Serious Attack on Antiwar Movement

Revolutionary Worker #1193, March 30, 2003, posted at

On October 6, 2002, Susan Sarandon told a crowd of over 25,000 people in Central Park that until that day she'd been "feeling soooo alone"--but after the turnout that day, she was taking heart. That day marked a new beginning, the start of the last six months of upsurge and struggle against the Bush war plans.

But with that upsurge came a number of journalistic attacks on the movement. Oddly enough, these were first centered in liberal publications by journalists claiming to have progressive credentials. The argument was fairly crude, really: that because there were communists and socialists among the leaders of two of the principal coalitions (the Not in Our Name Project and International ANSWER), these movements would not be able to speak to the American public and were doomed to ineffectiveness. The authors larded their argument with distortions and, in some cases, outright inventions and lies. (See RW #1178, "Setting the Record Straight on Revolutionaries in the Antiwar Movement," on line at

These oh-so-helpful and of-course-very-sincere advisers proved to be wide of the mark; the various coalitions spoke to ever more millions of American people--and people overseas as well-- and the movement grew and spread. On the whole, the movement did not fall for this red-baiting and distancing; and this line of attack basically failed.

Of late, however, there has been a more serious attack from somewhat different quarters. This new attack builds on certain themes from the previous ones, but introduces a new and dangerous element into the mix.

Now the attackers include the National Review magazine, the New York Post , and the website of the Free Congress Organization. All three of these are important players in current administration, with links into and out of the White House and Justice Department. Yes, they are far right- wing--but in this day and age, the far right wing is calling the shots. So we'd best take heed.

These outlets have singled out certain individuals--C. Clark Kissinger, Ramsey Clark, and Rev. Lucius Walker--and certain groups--most notably Not in Our Name, International ANSWER, Refuse and Resist, Workers World Party, and the Revolutionary Communist Party. They have continued the earlier red-baiting themes and have added something new and sinister--a serious escalation--to the mix, in the form of calls for government investigations of these groups and individuals.

In addition attacks have also been leveled at IFCO (the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizing), as well as the Bill of Rights Foundation--charitable foundations that process contributions for the antiwar movement and other causes.

This takes place, of course, in a context of an all-out assault on Muslim organizations, charities and political figures-- with limitless detentions, widespread interrogations, mass registrations, surveillance, and the effective dismantling of two of the major Muslim charities in the United States. Indeed, one major theme of these attacks is that Sami Al-Arian--a recently arrested Palestinian activist--had politically worked with some of the groups in question. (See RW #1155 for background on "The Persecution of Sami Al-Arian.") Going against the principles of "innocent until proven guilty" and "no guilt by association," this is supposed to be damning "evidence" in itself. The attackers weave terms like "sedition" and "Middle Eastern terrorism" through their pieces--terms which carry very serious consequences in this Age of Ashcroftian madness. They bemoan the fact that financial contributions to such charitable foundations are confidential as a matter of law.

These various writers do not actually come out and claim that anything illegal has been done, because nothing illegal has been done, and such claims could lay them open to libel charges. Instead, they rely on innuendo and smear.

David Horowitz' FrontPageMagazine .com has joined the campaign with a slanderous piece calling on the government to investigate NION, and launching a vicious attack on C.Clark Kissinger, Mary Lou Greenberg and noted civil rights attorney Abdeen Jabara.

We must understand these articles as a trial balloon, aimed both at the individuals and groups named, and at the movement as a whole. And the movement must respond with solidarity and resistance, lest the government feel free to go still further. We cannot afford the possibility that some of the key organizations and key organizers of the antiwar movement would be, at minimum, tied up in spurious investigations and trials and very possibly put in jail or worse. This has been exactly what has happened to many Muslim and Middle Eastern activists and, quite frankly, there has not been enough of an outcry, enough outrage or enough resistance against these unjust detentions and other attacks. In part as a consequence of this, we now see an emboldened government prepare a possible next move, this time against antiwar forces.

The movement must resist this attack, as well as step up solidarity with the Muslim and Middle Eastern individuals and groups under attack. We cannot allow these individuals and organizations to stand alone.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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