so I marched in the San Francisco antiwar demonstration, October
26th, against my better judgement: and I'm glad
I did. I did it because this was considered
a test of antiwar sentiment, and I felt obligated to attend,
but I had a good time in spite of myself. It was a colorful
crowd, as befits Baghdad-by-the-Bay, it was a nice day, and
the people marching alongside us were pretty cool, with their
spirited music and colorful banners. But then came the speeches,
and, omigod, a more stereotypical collection of leftie bromides
has never been heard before or since.
Washington, it was Al Sharpton, Ramsey Clark, Jesse Jackson,
and the Usual Suspects, all mouthing the same tired old phrases
and subjecting their captive audience to every pathetic leftie
cause under the sun: free Mumia
Abu Jamal (won't somebody free us from him?), "money
for jobs, not for war" (hey, bud, you get a job, and
then you get the money!), "transgender rights"
(say what?), the whole kit-n'-kaboodle. Yikes! Indeed,
at the end of it, I was convinced that I had wandered into
the wrong demonstration, because we didn't hear much about
the war, or why we ought to be against it, or what any of
the arguments for non-intervention in the affairs of other
nations might be. The only relief from tirades against capitalism
came when a few Democratic party politicians trooped to the
microphone, telling us how we need "regime change in
Washington" so as to give the Other War Party a chance
to prove its warmongering bona fides. We heard a lot about
the United Nations and how wonderful it is but no mention
of how the UN voted for and approved the last Gulf war, or
what these bozos would do if the Security Council approves
military action this time around. In San Francisco, we heard
Rep. Barbara Lee, touted as a heroine by the organizers, telling
us that she, too, wants "regime change" in Iraq,
but we have to do it through the UN, and give the Iraqis a
chance to surrender. Oh, and by the way, the best way to do
this is to vote for the Democrats. (No thanks, Barb.)
and on they droned, but my ears really pricked up when someone
I didn't catch who started ranting from the stage about
how the organizers of the rally had "received criticism"
from "reactionaries" about the multi-purpose multi-issue
multi-culti nature of the march: but, oh no, these
guys weren't about to stick to "one single issue"
(i.e. a murderous war against a nation that has never attacked
well, just because, that's why. So there!
that little tirade and, to be honest, I didn't catch all
of it was in response to a couple of articles in Mother
Jones magazine, by Todd
Parrish, and myself,
criticizing just this aspect of the demonstrations. Or, perhaps
not. At any rate, the Commies in charge of the demo weren't
about to brook any criticism of either their ideology or their
methods: this was the only show in town, and they weren't
about to give it up. I ran into the heroic Maad
Abu-Ghazalah, running for Congress in California's Twelfth
District against rabid warmonger Tom Lantos (a Democrat, naturally):
he was trying to get a spot on the speakers' list, to no avail,
of course. No Libertarians need apply.
I knew better than to approach the organizers of that demonstration
about endorsing, participating in, or in any way helping them
in their efforts. I have been told, in no uncertain terms,
that my presence is not welcome, period. I'm a "reactionary,"
you see an out-of-the-closet, unapologetic, warp-speed libertarian,
who had to laugh when he heard one of the speakers at this
leftie love-fest utter
required ingredient to [the American] system was terror and
war,' said activist John Parker. 'It's the system of capitalism,
and in this stage is a system called imperialism. It means
you compound more and more wealth in fewer and fewer hands,
which means you need more and more terrorism and war.'"
if that's true, then it doesn't matter how many hundreds of
thousands are mobilized to stop this war before it starts,
because "the system" produces war like a widget
factory produces, uh,
widgets. So this is the analysis of
the sponsors of October 26: short of overthrowing capitalism,
no effective anti-imperialist movement can reverse our foreign
policy of global military intervention. Never mind that capitalism
free markets is the antithesis of war, that the stock
market takes a long dive every time Bush utters a war cry,
and that war, as Randolph Bourne put it so succinctly, "is
the health of the State." If you're a dogmatic leftie
talking though your hat to other dogmatists, it doesn't matter
what you say, as long as it doesn't make the least
bit of sense.
people who came to these demonstrations 100,000 in Washington
don't share the politics of the organizers. Indeed, there
aren't many people on earth save in North Korea who share
the politics of the organizers. I won't go into a long tirade
about those politics the "International A.N.S.W.E.R."
"coalition" is, in reality, a front for a group
of particularly kooky leftists, the Workers World Party, which
is a parody of the typical leftist "revolutionary,"
group, circa 1936. (For more info, go here,
to say that I'm not alone in my criticisms, and that dissatisfaction
with having admirers of Kim il-Sung representing the antiwar
movement has bubbled up from the rank-and-file, and even made
it into the mainstream media. "Protestors
Dislike Anti-U.S. Rhetoric," reads the headline of
a Hartford Courant story, subheaded: "Some Of
Those Traveling to Washington Today Are Uncomfortable With
Anti-American Rhetoric That Has Dominated Past Demonstrations."
