A statement from the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network ( CABN ) , a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered liberation organization
Every sane person is repulsed by the events of Sept. 11. Following these killings, various. leaders began channeling the public's understandable grief and rage in directions that can only serve to multiply the injustices already committed, most transparently with Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's scapegoating of gays, feminists, Pagans, the ACLU and others.
Falwell and Robertson were far from alone in manipulating this tragedy for political ends, they were simply the most clumsy. In response to these moves, the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network ( CABN ) coordinating committee endorsed protests including demands that some might see as outside the normal scope of our work:
1 ) No to war; 2 ) Stop racist attacks; 3 ) Defend civil liberties
Given that CABN was formed in response to violence against gay people, we would hope that opposing the racist attacks on Arab Americans and Muslims also would be second nature to all who support us.
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered ( LGBT ) people know all too well what it's like to be harassed and physically attacked by perfect strangers, simply for being who we are. We know what it's like to be singled out as a group for legislative discrimination. We know what it's like to have our religious institutions attacked by bigots, as demonstrated by the many arson attacks on the predominately gay Metropolitan Community Churches since their formation. We know what it's like to be vilified by leading politicians and clergy, who through their hate, encourage this violence against us.
But opposed to all this, we know what it means to receive active solidarity from other communities and how that solidarity strengthens and heals us. We remember when many thousands of people came out into the streets with us to protest Matthew Shepard's murder. We remember that we were stronger not just due to the thousands of LGBT people out there with us, but from the thousands of non-gay people out there too. And some of us remember our vows at the time, to respond with similar solidarity when other communities were attacked.
Make no mistake about it, Arab Americans, Muslims, and those perceived to be such are under daily physical attack by racists all across the country. At least four people have been killed in anti-Arab/Muslim hate murders since Sept. 11. In Chicago, an Assyrian church on the North Side was firebombed, causing $200,000 damage, and a Bridgeview, two patriotic rallies turned into anti-Muslim hate mobs that marched on a local mosque.
... And these hate attacks are not simply a "domestic problem." Some who support a war abroad believe that the attacks on Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. can be separated out from the issue of a U.S. military attack. But racially based vilification of "the enemy" has always been part of the run-up to every large, modern war, with physical attacks on innocent U.S. residents invariably following in its wake. The experience in World War II, with its racist vilification of Japanese abroad and concentration camps at home, is the most blatant example.
If one truly opposes attacks on innocent Arabs and Muslims, it shouldn't matter if they live in the U.S. or abroad. CABN opposes the drive towards war because many thousands of innocents abroad will almost invariably suffer and be killed as a result of U.S. military action. The U.S. "surgical strike" aimed at capturing Manuel Noriega, for example, resulted in several thousand deaths in Panama City. The last U.S. retaliation against Osama bin Laden, by President Clinton, killed innocents by destroying a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant.
Not only does war represent an almost invariably ineffectual way of bringing the actual perpetrators of terror attacks to justice, but by inflicting terror on blameless civilians, it helps generate new generations of terrorists. Israeli retaliation against Palestinian suicide bombers, for example, has made the conflict there endemic. While terrorism committed by isolated, deranged individuals might be prevented by better mental health provisions and other social services, endemic terrorism has different roots.
Whether in Palestine, Northern Ireland or apartheid South Africa, until the legitimate grievances of subject populations are addressed, some portions of the aggrieved population will be attracted to terrorism as a "solution."
The U.S. is hated by many in large areas of the world. For a clue as to why this is so, Chicagoans should just imagine how we would feel if each year's Air and Water Show featured fighter jets dropping real bombs on our city. How would most Chicagoans be expected to feel about the nation that flew those jets and that provided the military hardware, regardless of how outrageous the provocation for those attacks? That is a clue as to why many residents of cities such as Baghdad, Tripoli and Bethlehem are angry at the U.S., a sentiment that another U.S. attack will only inflame. This is the soil for Osama bin Laden's recruitment of future terrorists.
The U.S. has been in an undeclared war against much of the world since World War II. In literally dozens of countries during the past century, the U.S. invaded, dropped bombs on, and assassinated heads of government. In Iraq alone, 500,000 children have died in the last 10 years due to U.S.-led sanctions preventing the importation of water treatment equipment and other provisions to stop preventable diseases. In 1978, the Afghan government instituted reforms for women including the franchise, participation in public life, and not having to enshroud themselves. This was the government overthrown by the CIA and their hired thugs, including Osama bin Laden.
Resentment at the U.S. also comes from anger at some of the leaders the U.S. currently supports—the Saudi Arabian regime, for example, which hangs gays, chops off the hands of alleged thieves, and suppresses the civil rights of women in a score of ways. It's a cruel irony that each of the U.S.'s most recent "No. 1 enemies"—Osama bin Laden, Sadam Hussein, and Manuel Noriega—were former close U.S. allies, and vicious thugs while they were. Sadam Hussein, for example, gassed thousands of Kurds while then-President George Bush kept silent. While U.S. Presidents compared each of these tyrants to Adolph Hitler, they neglect to mention that they were "our" Hitlers while committing some of their most atrocious crimes.
During each major U.S. war, politicians moved to suppress civil liberties at home. The Vietnam War, for example, saw the FBI's COINTELPRO program to infiltrate and destroy a wide range of legal protest organizations. On Sept. 12, the Chicago Police Department's Thomas Needham already was boasting in the Sun-Times that the CPD had the legal machinery to spy on "hate" groups ( as defined by the police ) , whether or not they were suspected of illegal activity. On a national level, liberal Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein proposed halting enrollment of all non-U.S. students at universities and technical colleges, a proposal which, while standing little chance of passage, serves to heighten the scapegoating of "foreigners."
Since Sept. 11, U.S. politicians have talked of imitating Israeli security methods to prevent future terrorist attacks. But let's look at what we're being asked to imitate. Israel is one of the few nations in the world which admits to using torture as an accepted interrogation technique. Assassination of suspected terrorists—forget due process—is government policy. But despite security measures far more stringent than in the United States, terrorism is a daily reality in Israel. Clampdowns on civil liberties and tight security has simply shifted the objects of terror onto "softer" targets like department stores and night clubs, as opposed to well-protected government buildings.
Sept. 11 scarred the lives of many thousands beyond the immediate victims themselves. But let's not compound this horror with measures that will multiply those victims many times over.
No to war / Stop racist attacks / Defend civil liberties
Chicago Anti-Bashing Network
South Asian Performing Art Council of America and Sangat /Chicago issued a statement condemning U.S. bombing over Afghanistan.
They stated: "It is an atrocity to blame someone who is already victim of internal terrorism, and Afghani people are. Osama Bin Laden is not Afghani. He is the citizen of Saudi Arabia.
"America should stop the bombing and America should not forget that America launched Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan against Ru.s.sia."