Category Archives: Fall 2001 (9/27/01)

Voices of Opposition

Courage, solidarity and action are crucial at this time of war and fear

We’ve pulled together this emergency issue to provide an opposition voice in the midst of the sea of nationalism and militarism currently gripping the US in the wake of the September 11 disaster. Opposing war, resisting racist attacks on Muslims, and refusing to surrender freedom, civil rights and privacy is crucial at this dangerous time.

Opposition to militarism does not equal indifference to the catastrophe that struck New York on September 11.

We were horrified by the massacre of thousands of regular folks. The callous waste of life, the reduction of living beings to pawns to be used and thrown away – prevention of such inhumanity inspires us to seek an anarchist society in which all life would be respected and cherished. We mourn the victims and weep for the families who have lost loved ones.

The mainstream media is busy seizing on the personal tragedy of so many to whip up a public frenzy in support of whatever policies Bush’s advisors may conceive. We are told that it is our duty as Americans to give unquestioning support to “our leader” during a time of national crisis.

But that is Bullshit! Bush is cynically taking advantage of the suffering and fear of a whole nation to rapidly advance policies which threaten freedom and increase the likelihood of further violent disasters. Bush understands that the social divisions existing on September 10 still exist now, and he is eagerly using this tragedy to advance the selfish interests of those in power who seek to rule and exploit the rest of the world’s people. Military adventurism may benefit certain narrow segments of the power structure, but ultimately cannot protect us from the type of violence that struck September 11. In fact, the authors of those attacks may have hoped they would inspire a violent US response, provoking a cycle of violent attacks and counter attacks, and recruiting more suicide bombers in the process.

More violence cannot prevent violence — ultimately only justice can promote peace. “An eye for an eye leaves us all blind.”

Red Alert!

As we go to press, events are moving extremely fast. New laws to curtail privacy and freedom at home are being rushed through Congress. War against a laundry list of international targets could start at any time.

As scary and uncertain as the new political reality following the September 11 attacks may seem, domestic opposition is needed now more than ever before. And there is no time to waste – Bush and his ilk are acting fast and decisively. We must pull together just as quickly and decisively.

Just before September 11, the movement against capitalism’s exploitation of the earth and all its people – commonly known as the “anti-globalization movement” – had never been stronger.

The September 11 attacks have set this movement back dramatically, but we don’t believe the set-back will be permanent. The earth is under systematic attack – not a one day attack, but every day. Multi-national corporations continue their invasion all across the globe. The peace movement, which is stirring to oppose the ill defined, unlimited “war on terrorism” declared by Bush, must oppose not only Bush’s military war, but the daily war of the capitalist system against the environment, freedom and people everywhere.

What Is To Be Done?

In a desperate situation such as this, how can we stop Bush’s steamroller to war?

We have to be brave, vocal and visible. Now isn’t the time to hide in activist ghettos or retreat to armchair opinions expressed only in privacy and safety.

Solidarity and community are crucial. Many, many people feel isolated, alone and scared in their opposition to the darkening skies of domestic crackdown and war. But when folks realize that there are millions here and abroad who believe as we do, fear and isolation gives way and we find courage in our solidarity.

The poll numbers indicating 90 percent of the population favoring war are the result of constant media expose to only one alternative – that offered by the Government. Its time to put some alternatives to war and repression on the agenda. The media won’t do it for us – we’re going to have to force these alternatives onto the agenda. Together, in a variety of ways ranging from candlelight vigils to militant disruption, the alternative messages must be made impossible to ignore.

And finally, peace and freedom loving people in the United States are in a unique position to slow or prevent the repression and violence planned by this nation’s rulers. If necessary, it will be up to us to put our bodies on the line to physically prevent the war machine from operating by disrupting all aspects of the society that feeds the war machine. We’re here – we’re the only ones who can reach the gears and levers.

These are dangerous and terrifying times, but we can’t let our fear lull us into inaction.

Not Who but Why

Tragic attack isn’t much of a surprise in view of US history of military aggression

Why were we attacked? The question has mostly been ignored, but President Bush seems to believe it has to do with our commitment to freedom and democracy; an ideal, he implies, that is so hated that it is now being attacked by “evil.” But that answer doesn’t suffice, and the evasiveness of his answer merits scrutiny. Let’s look at some of the more comprehensive reasons why someone would want to attack the United States.

Contrary to our own internal propaganda, outside of the US the rest of the world largely sees the US military and big business as an international bully. To the third world we’re seen as a dictator, a rogue state imposing our will on everybody else, often directly responsible for devastating military power and corporate dominance, with tragic effects for the poor, but immense benefits for the global masters of the economy. To the rest of the world, it is we who are the terrorists, we who are enemy of peace, we who are evil. Such views are not unfounded, and examples supporting them are ample.