Here is John Black, a 78-year-old Quaker from New Canaan,
anticipate we may hear and be considered in the same boat
as some whose rhetoric is really hostile and anti-American.
We are not anti-American. We are anti-war."
went to the demonstration, "despite a foreboding"
sense that he would be subjected to the same shrill rhetoric
that marred an antiwar rally he had attended earlier in New
York City. "Instead of uniting a broad group of protesters
against a war" the article continues, "Black and
others fear, such virulent sentiments will scare away middle
America - a block of voters whose opinions mean the most to
politicians." Black says:
do not like being associated with these people. Some of them
are more anti-American than anti-war."
brother! That just about sums it up, as far as the leftist-led
antiwar movement is concerned. The movement has been hijacked
by a bunch of neo-Stalinists, who, oddly enough, utilize their
hopped-up "radical" rhetoric in the service of the
most conventional Democratic party politics imaginable. Doesn't
anyone see the humor in Barbara Lee calling for a Democratic
election-year sweep from a platform erected by those who mourned
the fall of the Berlin wall? You should've seen all those
nose-ringed bandanna-ed "anarchist" kiddies applauding
Lee as she hustled votes for Democrats and assured us that
only the UN has a legitimate right to declare war on Saddam
Hussein. It was a revealing moment, and a truly disgusting
was going to stay longer, and listen to all the speeches,
but unfortunately there weren't any: not really. Representatives
of a long list of "multicultural" groups Concerned
Lesbians of Color (Differently-Abled Caucus), the United Transgender
Revolutionary Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) (also known as Untrammeled!),
and, of course, the National Victimological Congress of Egalitarian
Idiotarians shouted slogans into the microphone, which the
hopped up lefties near the stage shouted mindlessly back,
like teenagers at a school pep rally. Here, at this solemn
moment, as the nation teeters on the brink of a disastrous
war, and rational arguments are called for, what do we get?
Rah rah, sis-boom bah! Hooray for us, and [expletive
deleted] the rest of the country.
author of the Courant piece certainly knows what's
up. Pointing to religious-based groups as most disturbed by
the multi-issue approach of the IAC/Workers World Party and
similar left-led "coalitions," the article cites
well-known a media consultant:
these groups will need to get organized if the peace movement
stands any chance of forcing the government to rethink its
policies, said Peter Wirth, a media consultant in Syracuse,
N.Y., who works with social justice groups. Peace groups need
to send a simple, focused message to rally the public's support
and not let the issue get linked to other causes, he said."
article goes on to quote Wirth, and his analysis ought to
be framed and put over the desk of every antiwar activist
with an ounce of sense:
White House is carefully choosing its message, symbols and
spokespeople to make sure they reach middle America. A handful
of people in the streets - and even if 100,000 show up in
D.C. - that is still a handful, will not stop the war. Unless
we reach out to veterans, Democrats, Republicans, Rotary members,
waitresses, the folks who bowl on Saturday night, the 99 percent
of people in our community who will not show up at any of
our events, in addition to us peace activists, we will fail."
short, the antiwar forces, if they are to stop this war before
it starts, or even to raise significant questions in the minds
of most Americans, must recruit the hated bourgeoisie
the object of the leftists' eternal scorn. The leftist grouplets
that control both major "coalitions" "Answer"
and "Not In Our Name" are not interested
in building the antiwar movement, per se, so much as
building their own little parties, and recruiting marchers
in their next demonstration to free the convicted murderer
and professional left-wing martyr Mumia abu-Jamal. And they
lack the tactical ingenuity of their Communist Party USA ancestors,
who at least had the good sense to come up with some counterintuitive
but resonant slogans such as "Communism
is 20th Century Americanism"!
the other hand, I don't want to be too hard on Ramsey Clark
and Workers World. Although I've had to deal with their goon
squads on several occasions over the years, I have to say
that Todd Gitlin's critique of their politics is half red-baiting
and half-cocked. He doesn't like going to demonstrations and
seeing "radical" signs like "stop the sanctions."
He's for sanctions, you see it's okay to starve the
children of Iraq, but just don't bomb them and put them out
of their misery too soon. Sheesh! Compared to Gitlin,
Pat Buchanan, the alleged "reactionary" and hate-figure
of the Left, is a veritable pussycat when it comes to the
sanctions issue, which he
has several times denounced as "barbarous."
