October 11. It’s a fine day for everybody opposed to war to come out and be counted! The date marks six years since Congress authorized invading Iraq. And seven years since U.S. weapons of mass destruction began ravaging Afghanistan.
The thrust for a national day of protest on Oct. 11 came out of the Cleveland National Assembly last June where grass-roots activists, fed up with ineffective misleadership of their movement, took the offensive. They decided to organize a national day of protest before the presidential elections, against the wishes of more established and larger anti-war groups such as United for Peace and Justice. They are calling for troops out of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and much more.
This independence signals deepening dissent, not only to the Bush White House, but to the complicit Democratic Party — and against the policies of the U.S. government overall.
Unifying around multi-issue politics. In Western Massachusetts, campus activists have teamed up with environmentalists to highlight the ecological costs of war.
In the Seattle area, the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women are working with veterans, students and leftists in the new Seattle Antiwar Action Coalition, which is targeting a local recruiting center. Its points of unity include redirecting money from the wars to fund jobs and social services in the U.S. plus reparations for the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Salt Lake City, Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice joins the American Indian Movement and Veterans for Peace to demand an end to exploiting American Indians, reduced carbon emissions, and universal healthcare.
In Chicago, the Gay Liberation Network is collaborating with other groups and individuals to denounce the military occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.
Demonstrations are planned for Boston, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and Rhode Island. In Rockland County, New York, peace and justice activists are hoping to hold the biggest Saturday vigil they have ever had. They are also encouraging similar groups up and down the Hudson River to build for Oct. 11. In San Francisco, activists are planning a day of outreach for a campaign to keep JROTC out of city high schools.
The Oct. 11 organizing expresses a necessary and welcome challenge to the anti-radical, pacifist, undemocratic and sectarian politics that have for years stunted the anti-war movement.
A new national leadership appears to be emerging from the ground up. It includes people of color and women, youth and elders, students, radicals, immigrants and rank-and-file unionists — all regularly conferencing, founding coalitions in cities and regions across the country, and debating and proposing political demands that go beyond the single issue “Stop the War in Iraq.”
The inclusion of demands against other wars — in Afghanistan, Iran and Palestine — and their crippling economic effects at home is logical to most of the Oct. 11 leaders. So is explicit opposition to sexism, racism, homophobia and all forms of bigotry.
This is the kind of inclusiveness that solidifies social justice movements instead of fragmenting them.
Organizers for Oct. 11 don’t agree on everything, but they see eye to eye on not waiting until after the elections to protest. They were among the thousands who confronted police-state tactics at both major party conventions.
Brick by brick, telephone call by text message, on picket lines and at community meetings, county fairs and neighborhood picnics, they are building for the Oct. 11 national day of action, and beyond — toward a steadfast and principled anti-war movement.
Volunteers needed! Much work is still to be done for Oct. 11 and planned future actions. Interested individuals and organizations can check out www.oct11.org for more information on what is happening around the country and how to participate. It’s a good hour to get in on the ground floor of a pivotal effort during this time of both crisis and opportunity.
Stop the war on working people at home and abroad!