Washington, D.C., Feb. 4
BUSH STEP DOWN and Take Your Program with You!
Revolution #033, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us
On Saturday, Feb. 4, several thousand people responded to a call from World Can't Wait, and took the demand that BUSH STEP DOWN right to the regime itself, rallying in Washington, DC and marching around the White House. According to reports posted at worldcantwait.org, "The rally and march, held in driving, cold rain, was marked by its determination and breadth of participants, all united around this single demand."
The World Can't Wait website reported:
"Leading up to, during, and after Bush's State of the Union address, the growing movement to drive out the Bush regime took new steps in its determination and breadth. In an intense political situation, with Bush's spying and lying more exposed and much talk of impeachment, the demand "BUSH STEP DOWN and take your program with you" resonated throughout society. Acting on its Call, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime dove into this situation in which the future is in the balance, mobilize people outside of the killing confines of "politics as usual" to stop Bush's fascist remaking of society.
"A full-page ad in the N.Y. Times with signatories including politicians, movie stars, artists, activists, and voices of conscience broadcast this demand to the world. Echoing and elaborating on this demand were statements from prominent voices such as Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Ratner, Mark Ruffalo, and Gore Vidal, as well as calls to action from students at Hampton University and Georgetown Law students who turned their back on Alberto Gonzales. The Bush Crimes Commission held its final session and released preliminary findings of the Bush regime's guilt of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And Jan. 31st saw thousands of people in over 68 cities taking to the streets to drown out Bush's lies during his State of the Union address."
"...And stay tuned to our website for the next plans in the movement to drive out the Bush regime."
Speakers in DC included: Missy Comley Beattie of Gold Star Families for Peace read a statement from Cindy Sheehan; Elaine Brower (GSFP); Kathleen Chalfant (read statement from Daniel Ellsberg); Carl Dix, National Spokesperson of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; Carol Fisher, World Can't Wait supporter in Cleveland who was beaten and arrested by police for posting fliers for the state of emergency protests; Lawrence Guyot, former SNCC member and former Chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Doris "Granny D" Haddock; C. Clark Kissinger, Bush Crimes Commission; Rev. Deborah Elandus Lake, World Can't Wait steering committee; Lelani, International Action Center; Joe Madison the Black Eagle; Occidental College students Ally & Leah; Rebecca Schaefer, Georgetown Law School student with Stand Up for the Law; David Swanson, After Downing Street; Sunsara Taylor; Juan Torres, GSFP; Ann Wright, Veterans for Peace; Daphne Wysham, Institute for Police Studies; Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus.
Following are excerpts from some of the speeches at the rally.
Rev. Deborah Elandus Lake, World Can't Wait Steering Committee:
Just yesterday there was a story in the news about an 18-year-old boy in Massachusetts who violated a gay bar and attacked three people with a gun and a hatchet. This is hate. This is homophobia. This is the kind of country the religious right and their president stand for. We believe in what America actually stands for. We believe in a better world all while we know America's heading for disaster. The religious right and its president would have us believe in misogyny and the oppression of women. Yeah. They're working to add an amendment to our constitution that will impose their version of the family and marriage on the rest of us. Yeah. They claim that civil marriage is a tradition that should be protected. They're very near the traditional ....It is a tradition based on the family. It is a tradition that comes from the time in history when men legally claimed women and children as property. Biblical marriage is the same. It comes from a religious tradition by which men gave themselves the divine authority to claim women and children as property. This is the kind of tradition that the religious right and its president want to change our constitution to uphold...
We all know about Katrina and how the neglect of poor Black areas brought about the deaths and suffering of thousands of people. But how many of us know about our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been arrested or deported solely because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. This is racism. This is religious intolerance. And this is what the religious right and its president stand for.
Carl Dix, National Spokesperson, Revolutionary Communist Party
In the '60s I was drafted into the army and given orders to go to Vietnam. I refused to go, and they put me in jail. This was the right thing to do, and I know what gave me the understanding and courage to do it. It was the millions of people out there protesting the war in Vietnam. Their marches and rallies helped create a political atmosphere where people like me were inspired and challenged to join the resistance. Our actions today can do the same.
