Fwd: 3/31 update on A20 unity scenario from ANSWER coalition

Peter Frase pefrase at softhome.net
Sun Mar 31 15:42:41 MST 2002

List members need to be aware that the statement from ANSWER which Greg
Butterfield forwarded totally misrepresents the situation in the anti-war
movement. Since only the ANSWER position is getting aired on this list, I
feel I need to correct some misperceptions. I am a Marxist and a student
activist, and I work closely with the National Youth and Student Peace
Coalition (which includes a broad array of forces, from the Young Communist
League to the Muslim Student Association to the Campus Greens and many in
between). NYSPC is part of the broader A20-Stop the War mobilization effort
which ANSWER so opportunistically attacks.

Below, I will try to correct some of the distortions and  outright
falsehoods contained in the ANSWER statement.

>Last Saturday, March 23, an agreement was reached between 
>the principal coalitions calling anti-war demonstrations 
>on April 20 to hold a unity rally that would be co-chaired 
>and organized following the convergence of the respective 
>marches on April 20. 

This is not true. What actually happened, as far as I can tell, is this:
some organizers from the A20 coalition met with some ANSWER people, and
unity scenarios were discussed. But before any decisions could be reached,
ANSWER sent out a public message claiming that we had already agreed to a
merger! This crude attempt to strong-arm us into changing our program
angered a lot of people in the A20 coalition, and it made us question
whether ANSWER could be trusted to work in good faith or even respect
minimal standards of honesty.

>We were disappointed to learn that the A20 Stop the War 
>Coalition [also known as “United We March”] steering 
>committee cancelled the decision to hold a co-chaired and 
>co-organized joint rally, 

As noted above, this is not true. What we really did was correct the
misperception that we had already agreed to a joint rally. If ANSWER had
acknowledged that correction, I might have believed that their earlier
proclamation of unity as a fait accompli was an honest mistake. Their
subsequent behavior leads me to think otherwise, however.

>The A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition is still open to a truly united 
>closing rally.

I have to question this. We invited ANSWER to join with us as endorsers of
A20, and we even offered them a speaker at the rally (out of only 5 to 6
total speakers, including just one from NYSPC). The fact that ANSWER chose
to distort and lie about the situation rather than accept our proposal
suggests to me that the only "unity" ANSWER will be happy with is one where
they call all the shots.

I have my political disagreements with ANSWER, the IAC, and Workers
World--always have. But up to now, I have regarded them as reasonably
principled comrades who will at least stop short of all-out split and wreck
tactics. Unfortunately, I can no longer believe that. The principal movers
behind ANSWER (and let's not kid ourselves, we all know who they are) have
gone beyond just having political or organizational perspectives that I
don't agree with. I have no choice but to regard them as a sectarian
obstacle to building an anti-war movement in this country.

Peter Frase

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