Party for Socialism and Liberation: 10th anniversary of the ANSWER Coalition

From the PSL’s Liberation News:

The statement below was released today by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a member organization of ANSWER.

10th anniversary of the ANSWER Coalition

Building a nationwide movement for justice during a decade of war, racism and repression

Dear supporter of the ANSWER Coalition,

Please become a sustaining donor

On September 14, 2001, just three days after the September 11 attacks, the
ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) came into existence and
announced a planned mass demonstration against war and racism for September 29,
2001, in Washington, D.C. The attacks against ANSWER were swift and furious.
Right-wing organizations condemned us as “traitors” and many liberal
organizations said that it was “wrong” and “untimely” to have a demonstration
against the Bush administration.

The people of the United States were still in a state of shock and grief
on September 14, 2001. Behind the scenes, the Bush administration was rapidly
putting into place a plan for military invasion and domestic repression using
the terrible events of September 11 as a pretext. Bush’s announced “war on
terror” was the rationale that the administration hoped would be enough to
silence any opposition. In the days after September 11, Bush’s approval ratings
were at 90 percent.

In a Difficult Moment, September 29 Showed that Mass
Opposition to Bush was Possible

First anti-war demonstration after Sept. 11 attacks, 09/29/2
ANSWER Coalition organized a demonstration of 25,000 people on Sept.
29, 2001, just 18 days after the Sept. 11 attacks, to show mass
opposition to Bush’s policy of war abroad and racism at home.

The September 29, 2001, demonstration in
Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania
Avenue in D.C. was a watershed event. People of conscience came
together—under very difficult circumstances—to make clear that they
would not support
the government’s efforts to launch a global war drive abroad and
civil liberties at home. Under the heavy pressure of a national
campaign intended to silence dissent, many were told, even by friends
allies, that they should not speak out – yet they came. Some of the
organizing busses were falsely told by their schools that attending the
demonstration would be dangerous and unsafe—but they too came anyway.

We did not know how many people would come, but knew that it was
imperative that those who were willing, organize against the looming imperial
war drive and domestic repression. As the demonstration grew, we watched the
Plaza fill as people joined to take a stand together. 25,000 people came
despite the intense pressure. The chants rang out from the heart of Washington,
D.C., “We will not be silent!” and “We want justice, we want peace, U.S. out of
the Middle East.” C-Span carried the demonstration and the message went out
throughout the country that resistance and organization was possible.

Including the Issue of Palestine in the U.S. Peace Movement

Seven months later, on April 20, 2002, the ANSWER Coalition organized the
largest demonstration in U.S. history in support of the Palestinian people.
100,000 people marched under the slogan, “Free Palestine, No War on Iraq” just
three weeks after the Israeli re-invasion of the West Bank. That demonstration
was also a major controversy within the peace movement. ANSWER, which at its core
included partnership between non-Arab and Arab-American organizers, refused to
accept the marginalization of the Palestinian struggle. Treating the
Palestinian struggle as a taboo was a shameful legacy of the traditional peace
organizations in the U.S.

Many groups said we should not emphasize the issue of Palestine, claiming
it would “alienate” people. That demonstration marked a turning point. The
struggle of the Palestinian people was raised as a vital part of the movement
for justice and peace in the Middle East. Support for the Palestinian
people is now widespread among many U.S. groups because of this hard-fought
battle in the anti-war movement and others that followed from 2002 to 2005. Today
there are few in the peace movement who would suggest that Palestinian
self-determination can properly be delinked from organizing for a just peace in
the Middle East.

A New Anti-War Movement

As the Bush administration made its plans for war against Iraq, the ANSWER
Coalition announced plans for a mass demonstration on October 26, 2002, in
Washington, D.C.

To the surprise of the administration and the media, 200,000 people
answered that call and a new massive anti-war movement was born.  On January 18, 2003, a half million people
marched again in Washington, D.C. On February 15, 2003, millions took to the
streets in thousands of cities in nearly every country.

In the months and years that followed, hundreds of thousands more came
together as the ANSWER Coalition became the motor for mass actions against the
war in Iraq as well as mass actions in support of the Palestinian people,
against the war in Afghanistan, and the bombing of Libya, the threats against
Iran, and in support of the people of Cuba and Venezuela to develop free from
U.S. sanctions, threats and subversion.

Coalition’s Unique Political and Organizational Perspective

Rally against looming war on Iraq, 01/18/2003
Half a million people marched on Jan. 18, 2003, in opposition to the looming war on Iraqthe largest anti-war demonstration in Washington, D.C., since the Vietnam era.

A cornerstone of ANSWER’s approach is to provide in-depth political
analysis from an anti-imperialist framework. We have also stressed the primacy of action, of mobilizing and organizing
people. The ANSWER Coalition has been characterized by a dynamic organizing
style, a sustained level of activity throughout the country, and the inclusion
of hundreds of volunteers who have worked selflessly to build this grassroots
movement. We believe that the people themselves are the decisive factor to
bring about change. We have been distinctive in our orientation towards the
Republicans and Democratic parties. We believe that both parties were
responsible for the war drive and the attacks against civil rights and civil
liberties at home.

The ANSWER Coalition from its inception was distinctive because it was
completely multi-racial and multinational. It made the connection between the
anti-war movement and the struggles against racism and for social and economic
justice. We have fought free speech battles around the country to open the
streets and parkland to all those who wish to speak out.

ANSWER has played a leading role in the fight against racist and religious
profiling, in defense of the Muslim and Arab American communities inside the
United States, and in support of civil rights and civil liberties that are
under attack. We have taken to the streets to defend workers rights, defeat
anti-immigrant bigotry, and to advance the struggle for social and economic

There were others who criticized raising issues besides “peace” but we
felt that no U.S. movement could be relevant, inclusive or effective without
doing so.

New Era of Organizing Among Active Duty Troops and Veterans

In recent years March Forward!, an affiliate of the ANSWER Coalition, has
brought together anti-war veterans and active-duty service members to fight for
their rights and oppose U.S. imperialist wars of aggression. March Forward! organizers
have worked to defend conscientious objectors and demand justice for the
families of military members whose lives have been destroyed by war. These
current and former military personnel have taken the risk of speaking out and
organizing a powerful movement in opposition to the generals and the Pentagon.

Decade of Consistent Organizing Creates a New Generation of Leaders and

Numerous organizations have come and gone in the last decade. The ANSWER
Coalition is still here. In fact, the Coalition has vibrant chapters all over
the country active in education, outreach and mobilizing. A whole generation of
young activists who came into political life during the past decade have become
trained, skilled organizers through their experience with the ANSWER Coalition.
They continue as a generation of young leaders working not only in the anti-war
movement but in critical progressive social movements throughout the United States.

Your support has been crucial. Now, for this
important and remarkable 10th anniversary, we ask that you make a
special donation. Please become a
sustaining donor.

We couldn’t have
done this without the support of tens of thousands of committed people of
conscience who have organized together with us to build this movement. Please make a
generous donation now to support our continued struggle against war and racism.


ANSWER Coalition

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