Take, for instance, the US-backed genocide in East Timor by Indonesia. Plenty to be angry about here. The entire population was murdered with US arms and support. Or what about the US sanctions imposed on Iraq, responsible for over 50,000 child deaths annually, something which Madeline Albright says is “worth it.” Or what about the US bombing of Libya, or the destruction of a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, responsible for a death toll probably higher than the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center? Or consider Israel, the main client state of the US, backed with full support and over $6 billion annual military aid, used in an ongoing war against Palestinians, Syria, and their neighbors. Or what about the massacre and displacement of the Kurds, made possible and endorsed by massive US military aid to Turkey. What about Colombia, Latin America’s leading human rights violator receiving enormous support from the US? Or Vietnam, in which more civilian targets were hit than any other attack in history, and which now suffers child deaths due to explosives left scattered all over the country which the United States refuses to help clean up. And what about China? Or Cuba? The list of international atrocities committed by, or with full support from, the United States goes on.

In light of all of this, it should come as no surprise that the Pentagon and World Trade Center were attacked. We see it as a terrorist attack, but more likely it was a retaliatory strike, hitting back at a country who’s been bombing to hell the rest of the world for over 50 years, causing turmoil and poverty so extreme, that people are willing to die to send a message. Truly, for others to hate the United States this much, it must be much more than disdain for freedom; rather, people’s backs are against the wall and they’re striking back at their oppressors, us, in whatever way they can. With this in mind, the more frightening question might not be why this happened, but why this didn’t happen sooner?

However, the prominent question that the mainstream media is asking is Who’s to blame? That’s an understandable question. But I think the nature of the answers to this question require some analysis. The blatant anti-Arab racism that is being displayed throughout all of this, for instance, is dangerous. We don’t know who’s to blame – considering US global aggression, it could be anyone. But showing pictures of Palestinians dancing in the streets, or Osama bin Laden talking, or other images of Arabs while speculating about the attackers is causing nothing short of unnecessary hatred and racism. There has been almost no input allowed by the Arabs being shown on TV, since their voices are not present and since the press doesn’t ask them.

The result of all of this has caused anti-Arab hostility to reach even greater heights. Islamic groups all across the country are receiving death threats, and cab drivers are being pulled out of their cars and beaten. No other form of racism in the country is so openly tolerated today, and flashing photos of Arabs on the screen while white politicians talk about revenge only increases these sentiments. The US media is creating an enemy, hyping up the nation into a hysteria of revenge, and creating a war environment which encourages us to ignore dissenting opinion and do and think whatever the government commands.

If the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center were, in fact, the retaliatory result of our own brutal actions against our neighbors, then the responsibility for the attacks ultimately falls on our own shoulders. The US can only beat up everyone else for so long before someone hits back. If we weren’t constantly bombing the rest of the world, enforcing severe corporate dominance and imposing US aggression on everybody else then there would be much less of a chance of others attacking us out of revenge. The question of Who did it should only be explored with the backdrop of Why it happened, in which case the responsibility for the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks, and the thousands of deaths, becomes primarily our own.

The reaction to all of this by the United States will be severe. The immediate emphasis by the State and press is revenge. The world will feel our “wrath,” as Hillary Clinton put it, and our enemies will suffer terrible consequences. A full scale military attack against whomever the US sees fit will result, and, as has already begun, hysteria is being whipped up into patriotic jingoism, readying the country for extreme military action and destruction. There is no time for further discussion, we will act, and act swiftly to exert our dominance, regardless of the suffering imposed on the rest of the world.

The long term effects will be worse; as social spending will be slashed even further, cutting domestic health care, unemployment and welfare, social services and education, in place of vastly increased military spending. The fear of terrorism can be called upon forever, and the justification for further strengthening the military will reach new heights. The violence that caused these retaliatory acts against the US will only grow, and the slaughter everywhere will escalate.

These things considered, we should be addressing the question of What to do in an entirely different light. Instead of blaming Arabs and gearing up for a full-scale war, we should be acting more responsibly. We should be asking President Bush not who did it, but instead, What has our government and the business elite who control it, done that is so egregious that people have gone to such extremes to get us back. We should be demanding answers, asking Why did this happen? What have we done that is so bad to have caused this?

So long as we continue to abuse the rest of the world, using our rogue super power, then violence at home and abroad will continue. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were horrendous; by no means justified, and ultimately a boon to power. But it is the painful result of our worldwide capitalist military regime. The responsible thing to do at this point is refuse to side with the military in their retaliation, and demand the corporate state address their own involvement in recalcitrant global terrorism.

