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Anti-gay-bashing network thinks globally

The Chicago Anti-Bashing Network (CABN) took a stand against the war on Afghanistan shortly before the U.S. began to bomb.

CABN formed in 1998 in response to attacks against gay men in Chicago’s Lakeview area. Our slogan has always been, “An Attack Upon One Is an Attack Against All.” We see assaults upon Arabs and Muslims as within our mission, and we recall how others’ solidarity with Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgendered folk strengthened us when Matthew Shepard was killed.

Lives abroad are equal to lives in the U.S. Those who think otherwise, who “detain” Middle Easterners without civil liberties protection, who rant “you’re either with us or against us” as Bush and the Democrats do, are inciting racist attacks. This process of demonizing the “enemy” replicates that used against Japanese Americans during World War II.

CABN has joined the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism in several antiwar actions under the slogan, “No to War, No to Racism, Defend Civil Liberties.” Our stance is not popular with queers who have a narrow, “we want our place at the table” approach – the folk who were appalled at the anti-gay graffiti on the bomb bound for Afghanistan, but had no problem with the bomb itself.

Since the U.S. has waged state terror against much of the world, the September 11 attacks were, as Malcolm X said, “Chickens coming home to roost.” We condemn those attacks and acknowledge people’s legitimate desire to feel safe, but we say that only justice for people from Palestine to Colombia will eliminate the breeding grounds for terrorists.

– Bob Schwartz

Through democracy, coalition unites diverse forces

When the attack on Afghanistan began, the newly formed Western North Carolina Peace Coalition pulled together nine diverse groups for a successful, well-covered press conference. Statements were read by School of the Americas Watch, War Resisters League, NC Green Party, the local affiliate of the National War Tax Resistance Committee, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Freedom Socialist Party, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and local Pagan and youth groups.

Since then, the local Quaker Meeting has joined the Peace Coalition, and antiwar sentiment continues to gain steam.

In November, our forces gained a new ally with the forming of an Asheville chapter of Women in Black, an international peace network launched by women in Israel in 1988. The chapter is now holding weekly vigils.

Our prospects are bright for building a strong movement here. We represent a range of views, including pacifist, liberal, anarchist, and socialist. But through democratic debate we have come to agree that we don’t want to be soft on war, or simply talk while people die. The coalition provides a much-needed opposition voice in our communities, countering the mainstream media’s pro-war message through vigils, teach-ins, forums and protests.

– Bob Brown

Activists reject the slogan “bring the terrorists to justice”

One of the tough questions that antiwar activists are grappling with across the U.S. is how should the problem of terrorism be solved; more specifically, what should be done about terrorists involved in causing so much death and destruction on September 11? Feeling the need to address this, many liberals are trying to gain support for the slogan “bring the terrorists to justice.” But in New York, ground zero of the attacks, the city antiwar coalition resoundingly voted three-to-one to reject that demand.

In a leaflet Radical Women and Freedom Socialist Party representatives handed out to other coalition members before the vote, we made our arguments for just that result. Unfortunately, no independent, international tribunal with the capacity to enact justice against terrorists currently exists. Nor is it presently possible to create one that would be free of political and economic bullying by the U.S. And if such a body did exist, its first indictment would have to be against the greatest terrorist force the globe knows – the U.S. government and its CIA.

“Our job as a coalition is to stay away from revenge and punishment,” we said. Instead, antiwar activists must build international solidarity, educating on the root causes of political terrorism, state aggression, and the vast inequalities that define the U.S. and the planet. By doing this, we can build a broad-based movement that is powerful enough to stop the war, the rollback of civil liberties, and racist/anti-Arab assaults. The strong vote in favor of this position reflects the desire of antiwar activists to win justice for the whole world, not just one part of it.

– Betty Maloney

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