The Left Forum Updates with Professor Rick Wolff
On Saturday, March 20, there will be a massive National March and Rally in Washington DC organized against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, while fighting for social and economic justice at home. The demonstrations will pull together veterans, active-duty service members and those have served in the US military. Other mass rallies will be held on the same day in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The day before, on Friday, March 19, there will be a day of action and outreach. Today Michael Prysner joins us to give us more information and details on this mass demonstration. Michael recently delivered a powerful speech as an IVAW member. From Michael’s speech: ”Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand. The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the insurance companies who deny us healthcare when it’s profitable, the banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not thousands of miles away. They are right here in front of us.”
I’m a co-founder of March Forward; it’s also an affiliate with the ANSWER Coalition, which is Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. We know now that there are more people who are becoming tired of the wars and watching $500 million a day get squandered on these senseless wars and occupations.
On March 20, you’re going to see thousands of people from all over the country. We’re coming off of a year of President Obama being elected. Many people thought that they were voting for an to the war, and change to the colonial policies of the US government.
So, change comes not from an election, but through a struggle and mass movement. We need to be there on the anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq.
Demands: US out of Iraq and Afghanistan. An immediate end to occupations. Freedom for Palestine, reparations for Haiti, money for jobs, education, housing and health care, not for war.
WAR: This is about the United States expanding its reach economically, to seize the local economies and natural resources and the markets of these countries. These wars are for empire to expand US business interests.
I went to Iraq in 2003 during the invasion, and then month after month I thought we were there for a very different purpose. There was a growing frustration within the military, people don’t want to go and kill and be killed. People join the military because they need access to a job, education, health care.
It was the Iraqi children that I saw, that cried and screamed at us, that I dragged from their houses during raids. It was innocent Iraqis that were shot. This is what turned me around.
Seeing their faces, that made me realize that we were not the liberators that we thought we were going to be.
Afghanistan: Soldiers are used as bait. They are put at an outpost and wait to get attacked. They get attacked and call in air strikes. Soldiers are put in danger, without any real expressed purpose. Now the Generals have warned us that we should be braced for hundreds of casualties every month.
We have these 2 things, the horrible deaths and destruction and then no reason why. It’s cloaked in chauvinism and racism, and that’s the only justification.
Guest – Michael Prysner, lead coordinator of March Forward and Iraq Veterans Against the War member.
Today we look into the possible closure of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in North Elba, New York. State lawmakers have announced that budget cuts could result in the closure of the farm where the famed abolitionist lived with his family and is now buried. There are others buried there, those that perished in Brown’s 1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry. Historic sites and parks are often the first casualties of budget cuts. In one scenario, the New York legislature would have to approve a proposed transfer of $5 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to shore up the budget cuts that would affect New York parks including John Brown’s farm. Meanwhile, many New York residents are pulling together to speak out and save this historic area. Recent News: John Brown Resolution Introduced by Senator
- The land was given to John Brown by Gerritt Smith, who gave land grants to many including “free blacks” from New York State. The area was nicknamed Timbuktu. John Brown lived up there in a rented farm, but later his son in law built the farm house that is there (1854).
- He was somewhat of a black nationalist as well as being a forerunner in the civil rights movement. He supported black self determination. Some people had said it was an underground railroad stop and it really wasn’t.
- For years, African American churches made trips to the farm, John Brown was buried there, of course after being hanged in West Virginia in 1859. It’s a spiritual experience, you ascend this road, you get to the top, you see the farm house there. There’s a great boulder, and John Brown loved to sit on this boulder and read his Bible.
- I brought Charles 37X up there as an elderly man in 1999. I’ll never forget the impact this had, the connections he made up there. It’s marginalized in American memory.
- I believe as we progress as a society that this will a place that’s more treasured.
- There’s optimism but still the real possibility (of the farm being closed).
Guest – Louis A. DeCaro, Jr., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of History at Alliance Theological Seminary’s New York City campus, and is also the pastor of an urban church. Of course, he often dreams of being a full-time researcher and student of the life and letters of John Brown the abolitionist. His latest work is entitled, John Brown: The Man Who Lived (Lulu, 2009), a collection of essays prepared in honor of the sesquicentennial of the Harper’s Ferry raid and the hanging of John Brown. Lou’s previous works on the abolitionist are John Brown: The Cost of Freedom (International Publishers, 2007), which features new insights based on cutting-edge research and transcriptions of twenty John Brown letters, and Fire from the Midst of You: A Religious Life of John Brown (New York University Press, 2002). He is also a contributor to The Afterlife of John Brown, edited by Eldrid Herrington and Andrew Taylor (2005), and Jean Libby’s monumental John Brown Photo Chronology (2009).