Number 21 - December 19, 2002
The size of the type may be changed by clicking on view at the top of
your browser and selecting "text size". The document will
print in the size you select.
Blacks take leadership roles in the growing anti-war movement, the more
comfortable corners of the Left are busy generating schisms, for no
reason other than to assure the War Party of their patriotism. Privileged
people are like that. They insist on having their way and deciding who
is and who is not good company, even when the stakes are life and death
- possibly for the whole planet.
could take the safe, diplomatic course and pronounce that the emergence
of rival umbrellas among those who claim to lead the opposition to Bush's
war agenda is actually a positive development, signaling maturity and
the prospect of a healthy division of labor. But that's nonsense. The
truth is, there is Anti-war Hardcore and Anti-War Lite. African Americans
are involved in both camps.
We are glad that
there is resistance of any serious variety, since it is clear
to the clear-headed that George Bush and his pirates are preparing to
jail the opposition, or worse, as soon as a domestic emergency can be
justified as part of the War on Terror. When and if that time comes,
safety will be found only in huge numbers. Hardcore and Lite alike,
all on the same roundup list. What a country!
Having made the
proper, nonsectarian noises, we will come clean to express the most
extreme irritation at the nasty little people who, not content to simply
do something useful by organizing as many folks as they can against
Bush, feel it necessary to badmouth the organizers of October 26's demonstrations.
At minimum, 100,000 and 50,000 people protested in Washington and San
Francisco, respectively, against the wishes of the corporate media,
which virtually boycotted the events. By proving that the opposition
was capable of mounting an effective popular response to the Bush administration's
war hysteria, the organizers may well have changed the course of history
and saved countless lives.
At the center of
the October mobilization and the follow-up demonstrations set for January
18 is A.N.S.W.E.R., Act Now to Stop War & End Racism. Had it not
been for the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition's efforts, Bush and his media would
have announced to the world that the American people were solidly behind
his war plans. A.N.S.W.E.R. achieved what no one on the "comfortable"
Left would or could: they made Bush think about the domestic consequences
of his military actions, by mounting demonstrations before the
onset of war on a scale that the Sixties movement did not equal until
at least 30,000 Americans and several million Vietnamese were already
brings the crowd
True to its acronym,
A.N.S.W.E.R. has had some success in darkening their coalition. One
thousand people turned out at Rev. Herbert Daughtry's Brooklyn church
for a November 21 rally. Daughtry's partner in the National Action Network,
Rev. Al Sharpton, spoke at the October demonstration in Washington,
as did Rev. Jesse Jackson. The movement is still disproportionately
white, drawn largely from already existing anti-corporate globalism
groups, but A.N.S.W.E.R.'s tireless efforts have been anything but "narrow"
or "sectarian." Heroic is a better word.
Now comes the nattering
from places such as The Nation magazine - people like columnist David
Corn who wouldn't lift a finger to stop the entire world from going
up in smoke if it meant associating with the Workers World Party, the
grouplet at the heart of A.N.S.W.E.R. For a tiny outfit, the WWP has
accomplished a great deal, apparently having learned well the lesson
that you can't mobilize hundreds of thousands of people simply by waving
the Little Red Book of Chairman Mao's quotations. Corn and other sideliners
complain that the WWP uses control of the microphones to make "outrageous"
demands (like freedom for the man formerly known as H. Rap Brown).
Corn and his crowd
are the "sectarian" brats. We at
judge activists by their abilities to set people in motion. We are most
concerned that a bunch of middle-aged white children are injecting their
petty disputes, which originate in political turf too small for anybody
else to care about, into a struggle to save what's left of American
democracy - a commodity that is worth more to us because we have
less of it. Human existence, itself, is in jeopardy. Yet the destructive
little brats want to throw out the people who set the resistance in
Blacks have enough
sectarian problems of our own, which we somehow manage to keep in check,
if barely. If the white Left finds that its ranks remain racially anemic,
they will have only themselves to blame. African Americans will not
be part of any tantrum-throwing spectacles among the privileged.
There are real differences
between what we will call Anti-War Hardcore and Anti-War Lite, although
not necessarily irreconcilable ones. The upstart, Lite camp is gathered
under the banner of the Win Without War coalition. The core of the coalition
employed the slogan, "Keep America Safe: Win Without War."
