RESPONDING TO 9/11
AND THE "WAR ON TERROR"
The October 26 event in St. Paul also served as both a poignant and powerful memorial for Minnesota Democratic Senator, Paul Wellstone, who the day before had been killed in a plane crash in northern Minnesota along with his wife, Sheila, their daughter, Marcia, three campaign aides and the aircraft's two pilots.
On the matter of the timing of the Wellstone tragedy, only the World Socialist Website dared to articulate what was on many people's minds: "Under different political circumstances it might be possible to dismiss the . . . crash as a tragic accident whose causes, even if they cannot be precisely determined, lie in the sphere of aircraft engineering and weather phenomena. But the death of Paul Wellstone takes place under conditions in which far too many strange things are happening in America.
"Wellstone's death comes almost two years to the day after a similar plane crash killed another Democratic Senate hopeful locked in a tight election contest, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, on October 16, 2000. The American [corporate] media duly noted the 'eerie coincidence,' as though it was a statistical oddity, rather than suggesting a pattern.
"Last year two leading Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, were targeted for assassination with letters laced with anthrax. The federal Justice Department--headed by John Ashcroft, who lost to the deceased Mel Carnahan in the Missouri contest--has failed to apprehend the anthrax mailer.
"Wellstone was in a hotly contested re-election campaign, but polls showed he was beginning to pull ahead of Republican nominee Norm Coleman, the former mayor of St. Paul, in the wake of the vote in the Senate to authorize President Bush to wage war against Iraq. The liberal Democrat was a well-publicized opponent of the war resolution, the only Senator in a tight race to vote against it.
"More broadly, with the Senate controlled by the Democrats by a margin of 50-49, the loss of even a single seat could shift control to the Republicans. The immediate effect of Wellstone's death is to deprive the Democrats of a majority in the lame-duck session scheduled for late November.
"Without exaggerating Wellstone's personal significance--he was a conventional bourgeois politician and no threat to the profit system--there are enormous financial stakes involved in control of the Senate. Republican control of the Senate would make it possible to push through new tax cuts for the wealthy and other perks for corporate America worth billions of dollars--more than enough of an incentive to commit murder.
"The neo-fascist elements within and around the Republican Party have already demonstrated their contempt for democracy, first in the protracted campaign of political destabilization against the Clinton administration, then with the theft of the 2000 presidential election. They are now preparing to slaughter tens of thousands of Iraqis in order to grab control of the second largest oil reserves in the world. To imagine that they would suffer moral qualms over a conveniently timed plane crash would be na´ve in the extreme."
84. Corporate media coverage of the St. Paul peace rally and similar rallies across the nation was woefully inadequate and frequently dismissive in nature. The New York Times, for instance, said that the rally in Washington, D.C., drew a few thousand and that organizers were disappointed. A subsequent edition of the paper gave a more accurate account of the crowd size but no apology or explanation as to why the paper had made such an error in the first place.
In Minnesota, both the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune came under fire for their limited and biased coverage of the October 26 event at the State Capitol. A demonstration protestimg such coverage was held outside the Star Tribune's downtown Minneapolis corporate headquarters on Wednesday, October 30. Over fifty people participated in what turned out to be a very spirited event.
85. "The October 26 event, the largest anti-war rally in Minnestota in thirty years, was buried in the A section of both major dailies," noted Brett Stephen, a participant in the October 30 protest of the Star Tribune. "Outrage is building over the virtual blackout of coverage. The Star Tribune reported on the rally as one of many Paul Wellstone-related stories, and included a single picture of a single demonstrator. The Pioneer Press included an un-named 'official source'--a state trooper--who underreported the number of protesters by over half."
"The death of Senator Paul Wellstone the day before," said Brett, "undeniably swelled the number of people who attended. The march was a powerful memorial to the political courage of Wellstone, the only senator facing re-election to vote against the use of force in Iraq. But the march was also a cry of determination by over 10,000 Minnesotans that the war will be stopped before it is begun."
On the question of why the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press would not give this event the coverage it was due, Brett notes that "They are following the lead of America's elite media, who are following the lead of the Bush administration and powerful sectors of the U.S. economy. The administration made clear in a series of meetings in October 2001, that they wished to control war coverage. Following this line, the Washington Post and the New York Times, the pinnicle of elite print media, recently ignored a 200,000-plus anti-war march in London.
