Who Hated the Bush Step Down Ad in the New York Times? …And what that Tells Us About Why We Must and How We Can Drive Out the Bush Regime
Revolution #28, December 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On Monday, December 12, readers across the United States and around the world opened the New York Times to find a full-page ad, with huge type running from the top to the bottom of the page saying "BUSH STEP DOWN! And Take Your Program With You!"
The ad called on people to "bring the noise" and symbolically and politically "drown out" Bush’s lies during his State of the Union address (which will take place on an as-yet-unset date in January), and to demonstrate the following Saturday in Washington DC. The ad printed the Call "The World Can’t Wait, Drive Out the Bush Regime," signed by well-known actors, authors, activists, musicians, clergy, writers, and others from a wide spectrum of society and diverse views .
The ad drove defenders of the regime nuts. Bill O’Reilly railed that the Times should have banned the Call. "Conservative" guru William F. Buckley compared the World Can’t Wait movement to the convergence of forces that drove President Lyndon Johnson from office. David Horowitz, whose student group acts as shock troops to shut down critical thinking on campus, lied that the State of the Union protests are about people who "want the terrorists to win" getting "inside the U.S. capital." And Christian fundamentalist theocrat Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition called the Call anti-Christian for opposing a narrow hateful brand of Christian fundamentalist theocracy.
O'Reilly, Buckley, Horowitz, and Sheldon raise historical analogies to events like the fall of Joe McCarthy and Lyndon Johnson as warnings to their base that a dangerous (from their perspective) alliance could actually come together to drive Bush from power. And even as they whip up prejudices against revolutionary communists, gays, Muslims, and "Hollywood liberals", they demand that these groups not work together. Because, again, they can envision here the beginning of a societal alignment that might actually drive out the regime. They are scared that this could catch fire, and they want to nip it in the bud.
O’Reilly and Horowitz’ Lies
Appearing on the O'Reilly show, New York State Senator Tom Duane, who signed the World Can’t Wait Call, insisted that O’Reilly admit that the war on Iraq was based on lies."That’s a debate for another day," said O’Reilly, as if whether or not this administration unleashed a horrific war based on lies had nothing to do with the legitimacy of the Bush regime! Duane very correctly insisted, "That’s what you should be debating every day." And when Duane brought up the indictment of the Bush administration for torture, O’Reilly admitted that: "They have a policy, they believe that coercive, coerced interrogations can save us."
O’Reilly opened his show ranting that "The New York Times should have rejected the ad as soon as the group compared the administration to Hitler. That's hate-speech, not rationale discourse." The World Can’t Wait Call says that "People look at all this [what the Bush regime is doing] and think of Hitler -- and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance." People make comparisons to Hitler because of the unmistakable direction in which this society is heading. From the embedding of Christian fundamentalist theocrats in top positions of power, to launching a war on the world based on lies, to the institutionalization of torture... the ideology and machinery of fascism are being increasingly bolted into place. (See Bush, Hilter and You, Revolution #19.)
Unable or unwilling to refute the content of the call, O’Reilly brought on David Horowitz to lie about and slander World Can’t Wait. Horowitz lied that protesters want to "get inside the U.S. capital" during activities protesting the State of the Union address. These lies are intended in part to scare people away from the protests, and also to set activists up for government investigations and persecution.
As the announcement from World Can't Wait calling for these protests lays out,"We remember how Bush used his State of the Union in 2003 to make his lying case for the war against Iraq. We know that he will want to use it this year to lay out his plans for another year of his literally horrific agenda and set the political terms for the whole country." And, in opposition to that, World Can't Wait called for protests during, and on the Saturday after, the State of the Union address that put the spotlight on the people's demand that BUSH STEP DOWN. The point of these protests is to politically drown out Bush's attempt to re-seize the initiative for his presidency with the demand that he step down and take his program with him--and to make THAT what everyone in society is aligning and realigning around.
Horowitz’ last words were, "until the Democratic Party starts to draw a line it’s going to be in a lot of trouble; they need to get back into the mainstream." Now, it is not actually the case at all that the Democratic Party has aligned with the battle to drive out the Bush Regime. But people like Horowitz and O’Reilly are shrewd and highly placed political operatives, and they do see something that bodes very badly for them in the breadth of forces who have signed on to the Call to drive out the Bush regime at this point, and they have some sense that this is an embryo of a movement that could actually succeed. They are worried that the base of the Democratic Party could get into this, and about the unpredictable ramification that could have all through what is in many respects a political alignment that is fraught with contradictions--as evidenced by the commotion over the Patriot Act .
