Letters to
Please send your letters to Backtalk editor Sam Koritz. Letters become the property of Antiwar.com and may be edited before posting. Unless otherwise requested, authors may be identified and e-mail addresses will not be published. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Antiwar.com.

Posted March 23, 2003

Regarding "San Francisco Rabble Brings Discredit on Antiwar Movement" by Justin Raimondo:

So, Justin, you have joined the establishment. Good for you. Why don't you just volunteer to be a spokesperson for George Bush?

You are well suited for the job!

Peaceful protests are the dream of Bush/Cheney, and play perfectly into their hands.

Stopping the machine will require us to go far beyond your pitiful "peaceful legal" contributions.

~ Kirk McCall

Justin Raimondo replies:

Yes, and I hope you like your new job as an agent provocateur. Tell me, do they pay you by check or in cash?

You must realize that most of the disruptive activity that you abhor at demonstrations is caused by agents provocateur, police infiltrators who pretend to be protesters. They start the trouble and the rest of us get blamed.

I was in Chicago on Thursday, March 20. I saw the police channeling the crowd onto Lakeshore Drive. They never told the demonstrators to stop, turn back or disperse. They waited till they had us trapped with no way out and would not let us leave. Then they waded in en masse and a riot ensued.

I agree that peaceful demonstrations are preferable. Please do not be too quick in deciding who it is that is breaking the peace.

~ Robert Backas, Chicago, Illinois

Justin Raimondo replies:

I agree with you, except when it comes to San Francisco. I know this town, and, lemme tell ya, there are a LOT of out-of-control types here.

Don't call the antiwar protesters in San Francisco "thugs". They are the typical western demonstrators against war, racism, right wing parties, anti-communism, western nuclear weapons, civil rights for whites. Since the sixties I have seen them at work in Europe. The Germans have a good word for them: "Untermenschen".

At Antiwar.com you have no right to despise them. They are your political friends, of the slightly more radical tendency.

Hubert Spons, Flanders (Belgium)

Justin Raimondo replies:

Oh puhleeze, Mr. Spons, spare me the finger-wagging. These violent idiots are just a different side of the same coercive coin of which George W. Bush and the War Party are the reverse. The same mentality of entitlement; the same ignorance; the same militant certainty that allows them to ignore reality and pursue their ends with violence.

Shame on you for your capitulationist attack on the democratic, decentralized protests in San Francisco.

Using large objects and people to block intersections and businesses all over town is most admirable. So what if a few drivers or workers are inconvenienced for sometimes only minutes. We are talking about protest against a bloody WAR. This kind of spirit breathes life and hope into what has been such an apathetic country. Think about it. Stop the whining.

~ Janice Bradley

Justin Raimondo replies:

Yeah, you're sooooo right. So what if narcissistic jerks like yourself turn the majority of Americans against the antiwar movement and give Bush and his government the political support to go barreling into Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and wherever. Just as long as you – and we all know it's all about YOU – get your jollies.


Are you antiwar or what? Instead of repeating the police version of the SF actions do some investigation first.

~ EL

Justin Raimondo replies:

I see your email address is at "lumpen.com." I rest my case!

I can hardly believe my eyes reading this editorial. How dare you summarize the actions and intents of thousands of people who took to the streets today for no other reason than a physical show of opposition to actions perpetrated in their names as American citizens.

Yes, there were some who took advantage of the crowds anonymity to wreak their own type of havoc, but to brandish the whole protest as violent and counterproductive to the peace movement is downright ignorant. I was there, on the streets with them all day, as I have been for several large protests in the recent past, the message we were trying to get across is simple "we won't sit back and let this administration continue to act without the consent of the people." We were there to be seen and heard, the voices of the citizens of this country against the military aggression our president is unleashing having bypassed the congressional approval process.

The violent troublemakers were about 50 strong, the rest of us (several thousand) were there to act in civil disobedience, to get our message heard and seen, as if it would make any difference at all to our leaders. Of course the press is going to cover the more sensational stories of violence if their goal is to undermine the credibility of the peace movement, but that should be expected. I would have expected more from an alternative media source like yours.

I'll be back on the streets tomorrow morning, I hope our protest doesn't delay you too badly.

~ August Iron

Justin Raimondo replies:

You are a complete idiot. If you want "the consent of the people" the way to do it is not to drag them out of their cars, damage their property, and then proclaim you're doing it in the name of "peace." Isn't it funny, but Bush and his cabal of warmongers are saying that THEY have "the consent of the people," what with 70-plus percent supporting the war in the polls. Does that justify the war? Of course not. So wake up, you fool – and start trying to persuade people with rational arguments. That's the only way the antiwar movement can ever win.