"Before the administration can start dropping expensive munitions on Iraq, it must first win the war for the hearts and souls--or at least the grudging consent--of the American people. They are engaged in a propaganda war, using Madison Avenue marketeers and the formidable powers of the White House. But the people are fighting back . . ."
86. Christopher Loch, one of the key organizers of the October 30 protest of the Star Tribune.
After a number of protesters entered the lobby of the Star Tribune's corporate headquarters, Christopher and another protester, Christina Youngren, were "allowed" to meet with Editor and Vice-President of Communications, Anders Gyllenhaal.
"The meeting ended up being a Michael Moore-type experiment in attempting to hold high ranking officials accountable," noted Christopher. "Christina and I did speak with the editor, but he merely maintained that with the whole Wellstone tragedy going on, the paper was unable to do a better job than they did--a job which he contended was well done. I pointed out that a large 'professional' newspaper like the Star Tribune surely had enough staff and resources to cover both stories adequately, but Mr. Gyllenhaal maintained his line.
"Pointing to another flaw in the Star Tribune's story, I asked why the headline was so misleading ("Rallies Remember Wellstone")? Why a headline of a mere three words when font size could surely be reduced enough to add a fourth all important word: "Anti-War"? Why not title the article Anti-War Rallies Remember Wellstone"? or "10,000 Rally Against War, Remember Wellstone"? Mr. Gyllenhaal again maintained his line without apology, stating that there were a lot of Wellstone people there and it was appropriate.
"During the whole meeting with Mr. Gyllenhaal, he maintained the perpetual floor, deigning to allow us to speak every so often, and sharply chastizing us when we attempted to add a rejoinder or question a point he had made. Shortly after the meeting began, it abruptly ended when Mr. Gyllenhaal became fed up with [what he perceived to be our] insolent behavior. In fact, we behaved rather well in the meeting, and merely called him where we thought his response was inadequate or off point."
Recalled Christina: "[Gyllenhaal] got really indignant with us and ended the meeting when I told him we didn't need his unnecessary and derogatory chuckles."
"We did, prior to getting the boot, ask for an apology and/or correction to be printed in the paper," said Chris, "but Mr. Gyllenhaal refused. Having gone through the 'correct' channels of sending letters to the editor (many were sent, and apparently one was printed) and now having met with the editor in person, it is crystal clear that more direct actions will be required to help the Star Tribune realize what they've done wrong, not to mention help make the public aware of the same. We left the editor with firm expectations that there would be more protests at his door in the near future."
87. "I'm totally devastated by the election results," said Minneapolis resident Phyllis Reames on Wednesday, November 5, 2002--the day after the Republican Party gained control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. "I don't even like the Democrats, so to have the Republicans get as many votes as they did terrifies me, not only in the sense of the power that they now have in Washington, but what it says about the people around me. I don't understand how even with all the money and resources they had to run their huge propoganda campaign, how so many people could be so caught up in the rhertoric of what Bush is saying.
"I think Bush has the agenda of building a global empire and I think he'll stop at nothing. I totally think that there's a very strong possibility that Wellstone was bumped off and that there's not any room to talk about that because of the climate that we're in--people would be seen as unpatriotic. It terrifies me. I feel we could very well be living in the reincarnation of Nazi Germany of 1934 and it makes me very afraid and very sad."
Reflecting on the life and career of Senator Paul Wellstone, Phyllis notes that "No one else in the Senate operated from the perspective of Paul Wellstone--the perspective of a thoughtful learned person. He was informed and articulate. He believed in his heart what he thought intellectually. He reached people on a totally different level than people who are just worried about opinion polls and winning the next election. That's what set him apart and that's why he might have been targeted. I think it's very suspicious."
On the Republican win in the election, Phyllis observes that "So many people are caught up in the propoganda about the 'War on Terrorism', being caught up in that fear. So much of the voting in this country is voting from a place of fear, and what the Republicans did was capitalized on that."
