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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Not in Our Name

Fred A Wilcox • 1 September 2004

On Sunday, August 29, 2004, approximately 500,000 people gather in and around Manhattan’s Union Square park, awaiting the signal to march uptown to Madison Square Garden where the Republican National Convention is about to begin. In the weeks preceding this march, the news media has worked hard to frighten demonstrators into staying home. Night after night, there are warnings that dangerous Anarchists may be plotting to do unspeakable things in New York City, terrorists might be planning to attack the city, and the police are preparing for mass arrests. (On Tuesday, August 31, the police do conduct a mass roundup, arresting more than 1,000 protesters, and 200 individuals even before they begin to march from Ground Zero to Madison Square Garden.)

Fortunately, these hysterical warnings did not work. Instead, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life—black, white, brown, gay and straight, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Hindi, Muslim, atheist, Socialist, Communist, Democrats, anti-Bush Republicans, and Anarchists gather to protest the war in Iraq, and to demand the removal of G.W. Bush and company from power, There are Vietnam Veterans, veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, veterans of the current war on Iraq, mothers pushing strollers, grandmothers carrying children, children carrying peace signs, elementary school students, high school students, college students, doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, brick layers, writers, artists, famous actors, actresses, and musicians. Filmmaker Michael Moore and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson lead the demonstration, and the crowd surges behind them, chanting and singing and shouting, beating drums, blowing whistles and horns.

One group of demonstrators carry flag draped coffins, a graphic display of the fact that to date nearly 1,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq, most of them after George W. Bush declared victory in his war. Thousands more have been wounded. Parents of soldiers who’ve died in Iraq carry photographs of their loved ones. Why, they ask, did the Bush administration sacrifice their child? Why have tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens been killed since the invasion began? Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people had nothing to do with the attacks on September 11, 200l. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. Iraq did not have biological or chemical weapons, long-range missiles capable of reaching our shores. The United States military destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure in 1991, a decade of sanctions against Iraq killed at least 500,000 Iraqi children, and the Iraqi army war was a paper tiger. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Iraq never posed an “imminent threat” to the United States.

Demonstrators have also gathered to express their anger over the Bush administration’s determination to sell or give our country to multinational greed-driven multinational corporations. We do not want these corporations to cut down the last stands of old growth forests. We do not want them to drill for oil in the Artic wilderness. We want our government to acknowledge the threat global warming poses to our world. We want Mr. Bush to take action to save endangered species, to clean up our poisoned rivers and lakes, and to preserve our national parks for future generations.

People have come to New York from all over the country and the world to proclaim that the Bush administration is not acting in our name when it launches preemptive strikes against other nations. The government is not acting in our name when it attacks other countries in order to build a more peaceful world; when it supports tyrants and dictators in order to promote democracy; and when it turns Iraq into a free fire zone in order to show the Iraqi people how much we care about them. We are here to grieve not just for our own dead and wounded soldiers, but to mourn all of the women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been blown to pieces as they sat down to breakfast or worked in their fields. Many in this vast crowd lived through the tumultuous and tragic Vietnam Era, and we had hoped that our country had learned its lesson—that we would never fight another illegal, unjustified, un-winnable war. We had hoped that the trauma of Vietnam and the tragedy of 9/11 would convince our leaders to refrain from acting out of revenge. We had hoped that never again would we never have to watch our nation divide into hostile, hateful, camps.

On Monday morning, the Daily News and New York Post, display lurid photos of masked demonstrators running from a paper dragon that, according to these papers, was set afire by anarchists. There are photos of demonstrators with their hands cuffed behind their backs and policemen making hundreds of arrests. The Post’s headline reads: BUSH BASHERS HIT THE STREETS. Below this headline, a female columnist writes that demonstrators were a mostly white, affluent folk who shared “a blind spot to history.” Exactly which “blind spot” is unclear, but the contempt this columnist has for the half million marchers literally leaps from the page.

Not surprising, really. To the right wing ideologues who believe the United States has a god-given right, indeed an obligation, to rule the world, even mothers and fathers who protest the loss of their children in Iraq are traitors. But no matter what the news media may or may not say about last Sunday’s march in New York City, 500,000 people braved the summer heat, as well as threats and warnings to say that the war in Iraq is not, and will never be, in our name. Killing for peace is not in our name. Poisoning our world is not in our name. Jeopardizing the health and welfare of future generations by ignoring the peril of global warning is not in our name. Planning to construct Star Wars and to build a new generation of atomic weapons, when forty to fifty million Americans live in poverty, is not in our name.

At the height of the Vietnam War, John Lennon sang, “All we are saying is givde peace a chance.” That is what those of us who have been marching, for decades, are trying to say. Just give peace a chance. If we don’t pursue peace rather than war, our relatives, our friends, and our neighbors will keep coming home from faraway places in flag draped coffins. After fifteen years of fighting in Vietnam, the United States was forced to depart that country, leaving behind a legacy of sorrow, bitterness, and distrust. Mr. Bush refuses to say when the 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq will come home. That’s because, like Richard M. Nixon when he ran for office in 1968, the resident in the White House does not have a plan to end this war. When asked about the poor, Marie Antoinette apparently said, “Let them eat cake.” Mr. Bush and his followers say, “Let them eat bullets or bombs or missiles lies.”

Last Sunday, a half million people marched peacefully through the streets of Manhattan to demand not only that the war in Iraq end, but that George W. Bush be given a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas. Mr. Bush and others in his administration should be tried for war crimes, but for now we would be delighted to see him soundly defeated in this November’s election.



 

 

 

 

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Index: Current Articles



6 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Not In Our Name
Fred A Wilcox

Child Murderers
Anthony McIntyre

32 CSM Urges Russian Government: Recognize Chechen Independence
Sean Burns

Who is Really to Blame?
George Young

Resistance, by ANY Means.
David A' Gardner

Reality Check
Patrick Lismore

Fairy Cleansing
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Culture of Lies and Deceit
Liam O Comain

Labour Steps Up Pressure on IRA to Disband
Paul Mallon


30 August 2004

The Knackers Yard
Anthony McIntyre

Spin Cycle
Mick Hall

Reality Check
Patrick Lismore

32 CSM Pays Tribute to Memory of Republican Socialist Volunteers
Marian Price

Let Them Stay
Davy Carlin

"Fine Words"

 

 

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