A left-wing commentator named Bill Berkowitz warns that the anti-war movement is going to be labeled as “unpatriotic and anti-American” now that the war has begun. He says, “Some may equate dissent with treason. Expect long-winded, one-sided debates on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN focusing on the nature of treason.” Over the past few months, he says, as the U.S. has prepared for war, “pro-war columnists and radio and television gas bags began a campaign to demonize protesters, labeling them anti-American, Communists, or apologists for Hussein.”
I’ve got news for Berkowitz. Some of the protesters, including key organizers of the January 18 and March 15 demonstrations in Washington, D.C., are anti-American and communist and apologists for Hussein.
I know because I saw and photographed them. I covered both rallies. Photos from the latest rally are on the Accuracy in Media web site. The communist Workers World Party (WWP) ran this event through the International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) front group. But the WWP is clever. While ANSWER had its own literature tables at the rally, the WWP had a separate space with posters, books and pamphlets. One pamphlet described the 1992 Los Angeles riots as a legitimate “rebellion.” Having two different spaces for ANSWER and the WWP makes it seem as though they are two different groups. It’s simple but effective deception.
I didn’t see any banners calling for Saddam Hussein to disarm. Not one. But a booth at the March 15 rally promoted “Revolution Books” in front of a big red flag and sold T-shirts labeling President Bush an international terrorist. Another poster described Jimmy Carter as “tan, relaxed and ready” to run for president next year. Flags of France and the United Nations outnumbered those of the U.S.
Perhaps my favorite slogan was “Defend Iraq and North Korea Against U.S. Imperialism and Capitalist Restoration.” Ironically, the WWP was denounced by other communists, such as those from the Spartacist League, as a sell-out because it works with Democrats such as Al Sharpton and Rep. John Conyers, who wants to impeach Bush over the war. To my knowledge, Sharpton and Conyers haven’t been asked to explain their association with communists who sympathize with Baghdad, Havana and Pyongyang.
Honest leftists admit the WWP role. During a debate with me on a radio program, Ian Williams, who covers the United Nations for The Nation magazine, said that while the “mainstream” press had generally ignored the controversy over the WWP role in the protests, some left-wing journalists had covered it. It’s true that David Corn of The Nation is one of them who has done so. Williams noted that one of the New York protests had been organized apart from the WWP. This is the rally put together by a group called United for Peace, which recognized the WWP’s heavy baggage.
Michael Savage, host of a daily talk-radio show and a weekly television program on MSNBC, wonders whether it is time to arrest the leaders of the anti-war movement and charge them with sedition. This worries commentators such as Berkowitz.
Should they be jailed? Unless there’s evidence that they are agents of Iraq or planning terrorism, that isn’t necessary, proper, legal or constitutional. But it is important that the major media tell the truth about the nature of these demonstrations. And since the U.S. is at war and Congress has overwhelmingly endorsed war on Iraq, the question of sedition and treason is certainly debatable. Soldiers on the war front have told their families that the well-publicized protests staged by the anti-war movement have been demoralizing to them.
There used to be a time when the executive branch or Congress investigated “subversive” or “un-American” activities. But that went out of fashion. However, despite the use of front groups, it is relatively easy for journalists to do the research necessary to discover the truth about the activities of communist groups on American soil.
Still, it’s difficult for them to do so. Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times came close when he wrote that the March 15 protest was organized by a group which “has drawn criticism from some people inside and out of the anti-war movement because some of its chief organizers are active in radical socialist causes and because it has taken controversial positions on issues not directly related to Iraq.”
Socialist? Controversial? Lichtblau just couldn’t bring himself to tell the truth about anti-American communist agitators who would destroy our freedom if they could do so.