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Build the struggle against war

September 28, 2001 | Page 3

THE U.S. political establishment is united, Republican and Democrat, behind the drive to war. And the mainstream media spends most of its time wondering about how quickly troops can be put in place so "we" can hit back.

To listen to them, the entire country has fallen in love with George W. Bush. But thousands of people in every city across the U.S. are proving the establishment wrong.

Within days--and even hours--of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, opponents of the drive to war began organizing vigils, meetings and protests to call for peace. These events helped many who questioned Bush's flag-waving and scapegoating to overcome the isolation that they felt immediately after the attacks.

In every city where Socialist Worker is distributed, readers have reported a flowering of antiwar activity--not to mention unprecedented interest in the special edition we rushed out following the attacks.

All this helps show why the media picture of a whole society united behind war is wrong. Polls do show that nearly 90 percent of people favor a U.S. military response against those responsible for the air attacks in New York and Washington. But barely a majority backs action that would involve the use of ground troops, the loss of U.S. lives or the deaths of innocent civilians.

There are millions upon millions of people who today may wear American flags out of respect for the victims of the tragedy and in the hopes that the U.S. government will do justice--but who can be convinced that justice is the furthest thing from George W. Bush's mind.

Our new antiwar movement needs to organize to reach as many of these people as quickly as possible. The backdrop to this struggle is a developing radicalization over the last few years that has produced a growing layer of committed activists--in particular, around global justice issues.

Many of these activists--in the midst of organizing for demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank meeting in Washington in late September--instinctively turned to protesting the war. Unfortunately, the Washington, D.C.-based Mobilization for Global Justice missed an opportunity to turn its actions against the IMF and World Bank--which canceled their meetings--into a national antiwar demonstration.

Still, today's antiwar movement has started faster and with larger numbers than similar struggles of the past.

The key to growing bigger will be a focus on building at the local level. There will be many national calls for action and plans to bring together activists from different parts of the country.

But the strength of the movement will be in whether it can grow in every locality to embrace the largest number of people--on campuses, in communities, in workplaces and unions.

The Bush White House may be riding high now. But our side has turned out to be much stronger than anyone would have guessed. Now is the time to take the message far and wide that it's necessary to struggle against war and racism--before Washington's war costs more lives.

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