Revolutionary Worker #1168, September 29, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
"We believe that as people living
in the United States it is our
responsibility to resist the injustices
done by our government,
in our names."
Opening lines of the Not in Our Name Pledge of Resistance
There are moments in life where the future itself depends on what we do. There are turning points when the whole world is watching. This is one of those times.
There are days when being there really matters: October 6, 2002 is one of those days.
In the days after September 11, the U.S. government declared a limitless war. In early October 2001 the first bombs fell on Afghanistan. There has been mounting U.S. intervention around the world-- Yemen, Somalia, Philippines, Uzbekistan. With little publicity, the U.S. Navy has stopped and searched thousands of ships at gunpoint in the eastern Mediterranean. And with no publicity, they have sent secret teams of commandos and assassins and spies around the world--while the White House openly says that 60 countries may face such intrusion. They have backed mounting Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. And they have tried to "harden" the United States itself--carrying out arrests without charge, imprisonment without trials, round-ups by nationality, all legitimized by new laws and guidelines on wiretapping, searches, and police infiltration of organizations and houses of worship. While Attorney General Ashcroft announces a national snitch network of a million, Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge told the longshoremen's union that any strike on the docks "would be viewed as a threat to national security." In nightmarish ways, the film Minority Report has become reality, as people are jailed for what they might do.
And at the end of this first year, as we rapidly approach October 6, 2002--the White House is making very clear that they intend new escalations--now targeting the people of Iraq with a massive new war of bombs and occupation.
And everything is being done to give this global campaign the feeling of a steamroller--a superpower juggernaut of war and repression that no one can defy or oppose. The "War on Terrorism" is revealing itself to be something profoundly illegitimate, unjust and immoral.
Bush swaggers to the podium of the United Nations and barks orders to the world. Endorse his next war or become "irrelevant." Join the next bombing campaign or watch the U.S. "do it alone." Presidential advisers produce a 33-page doctrine of "pre-emptive war"--declaring that the U.S. may attack any country without provocation, and that no one may be allowed to challenge U.S. military supremacy anywhere in the world.
Meanwhile the media repeats shameful lies like parrots. Congress is dispatched to write the White House a blank check for war. Cold calculations are being made about sacrificing thousands of lives--of Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers. Tanks, troops and bombs head methodically for the Persian Gulf. And three Muslim medical students can't have a quiet meal at a Shoney's truckstop--without screaming squad cars, imprisonment, media hysteria, and racist accusations.
All of this madness is being done "in our name"--in the name of the people of the United States, in the name of September 11, in the name of safety, security, anti-terrorism, order and even peace. But none of this will bring safety or security--and that is not its purpose. These actions are drawn from the fevered wish lists of rightwing think-tanks and empire-builders. This is a global grab for a locked-down world--rearranged to suit corporate American capitalism, enforced by smart-bombs, commandos and police wiretaps.
And more and more people are saying: This cannot be allowed to go down.
People across the world are both horrified and angered by the sudden grab for world control of this belligerent "hyperpower." They are told that "America stands united"--that the U.S. government acts "in our name." They are told that nothing can stand up to this machinery of war and attack.
People everywhere can see that war on Iraq has nothing to do with September 11, and much to do with controlling the energy supplies of the planet. Arab and Muslim people feel they are under attack. And people of a hundred smaller countries wonder where else the U.S. intends to force "regime change"--to impose even more pliant local governments on the people. Even in Germany, a long- standing ally of the U.S., there is suddenly a national debate over whether it is reasonable to compare Bush's methods to Hitler's.
And there is great unease and ferment, here among people in the U.S. too--a sense that the government has "not made its case," that it is going too far, that everyone is being steamrollered in dangerous directions; that communities of Muslim and South Asian people are unjustly being put under siege and that legal rights are being lifted by decree.
And there is a sense of even more terrible things yet to come.
Within all this, there is a tremendous possibility and responsibility to act, to create a different road, a different future, through common resistance.
October 6 and aVision of Resistance
"Right now. we are sitting on the precipice of something truly momentous.
"The U.S. government forces tore Afghanistan to pieces. They are preparing to unleash major horrors on the Iraqi people. And here, within the U.S. itself, we are in a unique position--to turn a corner, to have a tremendous impact on what the rulers are trying to do, and on what millions of people around the world think and do.
