UFPJ finds another answer
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In recent months, a difficult and controversial aspect of our work has been our engagement with International A.N.S.W.E.R in co-sponsoring the September 24, 2005 Washington, D.C. Rally and March. Following this experience, and after thorough discussion, the national steering committee of United for Peace and Justice has decided not to coordinate work with ANSWER again on a national level.
A few years ago, David Corn wrote a lengthy expose on ANSWER in the LA Weekly , where he demonstrated that it was a front for the Workers World Party (WWP): "...ANSWER is run by WWP activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front. Several key ANSWER officials -- including spokesperson Brian Becker -- are WWP members. Many local offices for ANSWERâ€™s protest were housed in WWP offices."
And what are some of the causes of the WWP? Corn summarized: "The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castroâ€™s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his countryâ€™s 'socialist system,' which, according to the partyâ€™s newspaper, has kept North Korea 'from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.' The WWP has campaigned against the war-crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic."
I can recall from personal experience how frustrated I've been over the past three years watching ANSWER speakers hijack the antiwar protests to talk about their own pet causes -- starting chants about the greatness of Fidel Castro -- and how the media used ANSWER to tar and undermine the entire movement. No doubt, thousands were turned off from sticking with the cause to end the invasion and occupation of Iraq because of the nutty speakers they put on stage. ANSWER tainted the whole thing.
UFPJ's reason for cutting further participation with ANSWER was cool-headed and on professional terms (I've posted the entire announcement from the UFPJ steering commitee in the extended post -- there's a lot of backstory).
I'll bet dollars for dimes that the next UFPJ war protest will leave regular Americans feeling like they want to do it again.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.