‘Not In Our name’: US Artists Damn ‘War Without Limit’

A group of leading American
writers, actors and academics have signed a statement strongly criticizing their government’s policies since September 11. It is an
indication of a growing feeling that the administration is promoting its own agenda
on the back of the attacks.

A group of leading American
writers, actors and academics have signed a statement
strongly criticizing their government’s policies since September 11. It is an
indication of a growing feeling that the administration is promoting its own agenda
on the back of the attacks.

In a statement called Not
In Our Name, the signatories say the government has “declared a war without limit
and instituted stark new measures of repression”. They also criticize the media
for failing to challenge the direction the government has taken.

They include the musicians
Laurie Anderson and Mos Def, the actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, the writers
Alice Walker, Russell Banks, Barbara Kingsolver and Grace Paley, and the playwrights
Eve Ensler and Tony Kushner.

Martin Luther King III,
Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Rabbi Michael Lerner have added
their names, making this the widest ranging group of opponents of government policy
since September 11.

Jeremy Pikser, one of the
organizers of the statement, said yesterday that he had been concerned that the
rest of the world was under the impression that there was no dissent in the US
to the bombing of Afghanistan and the plans for a war against Iraq.

Pikser, a screenwriter who
wrote Bulworth, a satire on American politics in which Warren Beatty played a
politician who finally decided to speak his mind, said some people had been reluctant
to add their names. “A lot of people haven’t signed it, although they agree with
it, because they think it might jeopardize other things they’re involved in.”

Clark Kissinger, another
of the organizers, said they had been heartened by the number of people wanting
to sign.

Mr Kissinger, one of the
organizers of the first anti-Vietnam war marches on Washington in 1965, said he
was receiving about 60 emails a day from people who wanted to add their name to
the list.

“It’s a shame that there’s
not a voice of opposition coming out of the United States.”

The statement, which the
signatories hope will be published by the American media, says: “We must take
the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk of a war that will last
a generation and when they speak of a new domestic order.

“We are confronting a new
openly imperial policy towards the world and a domestic policy that manufactures
and manipulates fear to curtail rights.”

Support for the president’s
policies remains high, however, and those who appear critical of them have been
accused of lacking patriotism.

It was announced last week
that Bill Maher, host of the television show Politically Incorrect, has not had
his contract renewed by ABC.

Maher was criticized for
an exchange six days after September 11 in which he and a guest agreed that whatever
else the hijackers were, they were not “cowardly.”

Not
In Our Name

A Statement of
Conscience

Let it not
be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared
a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression.

The signers
of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to resist the policies and overall
political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose
grave dangers to the people of the world.

We believe
that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from
military coercion by great powers. We believe that all persons detained or prosecuted
by the United States government should have the same rights of due process. We
believe that questioning, criticism, and dissent must be valued and protected.
We understand that such rights and values are always contested and must be fought
for.

We believe
that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments
do — we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name.
Thus we call on all Americans to RESIST the war and repression that has been loosed
on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate.
We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.

We too watched
with shock the horrific events of September 11, 2001. We too mourned the thousands
of innocent dead and shook our heads at the terrible scenes of carnage — even
as we recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City, and, a generation ago,
Vietnam. We too joined the anguished questioning of millions of Americans who
asked why such a thing could happen.

But the mourning
had barely begun, when the highest leaders of the land unleashed a spirit of revenge.
They put out a simplistic script of “good vs. evil” that was taken up by a pliant
and intimidated media. They told us that asking why these terrible events had
happened verged on treason. There was to be no debate. There were by definition
no valid political or moral questions. The only possible answer was to be war
abroad and repression at home.

In our name,
the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress, not only attacked
Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military
force anywhere and anytime. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines
to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of
death and destruction. The government now openly prepares to wage all-out war
on Iraq — a country which has no connection to the horror of September 11. What
kind of world will this become if the U.S. government has a blank check to drop
commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants?

In our name,
within the U.S., the government has created two classes of people: those to whom
the basic rights of the U.S. legal system are at least promised, and those who
now seem to have no rights at all. The government rounded up over 1,000 immigrants
and detained them in secret and indefinitely. Hundreds have been deported and
hundreds of others still languish today in prison. This smacks of the infamous
concentration camps for Japanese-Americans in World War 2. For the first time
in decades, immigration procedures single out certain nationalities for unequal
treatment.

