Restarting an anti-war movement in Chicago

17 Feb 2018 - 12:30

Chicago IL

Restarting an anti-war movement in Chicago

12:30 pm to 3 pm
Saturday, Feb. 17
United Electrical Workers Hall
37 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago

War has brought unimaginable horror and pain to tens of millions of people over the past several years. At the center of this catastrophe is the U.S. government — by far the world’s largest arms producer and exporter, with hundreds of bases around the world, and spending as much on its military as almost the rest of the world combined.

Under both Democrats and Republicans, the U.S. has bombed more countries over the past few years than at any time since World War II, killing hundreds of thousands of people while flagrantly violating the U.N. Charter and other international law. The longest war in our history grinds on in Afghanistan, and famine and cholera ravage Yemen thanks to a U.S.-supported Saudi invasion. The U.S. response to “Arab Spring” rebellions was to support dictators, proxy armies and yet more bombings. In direct contravention of U.S. law, Trump, Obama and their predecessors directly supported military coups and attempted coups in several countries.

Military spending and outright war are huge consumers of fossil fuels, greatly contributing to climate change and other environmental devastation. War and climate change force people to leave their homes, tearing them away from their families and communities. Even though wealthy countries are the cause of much of this trauma, people fleeing this devastation are met with racism in the United States and Europe.

Under both Trump and Obama, the U.S. has increased the slow strangulation of the Palestinian people, given a blank check to more Israeli land thefts, while ignoring Israeli imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children. And on top of these “usual” atrocities, we have a president who apparently believes that we can have “limited” nuclear war on Korea without disastrous consequences for people in all countries on the planet.

Paradoxically, there is hardly an anti-war movement to speak of in the United States. Awed by the seemingly unstoppable might of US. militarism, and diverted by broken Democratic Party promises of peace, the movement virtually ceased to exist during Bush’s second term and the Obama years.

Yet the lack of such a movement tremendously injures almost every other struggle for social justice we hope to strengthen from getting resources for affordable housing, schools, heaalthcare, environmental clean-up and jobs, to stopping the toxic colonial mentality that reinforces police brutality and sees Black and Latinx neighborhoods as ones to strip of resources and then gentrify on the cheap.

However difficult it seems to counter this seemingly limitless barbarity, we must do so. Our tasks are immense, and our resources few — especially when compared to the virtually unlimited resources that the world’s largest empire will use to defend its planet-devastating privileges.

In a modest attempt to begin addressing these huge needs, small groupings of people and organizations around the country are planning anti-war protests on the Saturday before Tax Day April 14. The call for these protests came out of a recent Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases conference, and is supported by the United National Anti-war Coalition.

Here in the Chicago area, it is the goal of the ad hoc group issuing this call to use the April 14th event as a springboard to a much larger event a march on the 50th anniversary of Chhicago’s brutal suppression of anti-war protests during the Democratic Party Convention in 1968.

The 50th anniversary of the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention offers a unique opportunity to drive home the lessons of how, a few times in the past, wars have been stopped before the complete devastation of one or both sides. Stopping the U.S. war on Vietnam required a combination of courageous resistance by the Vietnamese targets of U.S. domination, U.S. soldiers refusing to fight for empire, plus a steadfast anti-war movement in the streets around the globe supporting these resisters.

To begin organizing for April 14th and beyond, we will have an initial meeting on Saturday, February 17, 12:30 pm to 3 pm at the United Electrical Workers Hall, 37 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago (wheelchair accessible). To avoid having to deal with police or other right-wing infiltrators or disrupters, this initial meeting will not be public, but we encourage you to invite all who you think might genuinely be interested in this project.

We hope we will see you on the 17th!

Joleen Kirschenman
Amy Meyers
Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network
Rich Whitney, Vice-Chair, Illinois Green Party/Co-Chair, Green Party Peace Action Committee

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