I simply can't believe the vitriolic article you have written. And it is astounding coming from the editorial director of Antiwar.com. You are doing the same thing that corporate media does to the peace movement. You have taken the actions of the "fringe" groups and tagged that behavior to the whole movement.

I participated in the mostly peaceful nonviolent action in Portland Thursday, March 20th. Yes, 5,000 people marched down the streets without permits, yes the streets in downtown were blocked, yes some of the protesters. closed down the freeways and a bridge, but to paint all these actions as a discredit to the antiwar movement is to not understand the depth of commitment of many of the protesters., especially the young people. They were willing to sit quietly on the street while the riot police with stun grenades and pepper spray assaulted them. One hundred and thirty-five protesters. were arrested and a remarkably small number (perhaps a handful) were very peaceful when arrested.

That does not discredit the antiwar movement. This action elevates it to a new level. That people are willing to be arrested to stop this war would make Gandhi and Martin Luther King smile.

~ Irene Steiner

I'm sure you remember the event in Pennsylvania last week where "antiwar demonstrators" allegedly attacked and defiled a "911" memorial while cops stood passively by and claimed "they were protected by the 1st amendment."

I and many others immediately saw that as "COINTELPRO" type BS that our wonderful FBI used to do all the time.

What is to keep the SFPD – known for spying and dirty tricks, or the FBI, paid to do spying and dirty tricks, in the context of a stolen right-wing dangerous administration where dirty tricks are part of their religion- for joining in the black bloc and wreaking havoc to smear antiwar protesters. in general and hasten the move to call any and all dissent unacceptable.

I say its totally expected. They are miserable criminals and nothing is too low or vile for them to contemplate.

Shock and Awe, remember?

I support widespread peaceful, nonviolent disruption.

WE were screwed at the polls in 2000, again in 2002, they play down the numbers of the people who want this war stooped immediately. People have the right to raise absolute hell as long as nobody gets hurt and no paint is scratched.

Raising holy hell is THE American activity currently to protest the war and to save the reputation of America in the world. It is Bush's war, not the American people's war. The American people are as screwed as anybody and the whole world needs to get a grip on that.

Into the streets! Make with the Noise! Yell and scream! Beat pots and pans and play trumpets and guitars! Beat drums! Dammit its our country, not the Bush Administrations.

I, for one, want it back.

~ Doc Zombie

...To hear this kind of smear from an antiwar columnist is really disappointing. I recognize that lots of different kinds of activities occurred (although no news report I saw said protesters. tried to drag people of their cars), but a very large portion of it was basic civil disobedience, not "thrill-seeking."

Your first paragraph is completely contradicted by Morpheus M's recent letter. It provides a rational, conceptual framework from which to understood how such protests attempt to change foreign policy.

"Peaceful, legal, and massive demonstrations are the only way to stop this war." – Tried that. Not working. Bush not listening. Or maybe the demos just weren't massive enough? In Britain, up to 2 million (out of 60 million) demonstrated. Are they now to be allowed the use of civil disobedience, Justin? ...

Civil disobedience is a legitimate, meaningful form of dissent put sanely into practice by hundreds, if not thousands, of sit-down blockaders Thursday. Other people utilized other forms of dissent, it is true, but please address those one at a time, not lump all as "illegal = illegitimate = violent." ...

~ Martin B.

I'm a dedicated reader of your column and leftist, they say, and I agree 101% with you.

They are provocateurs and we saw "them" here in Gothenburg too. They were not the only provocateurs – the police tried hard too, masking themselves, carrying stones (they admitted officially).

Right now these provos are quite useful to the pro-war establishment. That´s why they are released.

~ Thomas Claesson, Tjörn, Sweden

I don't know much about the protest in San Francisco, but if they were committing acts of violence and vandalism then I take great offense at your comparison to the Chicago protests of last night. Our protest was completely nonviolent, and non-damaging to property. The only violence was from the police. You need to check your facts before you write. We were held hostage by the police last night on a side street for 3 hours. They came up from behind us after blocking us off from the front with riot squads 20 deep, there were giant buildings on our left, and a giant stone wall on the other side. They then told us to get on the side walk if we didn't want to get arrested. Their next nazi tactic was to move foreword from both sides, squeezing people till they could no longer fit on the sidewalk, and then arresting anyone who was forced into the street rather than be beaten by the advancing wall of police swinging billy clubs.