That's why it's so important that we're out here today. And that we carry through and build off of what we do today to continue to mobilize people to drive the Bush regime from power. Our unity in this fight and our determination to carry it through till Bush & Company are gone must challenge and inspire many, many others to join in.
BUSH STEP DOWN AND TAKE YOUR WHOLE PROGRAM WITH YOU!
Lawrence Guyot, former organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and former chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
I want to remind you that when SNCC went into Mississippi in 1963 there were 13 of us. It does not count how many, but it does count how committed you are. We won during the fight for the right to organize in Mississippi, and the Lord knows we won. Read your history. We now have a president who says that torture was designed for me, doesn't work fast enough. The Watergate legislation that prohibits me doesn't work; he said, "I'm breaking the law, and you do what you want to do about it." And we must say to him, "There will never be a king in America."
Joe Madison, the Black Eagle of WVOL Radio
This is not a fair weather demonstration. I have never seen so many, so dedicated, to stand out in this rain and this cold, to make a point. And I tell you, before I begin my remarks that I have written down, you hold tight, because one day the sun is gonna shine. They may say today on the news that you crazy. That we're extremists. But you tell them that you're extremists for peace, you're extremists for what is right. In 1968, as a young college student, I listened to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, when he spoke at Riverside, when he said, "A time comes when silence is betrayal." Today that time has come. Dr. King went on to say, and we must understand, that war is a symptom of a far deeper disorder and sickness within the American spirit, when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people. The triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A nation, he went on to say, that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs for social uplift is approaching spiritual death. That same year, I witnessed President Johnson from the Oval Office staring at the television camera and declaring that he would not run for re-election or accept his party's nomination--he stepped down. Several years later, in the mid-1970s, I came to this very spot, to join hundreds of thousands of young Americans, to be part of the largest demonstration against the Vietnam War, and demand that President Nixon end the war. Soon after that historic demonstration, Americans were at the peace table with the North Vietnamese. Later, a disgraced President Nixon stepped down. Now, more than three decades later, your generation--young and old, black and white, yellow and brown, suburban and urban, have drawn a line in the historic sand--except today it's in the mud--and we have asked this president to end the war in Iraq, or step down!
Ally and Leah, pro choice activists from Occidental College in L.A.
We are here now to agitate people out of their complacency and out of their routine. Because people need to know that, they need to see that our rights are being taken out from underneath us. They need to know that it is no longer enough to just hold liberal sentiments. We need to take action, we need to take to the streets, and we need to join the movement. Right now, we need to oppose all what these conservative ideologues stand for, especially in light of Roe v. Wade in danger of being overturned. They don't want birth control, they don't want condoms, they don't want the morning-after pill, they don't want abortion and they don't want sex education. So then what? Are women supposed to be slaves to their bodies, taken out of the workplace and education system every time they have sex? No! And I can tell you that if the right has it their way, women will be forced to revert to that inferior status they held just decades ago. And I am here to tell you that I will not let that happen, and we cannot let that happen! We need to resist now, because if we don't, we are only supporting the Bush regime with our silence. We need to demand now that Bush step down!
From a statement by Daniel Ellsberg in support of the World Can't Wait demonstration in Washington, D.C., read by Kathleen Chalfant
I would not have thought of copying the Pentagon Papers, risking a possible lifetime in prison, without the example of thousands of young Americans who were doing everything they could--including non-violent disobedience to the draft regulations--to oppose a wrongful, hopeless war. They showed civic courage, and I can attest to its effectiveness; as a government consultant and former official, I felt its power on my own life.
In the face of a president blatantly violating the law, pursuing another stalemated, hopeless, wrongful war, and proclaiming his intent to continue both, civic courage is needed today from those who can hold him and his administration to account: members of Congress, journalists, potential whistleblowers inside the government, prosecutors, and judges. "Everything they can do," even at cost to their positions and careers, is what is needed from those in such strategic positions at this moment, and what we should demand of them, by our own example. Nothing less is appropriate to this constitutional crisis.