Crackdown! Dissent May be First Casualty of War

Patriotism n. 1) The inability to distinguish between the government and one’s country; 2) A highly praiseworthy virtue characterized by the desire to dominate and kill; 3) A feeling of exultation experienced when contemplating heaps of charred “enemy” corpses; 4) The first, last and perennial refuge of scoundrels. Patriot n. A dangerous tool of the powers that be. A herd member who compensates for lack of self-respect by identifying with an abstraction. An enemy of individual freedom. A fancier of the rich, satisfying flavor of boot leather.

-The American Heretic’s Dictionary

In the past six months we have seen the deaths of anti-capitalists in Genoa, Papua New Guinea, and Brazil. As radicals, there is one thing that is important to understand when considering the tragedy of September 11: It was the US government’s hatred and fear of alternatives to capitalism (socialism) that motivated us to fund the Taliban in the first place. The operation to terrorize the Soviet Union is coming home to us twenty years later. The real danger is attacks on civil liberties and the likelihood of the government turning its focus to dissidents within its borders. Once that happens, we are all in grave danger.

Let us consider what the United States has done historically during crisis or times of “National Emergency”:

-During the Civil War:

  • Anti-war newspapers were banned from the mail.
  • The Reverend J.R. Stewart, of Alexandria, Virginia was arrested for failing to include a customary prayer for the president of the United Sates in his sermon.
  • Civilian courts were suspended in peaceful regions of the country-especially where Democrats held power-allowing trial in military courts.

-During World War I:

  • In 1918, Eugene Debs, was tried, convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for a speech in which he criticized the conviction of several World War I-era draft resisters and opponents of conscription. He served three years before being granted a pardon.
  • Upton Sinclair was arrested for reading the Bill of Rights at a rally.
  • Roger Baldwin of the ACLU was arrested for reading the Constitution. All of this was made possible by the Sedition act which permitted the government to target dissents in the U.S.

-During World War II:

We found it appropriate to put over 110,000 Japanese-Americans in “holding” camps (also known as concentration camps).

The only legal authority for the Vietnam War was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which was found to have been based on a fabrication almost immediately after it was passed.

The First War Powers Act granted the President broad powers to censor mail, cable, radio, or other means of communication.

The Second War Powers Act allowed the government to exercise broad economic powers, including seizing private property (this can be done under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act if national emergency is declared).

The Middle East has been treated by the media much the same as the Soviet Union was during the Red Scare. Activists and critical civilians alike were rounded up in peacetime red scares for years. The “with us or against us” attitude will inevitably lead to a conflict between lovers of freedom and nationalists. The Combating Terrorism Act of 2001 has been passed by the Senate, greatly expanding the power of federal authorities to spy on online communication, and some are even talking about national identification cards.

“Operation Infinite Justice” has led to what is the most frightening attack on our liberty: the new cabinet position for “Homeland Security” which will enable increased communication between the police and the military and give law enforcement the “tools they need to track terror at home.” This, folks, means martial law, justified injuries, deaths, and imprisonment of protesters (terrorists). With all of this the American public will be too frightened and swayed by the mass media to act.

If the government was so concerned with security why would they allow airport security to be run in the private sector (minimum wage workers) and why would they oppose FBI background checks on the workers? We need to be aware and raise questions of the ulterior motives of our government. The National Security Agency is huge and has incredible resources and knowledge. The National Security Agency was responsible for creating a pretext for the invasion of Cuba (one idea was to shoot down a CIA plane designed to replicate a passenger flight and announce that Cuban forces shot it down) and has been listening to Osama’s telephone conversations for years. It is not plausible to believe that NSA didn’t have knowledge of a planned attack on the U.S.

Whether it is only to go forward with the militarization of space, or whether there are reasons beyond our wildest imagination, we must urge ourselves and the public to replace emotional immersion with logical analysis and education. It is crucial to be aware of the patriotism that September 11 spawned because this patriotism will blossom into hatred of dissidents and will justify a violent response by police and military to protesters in America. Today may be the day to read up on the counter intelligence program (cointelpro) used by the FBI on activists in the 60′s and 70′s (check out Ward Churchill) because the death in Genoa will not be the last and we may soon find ourselves in the spotlight-demonized by the media, stoned by our neighbors, and hunted down by “Homeland Security.”

“During times of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Statement from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

The people of Afghanistan have nothing to do with Osama and his accomplices.

On September 11, 2001 the world was stunned with the horrific terrorist attacks on the United States. RAWA stands with the rest of the world in expressing our sorrow and condemnation for this barbaric act of violence and terror. RAWA had already warned that the United States should not support the most treacherous, most criminal, most anti-democracy and anti-women Islamic fundamentalist parties because after both the Jehadi and the Taliban have committed every possible type of heinous crimes against our people, they would feel no shame in committing such crimes against the American people whom they consider “infidel”. In order to gain and maintain their power, these barbaric criminals are ready to turn easily to any criminal force.

