S.F. Protesters March and Vote to Bring the Troops Home Now in San Francisco
By Bonnie Weinstein
The following is a speech given to the Nov. 3 antiwar march and rally initiated by Not In Our Name and endorsed by almost every antiwar group in the Bay Area, to “End the Occupation! Out of Iraq Now!” More than 2000 people showed up at 5:00 p.m. to show their opposition to the war. Bonnie Weinstein spoke on behalf of Bay Area United Against War, one of the endorsers and builders of this action.
Here’s some good news: With 96 percent of precincts counted, San Francisco city residents supported, by a 64 to 36 percent margin, Proposition N, a measure calling on the U.S. government to withdraw troops and all other military personnel from Iraq immediately.
That is probably the most truthful expression of the feelings of voters. I think one of the things we should encourage is a vote like this all over the country. That is much more democratic than trying to choose between two war mongers who only differ on tactics.
In fact, in his concession speech this afternoon Mr. Kerry said, and I quote, “In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion.” I could agree with that, but he goes on, “I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years. I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide. I know this is a difficult time for my supporters, but I ask them, all of you, to join me in doing that.” And here’s the real rub—he goes on to advise his supporters, “Now, more than ever, with our soldiers in harm’s way, we must stand together and succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror.”
There, in short he said what his whole campaign has stood for. This is the trap voters were put in. That is why we can’t be alarmed about this vote between war and war. Those were our only electoral choices anyway. I heard on KPFA radio today that of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 25, only one in ten bothered to vote. Most couldn’t see much of a difference between the candidates so they didn’t bother to vote. Well I think they were right! It shows they are very bright, indeed!
But we do have another choice to make. We can stay right here out in the street and tell the world that there are millions of Americans who join with people throughout the world to say no to this war no matter who carries it out.
And it certainly is true that both candidates were prepared to carry out this war—escalate this war—increase funds to Israel, drastically cut all public resources for things like hospitals, schools, community service programs, all the things that take tax money—our money—away from the hundreds of billions needed to fund the war and the U.S.’s strategic ally, Zionist Israel.
Meanwhile giant American corporations—contributors to both the Kerry and Bush campaigns—are making profits hand over fist. The weapons industry is booming while American corporations operating in Iraq are embroiled in corruption and gross mishandling of funds. Funds that are supposed to build schools for Iraqi children and hospitals for their poor, instead, are bringing death and destruction based on unmitigated lies. Over 100,000 people dead already in Iraq—innocent women and children and men trying to live their lives.
And these same robber barons waging this war are as sloppy with the safety of U.S. troops as they are with the transportation and storage of their own oil, because their bottom line is profit. If a few extra hundred troops are killed for lack of proper equipment or if a few single-hulled vessels spill millions of gallons of oil, it’s a problem only if they can’t write it off on their taxes or if it cuts into the bottom line, profits.
There is only one thing we can do. We must create an even broader unity against the war than we had before the war started. We must join in an international call of solidarity against U.S. aggression in Iraq and throughout the world. We must organize independently of the two war parties or any parties or individuals that support their aim anywhere in the world!
Already there have been calls for an international day of protest against the war. I received one from England. There’s no reason why we can’t begin to try and make national and international contacts within the next few weeks. I suggest we all come together—all of us who are opposed to the war—to organize a call for a unified date of mass protest in every major city in the world. Let’s call a unified date for the spring for mass, peaceful protests in the streets. This is the kind of independently organized, grassroots antiwar movement that can gain the power and strength needed to put a stop to these bloodthirsty monsters that profit from war and the hardship of others.
The U.S. quest for world dominance and control of the world’s oil is relentless and international in scope. So must our movement be. We must demand that all the troops be withdrawn from Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere, and use those hundreds of billions of our tax dollars on human needs and building a better world, instead of war.