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Historians Against the War: What We Are Doing to Try to Stop the War in Iraq

Public support for the U.S. war in Iraq is dropping and has reached the all-time low of 38%. The Bush administration’s indifference to, indeed criminal neglect of, the people of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta has further deepened public disapproval of the government. It is in this context that Historians Against War (HAW) is enthusiastically mobilizing for the September 24 march for peace in Washington, D.C. We encourage other historians to attend the protest and to sponsor activities on your campuses in the period leading up to the demonstration as well as after it.

The illegal U.S. war against Iraq has led to the death of some 1,800 U.S. men and women; over 100,000 Iraqis have also died, according to reliable sources. HAW believes that this war was wrong from the beginning and that the pretexts for it have been exposed to be nothing more than lies and distortions. HAW further believes that the U.S. occupation of Iraq violates international law respecting national sovereignty and only serves to increase the suffering of the Iraqi people. For that reason, HAW joins with the hundreds of organizations and thousands and thousands of people who are sponsoring the September 24 March in Washington to call for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

As historians and as educators, we believe we have the particular responsibility and opportunity to educate ourselves and our students about the historical background and current context of this war. We urge professors and students to organize a series of educational activities on their campuses in conjunction with the march and rally. Concretely, we encourage you to organize debates, roundtables, or film showings on your campus. This would be a good time to write letters to your school and/or local newspaper. Perhaps you could ask the student newspaper to publish a series of articles about Iraq and the Middle East, interviews with students discussing the war, or essays about previous anti-war movement. If you have ROTC on your campus, perhaps representatives would like to participate in a discussion about the war or individuals who have served in Iraq or might be sent to Iraq would like to share their personal experiences or thoughts. You could also recruit students and professors to go to Washington, D.C. We understand that many people will be unable to attend the march, for a variety of reasons. Think about organizing an event for the campus or local community during the weekend, so that people can demonstrate their opposition to the war even if they stay home.

HAW is producing a leaflet for the march and organizing a contingent. We encourage everyone to join with us and meet other historians who also oppose the war. The HAW contingent will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the National Archives (how appropriate!), at the Constitution and Maine avenues entrance. We will attend the 11:00 to 12:30 rally and then march, along with thousands and thousands of other people opposed to the war.

HAW will also set up a table in the literature tent. The table will display the materials that we have published in our nearly three years of existence. If you are interested in staffing the table, please let us know. Carolyn Eisenberg, a member of the HAW steering committee, is one of the scheduled speakers at the concert that will take place after the march.

HAW’s participation in the anti-war activities does not end on the 24 th. We will also join many others on Monday, September 26 to lobby our representatives. Demonstrating on Saturday is very important. Speaking directly to our elected officials about our concerns is not only important, but also effective. They need to hear from us why we oppose the war. As historians, we are an informed, articulate, and credible grouping of people. We can use our knowledge and skills to lobby for an end to this unjust war. Civil disobedience activities are also planned for the day and we also encourage people to participate in them.

If you would like more information or to get in touch with us, please contact us at: www.historiansagainstwar.org