But unfortunately we must say that it was the government of the United States who supported Pakistani dictator Gen. Zia-ul Haq in creating thousands of religious schools from which the germs of Taliban emerged. In the similar way, as is clear to all, Osama Bin Laden has been the blue-eyed boy of CIA. But what is more painful is that American politicians have not drawn a lesson from their pro-fundamentalist policies in our country and are still supporting this or that fundamentalist band or leader. In our opinion any kind of support to the fundamentalist Taliban and Jehadies is actually trampling democratic, women’s rights and human rights values.

If it is established that the suspects of the terrorist attacks are outside the US, our constant claim that fundamentalist terrorists would devour their creators, is proved once more.

The US government should consider the root cause of this terrible event, which has not been the first and will not be the last one too. The US should stop supporting Afghan terrorists and their supporters once and for all.

Now that the Taliban and Osama are the prime suspects by the US officials after the criminal attacks, will the US subject Afghanistan to a military attack similar to the one in 1998 and kill thousands of innocent Afghans for the crimes committed by the Taliban and Osama? Does the US think that through such attacks, with thousands of deprived, poor and innocent people of Afghanistan as its victims, will be able to wipe out the root-cause of terrorism, or will it spread terrorism even to a larger scale?

From our point of view a vast and indiscriminate military attacks on a country that has been facing permanent disasters for more than two decades will not be a matter of pride. We don’t think such an attack would be the expression of the will of the American people.

The US government and people should know that there is a vast difference between the poor and devastated people of Afghanistan and the terrorist Jehadi and Taliban criminals.

While we once again announce our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the US, we also believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people. We sincerely hope that the great American people could DIFFERENTIATE between the people of Afghanistan and a handful of fundamentalist terrorists. Our hearts go out to the people of the US.

War on Terrorism: War on Freedom

The Bush Administration has declared a wide-ranging war on “terrorism” – what does this mean?

Terrorism is not a particular ideology or a description of a particular nationality or ethnicity (although the term certainly is laden with racial implications). Thus unlike past wars, a war on terrorism is not a war against any particularly definable group of people. Such a war has no clear “victory”, no geographical limits, nor any conclusion – such a war presumably will continue everywhere and anywhere forever. Perversely, this is seen as a good thing by Bush and his ilk.

At its heart, terrorism is a description used by governments and those in power for violence used by the powerless in any type of struggle. One could say that terrorism is a “tactic”, but such a definition misses the way the term is used; the term “terrorist” is always used to indicate the division between those in power and those who are powerless.

The word terrorist has been applied to a lot of different people, often unjustly in an attempt to smear legitimate struggles for liberation. For instance, the African National Congress, which is now the government of South Africa, was designated as a “terrorist” group during its struggle against apartheid. Other examples are Irish Republicans, Basques in Spain, East Timorese resistance fighters, and the entire Palestinian people. Although many actions are described as “terrorism” and many groups denounced as terrorist, few of these ever plan or carry out actions similar to the September 11 attack. Historically many people have been branded “terrorist” although their activities were in no way aimed at innocent people.

Governments fearful of change label resistance groups as “terrorist” in order to justify state violence against these groups. Certainly even our “founding fathers” – rag tag colonists organized as the Minutemen to resist British Rule during the US Revolutionary War – would have been described as terrorists by the British. What was the Boston Tea Party if not a “terrorist act?”

It is frequently pointed out that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.

Crucially, violence carried out by government is not usually considered “terrorism”, especially if the government carrying out the violence is very powerful. The very meaning of “government” is an organization that has a social monopoly on the “legitimate” use of force – of violence.

Thus when a United States missile slammed into the Chinese embassy in Serbia during the brief war against that nation, killing many Chinese officer workers at their desks, that attack was not “terrorism” – it was an “accident” during a “legitimate” military action. States using violence against civilian areas describe innocent victims as “collateral damage” or merely as a legitimate tactic in war. The US nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed about 200,000 people, most of them “innocent” civilians going about their daily lives. This action was not “terrorism” because it was state action that was part of a war.

It is crucial that Bush’s war against terrorism is not a war against violence or against injustice. Bush takes no general stand against any violence practiced against innocent civilians.

Instead, Bush’s war is only a war against a particular kind of violence – violence practiced by the powerless. Bush’s war, like all wars, intends to use another kind of violence to accomplish its goals – state violence. His statements that violence may be used against states “harboring” terrorists makes clear that Bush’s war will use US state violence against innocent civilians in other lands.

The slippery definition of terrorism and the diverse groups accused of practicing terrorism is of particular concern in the perpetual war against terrorism proposed by Bush.

Bush’s war on terrorism is just the New World Order described in other terms – once again the global capitalist class and its governments around the world intend to use limitless state violence to forever defeat anyone who would dare to fight the global domination of the capitalist order.