Essentially, these groups are concerned that everyone know how much
they, like Bush, hate Saddam Hussein, but feel that war is not the best
way to deal with him. Members include the National Council of Churches,
Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, the Conference of Major Superiors
of Men, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Move On, the National
Organization for Women, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Rainbow
Push Coalition, Sojourners, Women's Action for New Directions, Working
Assets, the NAACP, and Artists Against War.
In order to disassociate
themselves from A.N.S.W.E.R., the Win Without War umbrella feels it
is necessary to declare, "We are patriotic Americans who share
the belief that Saddam Hussein cannot be allowed to possess weapons
of mass destruction." The implication is that some people
in the other camp are not sufficiently patriotic. "We support rigorous
UN weapons inspections to assure Iraq's effective disarmament,"
said the Anti-War Lite statement. It continued, less defensively:
that a preemptive military invasion of Iraq will harm American national
interests. Unprovoked war will increase human suffering, arouse animosity
toward our country, increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks,
damage the economy and undermine our moral standing in the world.
It will make us less, not more, secure."
If that will get
them to the protests on time and in large numbers, fine. The problem
is, Win Without War has not endorsed the January 18 A.N.S.W.E.R. demonstrations,
although some affiliated groups and individuals will doubtless take
part. Since most of the coalition didn't have anything to do with the
October protests, their absence in January shouldn't be of much concern.
If they would be satisfied with staging actions on their own schedules,
such as the small, scattered demonstrations that took place on December
10, that too would be useful. But the brats and dilettantes in their
ranks are certain to grab corporate media microphones to smear A.N.S.W.E.R.,
rather than tend to their own business.
believes that, in the end, it's going to require that serious Black
activists smack the spoilers upside the head, so to speak, and teach
them how to be adult. Bush is deadly serious. The resistance must be
even more disciplined.
and good wages
at their best moments, understands the value of solidarity, and dare
anyone to challenge their patriotism. The following resolution by the
San Francisco Labor Council is definitely not Anti-War Lite:
the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we have seen the beginning
of a relentless new assault on labor - from the employers, and from
the government acting on their behalf; and
the so-called "war on terrorism" and "national security"
as a pretext, the Bush Administration has spearheaded a renewed assault
on organized labor, starting with the use of Taft-Hartley (and threats
to militarize the ports) against West Coast dockworkers...wholesale
threats to the job security and union rights of 170,000 federal workers...the
racist firings of experienced airport screeners...threats to curtail
the right to strike and organize; and the impending contracting out
of hundreds of thousands of federal jobs. On more than one occasion,
government spokespersons have referred to union actions defending
our jobs, working conditions and living standards as akin to terrorism,
or as "aiding and abetting terrorists", or as a "threat
to national security"; and
war (on Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, the Philippines, where next?)
has become the main engine for the repression of labor. "National
security", in the hands of a thoroughly anti-labor Bush Administration,
is being used as a bludgeon against labor, with the intent of rolling
back all the gains workers have won since the 1930s, including collective
bargaining itself, and including social programs championed by the
labor movement like welfare, social security, unemployment insurance;
Whereas, a strong
fight-back requires that labor make it a priority to stake out a clear,
forthright and fighting stance against Bush's war, and see the anti-war
and anti-globalization movements as our strategic allies, needed if
we are to defeat the assault on labor and move to the offensive. We
got a glimpse of the potential power of this combination during the
1999 showdown in Seattle; and
Whereas, the Rev.
Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied the coming together of the labor,
anti-war and civil rights movements during the tremendous upsurge
of the mass movement in the 1960s, and we need to revive this powerful
combination of the people's forces to defeat Bush's war and the racism
that underlies it and that it promotes; and
Whereas, our opposition
to the Bush Administration's war on the Iraqi people, and to their
attacks or threats against other smaller, sovereign countries around
the globe, fits hand in glove with labor's fighting defense of the
interests of the working people of all races and nationalities here
at home; therefore be it
the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, endorse the Martin Luther
King weekend anti-war activities - the January 18, 2003 marches in
San Francisco and Washington, DC in opposition to the war on Iraq,
and the Grassroots Peace Congress being held in Washington, as well
as the People's Anti-War Referendum ["VoteNoWar"] by which
millions of Americans are casting their "votes" against
this war; and be it further
this council work to ensure that organized labor and the national
AFL-CIO take a clear and early stand against Bush's war.
