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ANSWER Coalition Statement

by A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Tuesday, Feb. 04, 2003 at 11:42 AM
iacenter@action-mail.org

ANSWER COALITION RESPONDS TO RED BAITING

1. UNITE TO FIGHT THE WARMAKERS

2. LETTER TO THE NY TIMES FROM MEMBERS OF THE A.N.S.W.E.R.

STEERING COMMITTEE THAT IT WAS UNWILLING TO PUBLISH

UNITE TO FIGHT THE WARMAKERS

Unable to contend with the historic and constitutional

right of the people to control their own government and

the direction of their country, the Bush Administration

has now launched an assault on the anti-war movement. As

the clock ticks down and the administration rushes to wage

war against Iraq, it is starting another war here at home

against the people of the United States.



On January 18 half a million people marched in Washington,

D.C. in a true democratic expression of their opposition

to an illegal and immoral war of aggression being driven

by a tiny few who hold the reigns of military and economic

might. Another 200,000 marched in San Francisco. Around

the world people in over 35 countries held solidarity

demonstrations. Now we are all mobilizing for the February

15/16 mass actions against the war that have been

initiated by the European peace movement. The people of

conscience who are taking to the streets represent the

sentiments of so many millions more. This is a powerful

rejection of the Bush administration's attempt to drag us

all into war and global conflagration.



On January 28, ten days after the historic January 18

march, the Free Congress Foundation, the Center for

Security Policy and other ultra-right wing members of the

U.S. political establishment, including former officials

of the Heritage Foundation and the Reagan administration,

began promoting the creation of a new version of the House

Un-American Activities Committee to investigate not only

the organizers but the demonstrators themselves who came

to Washington to protest Bush's march to war.



On January 30, the New York Daily News published the Bush

administration's latest smear -- a purportedly leaked

intelligence report from his Homeland Security department

claiming that "Iraqi spies" came to the U.S. from Canada

to carry out the anti-war demonstrations.



This first act for Bush's Homeland Security department --

which had officially opened a mere six days earlier --

speaks volumes about what Bush's view of "homeland

security" is: using the power of the government to lie, to

discredit, to disrupt and to try to shut down the

opposition of the people of the U.S. to his program of

violent domination and empire.



The Center for Security Policy is a group funded by arms

manufacturers and big business who are being given the

U.S. taxpayer's money looted from programs that would

otherwise fund education, healthcare and jobs in America.

The Free Congress Foundation is a haven for extremists so

out of step with social justice that they pay staff

members who have written that we in the U.S. might be

better off if the confederacy had won the civil war, who

advocate that the racist Trent Lott should have remained

in his leadership position, who push anti-Semitic

conspiracy theories and who spoke at a neo-Nazi conference

last summer. These groups both work with and are received

by the Bush Administration.



We call on all people of conscience to rally together and

defend our movement for justice and peace. The red-baiting

and demonization of certain leading anti-war organizations

has one purpose -- to weaken the whole peace movement.



PURPOSE OF RED-BAITING: TO STOP COLLECTIVE ACTION AND

SILENCE DISSENT



These efforts are the apex of a repugnant red-baiting

campaign against the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition because of its

role as a principal organizer of the mass grassroots

movement of opposition to war throughout the United

States. It is not only A.N.S.W.E.R. that is the target of

these attacks. The Not In Our Name Project (NION) and

others who have been organizing for peace have also been

subject to virulent red-baiting.



The point of the associational red-baiting and smear

campaign is to warn all of us who are coming out into the

streets, many who have found public voice for the first

time and are empowered by the strength of their actions,

that what we think we experienced is tainted, that we are

dupes of some hidden hand and should go back inside. These

are the identical mechanisms that were used by the

government to try to destroy the labor movement of the

thirties and forties and the civil rights and anti-war

movements of the fifties, sixties and seventies. (Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was labeled a "communist

sympathizer.")



All of us who have been involved with the Coalition have

been subjected to an intensive associational red-baiting

attack that emanates from pro-war supporters. It often

gets carried by others who claim to be from the

progressive community but who unfortunately are more

focused on engaging in sectarian factionalization than, on

the eve of war, stopping a needless slaughter.

Fortunately, the thousands of people organizing around the

country to stop this war drive have been rejecting these

efforts, as is evidenced from the success of the

mobilizations and the outpouring of support received by

A.N.S.W.E.R. at the grassroots level.



