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Protesters demand apology from a pro-war rag
The New Republic[ans]

February 18, 2005 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,
The New Republic magazine--a pro-war Democratic Party rag--thought it would be provocative to muse about killing and torturing antiwar activists.

New Republic writer T.A. Frank found it cheeky to sit in and mock an antiwar panel meeting sponsored by the D.C. Anti-War Network, the D.C. ISO and others. He thought it would make his colleagues chuckle to wish for "John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation." The New Republic thought they would score points with their puffy beltway buddies by printing a call for someone to "take a bunker buster to Arundhati Roy," the internationally known antiwar author.

The New Republic also thought they'd get away with it. They were wrong.

On February 11, 50-plus antiwar and global justice activists picketed their shabby Washington, D.C., offices (tough times for TNR). We were loud and proud, demanding both print space to rebut Frank's psychotic rant, as well as a formal apology.

As we chanted gems like "Stop the Threats, Stop the Lies; New Republic, Apologize" and "New Republic, you can go Kill and Die for Texaco," their quivering editorial team remained holed up upstairs, refusing to address our demands, defend Frank's rant or even leave the office. While their staff shook in the newly christened "New Republic Panic Room," we handed out hundreds of leaflets to passersby, outlining their nasty dirge.

Our "Fight the New Republic(ans)" campaign began when we posted a response to Frank on the CounterPunch Web site. The reaction was staggering, with TNR receiving hundreds of e-mails and phone calls. It was incredible, as letters poured in from around the world, from antiwar vets to unionists in India.

Despite the diversity of responders, the message was quite unified: if you want to get to Arundhati Roy, you have to go through us first.

The ferocity and confidence of the response inspired us to call our demonstration. This was no easy decision, as the left in Washington, D.C. has seen better days. But once again, we were energized when groups ranging from the D.C. Anti-War Network, to the Mobilization for Global Justice, to the Washington Peace Center enthusiastically supported our call.

Then, because we took the step to not just fulminate and blog, but to act, our demo plans were written up in Alexander Cockburn's "Minority Report" column in the Nation magazine.

Cockburn and his editorial partner Jeffrey St. Clair further stepped up by linking our call to action to the masthead on the CounterPunch Web site. All of this injected a tremendous confidence going into the picket. It also demonstrated that these right-wingers are no better than your typical schoolyard bully: if you stand up to them with politics that are confident and clear, they wither like Donald Rumsfeld in a room of GIs.

Our demo did not transpire without debate. Some argued we were advocating "censorship" by holding a picket. This is dead wrong. The violators of free speech here are the laptop thugs at the New Republic, calling for the heads of those whose views they despise.

We were defending our right to voice dissent without being threatened by violence. By demanding print space in their magazine, we are challenging them to expand the parameters of speech around the occupation of Iraq. Far from censoring, we have made it clear that we will debate T.A. Frank and his ilk anytime, anywhere.

Now that we have raised hell at their office doors, TNR wants our campaign to just go away. They won't be so lucky.

We are calling on everyone to keep up the pressure. E-mail the New Republic at [email protected] Call them up at 202-508-4444. Ask them if the official position of the magazine is to torture and kill people they disagree with--they love that.

Also, on March 3, my union, the National Writers Union's D.C. chapter, is going to take up the New Republic's efforts to intimidate writers as a point of action for the foreseeable future.

The New Republic is a magazine trying to stake out territory on the right wing of the Democratic Party. The New Republic believed it could earn street cred among the DLC hacks upon whose buttocks their lips are permanently attached. The New Republic thought they could do this on the backs of our movement. They miscalculated, because unlike them, we have a spine.
Dave Zirin, Washington, D.C.

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