Oklahoma City - Oklahoma activists from the group Americans Against the Next War (AANW) are working to prevent military action or war against Iran. They have contracted with a local outdoor advertising company for three billboards, now on display in the metro area, carrying their message: “Tell Congress: No War on Iran.”
A news conference scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 10, will be held in the State Capitol 4th floor pressroom, #432B, to announce the billboards, the Oklahoma City metro area locations, and to present the coalition of churches, organizations and individuals cosponsoring, endorsing and funding the project.
AANW is a group of concerned citizens that has met weekly since February in central Oklahoma to take actions expressing concern about increasingly inflammatory rhetoric that could spark military action and war against Iran. AANW’s projects have been endorsed or cosponsored by a growing number of Oklahoma churches, organizations and individuals lending their voices to calls for restraint and patience to let the negotiations process go forward.
“We are especially concerned that a constant state of war now seems normal to a whole generation of Americans,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, Director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City. “We hope that our advocacy for non-military solutions to international disagreements will resonate with other war-weary Americans who will contact Congress with that message, too.”
Speakers at the news conference are to include Dr. Katherine Scheirman, Col. USAF (ret); Rev. Bruce Prescott, Executive Director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists; Bob Lemon, Oklahoma City philanthropist and human rights activist; and John Scripsick, Gold Star father whose son was killed in Iraq. Batchelder will emcee the news conference.
“The same people who were cheerleading for the Iraq War are now fear-mongering about the threat from Iran, said Dr. Scheirman. “The reality is that Iran is a second rate military power, with an economy being crippled by poor management and international sanctions. It is isolated in the Middle East and surrounded by US military bases. I agree with Ron Paul who said that the threat to US national security is not Iran, but endless wars.”
Oklahoma City resident and donor to the billboards project Bob Lemon said, “I oppose war. I see men and women dying, children losing arms, legs, and eyes, and I oppose another war.”
Rev. Bruce Prescott said, "Frankly, I am opposed to nuclear weaponry in any nation's arsenal. As long as the world turns a blind eye to nuclear weapons in Pakistan and Israel, it is hypocritical to be alarmed about the possibility that Iran might acquire them. We need to be working for the nuclear disarmament of all nations."
“Our generals and Secretary of Defense confirm that Iran is not building nuclear bombs,” said Jalal Farzaneh, AANW member and resident of Norman, Oklahoma. “We ask Congress to say no to a war on Iran based on faulty intelligence, and to not put our troops in harm’s way. This war will not serve America's interests,” he said.
Some of the churches and organizations endorsing or supporting the project include Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC; Church of the Open Arms, UCC; Joy Mennonite Church; First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City; Tulsa Peace Fellowship; Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House; National Lawyers Guild, Oklahoma Chapter; Peace Education Institute; Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research; and others.
Individuals supporting or endorsing the billboard project include: Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson; Bill Bryant, President United Nations Association of OKC; Martha Skeeters, PhD, University of Oklahoma Associate Professor; Kenneth Meador, Iraq war veteran; and many others.
AANW believes that the prominent public voices calling for war are ill advised, and that Congress and the American public should carefully examine the motivations and arguments behind calls for military action. “War has profound consequences to our economy and families not felt by media pundits and hawks in Congress whose bellicose words can make war sound like a reasonable option,” Batchelder said.
The “No War On Iran” billboard locations in the metro area are: on I-35, north of SE 15, east side of the road facing north; on I-35, 1/2 mile north of Britton road, west side of road facing south; and on I-40, west of Yukon (Clarence Page airport), north side of road, facing west.
“Our billboards demonstrate that voices for peace and negotiations are now crucial to the process of resolving issues with Iran,” said Batchelder. “A war with Iran would raise world oil prices, reverse our fragile economic recovery, and plunge the U.S. into further debt.”