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"Twittergasms" Unfairly Slams Those Using Twitter to Stop War

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Alexander Cockburn’s “Twittergasms” piece today in the Nation slams much of the anti-war movement through the lens of Twitter — including CODEPINK — for failing to rally the world against Obama’s failed promises, war in Afghanistan, growing war in Pakistan, and still-not-over war in Iraq, and for joining in the conversation around the current civil unrest in Iran. There’s been “scarcely a twit or even a tweet raised in protest,” he writes. “Where are the mobilizations, actions, civil disobedience?”

Cockburn must not be, in Twitter-speak, “following” many members of several left organizations, including CODEPINK, UFPJ, AFSC. They’ve sent tweet after tweet calling on Obama to keep his promises, to stop the Afghan war, to end the drone attacks, and more. In fact, last month, these groups coordinated a National Media Day of Action on Afghanistan to spread the word on why we must stop the war in Afghanistan via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and traditional media letters to the editor, op-eds and more. The goal: to change public opinion against the war.

Unfortunately, their efforts did not catch on with “the Twittering classes” as the conflict in Iran has. The “masses,” for now, are largely uninterested to tweet about ending the Afghan war and in critiquing Obama — at least on the foreign policy front. (This could also explain why, despite valiant efforts by peace groups, the country appears to have no energy for “mobilizations, actions, civil disobedience” as demonstrated by increasing activism around health care, food reform and climate change and dwindling numbers in anti-war street actions.

We’ve proof from just yesterday, as few people turned out for the torture accountability actions planned nationwide — though in Pasadena and elsewhere, however, CODEPINKers tried their best). The masses are instead caught up in the fervor of the Iranian protests, fueled by front-page images of beautiful young women, horrifying viral YouTube videos and widespread national outrage and mistrust toward the current Iranian government based on its history of crackdowns on rights, secret torture, etc.

Of course, anti-war groups would LOVE to know — where are the YouTube videos depicting the 80 Pakistani civilians just killed in a U.S. drone attack? Where’s the outrage (and mistrust) toward the U.S. government, based on its torture practices, its killing of innocents, the U.S.’ policies toward Afghanistan? Do we need to see beautiful women victims? Until the “Twittering classes,” or the majority of Americans, feel as comfortable critiquing the often-terrifying practices of their own government, we’ve a long way from “three million…rousing tweets” to “mount any sort of political resistance at home!” Suffice to say, of course, many members of these groups are trying their best to get them there, tweet by tweet.


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