It is no coincidence that anarchists and the techno street rave group “Reclaim the Streets” were labeled as “terrorists” by the FBI in May. Bush’s war on terrorism, with its domestic security crackdown and increased surveillance against anti-government groups as well as its foreign military aspect, aims to crush any action perceived as threatening carried out by any non-ruling or non-governmental formation.

Bush’s ultimate aim is a world in which the powerful exercise complete domination, unquestioned and unopposed.

As an anarchist, I could not be more horrified at the attack on the World Trade Center. I’ve shed many tears over the senseless taking of so many lives of people I don’t even know. I suspect many radicals share this feeling.

But the horror of the September 11 attacks must not cause us to lose sight of the horrendous systematic violence killing innocent people across the globe on a daily basis. The global capitalist system and the injustice and environmental destruction it causes remains the greatest impediment to human happiness and freedom.

Destroying this system requires vigorous struggle by millions of people across the globe against the forces represented by Bush. These forces of domination and violence intend to shamelessly use the deaths of thousands of innocent people to justify a perpetual global war against opposition to their system. The power to label those fighting for freedom as “terrorists” is in the hands of our oppressors. Make no mistake – a war on terrorism without end is ultimately a war on all of us and the planet.

Slingshot Box

Slingshot is a quarterly, independent, radical newspaper published in the East Bay since 1988.

The tiny Slingshot collective, which publishes what you’re reading, decided to put out this “emergency issue” in response to the war fever and nationalism sweeping the land.

In the matter of one week we have written and compiled the articles contained within and worked diligently (some of us with very little sleep) to supply you with this paper which is essentially an anti-war cry.

The centerfold serves as a poster which you could hang up in response to all of the flags folks are waving. We need to be visible!

We’re always looking for writers, artists, photographers, editors, distributors and free-thinkers to make Slingshot better. If you somehow got the impression that we’re a stable, solid institution that doesn’t need help-you’re wrong. We are contsantly on the lookout for articles, atrwork and espically photos of demos and cool billboard corrections.

Editorial decisions about Slingshot are made by the Slingshot collective. Articles do not necessarily represent the opinions of everyone in Slingshot. We welcome debate, discussion, and criticism.

Also the 2002 Slingshot organizer is now available. This is quite possibly the best news in the paper! So order now so you can keep track of all those anti-war demonstrations! SEND $5 FOR ONE, $16 FOR FOUR, OR $30 FOR 8. All postage is included and if you send an extra $1 with your order and we’ll throw in a one year subscription to Slingshot! What a deal.

slingshot volunteer meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can hang out with us on December 16 at 4 p.m. at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below).

article deadline and next issue date

Submit your articles for issue 74 by January 15, 2002. We expect the issue out in early February.

Volume 1, Number 73 Circulation 10,000

Printed September 27, 2001

slingshot newspaper

Sponsored by Long Haul

3124 Shattuck Ave Berkeley Ca 94705

Phone: (510) 540-0751

False Villains – Systematic Causes

*Islam in Arabic means submitting to Allah the one and only god. *Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. *Mecca is the Holy City. *In the beginning Islam provided a suffering Arab community divided by intertribal wars with power, unity, and triumph. *Mosques are the “churches” of Muslims.*The Five Pillars (key duties) of Islam: …Shahada: A profession of faith recognizing that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his prophet. Salat: Praying five times a day at dawn, midday, when the sun begins its descent, sunset, and when night falls. This is a quick exercise in intense meditation. Fasting: During the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. Giving Alms A Pilgrimage to Mecca.

(The Five Pillars say nothing of terrorizing other people.)

Until the suicide bombing on September 11 I had never given very much thought to the Islamic religion because I come from the viewpoint that organized religion is an oppressive and controlling force that allies itself with government. As the Middle East continues to be demonized by our government I find it necessary to educate ourselves and our communities on the matter so that the demonstrations of ignorance through acts of violence, unnecessary sideways glances, threatening phone calls, ugly nationalism, and ironically enough, a rejuvenated love for the christian god can be thought of more logically and come to an end. Bush may have criticized intolerance but it still exists and needs to be addressed.

If David Koresh had been referred to as a “christian terrorist” the entire country would have been up in arms protesting the use of the two words together. It is just as ridiculous to use the term “islamic terrorist” that I continue to hear repeated not only by the media but also by individuals within earshot.

Bin Laden is not the representative for the entire Muslim community (which is 1/6 of the world’s population). In fact, he is a representative of one small fundamentalist group that was trained and funded by the United States (we gave them $43 million dollars just 4 months ago to destroy poppies-as part of the “war on drugs”).

