Flyer from AWARE October 2010 demo

THE ANTI-WAR ANTI-RACISM EFFORT (AWARE) OF CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, ILLINOIS, SAYS,

“LET’S TALK ABOUT THE WAR”

A member of AWARE, David Green, sent the following letter to the newspaper at the University of Illinois:

The vast majority of 9/11 observances in this country cannot be seen as politically neutral events. Implicit in their nature are the notions that lives lost at the World Trade Center are more valuable than lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere; that the motives of the 9/11 attackers had nothing to do with genuine grievances in the Islamic world regarding American imperialism; and that the U.S. has been justified in the subsequent killing of hundreds of thousands in so-called retaliation.

The observance at Saturday’s football game was no different. A moment of silence was followed by a military airplane flyover; in between, Block-I students chanted “USA, USA.” This was neither patriotism nor remembrance in any justifiable sense, but politicization, militarism, propaganda and bellicosity. The University of Illinois is a public institution that encompasses the political views of all, not just the most (falsely) “patriotic.” Athletic planners should cease such exploitation for political purposes. They might at least consider how most Muslim students, American or otherwise, would respond to this nativist display; or better, Muslims and others that live their lives under the threat of our planes, drones and soldiers.

The overwhelmingly white, privileged, Block-I students should be ashamed of their obnoxious, fake-macho, chicken-hawk chant, while poverty-drafted members of their cohort fight and die in illegal and immoral wars for the control of oil. University administrators need to eliminate from all events such “patriotic” observances, which in this country cannot be separated from implicit justifications for state-sponsored killing.

–David Green, University Academic Professional

Posted on the Daily Illini website on 15 September, under the headline Block-I chant portrays ‘neither patriotism nor remembrance,’ the letter brought forth over five hundred responses (which the Daily Illini editors have since unfortunately removed from the website.) What was remarkable was how many of the responses were uninformed, jingoist, and even racist attacks on Green’s views. (They also demonstated a surprising inability to use a spell-checker). The letter and its response brought inquiries from outside media (including The Bill O’Reilly Show), and Green was interviewed on several radio programs, on WGN and elsewhere.

On the cable television program, News from Neptune (Fridays at 7pm on channel 6 in C-U and on Facebook), David Green made the interesting suggestion that the hysterical response to his letter actually represents the repressed debate about the war. Although 70% of Americans think that the Long War in the Mideast is not worth the loss of life, that opinion has grown without our hearing it in the media or in Congress. And it seems that the administration and most media outlets want to keep it that way

A series of FBI raids in late September – agents kicking down doors and invading homes with guns drawn – targeted groups that have been working against US government war policies in the Mideast and Latin America. The Obama administration said that they were looking for “material support” for terrorism, but many think that the raids – and follow-up grand jury investigations – are attempts to intimidate the anti-war movement.

The Obama administration has shown that it’s willing to use brutal and illegal weapons in its “war on terror” – which most of us realize is creating terrorists far faster than it’s deterring them. President Obama has designated at least one American citizen – not even in a war-zone – to be killed on sight by the CIA or US military, because he’s suspected of association with terrorists. That’s not what the authors of the Constitution had in mind, and they provided the remedy of impeachment for such criminal uses of presidential power.

The war in the Middle East should be the principal issue in the fall elections. Whatever the other failures and crimes of the Obama administration, only in its war policy is it actively killing people – in our name. And whatever one might say about Obama’s mendacious speech on 31 August – announcing a US “withdrawal” from Iraq – it did acknowledge the connection of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the US is also killing people in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia – and threatens Iran. The US is fighting a single war from Palestine to Pakistan, from the Caspian Sea to the Horn of Africa. And it’s not to “stop terrorism,” or Al Qaeda. (Mr. Obama has to say that, because the only constitutional authority he has for war is the “Authorization for Use of Military Force,” passed by Congress a week after the 9/11 attacks and specifically directed against terrorism.) In fact, he is simply continuing the generation-long neo-colonial policy of the US in the Middle East to exercise control over the world’s greatest concentration of energy resources. (Not because we need the oil – contrary to what politicians in both parties claim, the US imports very little oil from the Middle East – but in order to give us an advantage over our economic rivals in Europe and Asia.)

If you are appalled that the Obama administration – against the wishes of three out of four Americans – is conducting an unjustified war in the Middle East and misrepresenting the reason for it, call your Congressional representatives. Congressman Tim Johnson, Senator Roland Burris, and Senator Dick Durbin can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Tell them that the U.S. has no business killing people in the Middle East for resisting our invasion and occupation.

Your protest makes a difference: Congressman Johnson, who voted for the invasions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, now says that he was wrong to do so and refuses to vote for any more funding for war in the Middle East – and he has kept his promise by voting that way.

Resistance to the war is growing. In September, fourteen anti-war activists who had walking onto Creech Air Force Base in Nevada last year to protest the US assassinations in the Middle East by rockets from drone airplanes were able to turn “a misdemeanor trespassing trial into a possible referendum on America’s new-found taste for remote-controlled warfare,” as one Las Vegas newspaper summed up a “stunning day in court.” More on this important event – in an article by John Dear, SJ – is at <http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/18-0>.

You can join a local peace group that is working to end the US war in the Mideast. In Champaign-Urbana, one local peace group is AWARE, the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort, members and friends of which produced this leaflet for the 2 October 2010 Main Event – our monthly peace demonstration at Main and Neil Streets in downtown Champaign. We meet every Sunday at 5pm in the McKinley Foundation, 5th and Daniel Streets in Champaign, near the UIUC campus. We discuss the war and what can be done against it. Visitors are welcome – and see our Facebook page. AWARE is also happy to provide speakers and/or discussion leaders on the Mideast war and related issues. Write <cge@shout.net>. AWARE is composed of people opposed to the war, but it is not affiliated with any other group or political party.

AWARE presents AWARE on the Air each Tuesday 10-11pm on Urbana Public Television, cable channel 6. Each week we bring you comments by members and friends of AWARE about the war and the opposition to it, locally and nationally, by Americans who oppose our government’s betrayal of our democratic principles.

END THE U.S. WAR FOR OIL IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BRING ALL UNITED STATES TROOPS HOME

STOP PAYING FOR WAR FROM PALESTINE TO PAKISTAN

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“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.” –Noam Chomsky