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August 30, 2005
Todd Gitlin (toddgitlin.net) contributes regularly to TPMcafe.com and is the author of The Intellectuals and the Flag, forthcoming from Columbia University Press.
There come moments in the course of all movements when they go mainstream, despite the best efforts of their enemies to demonize them and of their most radical elements to purify them. Such a moment has probably arrived in the case of the current anti-war effort. But pitfalls also loom.
You cannot trade on certainties in such elusive matters, because events intrude. But a probable turning point arrived the evening of Wednesday, August 17, when (according to Moveon.org) some hundreds of thousands around the country turned out for more than 1,600 candlelight vigils to express solidarity with Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey outside Crawford, Texas. In White Plains, N.Y., the more than 100 who gathered included, I was told by a correspondent, “loads of soccer moms, Little League dads and plenty of their kids.