88. Bruce Barten, with a creative prop, participates in the weekly peace vigil on the Lake St./Marshall Ave. Bridge--November 2002. Commenting on the "temptation" to think that control of Iraqi oil is the real goal of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bruce declares: "Cheap oil is the Devil's right hand can."
89. Dr. Arjun Makhijani, keynote speaker at the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers' annual Peace Celebration--November 12, 2002.
In his talk entitled "Nuclear Roulette in an Age of Terrorism", Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Tacoma Park, Maryland, said that the risks of nuclear war are increasing on a number of fronts. He is most concerned about the so-called "War on Terrorism". "That should be a police action," he says.
Dr. Makhijani observes that the strategy employed by the police chief in relation to the recent sniper attacks in Maryland, is instructive. The police negotiated with the sniper even while he was murdering people. These negotiations eventually gave investigators clues to the identities of the two snipers responsible for the indiscriminate murder of several people. "Why didn't the United States use the same strategy in trying to bring Osama bin Laden and the Taliban to justice?" Dr. Makhijani asks.
"We had an opportunity last year when the Taliban said they would negotiate, to come to a peaceful resolution of the World Trade Center crisis. Instead, Bush asked for all the leaders of the Afghanistan government and the Taliban and Osama bin Laden to be turned in. This was obviously something the Taliban could not do. So, the result has been a war that has cost thousands of innocent lives and no government in Afghanistan. There is a government in Kabul, and we have warlords wearing suits and ties and pretending to be part of the government, but that is not fooling anyone except the American people," said Makhijani.
Commenting on the title of his address, Dr. Makhijani observes that "People have lived in nuclear terror for more than half a century . . . We live in a situation where the world can be incinerated very fast . . . Nuclear weapons are not safe weapons in any hands It is not that there are some wrong hands and some right hands. All hands are the wrong hands for nuclear weapons. The fingers on the nuclear trigger are the ultimate fingers of terrorism, because nuclear weapons are designed to be weapons of terror . . . This is not my assessment alone. It is the assessment of those who invented these weapons.There are no safe hands for nuclear weapons."
90. Phyllis Bennis--December 7, 2002.
A fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, Phyllis has been a writer, analyst and activist on Middle East issues, especially Israel-Palestine, for 25 years. Based at the United Nations, Phyllis began working on U.S. domination of the UN at the time of the run-up to the Gulf War, and has stayed involved in work on Iraq sanctions, disarmament and U.S. policy towards Iraq. In 1999 Phyllis accompanied a group of congressional aides to Iraq to examine the impact of U.S.-led economic sanctions on the humanitarian conditions there, and joined former UN Assistant secretary General Denis Halliday, who resigned his position as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq to protest the impact of sanctions, for a speaking tour. In 2001 she helped found and currently co-chairs the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation.
In November 2003, Phyllis was interviewed by Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures about alternatives to the empire-building and war-mongering of the Bush regime. "What the world needs to keep the peace is not an empire lording over the rest of the world, but a democratic international system based on law, global institutions, and the UN Charter," says Phyllis. "The vast disparities of income within countries and between North and South, the disempowerment of peoples around the world whose repressive governments rely on US financial, political, and military backing--these are the real threats to the peace, and a US empire does not make any of us safer. A world without an empire would not be a utopia; it would simply allow nations around the world a chance to build better lives for their people and allow people around the world a chance at gaining human rights.
"Empires are an old story--the story of a strategically unchallenged dominion, at the apogee of its power and influence, rewriting global rules. Two thousand years ago, Thucydides described the conquering of the island of Mylos by the Greeks in order to ensure stability for the Greek empire's 'democratic' golden age. The Melians asked, 'What about democracy?' And the Greeks responded, 'For us there is democracy; for you there is the law of empire.' The Roman empire did the same, creating one set of laws for Rome's own citizens, imposing another on its far-flung possessions. The British empire did much the same thing. And then, at the end of the 20th century, having achieved once unimaginable heights of military, economic, and political power, it was Washington's turn. It remains for us, in this country, to bring an end to empire and a beginning of a search for real democracy in its stead."
Off-site Link: Institute for Policy Studies
91. Phyllis Bennis and Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., at the December 7, 2002, "Don't Attack Iraq" forum in Minneapolis.
