By Sara Flounders, Stop War On Iran, July 24, 2009
The following is based on a presentation by Flounders, a coordinator of the International Action Center, during a discussion of the latest events in Iran at the National Assembly anti-war conference held in Pittsburgh July 10-12.
If the U.S. government was interested in supporting democracy or in building respect for the will of the people in a democratic election, it should have started by respecting the outcome of the 2006 Palestinian election. The Palestinian people voted in large numbers, electing Hamas candidates to parliament with large enough votes to form the Palestinian government. In Gaza, Hamas had a total sweep.
The U.S./Israeli response was a starvation blockade of Gaza, a siege and then a brutal all-out war on the entire population. When the Israelis attacked Gaza last December and January, they killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, using U.S.-supplied weapons including white phosphorous and cluster bombs.
Now more than half of the elected members of the Palestinian Parliament are in Israeli prisons. Why is the corporate media not telling us day after day about this crime against democracy?
Don’t jump on capitalist bandwagon
We in the anti-war movement need to be especially careful not to jump on the bandwagon when the entire capitalist class, their media, the entire U.S. Congress, and numerous organizations that received direct U.S. funding from the so-called National Endowment for Democracy all speak with one voice in sudden defense of a cause.
Regardless of how legitimate, genuine and concerned some individuals may seem, this kind of overwhelming imperialist pressure will distort the struggle.
The U.S. corporate media is not interested in democracy even within the United States.
The whole focus and attention of progressive, anti-imperialist and workers’ struggles, especially here in the very center of imperialism, must be to defend all those who are targeted by the Pentagon, by the police and by the corporate media, which act as an extension of the state on issues of war and peace.
Repression in the U.S.
Just consider the mass raids, round-ups and deportations going on in immigrant communities in every major U.S. city. Think of the workers who never come home from work, the families that are ripped apart.
We cannot for a moment forget that this is the country with the largest prison population in the world, with the greatest number of people on death row. Mumia Abu-Jamal, an internationally famous journalist and human rights activist, has been on death row for decades, just 50 miles from where we are meeting here in western Pennsylvania.
When the corporate media raises their concern about “democracy” in Iran, we cannot forget the Black and Latina/o communities occupied by police. Nor the targeting of Muslim communities, which are overrun with snitches, spies and frame-ups.
We cannot forget the millions of working people who are losing their jobs, homes, health care and their future. They have no vote, no say and no control over who receives trillions of dollars in bailout money and who receives hot air. We cannot forget the police state that greets every bankers’ or international gathering, putting whole areas of cities in lock-down.
There is a certain imperialist arrogance when the corporate media, which hides the lack of democracy here in U.S., suddenly champions democracy in Iran with wall-to-wall and sympathetic coverage of demonstrations there.
Do we want our movement to be an echo of that hypocrisy? Don’t you wonder if there is another agenda? When has a demonstration in the U.S. against war or cutbacks, or for housing or human rights, ever received the kind of sympathetic coverage that we’ve seen in the last month of Iran?
Do we expect that the thousands of activists coming to Pittsburgh for the G20 summit protests will receive even 1 percent of the coverage that’s been given to demonstrations in Iran?
No women’s rights in U.S. client states
The whole world knows the name and face of the young Iranian woman Neda. But do we know the name of even one Iraqi woman killed by the invading U.S. Army? Can you tell me the name of one Palestinian woman killed by Israeli forces? Do we know the names of any Afghan or Pakistani women killed in a drone attack?
Do we know the name of the young Latina killed on the same day as Neda died in Iran, who was shot by border militia in Arizona? Why not?
Have U.S. wars and occupations brought democracy to countries they own and control through feudal monarchies and total dictatorships?
There are no rights for women, or for anyone today, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt or Jordan.
Nowhere in the world is U.S. imperialism a force for democracy or women’s rights. U.S. interventions bring millions of deaths, millions of orphans, millions of refugees, a whole sex industry, torture on a mass scale and massive impoverishment—but never democracy.
Of course everyone here already knows this. We know of three decades of wars, sanctions, encirclement, sabotage and coup attempts.
Don’t echo imperialist designs
A number of so-called human-rights groups that are funded by U.S.-government NED programs have called for demonstrations on July 25 in the name of “democracy in Iran.” Unfortunately, some anti-war groups have endorsed this U.S. government-funded demonstration. We want to use every skill to persuade our movement not to be pulled in by imperialist destabilization efforts and propaganda and to withdraw their participation.
There is a class struggle in Iran today. Yes, there is. But there is also a massive U.S.-government-sponsored destabilization effort. We cannot allow ourselves to become an echo of imperialist destabilization and interference in Iran. The group Stop War On Iran has called a meeting in New York for an extended discussion of this question on Aug. 1 at 55 West 17 Street at 4 p.m. See stopwaroniran.org for more details.