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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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