide internet activism.
Lee Siu Hin
Protesters Find the Web to Be a Powerful Tool
By AMY HARMON
New York Times, Nov 21, 2001
--With opinion polls showing overwhelming support for President Bush, antiwar activists are relying heavily on the Internet to weave
their fragmented constituents into a movement
It was just before Jodie Hemerda set off a family feud by announcing her opposition to the United States bombing in Afghanistan that
she began scouring the Internet for others who shared her views.
She was not having much success in her hometown, Parker, Colo., where only the rare minivan does not fly an American flag.
Rather than risk alienating the other mothers in the neighborhood, Ms. Hemerda, 30, has refrained from voicing her antiwar
sentiments as they shuttle the children to and from school.
Even her husband, who threatened to boycott Thanksgiving dinner with his parents if they could not respect Ms. Hemerda's right to
her opinions, stops short of endorsing her viewpoint.
Like many of the small and scattered group of Americans who disapprove of the Bush administration's response to the terrorist
attacks on Sept. 11, Ms. Hemerda is finding the Internet to be a powerful tool for reaching other dissenters. After joining thousands
of others in signing an antiwar petition on the Web site www.9-11peace.org, she was emboldened to speak out at a local gathering
about the death of Afghan civilians.
"Knowing that there were other people out there with my opinions made it a lot easier," Ms. Hemerda said. "It's just really nice to
know that you're not alone."
With opinion polls showing overwhelming support for President Bush, war protesters are relying heavily on the Internet to weave their
fragmented constituents into a movement. Though they number far fewer than the opponents of the war in Vietnam or even the
Persian Gulf war, the first generation of Internet activists may well be spreading their message farther and faster than their
predecessors in political protest.
Protesters making use of the Internet range from former hippies in rural Vermont who download ready- made leaflets to hand out at
their weekly demonstrations to David H. Pickering, 22, of Brooklyn, who started an online peace petition that was presented to
Prime Minister Tony Blair by members of the British Parliament last month with 500,000 signatures from around the world.
And then there are those like Cleo Meek, of Los Angeles, who simply typed "protest" into the Internet search engine Yahoo
(news/quote) a few days after the bombing began in Afghanistan and discovered the International Action Center, which has organized
several protests since the airstrikes began. Ms. Meek has since joined the center's volunteer staff.
"The character of political action organizing has completely shifted since the gulf war," said Brian Becker, co-director of the
International Action Center, which was founded in 1992 by Ramsey Clark, a former United States attorney general. "Instead of a
physical location like our office, the Web site has become our mobilization headquarters."
The relative anonymity of the technology also allows Internet users to absorb and express alternative views without fear of reprisal or
to do so anonymously at a time when some protesters say the nation's patriotic fervor makes it more difficult to voice dissent.
People opposed to the war are "certainly one of the most vocal groups on the Net," said Andrew Carvin, who runs an online
discussion forum about Sept. 11 and its aftermath. Mr. Carvin said many participants use free, disposable e- mail addresses and do
not identify themselves.
America's first war of the Internet age is spawning a new cohort of protesters who take for granted the ability to consult a vast array
of international news sources with a few mouse-clicks and is teaching old activists new tactics.
Jack Smith, a veteran of the movement against the Vietnam War started using e-mail only a year ago. But when he saw the names
of student antiwar protesters at Vassar College in a local newspaper article, he looked up their e-mail addresses on the college Web
site and persuaded them to join in the activities of a community group in New Paltz, N.Y., committed to social justice causes.
"Everyone has their own e-mail list," said Mr. Smith, 67, of New Paltz, adding that those networks are one reason that "at this stage
an antiwar movement, and quite a vital one, has formed faster than any I can remember."
When students at Occidental College in Los Angeles decided to begin a 56-hour fast on Nov. 9 as a show of solidarity with Afghan
civilians injured in the bombardments, they sent e-mail messages to their friends at other colleges, who forwarded them to their
friends, and so on. One message found its way to an e-mail list called ActionLA and caught the attention of activists on several other
Los Angeles-area campuses.
Soon students at Princeton, Boston College and Oxford University in England had signed on.
"I don't understand how Vietnam got organized in the way it did," said Robert James Wallace, 18, a freshman at Occidental who
helped organize the hunger strike. "Without the Internet there's no way we would have gotten 17 colleges on board in two weeks."
Of course, those 1960's peaceniks somehow did manage to make themselves heard without the Internet, and some latter-day
advocates argue that the tool can be overused.
"We need to talk to people face-to- face about why we think the war is bad," said Kirstin Roberts, 30, a student at Harold
Washington College in Chicago. "I spend way too much time in front of my computer."
Still, Ms. Roberts said the Internet was vital to pulling together three regional student antiwar conferences in recent weeks. Alyssa
Erickson, 21, a senior at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, saw an announcement for the Nov. 10 Chicago conference on the
Protest.net Web site.
After returning from Chicago, Ms. Erickson, who had previously been hesitant to express her views, organized a teach-in to discuss
nonviolent options for bringing to justice the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
To those who pointed out that the Taliban has almost been defeated, she replied by handing out information from the Revolutionary
Association of the Women of Afghanistan criticizing the Northern Alliance.
"When people say `Why are you opposed to the war, the Northern Alliance is winning,' I say `Look at what the women of
Afghanistan are saying about the Northern Alliance,' " Ms. Erickson said. "More people are refugees and more people are starving
and they still don't have a government of their choosing."
She said she had downloaded the information from www.rawa.org.
Lee Siu Hin
4167 S. Normandie Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 91030
Peace, No War
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
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