New Unity a Good Beginning
By Bonnie Weinstein
“The two major antiwar coalitions that have initiated and organized for a massive anti-war March on Washington for September 24 have agreed to organize a joint rally followed by a joint march. Both coalitions will organize under their own banners, slogans and with their own literature for the September 24 demonstration. The joint rally will begin at 11:30 am at the Ellipse in the front of the White House. We urge everyone around the country to unite and come out for the largest possible anti-war demonstration on September 24.”
Statement signed by:
United for Peace and Justice
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (on behalf of the September 24 National Coalition).
One can’t help but think that the determination and fortitude of one woman, Cindy Sheehan, a grieving mother, had something to do with the new unity agreement between Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) on September 24, 2005 in Washington, D.C. Whether directly or indirectly, Cindy Sheehan has captured the attention of the American people. Her courageous crusade to demand answers to her questions, from President Bush, the man who sent her son to his death, has galvanized opposition to this war.
The U.S. antiwar movement has acted in a stellar manner by joining the two separate demonstrations into one unified action that can appeal to this growing mass movement against the war.
Cindy Sheehan, and those who share her and her beloved son Casey’s tragic fate have brought the reality of war home to mothers, fathers, loved ones and potential soldiers around the world. She has expressed compassion for the mothers, fathers and loved ones in Iraq that are suffering her same fate, her same pain, her same grieving and anger.
The power of a united antiwar movement will enable us to turn this anger into positive action against this unconscionable war. It is important now to establish new norms of cooperation between antiwar groups for future actions locally, nationally and internationally so that the antiwar movement can continue to grow to irresistible proportions.
This is our chance to establish an open and free atmosphere of discussion and debate over all the issues that we face—a very important one being the recruitment of our youth by the U.S. military. This is a crucial issue for the whole movement because it will take the cooperation and activity of all the rank-and-file activists to convince the masses of young people in this country not to enlist in the military. We haven’t even seen the beginning of the billion dollar recruitment campaign the U.S. military has planned.
At the same time, we must defend our schools from the ravaging costs of war and our children’s lives from the economic draft. What the American antiwar movement does now and after September 24, will help set the stage for the rest of the world.
Mass action can change the world
The power of mass action, when it is unified, is that the demonstrations tend to be larger, drawing in more people than the sum total of all the groups combined. Mass action is a basic and profound expression of democracy. It is a massive vote with your feet! It is an example of the power the masses of people on the planet really have when they pull together around unified action. Mass action has and will continue to affect the number of young people who will enlist in the military.
Continued cooperation between all sections of the antiwar movement will lead to even lower recruitment rates and can hamper the capitalist class’s ability to carry out this and other wars. It is a form of putting power into the hands of the masses themselves.
A massive, unified, democratically structured antiwar movement can champion soldiers who wish to lay down their arms. It can champion benefits for those who have been damaged by their participation the war. It can actively organize each school that is visited by or occupied by the military and demand they get out of the schools. It can demand that the obscene billions spent on war be redirected to human needs and services—the health, education and welfare of every child and the restoration and preservation of the Earth itself.
It will take all of us working together to achieve these goals. Massive, peaceful, united demonstrations show that we can work peacefully in cooperation with each other for the common good of all. That is what democracy is.