"We're at a very dangerous moment," said Phyllis to the forum's 400 strong audience. "There is the possibility of war or peace. A war will have little or nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or with a threat to national security. It will have everything to do with oil."
92. Reverend Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization and co-founder of Pastors for Peace.
Pastors for Peace, a special ministry of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, was created in 1988 to pioneer the delivery of humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Carribean. Since then, many thousands of people have participated in almost 37 caravans to Mexico and Central America, 13 to Cuba, and many delegations and work brigades.
In an interview with Pulse of the Twin Cities, given while he was in Minneapolis for the "Don't Attack Iraq" forum, Rev. Walker noted that "If Bush has evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq], he should give that information to the UN inspectors. [The Bush] administration keeps changing the goal posts. If Iraq agrees to do one thing, then Bush wants them to do something else.
"We have to help this nation come to its senses. We have to understand the anger and the hatred toward the U.S. as a result of our policies: our ruthless exploitation of natural resources, our spiritual and physical genocide. Because George Bush is blind to that, he claims the right to attack every other country in the world," said Rev. Walker.
Off-site Link: The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization
93. Members of the Counter Propaganda Coalition (CPC) perform "subversive carols" in the studios of radio station KFAI - Minneapolis, December 13, 2002.
Formed in the wake of the Star Tribune's controversial coverage of the October 26 peace rally in St. Paul, the CPC aims to use direct (and in the case of the Counter Propaganda Carolists, entertaining) action to hold corporate media accountable, educate about "media literacy" so as to inspire public questioning, and popularize and expand independent media.
94. John Slade, one of the co-founding members of the Counter Propaganda Coalition (CPC) - December 13, 2002.
"Saying there's a 'liberal bias' in media is laughable! We're got one of the most sophisticated propaganda machines in corporate media," says John. "It's used by big business and government to frame debates and support their political and economic policies. People have to realize that ownership of the press is critical. Corporate media is owned by huge corporations who have many interests of their own. They won't report on things that affect their big advertisers."
On the issue of media and democracy, John notes: "Democracy is based on people making educated decisions. If you don't have good information, you can't make sound decisions. Corporate media has to be more accountable and we need more powerful alternative media."
95. A Code Pink organizer joins with approximately 2,500 others in an peace rally and march in the Uptown area of Minneapolis--January 11, 2003.
The movement known as Code Pink: Women's Pre-Emptive Strike for Peace, began in Washington, D.C., on November 17, 2002, when thirty women gathered in front of the White House to kick off a four-month fast and vigil to protest war on Iraq.
The January 15 edition of the Minnesota Women's Press notes that "Nina Rothschild Utne, chair and CEO of Utne magazine, brought the Code Pink concept back to the Twn Cities after spending a week protesting with the Code Pink coalition in Washington . . . Utne defined Code Pink as a 'benevolent epidemic of passionate concern and care' that represents values that are traditionally considered female: to give life, not take it away; to compromise and listen; to preserve the environment and nurture children."
Code Pink went public in Minneapolis when hundreds of citizens donned pink outerwear and Code Pink buttons and joined the January 11 anti-war protest in Uptown.
"But protest isn't Code Pink's only action item," notes the Women's Press. "Volunteers also talked about other ways to disrupt the drive for war, including reducing oil consumption--maybe by giving up that SUV--and putting a map of Iraq up at home and teaching children the names of the cities and the location of the no-fly zone. Nationally, Code Pink organizers are collecting petition signatures and urging women and men to 'engage in outrageous acts of dissent'."
Off-site Link: Code Pink
96. Taking it to the streets: On Saturday, January 11, 2003, over two thousand people took to the streets of Uptown, Minneapolis, to protest the Bush regime's plans to invade and occupy Iraq.
CONTENTS AND LINKS
GALLERY 1 - FACES OF RESISTANCE
GALLERY 2 - CONFRONTING CORPORATE GLOBALIZATION
GALLERY 3 - A16
GALLERY 4 - MAY DAY 2000
GALLERY 5 - RESPONDING TO THE CRISIS IN IRAQ
GALLERY 6 - CLOSING THE SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS
GALLERY 7 - HIGHWAY 55
GALLERY 8 - ALLIANT ACTION