by Janet Weil, CODEPINK Staffer
After the terrorist attacks last week in Beirut and Paris, following on the ISIL bombing of the Russian airplane, following on the US air strikes on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, -- and now today’s attack in Mali -- in grief and humility, here on the steps of the San Francisco City Hall, I ask: what is there left to say?
What can I say, what can any of us who oppose these horrific crimes against humanity say, that will be of some practical use?
I feel like saying to the members of Congress who voted, 289-137, for the bill to block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming to the United States: WHY are you making things worse by hurting the most vulnerable people? As a former teacher of immigrants and refugees, I have nothing but contempt for those scapegoating the very people fleeing the violent catastrophe in Syria and Iraq.
The French government's decision to deny permission for the long-planned climate marches in Paris, as well as to extend the state of emergency, is counterproductive and anti-democratic. I feel like saying to President Hollande: you are letting the terrorists win.
I feel the anguish that these attacks are intended to create. I feel the pull of hopelessness.
But I want to remind us of something encouraging.
Last September, we who work for peace won an important victory for the Iran nuclear deal. Our coordinated actions mustered enough support in Congress to prevent the anti-Iran deal bill from coming to a vote at all. We did this despite a lavishly funded propaganda campaign by AIPAC and other groups, and after years of anti-Iranian and Islamophobic political discourse.
How did we win? By working together in our many organizations and affiliations. By going to the district offices and town halls of representatives all over the country. By speaking out to the media, and creating our own messages on social media. By refusing to be intimidated.
With regard to Syria, CODEPINK makes the following demands of the US government:
- Stop the bombing.
- Remove the special forces.
- Continue with ceasefire talks currently underway. Increase humanitarian aid to refugees from the region.
- Break with Saudi Arabia, which funds ISIL and other fanatic jihadis.
We are planning a series of coordinated events for early next year, including a trip to the Lebanon-Syria border.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we can show solidarity with Paris - and with all of humanity.
This Saturday in Oakland, let’s turn out in huge numbers for the NorCal Climate Mobilization in support of meaningful climate negotiations. Global climate change exacerbates political instability, resource scarcity, and human tragedy. The governments of the world, especially of the United States, must be pushed to respond adequately to this, the true existential threat. We must demand that our common resources build a sustainable and peaceful world, not a dystopia of endless wars and environmental collapse.
As the French saying goes: “Vouloir, c'est pouvoir.”
To want is to be able. Or, in wanting passionately enough, we can act.