Antiwar Rally Sponsored by Radical Groups
This weekend’s “anti-war” rally in Washington is co-sponsored by ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice, groups on the radical fringe. As Glenn Reynolds notes, though, the press converage mostly treats it as a gathering of schoolteachers and grandmothers.
Antiwar Rally Will Be a First for Many (WaPo, B1)
The seasoned protesters who organized tomorrow’s antiwar demonstration are well-versed in many other causes. They have marched and rallied against police brutality, racism, colonialism and the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But their message on the Mall tomorrow will be singular: “End the war in Iraq.”
Because of that sharp focus, they will be joined by novice protesters such as Patrice Cuddy, 56. Interviewed by phone yesterday, the former public school teacher in Olathe, Kan., said she had to pull off her gardening gloves each time a neighbor interrupted her yardwork to ask about joining the bus she had chartered to go to the nation’s capital. “It’s small and it’s quiet here in Johnson County, but more and more people are becoming part of the group that doesn’t agree with this war,” said Cuddy, who was planning to load about 45 people onto the bus in a Home Depot parking lot this morning for the 20-hour ride to Washington.
Organizers say that similar busloads of teachers, nurses, housewives and others with little experience in mass protest are coming from Wisconsin, New Mexico, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, Ohio and many other states.
“This demonstration will reflect, by far, the most diverse group of antiwar protesters since before the war began,” said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, one of the event’s sponsors. “We have people coming from all political persuasions, including a very large number of people who have never before been part of the antiwar movement or protest activity.”
The two primary organizers of the march, for which planning began in May, are ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice. Both groups have sponsored other major demonstrations against the war in Iraq but also protested U.S. foreign policy in places ranging from Haiti to the Gaza Strip. Another sponsor is Code Pink, a women’s antiwar group that is widely criticized by war supporters for undertaking a humanitarian mission on behalf of refugees from the Iraqi city of Fallujah, an action that some said was helping the Iraqi insurgency.
To be sure, the WaPo peace notes the connection. Unfortunately, that connection is glossed over, without context to explain where they’re coming from. Even David Corn finds ANSWER despicable. Describing ANSWER’s role in a 2002 protest,
Officially, the organizer of the Washington demonstration was International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). But ANSWER is run by WWP [“Workers World Party, a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.”] activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front. Several key ANSWER officials Ã¢€” including spokesperson Brian Becker Ã¢€” are WWP members. Many local offices for ANSWERÃ¢€™s protest were housed in WWP offices. Earlier this year, when ANSWER conducted a press briefing, at least five of the 13 speakers were WWP activists. They were each identified, though, in other ways, including as members of the International Action Center.
The WWP does have the shock troops and talent needed to construct a quasi mass demonstration. But the bodies have to come from elsewhere. So WWPers create fronts and trim their message, and anti-war Americans, who presumably donÃ¢€™t share WWP sentiments, have an opportunity to assemble and register their stand against the war. At the same time, WWP activists, hiding their true colors, gain a forum where thousands of people listen to their exhortations. Is this a good deal Ã¢€” or a dangerous one? WhoÃ¢€™s using whom?
The same is, undoubtedly, true of this rally. The organizers are mostly from the radical, America-hating fringe while the overwhelming majority of the crowd are surely either hippie wannabes or honorable citizens simply gathering in peaceful protest against a very controversial war. One wonders, though, how the Post would cover a pro-war event sponsored by similarly radical groups?