And that other bete noire of the Marxoid Left, as well
as all-too-many libertarians, organized religion, is also
guilty of "radical" sentiments: not just the liberal
Protestant National Council of Churches, but also the
Roman Catholic Church, and the Pope himself, have come out
foursquare against the sanctions as morally impermissible.
also doesn't want to hear criticisms of Israel. But since
this is a war that will be fought for Israel's sake, and to
ensconce it as the dominant independent power in the region,
to refrain from mentioning Israel is to go mute on the war
question. As Michael Kinsley points
and whether an American war against Iraq would be good for
Israel is far from clear and is the subject of vigorous debate
in Israel itself but not in America. Theories range from the
mundane to the exotic to the paranoid: Clearing out a neighborhood
troublemaker before he gets the bomb is reason enough. Or,
deposing Saddam will set off a complex regional chain reaction
that will somehow turn the Arab nations into peaceful bourgeois
societies. Or, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon actually wants
a huge regional conflagration that he can use as an excuse
and cover for expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank.
In any event, the downside risk for Israel of carnage, military
and civilian is like America's, only far greater.
we'd better not talk about it."
not? Because, says Kinsley, it conjures up "classic anti-Semitic"
images of "the President's Jewish advisors whispering
in his ear." Gee, I didn't know Karl Rove was Jewish.
For while Kinsley mentions Rove, as well as Richard Perle
and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, he doesn't give
the former his due: for it is Rove, and not the others, who
is driving the President's decision-making process this election
year. The politics of this war reflect the internal politics
of the Republican party, which demand unconditional support
for Israel as a matter of political faith.
this faith is not Judaism: it has nothing to do with "Jewish
advisors" and everything to do with the enormous influence
of Christian fundamentalists of a certain sort in the GOP.
Christian evangelicals, who believe that human action can
influence and even cause the Second Coming of Christ, are
theologically wedded to Israel and they make up the organizational
backbone of the President's political base, which must be
appeased at all costs. They believe that when all the Jews
are gathered in the land of Israel, His coming is imminent
and so they are self-proclaimed "Christian Zionists"
whose fervor has made Zionist groups both grateful and uncomfortable.
Grateful for the political and material support, and discomfited
by the idea that these are people who believe that, in the
Final Days, all Jews will either convert or be banished to
the nether regions.
is impossible to debate the politics of this war, or to make
the arguments against this war, without referring to the war
plans of the administration elsewhere in the Middle East.
For our strongest argument is that Iraq is only the beginning:
that Bush has been given a blank check by a supine Congress
to make war on whomever, wherever and whenever he so chooses.
This war also means "regime change" in Syria, Iran,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Egypt, Jordan, and
the sheikdoms of the Gulf and who benefits? As Kinsley puts
Aziz has a theory. Saddam Hussein's deputy told the New York
Times this week, "The reason for this warmongering policy
toward Iraq is oil and Israel." Although no one wishes
to agree with Tariq Aziz, he has put succinctly what many
people in Washington apparently believe. They do not think
the concern over potential use of nuclear, chemical, and biological
weapons is negligible or insincere, but they do think that
'oil and Israel' is a pretty good summary of what, for President
Bush, makes Iraq different from your run-of-the-mill evil
dictatorship. Yet this presumption about Bush, and these issues
themselves, barely appear in the flood of speculation and
argument about Bush War II."
spreads his poisonous red-baiting and backbiting via another
article on the antiwar movement's dilemma in
Salon.com, which retails his smearing of the "Not
in Our Name" project. According to Salon, NION is
linked to a group called "Refuse
and Resist," which is, in turn, somehow linked to
the Revolutionary Communist Party, a group of pro-"Gang
of Four" Maoists. The group was founded in the 1970s
by Bob Avakian, the Great Helmsman of the radical Maoist faction,
who fled to France after a demonstration at the Chinese embassy
resulted in a string of felony charges. Directing the Great
Proletarian Revolution from exile on the Riviera, Avakian
is not exactly Carlos the Jackal, but if the description in
Salon is to be taken seriously these folk are "supporters
of the maniacally brutal Shining Path guerrilla group in Peru."
Gitlin tells us of a supposed conversation with Clark Kissinger,
an RCP member, who calmly informed him that, come the Revolution,
opponents of the RCP would be shot.
I'm sure, is still shaking in his boots. The story, if true,
and if somebody wasn't just having a bit of fun with the pompous
Gitlin, underscores why working with Kissinger and others
of a similar ilk is alright with me: because they represent
no real threat, either to me or to the country. As an ideology,
Communism is as much a menace as phrenology
or Rosicrucianism: as a movement, it can hardly be said to
exist. The RCP has, at most, a few hundred members. If Kissinger
and his fellows reds want to play at "revolution,"
and in the meantime are content to lick envelopes and do the
work it takes to build a unified single-issue movement, then
who is anybody to complain? Least of all Professor Gitlin,
who is no doubt above licking envelopes. When some snot-nosed
lap-top bombardier of the neoconservative set brings up Kissinger's
commie views, the proper answer is that the antiwar movement
is ideologically diverse and united around opposition to the
like what the novelist
Russell Banks has to say about Gitlin's unprincipled attack.