From statement sent to the rally by actor Mark Ruffalo
I am afraid, and I don't think it is just me, I think we are all terrified to a degree. I know the desire today is to grow so small and be left alone and not be spied on or noticed as out of the ordinary in any way because maybe we might be defamed or sent away or ruined.
And what about our children? What deeds that we do now might come to weigh upon their unspoken selves? If only we were to remain a little quiet, unnoticed, with some untold luck, we'll squeak by and have a place in the great American sun. That is what the small secret self says.
There are millions of us out there who are frustrated and angry. Not only in small pockets, but all around the United States, crossing into many different kinds of people, spanning oceans and continents. We are the growing majority. Ultimately, we are not alone. If you come out, you will see that others will greet and support you and enfold you into something that is greater than your fear of what we are being led to believe America is about.
Rebecca Schaefer, Georgetown University law student with the group Stand Up for the Law, which organized students to turn their backs in protest when Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke at the school
I believe we have the makings of a new nationwide student movement -- it's nascent within our existing communities. We can draw inspiration from past generations. But you know, it's challenging for us. It's not like it was in Vietnam. We were born into this conservative culture war. It's difficult for us to imagine life another way. Our generation has grown up so depoliticized--some of us would not even been able to vote in a presidential election before the coup of 2000. But my experience is that my classmates, people standing behind me, and dozens more, and the response we've received from students all over the nation, all the students who are coming today, that all strengthens my faith in a renewed progressive student movement. The world can't wait for us to run for office, it can't wait for the next election, it can't even wait for us to graduate. We students have a small window to be at school, with the luxury to talk about ideas every day, to have a built-in community for organizing, direct action. I'd like to issue a call to all students everywhere to participate in direct actions like the one we did last Tuesday. I want to see more sit-ins in presidents' offices to ask for living wages. To call for divestment from mercenary multinationals that prop up our institutions. I want school-wide antiwar protests. I want boycotts of government recruiters. I want you to refuse to comply when your school hosts speakers who advocate torture and spying. Now we don't know yet what our revolution is going to look like. Because it's just now being conceived and it's going to be different from every one before it. But when I look at your faces, when I see young people, and the students, their parents and neighbors from all parts of society, my imagination widens and I think I can glimpse it and it's a beautiful thing. I'm looking at the face of the revolution right now, because there's no one to do it but us. We can't wait for the Democrats to stand up. We can't wait for some savior. We are the ones we've been waiting for. The world can't wait for someone else to take the lead. It has to be us. Impeachment now. Bush step down and take your god-awful programs with you.
Juan Torres, Gold Star Families for Peace, whose son died in Iraq
I see my son's picture here, and Casey's [Cindy Sheehan's son] picture. President Bush, there's a lot of soldiers-- no arms, no legs, died. Why the media don't show this here in America? Last week, I told the media, CNN and ABC, reporter people, you have to tell the story. No injuries? No bombings? In Iraq, they show all week about the guy with injuries that they take to Germany, to America. But they don't show this week, seven soldiers died.
David Swanson, After Downing Street, from remarks prepared for the Feb. 4 protest
Daniel Ellsberg wrote in a statement supporting this rally that courage is contagious. It certainly is within this movement. We just need it to catch within the Capitol. There are Democrats there who still fantasize about working cooperatively with Republicans -- it's their way of hanging onto a belief that they are serving some purpose. We need to give them a different purpose to serve, the purpose of courageously opposing the rise of fascism.
Sunsara Taylor, co-initiator of World Can't Wait
When people tell us they are busy doing other work--as so many are in this atmosphere where everything progressive is constantly under siege--we have to appreciate the importance of what they are doing and encourage them to do more, we have to listen to them and learn from them -- but we also have to struggle with them and argue with them to see that unless we drive out this regime none of this other work will be possible. And there will be times when everyone from different perspectives will have to come together and put this struggle to drive out this regime first.
And we have to continue to base ourselves on the truth--and this is the great strength of our Call. It doesn't mince words, it puts the whole challenge before people. It's not just about the war. It's not just about torture. It's not just about the moves each day to make the law based on the Bible. It's not just about the suppression of science and the growing dangers of global warming. It's the whole thing, the whole global program that we have to confront and defeat.
From the Call from World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime!:
The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten.