In a telling sign of the organizers’ priorities, the cause of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the taxi driver/radical journalist sentenced to death two decades ago for killing a policeman, drew greater attention than the idea that revived and unfettered weapons inspections should occur in Iraq before George W. Bush launches a war. Few of the dozens of speakers, if any, bothered suggesting a policy option regarding Saddam Hussein other than a simplistic leave-Iraq-alone. Jesse Jackson may have been the only major figure to acknowledge Saddam’s brutality, noting that the Iraqi dictator “should be held accountable for his crimes.” What to do about Iraq? Most speakers had nothing to say about that. Instead, the Washington rally was a pander fest for the hard left.
If public-opinion polls are correct, 33 percent to 40 percent of the public opposes an Iraq war; even more are against a unilateral action. This means the burgeoning anti-war movement has a large recruiting pool, yet the demo was not intended to persuade doubters. Nor did it speak to Americans who oppose the war but who don’t consider the United States a force of unequaled imperialist evil and who don’t yearn to smash global capitalism.
This was no accident, for the demonstration was essentially organized by the 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. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country’s “socialist system,” which, according to the party’s newspaper, has kept North Korea “from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.” The WWP has campaigned against the war-crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. A recent Workers World editorial declared, “Iraq has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
There is nothing dishonest or wrong about being against the war. I too am against a war in Iraq. But if this is in fact the new "anti-war left", then there is certainly a problem. To be against the war means you're either a pacifist or you believe there are other means besides war that can accomplish better ends. But if you're sympathizing with ruthless dictators who often kill their own people in the name of "social justice", while you're off championing for human rights, then you're a lying hypocrite and something is seriously wrong with you.
Most of the protesters, I assume, were oblivious to the WWP’s role in the event. They merely wanted to gather with other foes of the war and express their collective opposition. They waved signs (“We need an Axis of Sanity,” “Draft Perle,” “Collateral Damage = Civilian Deaths,” “Fuck Bush”). They cheered on rappers who sang, “No blood for oil.” They laughed when Medea Benjamin, the head of Global Exchange, said, “We need to stop the testosterone-poisoning of our globe.” They filled red ANSWER donation buckets with coins and bills. But how might they have reacted if Holmes and his comrades had asked them to stand with Saddam, Milosevic and Kim? Or to oppose further inspections in Iraq?
Hopefully with dusgust.
(Note that I'm not trying to attack the anti-war protestors here. They were deceived by the WWP and many expressed their disgust when the rally wasn't so much about war as it was about the WWP's radical agenda. But there is certainly a problem if some of the protestors start falling for what the WWP has to say.)