Can there be a unified
mass demonstration on
September 24, 2005?
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition's Response
to Frequently Asked Questions
Response: On May 12, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition - which has initiated and organized the largest mass demonstrations in Washington DC, as well as other national actions, during the past four years - issued its call for a united “March on Washington to Stop the War on Iraq” on September 24, 2005. The rally is to begin at the White House. A.N.S.W.E.R. has also called for and is organizing sister actions in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
More than 4,500 organizations and individuals have announced their support for the A.N.S.W.E.R.-initiated demonstration. Organizing centers are coming together all over the country to bring the largest number of activists to DC on September 24. A new coalition of major national organizations, including those who represent those most targeted by the Bush administration's war drive abroad and repression at home, has come together to create a united front and build the largest possible gathering of people on the streets of DC. The leadership of the September 24 National Coalition for the March on Washington to Stop the War in Iraq now includes the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, National Council of Arab-Americans (NCA), Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, Haiti Support Network, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, National Lawyers Guild, Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Mexicanos Sin Fronteras / Mexicans Without Borders, Women's Anti-Imperialist League (WAIL), and A.N.S.W.E.R. Youth and Student National Coalition.
Question: What is A.N.S.W.E.R.'s position on a united demonstration? What has it done to achieve a united front with UFPJ?
Response: The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition believes that a principled united front demonstration is in the best interest of the movement to stop the illegal and criminal war against Iraq and the U.S. war machine's drive for empire and conquest.
A.N.S.W.E.R. has proposed such a united front to UFPJ for September 24 and remains open to forging a united rally and march on Washington.
On May 12, the day that the A.N.S.W.E.R. Steering Committee issued its call for the September 24 March on Washington, A.N.S.W.E.R. sent a letter to UFPJ offering a 50/50 united front activity for September 24, 2005, along the same terms as the united front demonstrations between the two coalitions held on October 25, 2003, and March 20, 2004.
Question: Is A.N.S.W.E.R. calling for a separate demonstration on September 24?
Response: No. A.N.S.W.E.R. issued a call on May 12 and invited UFPJ to work together in a united front demonstration. Eleven days later, on May 23, UFPJ's leadership responded to A.N.S.W.E.R.'s proposal for unity by issuing a public announcement, without consulting their membership, that they were now going to cancel their planned September 10, 2005, demonstration in NYC and instead call a demonstration on September 24 in Washington DC, the same date and location as the earlier A.N.S.W.E.R. call. UFPJ added that they were opposed to a united activity and that they would hold a separate demonstration from A.N.S.W.E.R.
Question: What is the focus of the September 24 demonstration? Is the central focus on Iraq or is it many issues?
Response: The people of Iraq have met the war and occupation of their country with such fierce resistance that the U.S. government, as during the Vietnam War, has been unable to pacify and subdue the invaded country. The Iraqi people want the U.S. and all foreign forces to leave. This sentiment is shared by a growing number of people in the U.S. who have learned that the war has been based on lies and deceit. The demonstration was called by A.N.S.W.E.R. to help make this growing antiwar sentiment a powerful political force.
Question: If the focus of the demonstration is on the Iraq war why does A.N.S.W.E.R. raise other issues in the political program for the demonstration? Why does it support the demand “End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine and Everywhere,” and raise other countries and other peoples’ right to live free from colonial occupation and the threats of the Bush administration? Why does the demonstration also focus on social justice issues and civil rights on the home front? Don’t other issues dilute the message and possibly alienate some people who might agree that the Iraq war is wrong?
Response: There has been a debate about "connecting issues" or having an exclusively "single issue" focus since the 1960's. Martin Luther King, Jr. was severely criticized for publicly and courageously connecting the civil rights struggle at home with the growing opposition to the Vietnam War. Today, all progressive people applaud Dr. King's courageous position but at the time he was accused of alienating some supporters of civil rights by his strong antiwar stance. During that time, repression was greatest against those fighting racism and for liberation within the United States, but some antiwar leaders insisted that the movement strictly have antiwar slogans, rather than show solidarity with the targeted Black and Latino communities. Their desire to include some sectors of the population into the antiwar movement effectively excluded others. There is no reason to repeat this paradigm.
Arab-American and Muslim peoples are being targeted in their homelands and in communities throughout the United States. These forms of oppression are all interconnected and are part of the U.S. government's imperialist path of conquest. We are marching on September 24 to stop the war against Iraq and we want to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, the people of Haiti and others resisting the Empire. We want to draw in all those working class communities that are experiencing cutbacks in education, healthcare services and housing as the national treasury is looted to pay for imperial wars. This is the strongest way to build a powerful movement—not by exclusion, but by inclusion. The September 24 National Coalition, initiated by A.N.S.W.E.R., represents a broad unity not only between progressive national organizations but a united front with targeted communities, especially the Arab-American and Muslim communities in the United States.
Question: Is it too late to have a united front between the A.N.S.W.E.R.-initiated September 24 National Coalition and UFPJ? Is A.N.S.W.E.R. prepared to work with UFPJ?
Response: As stated above, A.N.S.W.E.R. still supports having a united front rally and march, despite the efforts of UFPJ leaders to split the movement. We are completely willing to continue to work with and engage UFPJ, regardless of significant political differences with UFPJ.
Only UFPJ is stating it will not have a united front demonstration. To date, UFPJ's leadership (which, of course, is different than its "membership") remains steadfast in its refusal to have a united rally and march. It has stated it only wishes to organize a separate rally.
Question: What should I do? My friends and my organization don't want to have to come to DC and choose between two separate places?
Response: If there are two demonstrations on September 24 it will reflect division and segregation. It may come to that, but it would be stronger to have a single, united, multi-national and multi-ethnic show of unity in opposition to the war. We are convinced that a principled united front is not only desirable, but still possible. A united, mass demonstration will maximize the show of strength in Washington DC on September 24. To the question: what can I do? We believe that people who agree that a united front demonstration is the right thing should communicate their opinions to the UFPJ leadership and to the member groups of that coalition.
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