Monday, August 22, 2011

McKinney anti-war tour mobilizes movement in 20+ cities

Third Estate Sunday Review

Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, discusses a series of meetings where former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney has spoken against the U.S./NATO war on Libya. The meetings follow McKinney’s visit to the North African country. As of Aug. 13 the tour had grown to 19 U.S. cities and Vancouver, B.C., in Canada. Following are excerpts from an interview with Flounders by Workers World Managing Editor John Catalinotto.

The tour, now about half over, has continued to grow in both number of cities and importance. It has already illustrated some important lessons and experiences in how to mobilize against U.S. wars of aggression while overcoming extremely unfavorable conditions.

These conditions include the level of demonization in the corporate media of the government of Moammar Gadhafi, the apparent diplomatic isolation of Libya and even the time of year, when the universities are not in session and even many movement groups and activists are on a vacation schedule.

Outside of the continued slanders directed at Gadhafi, there is little media coverage of the war and of how the bombing is killing Libyan civilians, when the war’s official justification was that the intervention was supposed to protect civilians. What hypocrisy.

There has been an almost total silence in the media as the relentless attack continues. It’s gone far beyond a so-called “no-fly zone” to bombing urban centers, killing civilians and destroying the infrastructure. No other country in history except the U.S. has had the capacity to wreak such havoc, using cruise missiles, bunker busters, drones, depleted uranium and dense inert metal explosive bombs, anti-personnel razor shredding bomblets and anti-personnel mines.

The corporate media can demonize the leader of a country targeted by the Pentagon to the point that the consequences of using the most deadly weapons against a totally defenseless population are hidden and dismissed.

On top of this, the working class here in the U.S. is absorbed with the overwhelming problems of the capitalist system in crisis. They don’t know what this means for their future. They are filled with apprehension, along with disappointment that the hopes raised by the Barack Obama administration were false ones.

Almost no one is supporting the war. And they are angry that the government is spending money on the war and not on social services. But without lots of news on it, for many people this is not the first thing on their mind.

McKinney confronted the war makers

Despite these difficulties, the movement here has to challenge such a criminal imperialist act of brigandage and piracy. Otherwise, it pulls the whole progressive movement backwards. If it is going to fight on immediate, bread-and-butter issues such as the economy, the movement also has to show that it’s willing to stand up against heavy-handed propaganda from the government and the corporate media. This is a measure of its independence from those who rule U.S. society.

Cynthia McKinney put herself at risk by going to Libya. She gave the movement an opportunity to focus on this issue.

And groups in each city took up the challenge. In each city the most resolute anti-war groups, including the International Action Center, often joined with or supported Pan-African organizations that reached out to all sorts of local committees. In the end, meetings of 250 to 500 people have heard McKinney and others condemn the attack.

In every city, those initiating this community “teach-in” reached out consciously and discussed the issues with a wider circle of the Black movement — especially the Pan-African movement, those who have long focused on Africa.

The most important role for anti-imperialist forces to play is first to provide clarity among their own ranks and then to reach out and win over others who might have at first been confused about Libya. The movement here is incredibly diverse. Each of the meetings here was quite different from the others. But they all reflected the movement in the cities where they took place.

In Atlanta, there was an outpouring of Black forces. In Minneapolis, it was the people facing grand jury investigations and the Women Against Military Madness. In Albany, N.Y., the United National Antiwar Coalition; in Los Angeles, a section of the mostly immigrant workers’ movement from south of the border; in Boston, the school bus drivers and the Haitian community played a role.

At Riverside Church in New York, the Rev. Robert B. Coleman of the Riverside Church Prison Ministries welcomed the broad spectrum of organizations present. At three of the meetings, a Libyan studying in the U.S. told of how the war harmed his family. The meeting in Vancouver strengthened the anti-imperialist forces in Western Canada. Nearly all the meetings linked the endless funds earmarked for war to the disaster that poor and working people are facing.

The mass reaction to McKinney at the meetings has been strongest and most favorable when she focuses on Libya, tells the story and combats the demonization and war propaganda. To combat this propaganda — which always seeps down, even into the progressive and anti-war movement — we have to rally forces and explain the consequences of the war.

In many of the cities where McKinney spoke, there was extensive local media coverage; the only national coverage, however, was from the right-wing O’Reilly Factor, which blasted McKinney for making the trip and speaking out. That’s what the tour had to answer.

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  1. I'd vote for McKinney any time.
    She's a straight-talker, has a lot of guts, and is always on the side of the angels.

    Liberty & Justice,


  2. She got my vote the last time and she still remains White House material. When she showed congress two yellow packages the same color, one food or drink and the other a bomblet for a cluster bomb, Kerry was having memories of wrestling nude in a muddy coffin with Bush43. Then Kerry took a dive and kept the left-over campaign money while Greenpeace volunteers went door to door for the recount fees.