Believing that all followers of Islam are terrorists is comparable to believing that all christians are devout followers of Jerry Fallwell. It is this ignorance that is allowing for people in this country to believe that a military retaliation is necessary, it is ignorance that is fueling the recent hate crimes in our communities, and it is ignorance that allows Bush to further an arms race that is ineffective and costly. The real danger is not individual spiritual beliefs or religions but fundamentalists of any religion who use their religion to justify actions that are not justifiable by any earthly circumstances.

Muhammad Atta who was the pilot for the first jet that crashed into the World Trade Center was from Egypt, a country that spends only 4% of the budget on health care. Poverty causes anger and rebellion and as we impose policies on the international community that pressure them to privatize their resources; their government in turn cuts further into public spending, which results in higher unemployment rates and increased poverty. There are very understandable motivations for attacks on the United States and we need to think critically about our foreign policy.

Aside from stealing bread off the tables of the poor consider Reagan’s 1983 bombing of a Lebanese village, Bush’s “smart bomb” of civilians seeking shelter in Baghdad, or Clinton’s 1999 “mistakenly” dropped missles on a pharmaceutical company in Sudan. Abbas Hamdani of the Mediterranean Quarterly, Fall 1995 articulates it well in the following paragraph:

“The Middle East grew more restive when the days of employment and comparative security under socialism gave way to infitah, or an opening of countries to the free market and Western capitalism; when poverty and inflation increased; when bread riots erupted; when national pride was hurt and humiliated; when Palestinians were thrown out of their lands and homes; and when the superpower; America, vetoed many United Nations resolutions granting Palestinians their legitimate right to return to their homes and achieve their self-determination, while doling out billions of dollars every year to Israel and strengthening its occupation of Palestinian lands.”

It should be no surprise that there are people in the world that despise us; and not because “we are the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity,” but because our freedom and opportunity come at the expense of the freedom and opportunity of the majority of the world’s population. Who is the real terrorist in this story?

If there is any doubt consider that America brought the Taliban to power, promoted Saddam Hussein for a war against Iran, allied itself with the most reactionary regimes in the mideast and sponsored the ongoing military occupation of Palestine by Israel. Not enough? How about Israel’s invasion on Lebanon in 1982 where 17,000 civilians died? Or maybe the half million children that have died because of our sanctions on Iraq. You think 5,000 is a big number? Consider the terrorists that we armed and paid in the 1980′s massacre of more than 30,000 Nicaraguan civilians. Vietnam?

With Bush’s “Operation Infinite Freedom” where he has threatened to “stop, eliminate, and destroy” terrorism where it grows (sort of like spraying your lawn for weeds, right?) we are embarking on a war that really will be infinite. How long will it take to “weed out” all of the terrorists? Will the impossible demands on the people from Afghanistan result in bombing? How many bombs will we drop before the people of this country protest against the ridiculous policy that has no attainable outcome? How many must die at our expense and what civil liberties will we lose in the meantime?

Until we change our brutal, militaristic, foreign policy and follow rules of international law there will be terrorists. The weapons of mass destruction the United States has in themselves are a form of terrorism on the rest of the globe; it is intimidation, and until we put down our arms we are inviting opposition. There will continue to be idealistic and fundamentalist attacks on capitalism and the West and it is up to progressive people in the west to use this opportunity to educate our own communities about capitalism and it’s effects on the rest of the wolrd.

Capitalism is the real terrorist in this world because it rewards greed and motivates the greedy to get what they want by any means necessary. When we get sick or go to war it benefits our economy. We need a new system based on humane principles, mutual aid, and strengthening of local infrastructures. The time is now, there are millions more lives at stake and things are only going to get worse as the nation becomes more hysterical and war hungry.

Call any of these Islamic organizations in San Francisco to show support and counteract all of the ignorant hateful messages they are receiving:

Islamic Bulletin/Masjid Al Noor 415-552-8831 Islamic Society of SF/Masjid Darussalam 415-863-7997 SF Muslim Community Center 415-563-9397 The Mosque and Islamic Center of SF 415-282-9039

Bin Laden: A Brief History

Osama bin Laden is a multi-millionaire of Saudi origin who sponsored and led Arabs fighting in Afghanistan against the USSR in the 1980′s. Ronald Reagan who supported “the valiant freedom fighters”, recruited bin Laden and other Muslim rebels to overthrow the Soviet backed secular government in Kabul. The covert U.S. funding was funneled largely through Pakistan’s maverick Inter-Services Intelligence. Millions of dollars in money and arms were provided to the mujahideen rebels to fight the Soviet occupation. bin Laden made it clear that both the U.S. and Russia were considered enemies.

