Revolutionary Worker #1119, September 23, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
The following are selections from reports received by the RW and excerpts from statements by organizations and individuals in the wake of the attacks of September 11.
Speakout at UC Berkeley
From a volunteer at Revolution Books: The same day as the airliner crashes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several thousand University of California/ Berkeley students and other locals filled Sproul Plaza in an evening rally. I joined the rally from about 7:30 to 9:30, and it was still going on when I left. This was a candlelight vigil with short speeches, songs and music, and a speakout. The very first to communicate to the crowd sung Lennon's "Imagine." This became a theme throughout the night--that we must cooperate with our brothers and sisters around the globe. This certainly came out in the tolerant and respectful reception to the words of the Arab and Muslim speakers who condemned the attack and called for peace instead of retaliation.
The long line of speakers included Students for Palestine, Hillel House, a Muslim Students organization, the UC chancellor, an anti-racist organization of students, and lots of students who just wanted to speak.
Speakers and artists offered support to the Arab and Muslim communities in the U.S., mourning and condolences for the dead. There was a linking of the crashes with the U.S.-led predatory "globalism"--and there were repeated pleas to demand that the U.S. not retaliate. I should mention that some spoke against the notion of jumping to conclusions about who perpetrated these crashes.... I would characterize a significant section of listeners as questioning, friendly, still neutrals. I must say that the more I think about it, the more I'm personally moved by what I witnessed at UCB.
Attacks on Arab and Muslim People
The RW has received many disturbing reports that, taken together, describe a wave of racist attacks on Arab and Muslim people. And, in encouraging ways, people have come together in several places to resist these attacks.
Arab people, businesses, mosques and organizations in every part of the U.S. report literally thousands of phone threats and incidents of harassment. Arab-looking people working in stores report being confronted by hostile people demanding to know their nationality. Muslim women have been yelled at and threatened when they walk on the streets wearing their hejab scarves.
Newsday has documented the particularly intense events breaking out in Long Island, a suburban area east of New York City. One man tried to run down a Pakistani woman with his car. A Pakistani-owned grocery store in Nesconset was firebombed. Arab teenagers in Paterson reported a carload of racists waving American flags harassing their community, screaming, "We're going to bomb you when you sleep!" In a similar incident, racists shot off guns in an Arab neighborhood in New Jersey. Pigs blood was thrown on the Islamic Center in San Francisco.
In southwest Chicago crowds of hundreds of reactionaries waving American flags threatened a local mosque for two nights in a row. In Chicago's western suburbs, a gas station attendant was attacked by a machete-wielding racist because he "looked Arab."
In Colorado Springs, four racists entered a mosque, insulted people and threatened to burn it down. In Irving, Texas, at least six bullets shattered windows at the local Islamic Center. Similar vandalism is reported in many areas.
NYC:"Racists Go Home"
From an RCP supporter:
While I was walking home last night (September 13) I noticed some commotion going on in front of the Mosque at 11th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan. I found out that three young racists had stood in front of the Islamic Mosque yelling hostile slogans. They carried an American flag and a sheet that said, "We will lay our vengeance on thee."
A crowd of about 50 New Yorkers, passing by, organized themselves on the spot and yelled: "Racists go home ! Arabs are not the problem!" The police came, announced that the racists had "freedom of speech" and dispersed the opposing crowd into smaller groups. People gathered again and chanted "Racists go home!" until the racists did leave.
Chicago Field Museum Invites Diversity
A representative of Chicago's Field Museum announced that the museum was waiving fees and inviting the public to come to the museum and learn about people of different cultures--including Islamic peoples.
Union Square in the Heart of Manhattan
In New York City's historic Union Square, there has been an ongoing presence of people gathering to speak out and debate the events that have broken over their city. Sheets of butcher paper have been stretched out on the ground--people are writing down their thoughts and expressing a wide range of views. While there have been American flags on display here and some war-mongering statements, overall what stands out are the sentiments expressed for peace and against war and retaliation.
At a candlelight vigil Friday night, among the thousands who turned out, a section of the crowd were wearing the following slogans "Islam is not the enemy," "War is not the answer," and "Work for global peace and justice."
Other Cities: There have also been reports of a rally of over 300 people in downtown Oakland on September 12 to "Oppose Arabophobia and war-mongering" and a march of 200 against war and intolerance at the University of Arizona. On September 15, 200 people gathered in Atlanta to oppose war and pogromist attacks on Muslims. Many of those attending were part of the campaign to free Jamil Al-Amin.
Rage Against the Machine Message Board Suppressed
The Secret Service repeatedly telephoned Infopop, the web host of the internet message board maintained by the rock band Rage Against the Machine on their website (ratm.com). The government agents claimed that there were inflammatory posts being made on several of the message board forums. Under this police pressure, Infopop shut down RATM's message board--cutting off a valuable forum of radical discussion and debate. At ratm.com there is a link for a temporary message board.
Noam Chomsky,"On the Bombings"
"The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people....
"As to how to react, we have a choice. We can express justified horror; we can seek to understand what may have led to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators. If we choose the latter course, we can do no better, I think, than to listen to the words of Robert Fisk, whose direct knowledge and insight into affairs of the region is unmatched after many years of distinguished reporting.... He writes that "this is not the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about American missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and U.S. helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia paid and uniformed by America's Israeli ally hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps."
Statement from the Black Radical Congress
The Black Radical Congress (BRC) strongly condemns the horrific terror attacks which occurred on September 11th, 2001.... It is without question that U.S. imperialism has brought genocidal levels of death and destruction to people around the world. Whether one looks at the situation in Iraq with the continual blockade and air bombardments, the situation in Palestine where the U.S. continues to give virtually uncritical support to the Israelis in their national oppression of the Palestinians, the economic blockade against Cuba which aims to undermine its economy and weaken its population, or any number of other places, one clearly sees the callousness and evil intent with which U.S. imperialism treats the lives and property of others, especially non-white peoples around the globe.... The ruling class has been making noise for months about the demonstrations that accompany the gatherings of capitalist globalizers. They have inferred that these demonstrations will get increasingly out of control. There is no question that the events of September 11 will be used as a pretext to both discourage activity, as well as to clamp down on any and all popular outrage with neo-liberal globalization.... True anti-racism may require us to put ourselves at risk physically in order to defend Arabs and Muslims from unwarranted attacks."
Michael Albert, Z magazine
"Media analysts and politicians...will soon use pictures of the rubble to seek increased police and military spending and greater state interventionary and surveillance powers. They will intone that killing civilians is cowardly and warrants swift and merciless punishment. They will, however, ignore having themselves supported the recent assault on Yugoslavia that terrorized that country's civilian population to topple its despised government. They will also ignore that the U.S.-led embargo of Iraq has caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, again to destabilize a hated government.... We must not step back from dissent, but must instead work harder to oppose all kinds of injustice with massive public demonstrations and civil disobedience.
From the email list of the exiled WBAI staff
"The level of carnage and suffering here is something many of us--particularly North Americans too young to have been in any of the last several U.S. wars--have never witnessed. But of course, we need to remember that the experience is different for many peoples in the Third World, and some peoples of color inside the U.S., who have been on the receiving end of U.S.-backed destruction for decades, even centuries.... I think we all need to speak out forcefully against: (a) any scapegoating or attacks on any group of people, and particular solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans (b) any political repression against any dissident groups or individuals, or new powers for law enforcement (c) any moves towards war against any country."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)