by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Early in the 21st century, the United States appeared to have a large anti-war movement. But, the huge crowds melted away when a Democrat took his turn as Imperialist-in-Chief. UNAC, the United National Anti-War Movement that was created in 2010, “doesn’t waver and doesn’t make exceptions regardless of who in the two party duopoly occupies the White House.” UNAC also opposes U.S. wars against people of color and the poor, here at home.
Freedom Rider: UNAC Shows the Way
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“Others may be fooled by phony claims of humanitarian intervention, but UNAC calls out the lies used to keep the world in a state of American sponsored terror.”
In the June 3, 2015 issue of Black Agenda Report this columnist asked, “Who is on the left?” There is in fact a long list of people and organizations who can honestly answer this question in the first person. This cohort of activists struggles against war, imperialism, neo-liberalism and racism. One of the groups engaged in this work is the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). Ever since its founding in 2010 UNAC has been steadfast in its advocacy of peace and justice.
While other "antiwar" groups folded their tents in fealty to Barack Obama, UNAC firmly planted its flag. At three national conferences UNAC has been resolute in demanding self-determination for all oppressed people. The most recent conference was held in May 2015 in Secaucus, New Jersey. More than 400 people representing 116 organizations were in attendance from 29 states and from Ireland, Germany, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. They gathered to hear speakers address the theme “Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad.” This theme was the thread which connected discussions of imperialism, police violence, austerity, and political imprisonment.
There is no question about where UNAC stands on the issue of interventions abroad. This group doesn’t waver and doesn’t make exceptions regardless of who in the two party duopoly occupies the White House. It doesn’t matter if the nation under attack is Syria, Russia, Somalia, Iran or Yemen or if the president is a Democrat or Republican. UNAC stands opposed to drone attacks, occupations, crippling sanctions and proxy wars instigated by the United States government. Others may be fooled by phony claims of humanitarian intervention, but UNAC calls out the lies used to keep the world in a state of American sponsored terror.
“UNAC stands opposed to drone attacks, occupations, crippling sanctions and proxy wars instigated by the United States government.”
While Democrats and Republicans spent fifty years defending sanctions against Cuba, UNAC members were always on record calling for an end to this war by other means. The corporate media may act as scribes for the president and repeat lies about Russia’s relations with Ukraine, but UNAC held public forums to fight the propaganda which keeps Americans in a state of disinformation.
UNAC fights just as tenaciously for the rights of Americans to be free of neo-liberal attacks and the mass incarceration system as it does against state violence carried out abroad. Conference participants learned how banks pushed Detroit into insolvency but, like gangster shake-down artists, were the first in line to be paid. Speakers organized support for Mumia Abu Jamal who fights for his life against prison medical neglect. Relatives of police murder victims chronicled their search for justice. Union members ranging from Boston bus drivers represented by the United Steelworkers Union, Teamsters, Fight for $15 and a Union, the Postal Mail Handlers Union and the National Coalition of Black Trade Unionists were also in attendance and gave updates on worker struggles and victories.
Leaders in UNAC are not only known to other activists in America but they have formed important alliances around the world. UNAC delegations have traveled to Pakistan to investigate drone attacks, to Wales to protest against NATO and to Russia to join in that nation’s fight for sovereignty in the wake of American intervention.
“UNAC held public forums to fight the propaganda which keeps Americans in a state of disinformation.”
It is important to have agency, and feelings of empowerment and optimism when confronting powerful governments and their corporate partners. When UNAC joined in massive anti-NATO rallies in Chicago in 2012 and marched in protest of war crimes against Gaza in 2014 it gave power to the people. The 2015 conference was an important tool for activism and education and generated support for upcoming actions around the country.
UNAC supports the July 25th million person march against police violence in Newark, New Jersey, sponsored by the People’s Organization for Progress (POP). UNAC will be a leader in organizing protests and teach-ins taking place nationally from October 4th through October 10th. These events will commemorate the 14th anniversary of endless wars which began in Afghanistan and which have been used to justify further attacks and loss of rights here at home.
The state acts on the assumption that resisters are few in number and isolated from one another. If they are to be confronted and defeated that idea must be proven wrong. The United National Antiwar Coalition is important because it brings solidarity and purpose to so many people who would otherwise act in a vacuum or not at all. Who is on the left? UNAC is.
Note: Margaret Kimberley serves on the administrative committee of UNAC.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.