As the U.S. faces escalating crises in Iraq and North Korea, a growing “anti-war” movement backed by Hollywood and much of the media is working to undermine public support for American foreign policy and portray the Bush administration as more of a threat to the world than the regimes in Baghdad or Pyongyang. The big media, with a few exceptions, ignored the role played by communists who have traveled to Iraq, North Korea and Cuba in organizing the January 18 anti-war rally in Washington, D.C.
This was a classic case of communists using front groups to attract what Lenin called “useful idiots” to their cause. Organizers claimed a turnout of 500,000, but the figure of 150,000-still an impressive number-was closer to the truth. Held in conjunction with similar protests in a dozen cities around the world, it was designed to give the impression domestic-ally and abroad that Americans are increasingly opposed to the Bush policy on Iraq.
By conveying the impression that this was a “middle class” gathering of ordinary Americans, the media greatly assisted the communists who organized the event. They also made it appealing to countless others. It took years for the anti-Vietnam War movement, backed by Hanoi, to achieve such success. This turnout was achieved before a war on Iraq had even begun. The dishonest coverage of the protest may account for a reported decline in public support for a U.S. military strike on Iraq.
The Iraqi regime regards such demonstrations as critical to its survival and gives them publicity in its own government-controlled media. It called the rally “an emphatic dissent against preparations for war in Iraq?” The communist regime in North Korea, as well as Palestinian terrorists, must have been encouraged by the protests as well. Next to America, Israel was the most maligned target of the demonstrators.
Communist banners at the rally were prominently displayed, and copies of communist newspapers, literature and publications were available (some for a price). The rally included representatives of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, Progressive Labor Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, World Socialist Web Site, Cuba Solidarity, Spartacist League, Revolutionary Communist Party USA, the Lyndon LaRouche Presidential Campaign, the Communist Party USA and Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups.
The communist banners and literature were ignored by the major media and C-SPAN. Some photos of what they ignored are included in this AIM report and more have been posted on the AIM Web site.
January 18 coincided with the holiday weekend commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who turned against the Vietnam War under the influence of his own communist advisers.
Having abolished the Subversive Activities Control Board and congressional committees that exposed communist efforts to aid our enemies during the Cold War, we are now heavily dependent on the news media to expose the communists who are trying to undermine our national security. So those who sympathize with evil and brutal enemies of America are free to organize support for them on American soil. The media should expose this, but show little interest in doing so.
On Jan. 24 the N.Y. Times ran a story about some of the groups that participated in the rally being concerned about the influence of the Workers World Party, which the Times said “has roots in the Stalin-era Soviet Union.” ANSWER called this “Red baiting.” Some who attended the rally might have stayed away had they known of this in advance.
The evening news coverage of the rally showed that the news media had no interest in exposing the organizers and their motives. ABC’s World News Tonight devoted a full five minutes to the protests in the U.S. and around the world. Anchor Terry Moran introduced a story by correspondent Lisa Sylvester, who said the demonstrators were “black and white, Democrat and Republican, young and old.” She interviewed a couple who were concerned about their Marine son. A separate story by reporter Geoff Morrell high-lighted a father and daughter who had come from North Carolina, with “soccer moms and military veterans” from their church. These were presented as typical of rally participants. Nothing was said about the America-haters who organized it and controlled the program.
The coverage by CBS and NBC was no better. NBC’s Dan Lothian said the protesters included Vietnam veterans and others waving American flags. He said they were “children, parents, politicians, and entertainment stars.” On CBS, Joie Chen described the crowd as “young, old, veterans, veteran activists; different values, different views, but united in an effort to stop a war before it starts.”
On January 17, the day before the rally, CNN ran four stories or interviews promoting the event. CNN Newsnight highlighted Eli Parriser of Moveon.org, a group opposed to the Bush Iraq policy. It didn’t mention that Moveon.org was started as an effort to save President Clinton from impeach-ment.