THE JANUARY 18 DEMONSTRATION AND THE RED-BAITING TACTICS



The demonstrations have been supported by, organized by,

and attended by persons from all walks of life. For

January 18, hundreds of thousands of people traveled all

night by bus and car from communities around the country

with their children, their grandparents, their friends and

neighbors, many attending their first demonstration and

not knowing fully what to expect. Once arriving in the

freezing cold of D.C. or the streets of San Francisco they

met others from different backgrounds who shared a simple

and heartfelt demand: that there be no war of aggression

launched by the government of the U.S. on the people of

Iraq. We have heard stories of the veteran from

Pennsylvania who spent the day with the family from

Alabama, the mother and her son from Mississippi who made

new friends with the students from Wisconsin. We all

listened as speakers representing veterans, labor and

working people, youth and students, communities of faith,

members of Congress, artists and writers, and fighters for

social justice from different struggles all brought

messages of solidarity in opposition to a war on Iraq. And

then we all marched together.



Those who seek to diminish and divide this growing

movement often dishonestly claim that A.N.S.W.E.R. is a

"front" group in order to diminish the Coalition and all

the people from different backgrounds and organizations

that are part of it, including on its Steering Committee,

and who have their own honorable independent histories in

the anti-war and social justice movements. The red-baiters

have focused on singling out the presence of socialists

and Marxists, in particular members of the Workers World

Party (a socialist party in the U.S.), because some people

in that party have been prominent in supporting the

anti-war movement and the work of A.N.S.W.E.R. and their

political positions have been routinely caricatured.



Those who claim that A.N.S.W.E.R. is a "front" demonstrate

their own racist and elitist perception of reality. Oddly

invisible to them is the role of the various communities

and organizations, including Arab Americans, African

Americans, Korean Americans, Filipino Americans, Latinos,

faith-based and solidarity groups who clearly have a

central leadership role in organizing A.N.S.W.E.R. and

carrying out the actions of the past year.



That there are socialists or Marxists in the peace

movement is neither a shock, nor a matter for repudiation.

There are also Democrats, Republicans, Greens, anarchists,

independents, and people with no party affiliation, and

everyone is welcome. This is a united front of opposition

that is becoming a big problem for the administration --

hence the stepped up demonization and red-baiting,

particularly after successful mass actions.



WHAT IS "MAINSTREAM" AMERICA: THE POWER OF REAL DEMOCRACY



While thousands of grassroots activists have worked

tirelessly organizing their communities, holding

teach-ins, handing out leaflets, putting up posters, and

doing all the other necessary tasks to build a movement to

stop Bush's war against Iraq, it is sad that a few on the

sidelines claiming to speak for the liberal and

progressive community have so willingly been partners with

the right wing and pro-war supporters in their efforts to

disrupt the growing peace movement. Much of the

red-baiting and disinformation campaign emanated first

from the pages of the Nation magazine and its columnists,

which is now approvingly cited by the new Joe McCarthys in

the conservative establishment. Some writers who have done

nothing to organize against the war -- Todd Gitlin, Marc

Cooper, Christopher Hitchens, David Corn and a few others

-- have been feverishly exposing "reds" in the anti-war

movement and demanding purges for months.



A handful of people who claim to be leaders of the peace

movement have also supported these attacks and demurred

that they are not red-baiting but only trying to look out

for the best interests of the movement. They state that

the anti-war movement must appeal to "mainstream America"

and that A.N.S.W.E.R.'s leadership and organizing, despite

the turnout of hundreds of thousands of people in the

streets, is a barrier to reaching that "mainstream"

America. They wrongly insist that A.N.S.W.E.R.'s linking

issues of war, racism and economic justice -- inclusion of

the struggle against the death penalty, or presenting a

taped anti-war message to the demonstration from political

prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, or supporting Palestinian

self-determination -- that this bringing together unity of

different social justice struggles to oppose war on Iraq

can only "limit" the anti-war movement.



A.N.S.W.E.R. has mobilized the largest demonstrations

against the Bush administration's policies that have been

filled not only by radical activists but by broad sections

of the population reaching across ethnicities, races,

genders, economic status and many political divides to

include many who are participating for the first time in

political protests.



"Mainstream," when used by those who wish to narrow the

movement and its outreach, is however, a code word in the

political lexicon that refers to upper middle-class white

America. A.N.S.W.E.R. wants to and has reached and

included all sectors of the society. When we use the term

mainstream we mean not only the middle class, but the

broad, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-national working

population in the United States. History proves that the

most powerful mass movements are those that give voice to

sectors of society that are traditionally disenfranchised

or ignored or demonized. Together we are building

demonstrations and a movement that reflects the real

mainstream America -- all of us. This has been echoed by

the thousands of people from all backgrounds who have

written about their experiences standing

shoulder-to-shoulder with people they would never

otherwise have met, who are from different communities,

and how for the first time they have felt the power of

democracy in America.



