|from London's Guardian. June 14 2002. We won't deny our consciences.
Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when
their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new
measures of repression.
The signers of this statement call on the people of the US to resist the
policies and overall political direction that have emerged since
September 11 and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.
We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their
own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers. We believe
that all persons detained or prosecuted by the US government should have
the same rights of due process. We believe that questioning, criticism,
and dissent must be valued and protected. We understand that such rights
and values are always contested and must be fought for.
We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what
their own governments do - we must first of all oppose the injustice
that is done in our own name.
Thus we call on all Americans to resist the war and repression that has
been loosed on the world by the Bush administration.
It is unjust, immoral and illegitimate.
We choose to make common cause with the people of the world.
We too watched with shock the horrific events of September 11. We too
mourned the thousands of innocent dead and shook our heads at the
terrible scenes of carnage - even as we recalled similar scenes in
Baghdad, Panama City and, a generation ago, Vietnam.
We too joined the anguished questioning of millions of Americans who
asked why such a thing could happen.
But the mourning had barely begun, when the highest leaders of the land
unleashed a spirit of revenge. They put out a simplistic script of "good
v evil" that was taken up by a pliant and intimidated media.
They told us that asking why these terrible events had happened verged
on treason. There was to be no debate.
There were by definition no valid political or moral questions. The only
possible answer was to be war abroad and repression at home.
In our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from Congress,
not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the
right to rain down military force anywhere and anytime.
The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to
The government now openly prepares to wage all-out war on Iraq - a
country which has no connection to the horror of September 11.
What kind of world will this become if the US government has a blank
cheque to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants?
In our name the government has created two classes of people within the
US: those to whom the basic rights of the US legal system are at least
promised, and those who now seem to have no rights at all.
The government rounded up more than 1,000 immigrants and detained them
in secret and indefinitely. Hundreds have been deported and hundreds of
others still languish today in prison. For the first time in decades,
immigration procedures single out certain nationalities for unequal
In our name, the government has brought down a pall of repression over
The president's spokesperson warns people to "watch what they say."
Dissident artists, intellectuals, and professors find their views
distorted, attacked, and suppressed.
The so-called Patriot Act - along with a host of similar measures on the
state level - gives police sweeping new powers of search and seizure,
supervised, if at all, by secret proceedings before secret courts.
In our name, the executive has steadily usurped the roles and functions
of the other branches of government. Military tribunals with lax rules
of evidence and no right to appeal to the regular courts are put in
place by executive order. Groups are declared "terrorist" at the stroke
of a presidential pen.
We must take the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk
of a war that will last a generation and when they speak of a new
domestic order. We are confronting a new openly imperial policy towards
the world and a domestic policy that manufactures and manipulates fear
to curtail rights.
There is a deadly trajectory to the events of the past months that must
be seen for what it is and resisted. Too many times in history people
have waited until it was too late to resist.
President Bush has declared: "You're either with us or against us."
Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American
We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our
consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety.
We say not in our name.
We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that
they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend a hand to
those around the world suffering from these policies; we will show our
solidarity in word and deed.
We who sign this statement call on all Americans to join together to
rise to this challenge.
We applaud and support the questioning and protest now going on, even as
we recognise the need for much, much more to actually stop this
We draw inspiration from the Israeli reservists who, at great personal
risk, declare "there is a limit" and refuse to serve in the occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza.
We draw on the many examples of resistance and conscience from the past
of the US: from those who fought slavery with rebellions and the
underground railroad, to those who defied the Vietnam war by refusing
orders, resisting the draft, and standing in solidarity with resisters.
Let us not allow the watching world to despair of our silence and our
failure to act. Instead, let the world hear our pledge: we will resist
the machinery of war and repression and rally others to do everything
possible to stop it.
Laurie Anderson, Edward Asner, Russell Banks, Noam Chomsky, Ossie Davis,
Mos Def, Eve Ensler, Martin Luther King III, Barbara Kingsolver, Tony
Kushner, Edward Said, Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, John Edgar Wideman,
Howard Zinn, and 53 others.