He didn't know about the alleged RCP connection, but says
it's no big deal:
you refuse to associate politically with people on specific
issues because you don't agree with their whole program, you
end up very lonely and harmless,' he says, noting that he'd
also be willing to march with Patrick Buchanan, another opponent
of the war in Iraq whose politics he fiercely disagrees with."
have a dream. It is an antiwar rally that features not only
the Usual Suspects, but also some that are quite unusual,
at least speaking from the platform at an antiwar demonstration.
Let Ramsey Clark speak, let Rep. Barbara Lee have her moment
in the spotlight, but let them share it with Pitchfork Pat
Ron Paul, one of the few Republicans to vote against this
war and the most principled and consistent opponent of foreign
interventionism in the U.S. Congress. To borrow a phrase from
the history of the Chinese Communist Party, with which I know
the partisans of the RCP and Workers World will be familiar:
a hundred flowers bloom!"
problem is not the presence of unreconstructed Marxist-Leninists
in the antiwar movement: it is their unwillingness or inability
to work with anyone to the right of Jesse Jackson. If they
persist in their sectarian behavior, then they ought to be
recognized as a problem and dealt with accordingly. In that
case, some way will have to be found to go around them, out
of sheer frustration at their obstructionist and self-serving
tactics. But Gitlin's shameless red-baiting and even more
reprehensible surrender on the question of sanctions makes
even the Workers World people seem relatively rational. The
carpet-bombing of Iraq is okay with the Todd Gitlins of this
world, just as long as it's sanctified by the United Nations
Seal of Good Warmongering just like it was okay in the former
Yugoslavia. Since Gitlin has had the gall to call for a "patriotic"
antiwar movement, even while telling us that we ought to surrender
our prerogatives as a nation to the global bullies of the
UN, let him try this on for size as the credo of a
new red-white-and-blue antiwar opposition:
the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to
believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people
ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience
prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes
of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must
be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence
to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive
partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of
another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on
one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence
on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of
the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while
its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the
people, to surrender their interests."
Washington's Farewell Address, in case you don't recognize
it, which the "A.N.S.W.E.R." group would never even
consider putting on its website. After all, Washington was
from the oppressor class, one of those dreaded Dead White
European Males. Yet his warning to the future, if Americans
could be awakened to its implications for today, bears repeating.
And, unlike the stereotypical rhetoric of the Commies, it
has the power to mobilize millions. When oh when will the
antiwar movement realize this and will they do so before
it's too late?
so I marched this time, but I
ain't marchin' anymore, as the old song goes, at least
not until the antiwar movement cleans up its act and makes
itself just a little more presentable, and accessible to the
millions who agree with its ostensible goals.
CAN DISH IT OUT, BUT
non-answer to a
recent column of mine on the concerted campaign to smear
the antiwar movement as "anti-Semitic," gay Catholic
neoconservative Orwell-wannabe Andrew
Sullivan plays the gay victimology card:
BIGOTRY WATCH: 'What is 'self-evidently bizarre,' however,
is that Sullivan seems to be publicly losing his mind. It
happens to a lot of people with AIDS. Dementia sets in, eventually,
and, no matter how many drug cocktails they take, in the end
virtually all succumb to mania and mental deterioration.'
gay Buchananite polemicist Justin Raimondo, Anti-War.com,
setting a new level of discourse for the anti-war movement."
see if I get this, er, straight: It's
okay for Sullivan to attack opponents of a war that serves
Israel's interests, but not our own, as "anti-Semites,"
and it's perfectly alright for him to publicly hallucinate
that antiwar activists are handing out copies of the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion (oh, puh-leeeze!). But it's
not okay to point out an indisputable medical fact:
with AIDS do indeed suffer from dementia. Sullivan, of
course, has not exactly kept his AIDS diagnosis a secret:
has written an entire book on the subject, as well as
articles. Yet we are supposed to believe that it is "bigotry"
for another self-identified homosexual to link Sullivan's
deluded rhetoric to his medical condition. For all his bitching
about the supposedly horrendous "gay Left," it's
very telling how quickly Sullivan reverts to the classic "I'm
a victim" stance of his leftie brothers-in-spirit. Earth
to Andy: get over it, Mary.
You sure can dish out the lies, but can't take truth even
in small doses. Tough.
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