Students Attend Regional Antiwar Conferences
By DAVID BERNT
CHICAGO-On Nov. 10 and 11, student antiwar activists gathered in the Midwest and the West and East Coasts to participate in three regional student antiwar conferences. The three conferences-in Chicago, Berkeley, and Boston-were attended by a combined total of over 1000 activists.
Each conference included educational workshops and a delegated decision-making session to plan coordinated days of action. The educational workshops included topics such as the history of U.S. intervention in the Middle East and South Asia, the sanctions on Iraq, lessons of past antiwar movements, and how to build antiwar committees.
All conferences made decisions on future activities, including regional days of action and teach-ins. All three conferences decided to endorse and build a national student antiwar conference to be held in February, most likely located in the Midwest. Many activists are hoping for a call for a mass action in April.
The three conferences took place at a time when antiwar activity had begun to recede since, with the Taliban’s surrender in Mazar-i-Sharif, an impending U.S. victory in Afghanistan was becoming more and more obvious.
But they were an important step for the student antiwar movement since they allowed activists on many different campuses to compare notes and to closely coordinate their plans for the future.
Through educating each other and planning actions in a coordinated manner, the thousands upon thousands of student antiwar activists can make their voices heard and reach out to larger layers of American society.
Report from Berkeley Antiwar Conference
By JULIA WALLACE
LOS ANGELES-On Nov. 10, 25 students from the UCLA Student Coalition Against the War (SCAW) drove to Berkeley to attend the California Schools Against War conference. The conference was intended to educate, organize, and unite students about issues concerning the war.
Some 600 people attended, including members of campus-based antiwar committees from 70 different colleges. Students came from as far away as Arizona, Washington, and Nevada.
On the first day of the conference, speakers included Noura Erekat, who spoke on her experience as a Palestinian in America and how Muslim communities have been affected by the racist backlash since Sept. 11. Even in Berkeley, she said, a group of Muslim women were spat on near the university.
Poet and activist Amiri Baraka performed a poem asking who are to blame, not only for the Sept. 11 attacks but also for the oppression of people worldwide. Both received a standing ovation.
In the afternoon, workshops dealt with how to convince others to become active against the war; connections between the CIA, oil and the Taliban; and the role of the labor movement in antiwar organizing.
On Sunday, a delegated decision-making plenary met to plan actions for the upcoming months. Five delegates from each school coalition were able to discuss and vote on proposals.
A national day of action was planned for Dec. 8. Along with the other campuses who sent delegations, the UCLA Student Coalition Against the War (SCAW) will continue fighting against the U.S. war.
Through teach-ins, rallies, and other protests, SCAW has maintained a constant membership of 40 people at its weekly meetings and more than 100 people attending our events. We are made up of anarchists, socialists, intellectuals, artists, and students new to activism.
Our three points of unity are (1) No to war; military action won’t stop terrorism! (2) Stop racist scapegoating on Arab and Muslim Communities! (3) Defend our civil liberties!
Socialist Action, which is a member of SCAW, realizes that this war, like all other wars before it, will not only be paid for by taxing working people but will cost them the lives of their sons and daughters as well. We understand that the only way this war-and all imperialist wars-can be stopped is through a struggle against the ruling class, who seek to gain and maintain profits at our expense.
It is important to realize that there is a war being fought against working people at home as well. Our jobs are being taken away by the hundreds of thousands.
Because of this fact it is important that we try to educate those who may have opposing views. Stopping the U.S. war will take efforts to talk to our families, and to organize in school and at work. It will take our power to inspire those around us-just as it did in stopping the war in Vietnam.
Right-Wingers Witch Hunt Universities
By DAVID BERNT
In response to the growing antiwar sentiment on college campuses, the right-wing think tank “Defense of Civilization Fund,” headed by the notorious conservative hack Lynne Chaney (the vice president’s wife), published a report attacking the rights of students and college faculty to oppose the imperialist war in Afghanistan.
The report, titled, “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can be Done About It,” criticized both students and faculty for making even the slightest critique of American foreign policy.
It called on college administrations to impose courses that teach pro-American and pro-imperialist perspectives of U.S. and Western history.
The report states, “We call upon all colleges and universities to adopt strong core curricula that include rigorous courses on … America’s continuing struggle to extend the principles on which it was founded.” It continues, “We need to know, in a time of war, exactly what is at stake.”
The report goes on-in a way reminiscent of the anti-communist McCarthy hysteria of the 1950s-to list the names and positions of 117 students and faculty and the “un-patriotic” statements that they have made. Many of the quotes the report takes to be anti-American are extremely mild, indicating that the authors oppose any dissent whatsoever.
The following statements are among those the report cites as dangerous to national security: “Break the cycle of violence.” “We have to learn to use courage for peace instead of war.” “Ignorance breeds hate.” “We need to hear more then one perspective on how we can make the world a safer place.”
Many of the statements are not even against the war, but still make the list.
For example, the report cites Jesse Jackson, a pro-war liberal Democrat, as saying, “We should build bridges and relationships, not simply bombs and walls.” This is similar to the McCarthy period, when the slightest dissent, even from pro-capitalist politicians, could incite a hysterical reaction.
The ruling class and its servants in the U.S. government and think tanks are concerned that the developing antiwar movement, particularly among students, could give rise to a mass antiwar mobilization, like the one against the war in Vietnam, that would undermine their imperialist interests in the Third World.
This report indicates that they are doing everything possible to isolate the movement by trying to whip up a pro-war hysteria and to institutionalize a blindly patriotic academic curriculum.
Antiwar activists must stand up to such threats, and expose the hypocrisy of its authors, who sing praises of American “freedom and democracy,” while they participate in crimes against the people of the world in the name of profit for the ruling rich.