NY march permit fight: we cannot afford to take it lying down

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at bellsouth.net
Thu Jan 30 18:55:39 MST 2003


By attempting to deny a parade permit to UFPJ, organizers of the Feb. 15 New
York antiwar protest, the ruling class has thrown down the gauntlet.

Now the job of the antiwar movement and all defenders of civil liberties is
to cram it down their throats.

We mustn't console ourselves with thoughts like that this was just some
local cop being stupid, or just a probe to see if the movement would
passively accept the restrictions, or, worse, think that the courts will fix
things as a matter of course.

On the contrary, given the political context, where the administration is on
an all-out push for war, and has seen the strength and impact of the antiwar
movement, which has heightened hesitancy in some in ruling class circles, we
must assume this is no bumbling misstep motivated by local concerns. We must
assume that this decision comes from the Oval Office -- whether orders came
down or it just resulted from the overall political course Bush has set.

It is important to note, a very similar thing is happening in London around
the Feb. 15 demonstration. The cops, you see, are concerned about the grass
in the public parks.

This attack may be very important for them: it has to do with the whole
point of the Ashcroft Raids against immigrants, of the trampling on habeas
corpus, of the Guantánamo concentration camp, of the every letter carier a
snitch TIPS program, of the no more privacy Total Information Awareness
program, of the unconstitutional Patriot Act and union-busting Homeland
Security Act.  The whole point is to intimidate us. To silence us. To cow
America's working people into submission.

If hundreds of thousands of us keep demonstrating and reaching out,
organizing in schools, workplaces and communities, turning the antiwar
movement into the voice of the majority, the working people, the ruling
class campaign against democratic rights will collapse.

Those running this administration aren't idiots. They saw what happened to
the repressive Cold War climate of McCarthyism when it came up against the
blast furnace of the civil rights movement and the antiwar and student
movements and everything that followed. McCarthyism *collapsed* because
people were no longer afraid.

Today's antiwar movement has already dealt major blows to the patriotic
hysteria they tried to build up in the wake of 9/11. If the movement
continues to build, that hysteria and the witch-hunting will fall apart
completely. Especially since this McCarthyism is much less firmly rooted
than the anticommunist one of the late 1940's and the1950's, and is not
backed up by a big capitalist boom that can serve to placate people through
economic concessions.

So we must assume it is no coincidence that this attack comes as the Bush
administration shouts "damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead" on its war
drive.

It may seem like a small thing, after all, what is a "peace crawl" down the
street if they're going to let you have a rally anyways? That's precisely
it. They're *letting* you have the rally. They're staking out the position
that the government decides when, where and how the people exercise their
democratic rights. And soon it will be *whether* we can exercise them, and
shortly after that, "What democratic rights?"

This is the escalation of the ruler's offensive against the democratic
rights of the American people that the red-baiting barrage was meant to
prepare. It is a crucial battle. It must be fought, using all weapons at out
disposal -- not just lawsuits.

A lawsuit can be a fine thing, but especially under current circumstances,
one would have to believe in the tooth fairy to imagine the courts stand as
a bulwark against the ruling class's assault on freedom. Quite the contrary,
they are an integral part of that asssault, and the movement should steel
itself for possibly losing the court case, even being hit with an injunction
against the march and thereby being forced to show these robed reactionaries
of the ruling rich where to file their orders.

This prohibition by King George --for that is what it is in essence, only
fools will believe the cops are ultimately behind this-- should be treated
as an Intolerable Act. We must defend our democratic rights in the courts
*and* in the streets, by exercising them. If we simply let the rulers get
away with it, we'll see further attacks and inroads on the right to protest.
And it will take a much greater struggle to reconquer what was so lightly
given up.

UFPJ should accompany the lawsuit with a massive campaign of protests and an
unbreakable decision that this prohibition will not stand. We the people
will defend out democratic rights, by any means necessary.

José


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