In our name,
the government has brought down a pall of repression over society. The President’s
spokesperson warns people to “watch what they say.” Dissident artists, intellectuals,
and professors find their views distorted, attacked, and suppressed. The so-called
Patriot Act — along with a host of similar measures on the state level — gives
police sweeping new powers of search and seizure, supervised if at all by secret
proceedings before secret courts.

In our name,
the executive has steadily usurped the roles and functions of the other branches
of government. Military tribunals with lax rules of evidence and no right to appeal
to the regular courts are put in place by executive order. Groups are declared
“terrorist” at the stroke of a presidential pen.

We must take
the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk of a war that will last
a generation and when they speak of a new domestic order. We are confronting a
new openly imperial policy towards the world and a domestic policy that manufactures
and manipulates fear to curtail rights.

There is a
deadly trajectory to the events of the past months that must be seen for what
it is and resisted. Too many times in history people have waited until it was
too late to resist.

President Bush
has declared: “youÕre either with us or against us.” Here is our answer: We refuse
to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right
to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise
of safety. We say NOT IN OUR NAME. We refuse to be party to these wars and we
repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare.
We extend a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies; we will
show our solidarity in word and deed.

We who sign
this statement call on all Americans to join together to rise to this challenge.
We applaud and support the questioning and protest now going on, even as we recognize
the need for much, much more to actually stop this juggernaut. We draw inspiration
from the Israeli reservists who, at great personal risk, declare “there IS a limit”
and refuse to serve in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

We also draw
on the many examples of resistance and conscience from the past of the United
States: from those who fought slavery with rebellions and the underground railroad,
to those who defied the Vietnam war by refusing orders, resisting the draft, and
standing in solidarity with resisters.

Let us not
allow the watching world today to despair of our silence and our failure to act.
Instead, let the world hear our pledge: we will resist the machinery of war and
repression and rally others to do everything possible to stop it.

Michael Albert

Laurie Anderson
Edward Asner, actor
Rosalyn Baxandall, historian
Russell Banks, writer
Jessica Blank, actor/playwright
Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange
William Blum, author
Theresa Bonpane, executive director, Office of the Americas
Blase Bonpane, director, Office of the Americas
Fr. Bob Bossie, SCJ
Leslie Cagan
Henry Chalfant, author/filmmaker
Bell Chevigny, writer
Paul Chevigny, professor of law, NYU
Noam Chomsky
Robbie Conal, visual artist
Stephanie Coontz, historian, Evergreen State College
Kimberly Crenshaw, Professor of Law, Columbia, UCLA
Kia Corthron, playwright
Kevin Danaher, Global Exchange
Ossie Davis
Mos Def
Carol Downer, board of directors, Chico (CA) Feminist Women’s Health Center
Eve Ensler
Leo Estrada, UCLA professor, Urban Planning
John Gillis, writer, professor of history, Rutgers
Jeremy Matthew Glick, editor of Another World Is Possible
Suheir Hammad, writer
Rakaa Iriscience, hip hop artist
David Harvey, distinguished professor of anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center
Erik Jensen, actor/playwright
Casey Kasem
Robin D.G. Kelly
Martin Luther King III, president, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Barbara Kingsolver
C. Clark Kissinger, Refuse & Resist!
Jodie Kliman, psychologist
Yuri Kochiyama, activist
Annisette & Thomas Koppel, singers/composers. Savage Rose
Dave Korten, author
Tony Kushner
James Lafferty, executive director, National Lawyers Guild/L.A.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, TIKKUN Magazine
Barbara Lubin, Middle East Childrens Alliance
Staughton Lynd
Anuradha Mittal, co-director, Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First

Malaquias Montoya, visual artist
Robert Nichols, writer
Rev. E. Randall Osburn, exec. v.p., Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Grace Paley
Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter
Juan G—mez Quiñones, historian, UCLA
Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights
Adrienne Rich, poet
Boots Riley, hip hop artist, The Coup
David Riker, filmmaker
Edward Said
Starhawk
Michael Steven Smith, National Lawyers Guild
Bob Stein, publisher
Gloria Steinem
Alice Walker
Naomi Wallace, playwright
Rev. George Webber, president emeritus, NY Theological Seminary
Leonard Weinglass, attorney
John Edgar Wideman
Saul Williams, spoken word artist
Howard Zinn, historian

Organizations
for identification only (signers as of 6/1/02)
Contact the Not In Our Name statement at: nionstatement@hotmail.com

Author: Duncan Campbell

News Service: The Guardian of London

URL: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0614-02.htm