On ABC’s This Week program on Sunday, Jan. 19, host George Stephanopoulos, a former top Clinton aide, aired a Moveon.org commercial attacking Bush’s Iraq policy. It showed a little girl plucking the petals off a daisy just before a mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion appears. It mimicked the notorious ad that Lyndon Johnson used in the 1964 campaign to suggest that Barry Goldwater, his Republican opponent, might start a nuclear war. To the Moveon.org crowd, Bush poses a greater danger than Saddam Hussein. This was one of many free airings of this infamous ad.
The media knew that two leading World Party (WWP), Brian Becker and Larry Holmes, organized and orchestrated the day’s events. Holmes served as an emcee for much of the day. This was not seen as newsworthy.
The December 14, 2000, edition of the Workers World newspaper identified Becker and Holmes as members of the WWP secretariat. Becker was a key organizer of the Jan. 18 rally. He gave a speech and was publicly thanked for his prominent role. He was in the staging area, where he gave numerous interviews to the press. As the affair wound down, he led a march from the Capitol to the Navy Yard.
A C-SPAN producer interviewed him as he directed the march along the 15-block route to the Washington Navy Yard. Becker told C-SPAN that they were going there to expose “weapons of mass destruction” in the U.S.
An Internet search discloses Becker’s connection to one of the worst regimes on the planet-the Kim Jong Il dictatorship in North Korea. This is revealed in this dispatch from Pyongyang on February 24, 2000.
“Kim Jung Rin, secretary of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea [WPK], today met and conversed with the delegation of the Workers World Party of the United States headed by Brian Becker, a member of its secretariat. At the meeting the head of the delegation said that the Korean people are firmly defending socialism despite the continued isolation and suffocation moves of the imperialists, adding this is attributable to the tested leadership of the WPK led by General Secretary Kim Jong Il. He noted that his party would continue to wage a vigorous struggle for the pullback of the U.S. forces from South Korea and intensify the movement for solidarity with the WPK.”
Becker, who also serves as chairman of the U.S. Get Out of Korea Committee, was involved in a “Korea Truth Commission” project to expose U.S. “crimes against the Korean people.” The group insists that South Korea is under “occupation” by the U.S. and that North Korea was “liberated.” Its Web site features commentary from the WWP.
Established in 1958 by a communist named Sam Marcy, the WWP has taken up the role that used to be played by the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA, which has diminished in importance since the demise of the old Soviet Union. But like the CPUSA, the WWP believes in working with the Democratic Party and liberal-left groups that form its base of support.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is a link between them. He embraced the Soviet-backed World Peace Council during the Cold War and was the only Congressman to speak at the rally.
Journalists who stayed long enough to get something more than a sound bite could not help but notice the vicious anti-American rhetoric of several speakers. The first speaker, an American Indian named Moonannum James, accused Columbus of “genocide” and urged the release from prison of Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975.
A Muslim “Holy Man” named Imam Mousa declared, “It’s revolution time, brothers and sisters. We got to get rid of the system.” He called President Bush a “greedy murderer.”
Jennifer Wager of the “Committee to Free the Cuban Five” made an appeal on behalf of five Cubans convicted and sentenced to prison in the U.S. in 2001 for operating as foreign agents for Fidel Castro and engaging in a conspiracy to commit espionage and penetrate U.S. military bases.
Yoomi Jeong of the “Korea Truth Commission” used her speech to accuse American soldiers based in South Korea of murdering two girls and escaping punishment. The girls were struck accidentally by an armored vehicle on a narrow road. She claimed the U.S. had “blocked” North Korea from buying food “so its people go hungry.” Communism impoverished North Korea from its start. In recent years both South Korea and the U.S. have poured food and fuel into the North to alleviate the suffering, but little of it got to the starving people.
There were repeated attacks on American “imperialism” and references to “political prisoners” in the U.S. such as convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Saying that Republicans had impeached Bill Clinton “for nothing,” former Attorney General Ramsey Clark called for the impeachment of President Bush. Clark, a major figure in the “anti-war” movement, served as a lawyer for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993.
C-SPAN, which has a reputation for airing all sides, began its coverage of the Jan. 18 rally with a 50-minute interview with Larry Holmes, one of the WWP organizers, and Medea Benjamin, one of the speakers. No one was invited to give a different point of view and there was no probing of their ideology. C-SPAN then covered the rally from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. It re-aired portions of it at 8:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., a total of 11 hours.