"We are working with tremendous discontent that exists across America. We know this from our work on Not In Our Name: There are many, many people who are uptight and upset about the crosscut-shredding of the Bill of Rights. Many many people are not comfortable with all this. And at the same time, there is a lot of uncertainty. And many people obviously don't know yet what is going on with this monstrosity of perpetual war that Dubya is riding us into.
Changing the climate is the order of the day. We can't just `fight the good fight.' We, here in this country, have got to begin to embody, to embark on, the kind of resistance that can actually stop this package of war and repression.
The point of October 6 is to bring that resistance to a turning point. and bring it to a certain peak, so that people can begin to see their own power, their own influence. And their own power transforming society. That's what's called for right now.
Miles Solay, of Refuse and Resist!
"I was 16 and still a supporter of the Vietnam War when friends took me to see the April 1967 protests in Central Park. In those days, all young men had to carry draft cards, and those cards were officially `government property.' It was illegal not to have the cards on you and it was illegal to destroy them. And that day, I watched, at the bandshell off Fifth Avenue, as they lined up, one by one, to light their draft cards from a common flame. I remember the look in their eyes--clear-sighted, determined, and very brave--as they broke the law, and took their stand against that war. And like a shot it went through me, `Christ, maybe everything we've been told about this war is just a lie.'"
Vietnam-era antiwar activist
On October 6, people will come together to take the resistance against this juggernaut to another level.
This is a new movement--taking shape in times when silence, passivity and conformity are being demanded. In rejection of that climate, on October 6, thousands will gather to take their stand together, to defy the U.S. government and declare solidarity with the people of the world.
There have already been many important signs of resistance, including most recently the publication and circulation of a powerful Statement of Conscience--which appeared in the New York Times on September 19. Describing the signatories of this statement, the British Guardian wrote: "They include the musicians Laurie Anderson and Mos Def, the actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, the writers Alice Walker, Russell Banks, Barbara Kingsolver and Grace Paley, and the playwrights Eve Ensler and Tony Kushner. Martin Luther King III, Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Rabbi Michael Lerner have added their names, making this the widest ranging group of opponents of government policy since September 11."
Their Statement of Conscience begins "Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression."
That same spirit will now manifest in the streets on October 6. The focus that day will be, naturally, on New York City itself. There, where thousands died on September 11 and where so many still mourn, there has always been a strong sentiment against revenge--against the way September 11 is used to justify a global campaign of war. Now, public service announcements on New York radio are calling people out for October 6. And those answering the call include immigrants from communities under siege, emergency workers from ground zero, those who have dared to dissent on the campuses, librarians promising to defy the Homeland Security snitch squads, artists, students, and more.
NION Project organizers are mobilizing for a great diversity of people to converge on the East Meadow of New York City's Central Park on Sunday, October 6, to break ranks with the war-makers and express a profound solidarity with the people of the world. That afternoon, people will take the Pledge of Resistance together in all their many languages. Their aim is to put out a call to millions more, in the U.S. and around the world. A call from the Kent State Anti-War Committee urging youth and students to travel to Central Park says: " Take the Pledge of Resistance! --the message that may unify people of conscience at this crucial point in history! Take the pledge to heart and then take it back home to your loved ones, to your community, and into your life, so that we can build a movement strong enough to put a stop to the injustices, done by our government, in our names."
Among those planning to take the pledge that day in New York and San Francisco are poet Saul Williams; comedian Reno; film director Mira Nair ( Monsoon Wedding ); Reverend Peter Laarman, pastor of Judson Memorial Church; attorney Lynn Stewart; rap artist Boots Riley; Rabbi Michael Lerner; and Starhawk.
With grand vision, the national call from the Not in Our Name Project says, "October 6... MUST BE A MAJOR SHOWING OF DEFIANCE AND RESISTANCE BY PEOPLE IN THE U.S. TO THIS WHOLE MACHINE OF WAR AND REPRESSION. On that day, our commitment and pledge to resist needs to echo across the country, from Central Park in New York City (ground zero), from San Francisco, Los Angeles and all over, so that it is heard in the White House and in countries around the world. Our voices, as one, will make clear that people in the U.S. are taking responsibility to oppose, resist, and STOP the injustices done by our own government in our name."
There are moments in life where the future itself depends on what we do. There are turning points when the whole world is watching. This is one of those times. Be there.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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