(CNSNews.com) - The liberal grassroots advocacy group MoveOn.org, along with a coalition of anti-war organizations, held hundreds of anti-war vigils across the country on Tuesday.
The goal was to urge members of Congress to end the war in Iraq when lawmakers come back from recess in September. But some pro-troop groups take issue with the activists' tactics.
"The 'Take a Stand Campaign' is a nationwide organizing drive to demand that members of Congress and the Senate take a stand with the vast majority of Americans who want a safe and responsible redeployment of American Forces from Iraq," Americans Against Escalation in Iraq said in a statement.
"This September, after hearing the White House's report on the 'surge,' Congress will decide whether we bring our troops home or spend another year fighting an un-winnable religious civil war," said MoveOn.org. "As Congress heads back to D.C., we're here to tell them that it's time to take a stand."
The group dubbed Tuesday, "National Take a Stand Day" to remember the human cost of the war and urge lawmakers to stand up in September and "end this endless war."
MoveOn.org said "the vigils sent a very powerful sign to Congress that the American people want to end this war and they want to end it in a fast, safe and responsible way."
But Joe Wierzbicki, a spokesman for the conservative "pro-troop" grassroots group Move America Forward, took issue with the anti-war coalition's position of telling Americans to support U.S. troops by ending the war.
"How can vigils that specifically attack and ridicule the missions our troops are serving on be pro-troops?" he asked. "If these liberal activists don't support what our troops are doing with regards to their missions, then what part is it that they could possibly claim to be supporting?"
"The argument by MoveOn.org and others is that they support the troops, but they just don't want them to be successful in what they're doing," he said. "That's like saying you are a big fan of a sports team but then root for them to lose the game -- it's duplicitous, and unfortunately that pattern of dishonesty is par for the course for those who cannot admit that they are essentially rooting for U.S. troops to fail in the war on terror."
"If left unchecked, these military-bashing protests can be effective," Wierzbicki warned, pointing to anti-war protests of the 1960s in which "anti-military activists managed to beat down the spirit of America and as a result, surrendered large swaths of Asia to communism, and give up millions of lives to the genocide that followed."
But, he added, unlike the Vietnam era, the current anti-war protesters are being challenged by a "vibrant pro-troop movement that will not allow our troops serving overseas to be knifed in the back by those here on the home-front who do not recognize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our military men and women," he said.
Thursday's anti-war vigils mark the end of the "Iraq Summer," an effort by anti-war groups to turn up the heat on lawmakers and collapse the "foundation of congressional support" for President Bush's Iraq strategy, said MoveOn.org.
But Kristinn Taylor, a spokesman for the conservative Gathering of Eagles, told Cybercast News Service the liberal anti-war groups haven't lived up to their promise to make this an "Iraq summer."
"There have not been widespread demonstrations against the war, and when they do have demonstrations, they're not well attended -- they're nothing like the Vietnam era," Taylor said.
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