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Anti-War 'Virtual March' Promoted by Some Actors - 2003-02-20

Some Hollywood actors are promoting a "virtual march" on Washington to protest a possible war in Iraq. They are urging Americans to use their computers and telephones to demand more time for weapons inspections.

In a soon-to-be running television ad, a fictional U.S. president offers some advice to the real president. "Don't invade Iraq," says Hollywood actor Martin Sheen, who plays President Jeb Bartlet in the popular television series "The West Wing."

The appeal is sponsored by the organization "Win Without War." "Inspections work. War won't," says Martin Sheen in the ad. "The virtual march on Washington will allow every American opposed to the war to stand up and be counted by calling, faxing and e-mailing the U-S senate and the White House."

On February 26, supporters are being asked to log onto an Internet site called They will be assigned a time to call their senator, while website operators forward their faxes, which have been sent in advance. Organizers hope to inundate officials with an antiwar message, says Robert Greenwald, who is helping organize the protest. "It will be thousands and thousands of people throughout the day who will be marching in this way, or, as we fondly call it, the million-modem march, or let your fingers do the marching, are slogans that we're using," says Mr. Greenwald.

The protest is sponsored by a coalition of 32 groups, which include the National Council of Churches, the environmentalist Sierra Club, and the National Organization for Women. A Hollywood affiliate includes 130 actors.

One of the best known is Anjelica Huston. "I speak out with a loud voice that my conscience demands of me," she says. "I do not believe that this administration has made a reasonable or logical case for a rush to war, a war with so many terrible risks for the whole world."

Recent polls show that some 60 percent of Americans support the use of force to back U.N. resolutions requiring Iraq to disarm. Protest organizers say the Hollywood campaign is aimed at the other Americans who either have reservations or oppose the use of force.

As a divided U.N. Security Council debates its next move, the Bush administration says time is running out for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Administration officials say they still regard war as a last option.

Organizers of the "virtual march" outlined their plans in Los Angeles, where actor Mike Farrell says he and his fellow protesters have little respect for the Iraqi leader. "Those of us in the antiwar movement understand that Saddam Hussein has a history of villainy," says Mr. Farrell. "I personally believe that he's a war criminal and should be treated as such."

The actor argues, however, that Iraq can be contained through an aggressive regime of U.N. arms inspections. Administration officials say years of inspections have failed to do the job.

Comedienne Janeane Garofolo admits that few people take the opinions of actors seriously. She says celebrities, however, can bring the cameras out and get across a message. These Hollywood performers say they will use their celebrity to mobilize support for more time for weapons inspections.