People were beaten, and dragged on concrete, and thrown in jail. At this point the entire crowd wanted to disperse, but the police wouldn't let anyone leave, I called 911 twice for help, to ask what the police wanted us to do, because they didn't once say anything with a megaphone to the crowd, and anyone who asked what they wanted us to do, was arrested and brutalized. They arrested over 800 people for peacefully protesting. I didn't witness a single act of vandalism, but I did see many acts of police brutality, most of the people stuck in traffic were waving peace signs at us and cheering.

The Chicago police always have been and always will be gangsters, we recently had the entire death row population of the state pardoned, due to numerous overturns of convictions because the police tortured confessions out of them with hot radiators and cattle prods. True, we did block traffic, but only briefly, and without any malice, but there was no violence or crimes committed in the process. You should know better than to believe what you hear on the news, especially where Chicago and the Daley mob are concerned. I certainly believe that violence and vandalism deserve to be prosecuted, and do in fact discredit our movement, but peaceful civil disobedience is an important tool for change.

~ Justin McCormack

Thank You

This letter is solely to say thanks for the job you guys are doing, especially lately. I'd be surprised if you were to recognize me individually, I'm up in the the Backtalk section once in a while, sometimes with a feverishly-typed kudo to Justin, other times with an incredulous letter of "How on Earth did you come up with that?" I visit the site daily, usually right after my email.

I knew that at 5 p.m., on the first day of the war, you guys would be on top of things. But what gladdened my heart so much was when I signed on at 12:30 am that night, to see that the site had been updated like, five minutes beforehand. That you guys were burning the midnight oil, culling headlines from all over the world, so that I could have a news source from multiple publications the world over, rather than a veritable choice of two media tycoons, gave me a sense of comfort that is difficult to explain.

What has been so enjoyable to watch from this site, and from Justin in particular, is watching the process of "growing up," so to speak. While just as opinionated and dead-on as the first days, this site really has come into it's own. And it's so much fun to see that you guys realize it. You really aren't lonely voices shouting into the cyberwind, but declarative roars of just and right protest. At the expense of using war rhetoric, Antiwar.com has definitely come into the offensive, and make no mistake, it is a power to be reckoned with.

I had an enormous smile on my face when my friend deluged me with a series of emails the other day about his new-founded discovery of the Israeli "art student" story. I could see from across the Internet the drop -jawed look of "What In The Hell?" on his face as he poked around the net for hours at work, reading articles, learning. After reading his emails, I smiled, clicked on Antiwar.com's link to The Israeli Art Student Files, copied it into my reply, and said, "I know."

Perhaps you planned from the beginning for your enterprise to evolve into what it is, or perhaps you have had to keep up with an unforeseen snowball. Either way, America is a better place for your presence, and I thank God for it.

~ J.P.

Editorial Director Justin Raimondo replies:

Hey, JP, thanks a lot. We live for letters like yours.


Antiwar.com is the most expansively articulate website that I have found for serious thinking about the mess in which we find our government wallowing, and an inspiration as to how that situation might be constructively challenged.

I agreed with your recent column where you proscribed some civil disobedience as being all about "me.."

When I used to be involved in rowdy and illegal protests I acknowledged that it was therapy : It let me get out my anger and outrage without resorting to the violent fantasies I was having. It also introduced me to something that I had no understanding of: jail.

~ Raven F.


Antiwar.com has been slow since yesterday. You're either being hacked, or your server is crazy busy with new readers. I just donated $100 to help you deal with all the traffic you must be getting. I encourage other readers to do the same. Now is the time!

~ Katharine Winans

Regarding "Bluff and Bluster" by Justin Raimondo:

About the technical problems to access the site quoted in Bluff and Bluster, by J. Raimondo:

From a non-technical point of view I am quite happy that you're having low resources problems compared to the good ole days in which less people visited your site. This may mean some more people being informed and maybe changing their point of view. I had those problems too (slow loading times), but I imagined it could be due to overloaded servers. Sometimes, as I stated previously, it is for good.

Then, a simple thought:

Although I'm not a fan of alt.conspiracy, I keep thinking that some truths about mass murders weapons will be fabricated along the way. The missiles launched to Kuwait have proven to be far from effective, and they did not bear any trace of chemical agents at all. As Vittorio Zucconi from La Repubblica clearly stated, if there were any chemical weapon available, it would have been used immediately as a deterrent. But no trace of nerve gasses have been found in the lousy and useless missiles Iraq fired.