In a sense, this was a public service for those who could watch the C-SPAN coverage and contrast the radical speeches on the air with what didn’t get reported in the “mainstream” media. But C-SPAN ignored the patriotic counter-demonstration, which drew about 100 people, staged by FreeRepublic.com, and it failed to interview anyone on the air who could rip the mask off the communist-inspired event.
When a viewer called C-SPAN to complain about excessive coverage of the anti-American rally, the host said it was designed to balance programs that conveyed the Bush administration view. There is ample discussion in public forums of the anti-war case made by responsible Americans whose loyalty to this country is not questioned. Giving so much time to extremist opinions and not informing viewers that they come from admirers of Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il and their ilk casts a cloud over C-SPAN’s motive.
C-SPAN said on the screen that the event was sponsored by International ANSWER, the acronym for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. It did not disclose the ideology of those who were behind it. Officially, this group “made the call” for the January 18 “mobilization” following anti-war demonstrations on Oct. 26 that brought out a claimed 200,000 people in Washington and 100,000 in San Francisco. But the key personnel of ANSWER are also with the International Action Center (IAC), a group founded by Ramsey Clark and staffed by members of the WWP.
Becker, for example, is described as a “principal organizer” or “spokesman” for International ANSWER and a “joint chairman” or co-director of the IAC. Holmes has also been described as a spokesman for ANSWER and co-director of the IAC. Together with Clark, they function as a team. Becker and Clark traveled to Baghdad in 1998 and staged an anti-American protest there. Saving Saddam Hussein’s regime has been a principal cause for them ever since.
C-SPAN aired the message of those who hate America and our political and economic systems for 11 hours, serving, in effect, as the voice of our enemies. Two days after the rally, C-SPAN was still featuring a link on its Web site to International ANSWER.
The only hint of Becker’s communist connection came when pro-American demonstrators could be heard and seen on C-SPAN asking how much money he got from Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. One patriotic protester could also be heard referring to the WWP role in the protests.
C-SPAN and others ignored the official list of endorsers, including the Communist Party USA and the National Lawyers Guild, which was identified as the “Legal Bulwark of the Communist Party” by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1950. If we had a congressional committee like that today, it might look into the covert role played by the WWP in the anti-war movement and the source of their funds. But would its findings be reported? Some of this is available on the Internet and in the publications of the radical groups, but our media, including C-SPAN ignore it.
In an AIM Report last June, we noted that the Washington Post and other media had concealed the role of Brian Becker and company in an April 20, 2002, pro-Palestinian demonstration in Washington. We noted that Becker had visited Cuba, where he delivered a WWP statement that said, “Comrade Fidel Castro asserts that the preservation of socialist values is of decisive importance. We could not agree more…it is crucial that revolutionaries fight tooth and nail for their values, their principles and the revolutionary conceptions put forward by Marxism and Leninism.”
Washington Post reporter Manny Fernandez, who also covered the April 20, 2002, event, consistently refuses to identify the communists behind the Jan. 18 march. He alluded to the issue by quoting other participants as saying “the views of the organizers are of little consequence to them and that the larger anti-war movement is bigger than any organizing group.” A December 10 Post article by David Montgomery highlighted them as “Peace Warriors.” The Post ran nine photos of the Jan. 18 demonstration, but not one gave a hint as to the communist presence.
Few, if any, journalists asked participants in the rally how they felt about the propriety of supporting an event organized by communists. AIM did. We asked Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, one of the more respectable speakers, about the role played by WWP activists Brian Becker and Larry Holmes in the demonstration. She said, “I know them,” and that it was “great” that somebody took the lead in organizing the protests. However, she insisted that it has “gone way beyond” the WWP.
If C-SPAN and others in the media did not want to confront the communists involved in the rally and expose the key role that they played in organizing it, at least they could have directed their cameras to the big banners on the periphery of the crowd that are shown in this AIM Report. They give a good indication of the ideology of the prime movers.