"Mainstream" is also used as code for something else. It

means opposing some tactics of Bush's war while embracing

the government rationale for its twelve-year quiet war

against Iraq, including genocidal sanctions that the UN

admits has killed over one million Iraqi civilians, and

accepting the fundamental assumption of the Bush

administration that the U.S. must "do something about

Iraq." The entirely false characterization and spin

provided by these pundits, and those who parrot them, is

that those who oppose the imperial ambitions of the U.S.

in the Middle East are necessarily political apologists

for Saddam Hussein. Simply put, if the people in Iraq want

to carry out regime change, that is one thing. When the

Pentagon and the CIA attempt to use sanctions and military

invasion to create a puppet regime, that is something

altogether different. Counterposed to Bush's doctrine of

pre-emptive war and forcible regime change, A.N.S.W.E.R.

supports the right of Iraqi people to determine their own

destiny. The same can be said about the U.S. conflict with

North Korea, Cuba or any other Third World country that

attempts to retain its sovereignty in the face of U.S.

military aggression and economic blockade.



In the past week, the red-baiting attacks have been picked

up and intensified by corporate media such as NPR and the

New York Times, who also approvingly cite the

"progressive" publications and enlist other sectarians who

claim to be part of the peace movement, to give

credibility to their demonization of the peace movement.

Below is a link to an audio piece from NPR's Fresh Air

from last week, which has compelled people from all over

the country to condemn NPR and send messages of support to

the anti-war movement.



LESSONS OF THE MCCARTHY ERA



The historical link between the current attacks and the

1950s McCarthy era is striking. As the social justice

movement emerged from the 1950s, the result of red-baiting

was clear for all to see: socialists had been fired from

their jobs, driven from unions, and also from

"progressive" organizations who were purging their ranks.

As the pressure grew, even the ACLU, which purportedly

defended free speech unconditionally, capitulated and

purged its ranks of communists and socialists who had

played an invaluable role in the movement to defend the

Bill of Rights. It even reported on activists to FBI head

J. Edgar Hoover and the House Un-American Activities

Committee. The attacks spread to those who were designated

as "fellow travelers" and even to those who simply signed

petitions against the atomic bomb. Actor Paul Robeson and

renowned scientist Linus Pauling (who won two Nobel

prizes, including one for peace) had their passports

lifted by the U.S. government. This is recognized as a

shameful period of witch-hunting in America.



The red-baiting limited the anti-war movement during the

Korean War and critically weakened the labor movement in

the U.S. At the start of growing opposition to the Vietnam

War in the mid-1960s, the established "peace" groups

demanded that socialists and Marxists also be purged from

anti-war groups and organizing, just as Corn, Gitlin and

their group of armchair activists are demanding now. But

young people who took the leadership of the anti-war

movement, the people who took to the streets, rejected

these demands. Ultimately, because division efforts

similar to those clamored for now failed, the mass

movement was built with many voices and the progressive

community played a leading and decisive role in the

protracted struggle that brought an end to the Vietnam

War.



This new attack is a disgraceful course of conduct, one

reminiscent of loyalty oaths and one that will not be

tolerated.



We in the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition choose to work together

and choose to stand side by side because we oppose war,

racism, sexism and homophobia and share a common belief:

support for the right of people to live decent

non-exploited lives, in peace and with justice and

self-determination. As evidenced by the mass

demonstrations on September 29, 2001, April 20, 2002,

October 26, 2002, and most recently January 18, 2003, so

also do hundreds of thousands of people.



OUR FUTURE TOGETHER



We speak on behalf of many grassroots organizers around

the country who are building a movement to stop a criminal

war of aggression that will needlessly endanger the lives

of U.S. servicepeople and kill thousands of innocent

Iraqis for Big Oil's interests, and that will loot the

national Treasury, diverting money from healthcare, jobs

and education to arms-makers and corporate war profiteers.



Constructive criticism and dialogue about political

disagreements is healthy for the movement and a sign of

maturity. But we categorically reject the demands for

purging, factionalization, sectarianism, and red-baiting

that seeks to divide people at the very moment when unity

is required to stop Bush and company from waging an

endless war against the people of the world.



We encourage all to join in as we continue to build a

potent force of unequaled breadth and diversity, with many

different voices and viewpoints, united to stop this war

drive.



Otherwise the Bush Administration, its warmongering

supporters, and those who would play directly into their

hands for their own sectarian purposes, will be able to

divide a growing movement, shut down powerful dissent and

scare off and silence people just as happened in the

McCarthy era to those who then opposed atomic weapons, the

war in Korea, and the legal Jim Crow apartheid in the U.S.

It took the progressive movement more than a decade to

regain its footing. We probably don't have that kind of

time right now.

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