The resolution was
approved unanimously. These men and women have seen the enemy, and it
is Bush. They don't waste time and resources in anguish over the presence
of people carrying Little Red Books. And there is no more fitting activity
during the week of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday than to march
in the interest of peace.
Glover and Belafonte
Among the Black
signers of the Artists Against War petition are Diahann Carroll, Charles
S. Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, Robert Guillaume, LaTanya Richardson
Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Blair Underwood, Alfre Woodard, and Danny
Glover. Glover joined Harry Belafonte, who is as hard core a veteran
for peace as they come, for a press conference at Havana's Hotel Nacional,
where they generally agreed on professional and political matters. It
was Glover's fourth attendance at the Havana Film Festival; Belafonte
has only "missed four out of 24 festivals."
the state of Hollywood cinema, saying he found the "highest movie-making
standards at festivals in Havana, Cartagena [Spain] and Brazil, where
cinema is an art showing more sensitivity than just aiming at the market."
Glover repeated to the international press his stand against Bush's
war plans: "My position on the war is very clear, above all for
the impact that it will have on women and children in Iraq who are already
suffering the consequences of sanctions."
Belafonte had a
ready answer for those who question the propriety of criticizing the
U.S. in a Cuban forum. "Many of my friends are journalists,"
said the singer-actor-activist, "and they tell me that there has
never been as much censorship as now, and if they rebel then they will
just lose their jobs."
Anti-War Lite Glover
and Hard Core Harry were quite compatible. If only the white folks of
the movement could just get along....
No cost, no excuse
Baltimore City Councilman
Kwame Abayome got unanimous support for his anti-war resolution, part
of a growing urban peace offensive.
urges our influential readership to consider the language approved by
Baltimore's local legislators:
FOR the purpose
of reaffirming the articles of the United Nations Charter and the
principles of international law on the peaceful resolution of disputes,
opposing the United States' continued and threatened violation of
the United Nations Charter and of international law by the unilateral,
preemptive military action against the nation of Iraq, opposing the
continued nonmilitary sanctions and proposed escalated military action,
and urging the Bush Administration and our federal representatives
to work with and through the United Nations to obtain compliance by
Iraq with the United Nations Security Council resolutions concerning
the development by Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and to support
fully the return of international weapons inspectors to Iraq for that
purpose and to actively support the United Nations' diplomatic efforts
to support and encourage democracy and respect for human rights in
Iraq and all nations.
The $200 billion
cost of the war - for starters - will wreak immediate disaster in every
city of the nation. The least that city councils can do is go on the
record with their non-binding opinions.
In industrial and
mostly Black and Hispanic Elizabeth, New Jersey, Councilwoman Pat Perkins
Aguste convinced her colleagues to pass a "Culture of Peace"
resolution that, she said, "we take to mean no aggressive war with
"There is a
role for us to play," said the Black lawmaker. "If we are
asked to play a role we should step up."
The $2 trillion
If the United States
conquers Iraq and sticks around for ten years, the total cost to the
economy could rise to $2 trillion dollars. That's one-fifth of the value
of the nation's yearly goods and services, 40 times the annual value
of all U.S. agricultural exports to the world, the whole federal budget
for one year... it is unfathomable to all but the war profiteers who
are even now dividing contracts.
As when confronted
with an earlier, $200 billion estimated cost of several years' involvement
in Iraq, the White House called the discussion "premature,"
since "we're hoping for a peaceful solution."
Occupation and peacekeeping
could cost $500 billion, according to the report of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences. Most of the rest of the damage would result from
economic recession, caused by disruption in oil markets.
In a best-case scenario,
the benefits to the U.S. economy of Iraq's oil resources would amount
to only about $40 billion.
The figures tell
the tale. The pirates are in charge. Only they stand to profit.
The Anti-War Lite
crowd doesn't understand who they're up against.