True, peeling the Baghdad onion could make a lot of people cry, and only time will tell. Anyway, what will happen if those terrible weapons that Saddam hasn't destroyed will not be found? Will George W. Bush the Conqueror say "I'm sorry" and put Saddam back in control, making all of the dead people come back to life? Time has come for someone to tell the whole, real truth.

Antonio Martino, Foreign Minister of our ridiculous government, told the journalists this joke, when asked about Italy's participation to this War:

– A general came, and asked to his soldiers why they didn't fire the cannons. A soldier replied: "For ten different reasons, Sir". The general then asked: "Tell me those reasons, then". "The first one is that we don't have cannons..."

It may just be the same with Saddam.

~ Alberto Garbino, Udine, Italy

Not Quite Like a Movie

I have just looked at Antiwar.com for the first time, and am greatly encouraged to find Americans who share my views, but who can articulate them better than I can.

Saddam is an evil bastard, but we weary, cynical Europeans have had hundreds of years of coping with evil bastards. We have learnt that patience, diplomacy, deviousness and outflanking work better in the long run sometimes than trying a direct shoot out. The one thing that is certain about going to war, apart from the blood and guts, is that you can never be certain how it will turn out.

Individually, I like all the Americans I have met (and I have flown with the USAF), but en masse Americans can be very naive about the rest of the World. Many seem to think all international problems can be solved like in a cowboy movie – the shoot-out in the dusty street between the goodies in white shirts and the baddies in the black shirts, while the weaker citizens watch from the saloon windows or from behind a barrel.

The goodies, being righteous, always shoot better, and win. If they get a bullet themselves, it is always a flesh wound in the shoulder that somehow never does any damage.

Unfortunately the world is not quite like that.

I shall continue to log into your website from now on.

~ Richard Robson (ex Royal Air Force bomber pilot)

Regarding "Breaking Iraqi Windows Won't Help the Economy" by Sheldon Richman (FFF.org):

Thank you for the article.

Many are disgusted by the pious hypocrisy displayed by Blair and Bush. The US armed Saddam (including chemicals and technology) until the very day he went into Kuwait, knowing he was a butcher and using chemical weapons against Iran and Kurds. The US was prepared to give him a piece of northern Kuwait (to punish Kuwait for its anti-Americanism). But, young Frankenstein had ideas of his own and took all of Kuwait. When the US realized they had created a monster they had to disarm him. Thus the campaign to vilify their former ally. That same game has been played in the Americas.

At the end of the Gulf War, the US encouraged the Kurds and Shiites to revolt, then abandoned them to Saddam's wrath and stood by and watched the massacres. They had set up the Kurds similarly before.

I do believe Lloyd George and his administration wanted a just peace for the Arabs when the Ottoman Empire was partitioned. However, the "real politic" policies of the US have been an obstacle to peace. CIA backed coups set up puppet leaders that lead to revolutions and more wars. Britain, by supporting this conflict, is demonstrating its support for these policies. This war in itself is proof of the failure of these policies.

The world is saddened that Britain supports the very same policies that have lead us to this conflict. A quick end to this war is not the recipe for peace. There will be no peace as long as America pursues its self serving policies. As usual, others pay with limbs, lives and loved ones to serve US interests.

~ Ron Mattmer, Ontario, Canada

Regarding "Manufacturing Dissent" by Justin Raimondo:

I'm not a devout disciple of Chomsky's, and I think your piece made a few good points. But I was somewhat shocked that it appeared to be based entirely on one interview rather than on the whole body of work stretching back to the early days of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

The odd thing, to me is that your animus is directed toward a writer who, like yourself, comes out of an anti-statist, anarchist tradition that has simultaneously battled Marxism and corporatism from the beginning of the century. He doesn't pull punches, and he is no wimp, disagree with him though one might about one thing or another. I would hate to have your audience prematurely turned off to Chomsky – especially on the bizarre grounds that he is some kind of doctrinaire statist or that his criticism of US imperialism is not sufficiently radical. I don't think your economic ideas are sufficiently thought through sometimes, but that does not keep me from appreciating your strengths. Sometimes the right-left thing just gets in the way of listening. ...

Chomsky's two main contributions have been 1. to prove, through diligent scholarship and quotation, that most of the idealistic interpretations of US history and foreign policy – and domestic policy – are not just false but obviously so, utterly contradicted by publicly available documents, and 2. to describe in detail the "manufacture of consent" that constitutes the American system of propaganda. For a taste of both sides of his work, see http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/talks/9103-media-control.html. But to appreciate the the depth and importance of Chomsky, you have to read more than the admittedly tame-sounding (and very uncharacteristic) interview you quoted. ...

~ Jeffery Bogdan

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us