f you had asked me a week ago what I thought of the antiwar movement at the University of Cincinnati was accomplishing, I'd ask you, "What antiwar movement?"
But on Wednesday, the UC branch of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) is trying to restart the antiwar movement at UC. They are scheduled to be screening the documentary Sir, No Sir in Swift Hall, room 500 at 7 p.m. This film focuses on the antiwar movement against Vietnam that stemmed from the servicemen on the front lines. The movie seeks to expose a movement that was large in scope, yet has never been reported in film. The screening is scheduled to be followed by a discussion on an antiwar march on Washington, sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, scheduled for Jan. 27. ISO president Shane Johnson hopes that this screening and the march on Washington that will follow will be, "the first step in rebuilding the antiwar movement at UC."
This first step is long past due.
When I heard about the film and what the ISO and its co-sponsors were hoping the documentary would accomplish, I could only think; how would a movie about a war that is practically ancient history have any sort of impact at UC? But after researching the film, I believe that this film has potential to change UC's political environment, but only if people actually go to see it.
While the movie is set in Vietnam and concerns a war that occurred more than 30 years ago, the similarities to the current war in Iraq are striking. Johnson points out that both wars have "an occupying force, a U.S. proxy government, and resistance to the war from both the public and soldiers doing the fighting." Anyone who pays attention to the news will see these same traits in Iraq. Johnson continues, "According to recent polls, the majority of the U.S. public wants the troops home. And 700,000 Iraqis have died since the war started." This public outcry and loss of innocent lives over in Iraq bears a strong resemblance to the situation in Vietnam's jungles. How many times has protest been held against the war, both now and 30 years ago? Johnson added, "Vietnam was the last great U.S. war, with a long-standing American occupation."
Johnson said that today's current political climate helped spur the decision to show Sir, No Sir. "There is now a Democrat-run House and Senate," Johnson said. "They were elected basically on an antiwar platform, saying they would bring the troops home soon. Now it looks like they aren't going to be doing that any time soon." For many college students, November was their first national election. In those elections, they demanded to have the troops home. So far, Congress has yet to do anything. Johnson explains that the film deals with the political climate during Vietnam. But the movie does not point fingers; "the film holds both parties responsible," Johnson clarifies.
But does this movie have the scope necessary to be viable today? The target audience for this movie would be quite small, especially at UC, where the majority of potential viewers are under the age of 25. Personal knowledge of Vietnam and its effects are nonexistent. However, while the movie may involve a war that took place three decades ago, its message is still valuable. Johnson points out, "
+This is a timeless film. There is always war. This film connects with many people."