Voices from the Frontlines of Resistance
Revolutionary Worker #1206, July 6, 2003, posted at rwor.org
ARABY CARLIER, national steering committee member, Refuse & Resist!
"People don't want to live in that kind of world that is totally divided by barbed wire, where immigrants and people of color have to live in fear of the INS, federal agents, or local agents banging on their door. People don't want to live in fear of speaking out and saying that they don't go along with things...
"With the way the Dixie Chicks defended their position, their questioning the war, I think that's really the only honorable way to live right now--to resist! And that's something Refuse & Resist! is really trying to put forward right now. People need to be united in their resistance and come forward and feel comfortable voicing their dissent. And we should support each other and create a culture, climate and community of resistance. [Because] when people come forward together, there's no stopping them."
AIMARA, Not In Our Name activist in San Francisco
"My grandmother graduated from high school from behind barbed wire, out in the desert. Like most other Japanese families living in this country [during World War 2], they lost everything when those trains rolled in and everyone was told to get on board with only what they could carry. Sixty some odd years ago, there was another similar gathering of names, like this one [the special registration of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian immigrants]. I can't stand by and do nothing as history repeats itself, and as the crimes that this government committed in the past lumber in front of us, just far enough for us to see, but not quite verify, what's going on. We need to catch up to it, grab it by the neck, stare it in the face and say: Goddamnit, I see what you're doing and you're not taking out another community like you did before. You can sanction whatever fear you want, whatever racism and justification for your greedy ugly acts that you want, but you aren't doing it on my behalf!! I see through your lies and I'm not stopping till everyone else sees through them, too. Till the streets are filled with people, standing with each other, hundreds in front of hundreds, saying `you have to come thru us to get to them,' and then hundreds more in front of them saying `you have to come thru us to get to them.' Till our voices are so loud that they aren't telling us how it's going to pan out anymore, we're telling them."
TONI SMITH, Manhattanville College student and basketball player--during the past season, she turned her back to the U.S. flag during the national anthem before each game in protest of U.S. government policies and moves toward war with Iraq. She stood firm in the face of hostile reception at some schools--waving of flags, chants of "USA!" and reactionaries running onto the court to yell in her face. Her teammates, the president of her college, and others stood by her.
"It's definitely been more meaningful that my protest occurred after 9/11 because I think we're getting to a very dangerous place where people are so absorbed in the propaganda that they don't realize that they're not thinking for themselves, and that we're losing our civil liberties by the second, and that soon it's going to get to a point where we're not going to be able to fight against anything because we're going to be living in an imperialist country run by the people who now run America. Already, there's very little chance to do anything because everything's on such tight lockdown. I'm not even going to get into retina scanning and the crazy security that's everywhere now, and they're going to be able to keep tabs on everyone all the time..."
ABDEEN JABARA, New York City-based lawyer and former president of the Arab-American Defense Committee
"You see, once one of these laws is passed and it contains all these provisions, you can only attack this provision and that provision--and that takes years in the courts and the entire rest of the law stands until each and every provision is attacked. So, the problem is a political one, it's not a legal problem. I say that even though I'm a lawyer. And when I say it's a political problem, it's because there was a kind of a confluence, if you will, of people, both with their own agendas that seemed to mesh with each other; the bin Ladens and al-Qaida's agenda to attack America for its alleged violation of Muslims' rights, and the Bush administration's agenda to create a post-Soviet hegemony of the United States. These two things have kind of meshed. And we have always said, you cannot have American repression abroad and maintain civil liberties at home. If you're gonna do this repression abroad, it's gonna come back to haunt this country, as it has, and it's gonna lead to the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties here at home and that's exactly what has happened."
BRETT BARBER, 16-year-old from Dearborn, Michigan, who was sent home from school for wearing a T-shirt that had the words "International Terrorist" above a picture of George Bush--the incident was covered by the media around the U.S.
"I got vast support from students and faculty alike. Dearborn, the city I live in, has a heavy Arab population, and there are a lot of Arabs in Dearborn High--about 40-50% in the actual district-- and I got a lot of support from them as well as other students. I can count on my hand the number of negative comments I've received. I hope [what I did] does serve as inspiration to other people who want to stand up, and I hope it sends a message to all the high school administrators out there that students do have a right to express themselves in school and they do have a right to speak out and they're not going to be pushed around and bullied to conform with what the school thinks is appropriate or not appropriate...I'm very aware of what the government is doing...they're taking away our liberties in the name of these liberties--it's kind of ironic. And the USA Patriot Act 2 will further take away our liberties. I think it's a scary thing. It's like moving toward a police state."
ROBINA NIAZ, Pakistani Muslim activist, on Interim Steering Committee for Not In Our Name and activist with Justice for Detainees
"I have been speaking out a lot and that's almost become a mission--I'm not going to shut up, I'm not going to let them scare me. And I'm reminded every day by my Muslim friends, my Pakistani friends, `Are you sure you're doing the right thing? Is it safe for you to do it?' And my answer to them is, nothing is safe. If I don't speak, I'm not safe either. I'm going to do what my conscience tells me to do. I've been duty-bound. I can't turn away. Once you know, you can't turn your back and walk away. People say, `Oh, well, it's your community.' I say, `But if it were any other community, we should be just as amazed, just as much angry and just as much pained because all of this is being done in the name of the American people.'"
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL, revolutionary political prisoner
"Governments often offer up pretexts to cover the real reasons for war. Those who fight the wars, or even those who support the wars for patriotic reasons, rarely know the real reasons.
"In this age of the Internet, and widening literacy, however, more and more people are able to pierce the veils of state propaganda, and therefore able to do the historical and economic research to perceive the real reasons behind the Iraqi Adventure...
"There never was, in this world's history, a kind, gentle rule of one people, over another people. Rome was feared; not loved. America is no different.
"We are embarking on an ugly, long, and unpredictable path, for those who are already drunk with wealth and power."
From "The Battle for Empire," written 3/25/03Excerpts from Tim Robbins' speech to the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on April 15, 2003--after the scheduled appearance by Robbins and Susan Sarandon at the Baseball Hall of Fame was cancelled because of their stands against the U.S. war on Iraq
"Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers and by their "fair and balanced' electronic media cousin, 19th Century Fox. (Apologies to Gore Vidal.) Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership, and last week both of us were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
"A famous rock-'n'-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. `They promote our concert appearances,' he said. `They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war.' And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantánamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.
"A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. `If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.' Every day the airwaves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent."
RIVERSIDE PLOUGHSHARES--On May 25, 2003, during Fleet Week in New York City, four Catholic Worker activists went aboard the USS Philippine Sea and poured their blood and hammered on the missile hatches that hold Tomahawk cruise missiles.
MC, 41, one of the Riverside Ploughshares: "It was very important for us to bring the blood and the faces of children who've been killed by the weapons on that very ship. To bring that back to those who pressed the button and launched the missiles and also to those who were cheering that ship, who celebrate war, to bring to the surface that which is below the surface. This incredible violence that our nation is into. We wanted to make a clear and public statement of non-compliance with this violence, with this bloody business. Our concern was, How do we get our names off of these weapons? How do we not cooperate with this? And we had come to the decision that it was not enough simply to protest the current war, or next war, that our protest has to be translated into something pro-active, namely disarmament. What we do is a highly symbolic action, but it's also concrete, it's real."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online