|Rice To The Occasion|
(2/3/2003) Many grassroots demonstrations against war with Iraq have been proposed recently, but this one is easily one of the more creative ones.
Earlier versions of this chain set January 27 as a target date. That was the day arms inspectors were to report to President Bush their findings on Iraq's capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. After that date passed, erstwhile forwarders removed references to this deadline to maintain the letter's timeliness.
Historically, however, grassroots campaigns that rely on e-mail as the only source of publicity are failures. In addition, this one differs from earlier campaigns (such as fasting on 3/3/03, driving with headlights on and saying the Pledge on 9/11) in that it requires more effort from its participants for success. It's easy to forward this message, but how many will actually do what it asks? Based on the failure of easier and less costly campaigns, the outlook does not look good.
So far, I have not been able to validate the "proof" of the campaign's historical success. President Eisenhower's reliance on the count of "little bags of rice" appears apocryphal at best and the description of the two meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff must be regarded as hearsay until a source is identified and verified. Besides, the example differs significantly from the current campaign in that it was sponsored by an organization and did not rely on randomly forwarded messages for its publicity.
This one has already developed a case of "False Attribution Syndrome." Later versions contain contact information for Professor Suzanne Kessler, in the Division of Natural Sciences at Purchase College of the State University of New York. Professor Kessler has nothing to do with this campaign other than she received and forwarded the chain letter, inadvertently adding her identity (and credibility) to it.
Given heightened security in government mailrooms across the country following 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax letter attacks, it's unlikely that thousands of letters containing packets of an unidentified white substance would make it to the White House. A personal letter sent to the same address asking the president to consider aid programs over a military solution will likely have more impact, though certainly be less symbolic. Break this chain.
Category: Armchair Activism