In the mid-1980′s Osama bin Ladin and the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdallah Azzam co-founded the Maktab alKhidamat, an organization to help supply the Afghan resistance in Peshawar with fighters and money. The MAK enlisted, sheltered and transported thousands of people from over 50 countries to fight the Soviets. Over 10,000 Arabs received training in these paramilitary camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the late 80′s Bin Laden and Azzam formed a new organization, al-Qua’ida, to focus on extending his campaign world wide. After the car bombing death of Azzam in 1989, the MAK split, with the extremist faction joining al-Qa’ida.

After Afghanistan, bin Ladin returned to Saudi Arabia and continued to support opposition movements in that country and Yemen. He began to oppose the Saudi leadership when they rejected his advice to rely on native fighters and turned the country’s defenses over to the U.S. military. Bin Laden organized a local movement to force U.S. troops out of the country. He relocated to the Sudan in 1991 and was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 after Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen accused him of supporting subversive groups. Eventually, in 1996, Sudan expelled bin Laden under pressure from the U.S. and Suadi Arabia threatening UN sanctions for Sudan’s alleged complicity in the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995.

After returning to Afghanistan, bin Laden found many willing Muslim recruits who were angered by the massive civilian “collateral damage” caused by the Gulf War. In 1996, bin Laden publicly issued his “Declaration of War” against the United States. Since then, his anti-U.S. rhetoric has escalated to the point of calling for worldwide attacks on Americans and allies, including civilians.

Refuse the Spiral of Violence

As the September 11 attacks so clearly illustrated, mass violence is ugly. Horrific. Every day the US press now carries page after page of photographs of those killed, with short biographies of the lives so brutally snuffed out. With over 6,000 killed, it will take years to eulogize all of those killed. If you stop to read these biographies, it’s hard not to cry. The newlywed couple, now separated forever. The fireman with four children at home. The environmental lawyer who loved to camp in the redwoods.

We’ve lived in the United States never expecting such slaughter on our own soil. That happens somewhere else, and we’re safe here at home. The emotional potency of our loss of innocence and security is hard to assimilate.

The reaction so far has been anger and rage – the impulse to fight back against those who robbed us of our safety. This has been encouraged by the government response and the media, both pushing a military response.

After being touched by the uglyness of violence, the urge to more violence is curious. The history of most every other country on Earth includes the type of violence seen on September 11. The ugliness, the brutality, the fear is no stranger in the rest of the world. The United States, generally spared such violence, is the exception.

Many other nations around the world have known such violence at the hands of the United States Government. While we mourn 6,000 people killed September 11, imagine how much greater must have been the sorrow at the 200,000 Iraqis killed during the Gulf War. Or the over 1,000,000 children who have died in Iraq since that war as a result of US sanctions which prevented repair of sanitation, water and health infrastructure. Those victims were generally as “innocent” as those killed at the World Trade Center – just people trying to live their lives who got in the way of violence.

The victims of US military or CIA adventures is a shameful pile a mile high: 3 million killed in Vietnam, thousands in Nicaragua and El Salvador, how many in Columbia, Panama, Chile, Granada, Sudan, where else? The CIA has funded and encouraged conflict around the globe. Osama bin Laden, now the chief suspect in the September 11 attacks, was amongst the CIA funded rebels encouraged to reduce Afghanistan to rubble in a decade of war against a Soviet invasion. That war alone killed tens of thousands, forcing millions to flee.

The United States government has acted for decades as if violence had no consequences. The violence has always been used against “other people” living “elsewhere” – US soil was safe. That the US government violence may have created millions of enemies across the globe could be conveniently ignored, because they couldn’t strike at US interests. At worst, US citizens traveling abroad might be in danger.

On September 11, the United States’ isolation from the rest of the world lifted. The new reality is that US violence employed abroad can and may come back to US soil.

The Bush administration’s proposed response to the September 11 outrage is a war against all terrorist and all states that “harbor” them. The proposed war is broad, perhaps against many governments and many people across the globe, and perhaps permanent. It almost appears Bush doesn’t care who the war is against, just so long as the military can punish someone for the September 11 disaster.

More violence, more suffering, more mourning and crying for loved ones butchered by the machines of war – this cannot bring back any of the September 11 victims. This won’t make the US safer or return us to the security we felt before September 11. Such violence makes us less safe by increasing violence and hate everywhere.

Anti-War Effort Needs You

In the aftermath of the recent attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, I think we all agree that there should be some sort of response to the situation. Exactly how we should respond, however, is the pivotal decision in need of further debate. The mainstream media and US military are narrowly focussing on a war reaction to the attacks, meanwhile leaving diplomatic options largely outside of the perimeter of discussion on the issue. It is therefore imperative that we take it upon ourselves to react thoughtfully and explore the alternatives. Doing so may not only encourage the wisest decision in responding to these attacks, but may also make us better for it in the long run.