Buckley’s Historical Parallels
The potential (from his perspective, the danger) of a mix of radicals and "exasperated" liberals to cohere in a movement to drive a president from office was examined in a column by "Conservative" mummy William F. Buckley. ("Exit Eugene McCarthy," 12/14/05).
Buckley identifies a "restless, demanding tone of dissatisfaction expressed today by the radical left" (by which he means alienated sections of the base of the Democratic Party) with the schism that developed in 1968 between the base of the Democratic Party and the Party establishment. That profound discontent, combined with angst in the ruling class at the time over the impending defeat of the U.S. in the Vietnam war, converged to drive out President Lyndon Johnson.
Buckley sounds an alarm over "the goal, almost 40 years later, of the World Can't Wait people." He alerts his audience to the fact that World Can’t Wait wishes "to unseat President Bush for his ‘outrageous lies,’ for his ‘murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq,’ for ‘openly torturing people,’ for working for the establishment of ‘a theocracy,’ and for enshrining ‘greed, bigotry, intolerance, and ignorance.’"
Drawing a historical analogy to the forces that came together to bring about the downfall of Lyndon Johnson in 1968, Buckley warns that World Can’t Wait has drawn support not just from "homeless radicals," but from "recognizable names: Jane Fonda, Ed Begley Jr., Jonathan Kozol, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Grace Paley, Studs Terkel, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker."
Narrow Hateful Christian Fundamentalist Theocrat Hates World Can’t Wait
Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition has close ties to the White House, and has been a point man in the fundamentalist assault on gay marriage, including by organizing large conferences of Black ministers in places like South Central L.A. Sheldon warned at his web site that the signers of the World Can't Wait call are a coalition of "Islamists, Marxists, Hollywood Liberals, and Homosexual activist groups --all aligned with the Revolutionary Communist Party." (traditionalvalues.org, 12/13/05). Sheldon claims that the Bush Step Down ad "attacks Christians and Christianity" because the ad contains the language that "Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule."
Note what's missing here: Sheldon does not say that he doesn’t believe in "a narrow and hateful brand of Christianity." Nor does he claim that the World Can’t Wait ad is unfair to charge that people like him want to impose a Christian fundamentalist theocracy! Instead he lies that the World Can't Wait call is an "attack [on] Christians and Christianity." But as the World Can't Wait call makes clear, the point is not to be against Christians and Christianity, but against people being forced to follow the biblical interpretations of one strain of people, who claim to be the "true" Christians, as the law of the land--and there are more than a few clergy who have signed on to the call and support World Can't Wait.
Two Lessons...And How to Advance
By dissecting the cries of outrage by O’Reilly, Buckley, Horowitz, and Sheldon, we can see two things:
1. In railing against the World Can’t Wait Call, they uphold the very things the Call challenges people to drive out: torture, repression, war based on lies, and "a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule." Their attacks on the Call provide a sobering confirmation of how extreme things are, and where these forces would take us.
2. The alarm bells and lies from O’Reilly, Buckley, Horowitz, and Sheldon shed light, from their perspective, on how millions could come together to force the Bush Regime to step down and take its agenda with it. Those of us who hate the Bush Regime and all it stands for should take a lesson from this and sharpen our own understanding of the huge basis for the movement to drive Bush out.
Powerful figures aligned with Bush are feeling vulnerable in relation to the World Can’t Wait call. That emphasizes the urgency of thousands and thousands of people taking the next step, and mobilizing around the State of the Union address.
The New York Times ad calls on people to do two things: On the night of the State of the Union Address, "in large cities and small towns all across the country, join in rallies one hour before Bush's address to make our determination to "Drive out the Bush Regime" the political message of the day." And, during the speech: "BRING THE NOISE. In a cacophony of sound we will drown out his address with music: from drums to violins, from hip hop to classical; and with noise: banging pots and ringing church bells, sounding car horns and lifting our voices."
And, on the Saturday following the State of the Union address, to protest at the White House.
In a profoundly important challenge, the ad declared,"The agenda for 2006 must not be set by Bush, but by the people, in our millions, determined to stop this whole disasterous course."