Before we can address how best to respond to the attacks, we must first discuss how best not to respond and why. The role of the US media has been to provide one option: war. But that is not our only option, and, in fact, it’s a very bad one. This is not going to be an ordinary war; the consequences here are enormous. President Bush has declared our response not to be a series of quick air strikes, but a long, ongoing sustained attack; allowing himself an open-ended justification for universal massive military violence and funding (with slashed domestic social spending and increased domestic repression) for years to come. In a recent interview with Noam Chomksy, he fears ” we are considering the possibility of a war that may destroy much of human society,” causing mass destruction of inner civilian cities, and killing “unknown numbers of people who have not the remotest connection to terrorism,” resulting in the death of “possibly millions” (Radio B92, Belgrade). If history serves as a lesson, it should be clear that a US military retaliation will do harm mainly to innocent people. Seldom do the despots themselves face the consequences of US military attacks. Iraq illustrates a good example; Saddam Hussein remains healthy and in power, yet the women, men and children of the country suffer and die horribly due to US bombings and relentless sanctions. This time around we’re talking about a much more severe attack. The press has discussed employing the draft and, worse, using nuclear weapons.

There is nothing lending support to the credence that a US military retaliation will result in greater national safety or put an end to terrorism. On the contrary, we’ll be fueling the fire of hatred and war, worldwide, increasing popular opposition to the United States. Terrorism may rise larger than ever before, with a backlash of widespread support for militant fundamentalism, endangering not just the rest of the world, but our own country as well. Our current mode of military retaliation will only make things far worse. If we actually want to put an end to this sort of violence and terrorism we need to respond in a way that will not provoke further terrorism, by our own government or any others.

Ideally, we should respond to the attack on America by following the law and utilizing our pre-existing international judicial system. We have the World Court, the United Nations, the Security Council and international laws designed to solve these sorts of problems, diplomatically. Terrorists can be brought to justice, and violators of international law abated, without killing millions of other innocent people in the process. But the US ignores these laws, they always do. Diplomacy could be a possibility, it always can be, but it is never explored. And since the US will not abide by international laws or even acknowledge the possibility of an alternative to a worldwide military response, the ideal, diplomatic and legal method of responding to the attacks is unfortunately not presently an option.

Considering the horrible long term consequences of a US military retaliation, both at home & abroad, and the fact that the US is ignoring the appropriate legal and diplomatic options available, our response to the attack on America needs to be a fundamentally different one. I believe our primary concern at this point should be to stop the war. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland was the only congressperson to oppose the war before the House of Representatives. “Women, children and other non-combatants, ” she said, “will be caught in the crossfire” of our war (09.14.01). She is a brave example of the kind of stance the rest of us should be taking in response to our current situation. In fact the only sane approach to the US military response is to do everything we can to stop the war. No other options make sense at this point. If we ever want to explore diplomatic options, or encourage a future of relative peace instead of transnational violence, our first response needs to be to stop the war.

Fortunately, in what may be a record-breaking response, anti-war activists have already begun mobilizing against the war. Several protests have sprung up across the country and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Sunday, September 16, a rally with over 1,000 people opposing the war and racial hostility in San Francisco emerged. Other protests have followed, resulting in a nation-wide series of anti-war/anti-racism protests and rallies on University campuses across the country. On September 20, about 3,000 people marched through the streets of Berkeley alone. Other demonstrations have happened and are being planned. The Berkeley fire department has ordered all of their vehicles to remove any American flags because it’s encouraging pro-war hysteria, and the Dalai Lama has stepped forward against the war as well. The scheduled September 29 protests against the IMF/World Bank meeting in Washington DC have been transformed into an anti-war/anti-racism protest instead.

Our anti-war activity needs to increase. Everything possible should be done to halt the war, starting with the basics: articles, phone calls and petitions, as well as more overt protests and dissident anti-war resistance and non-violent action. The immense organization and momentum fueling the growing anti-globalization protests should continue being harnessed to rally against the new US war, and further build a movement based on solidarity, peace and democracy. Community, student, and labor organizing should increase. The anti-war protests we’ve already seen should serve as examples and inspiration for the immediate response we should be taking to the attack on America and the current US military retaliation.

Both the pro-war campaign of the US corporate press and military, and the quick anti-war response by concerned people and organizations, may effect the growing popular support for social justice and activist movements. The pro-war media have been working overtime, and everything is being done to craft public consent to support war retaliation. But their efforts may backfire; their propaganda is becoming absurd; President Bush is looking for unilateral unlimited military power. This whole affair has forced people to pay attention to the activities of the US corporate military and US foreign policy. In spite of the immense pro-war state propaganda campaign, people are questioning the role of the US military, their motives and actions. The result of all of this may well be a stronger, larger & more diverse movement of people working for social justice and change. The anti-war response is a first step toward ending international terrorism, both on our own soil as well as abroad, and the rest of the world depends on us.