DATE January 23, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/Aâ¨ TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/Aâ¨ NETWORK NPRâ¨ PROGRAM Fresh Airâ¨â¨Interview: Todd Gitlin discusses the new peace movementâ¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.â¨â¨The anti-war movement is growing. Last Saturday, demonstrations inâ¨Washington, San Francisco and other cities protested against a US war withâ¨Iraq. We're going to look at this new movement. My first guest is Toddâ¨Gitlin. He's logged many miles at peace demonstrations over the years. Heâ¨was president of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, from 1963 to '64 andâ¨was active in the peace movement during the war in Vietnam. He wrote aboutâ¨political protests in his book "The Sixties: Years of Hope and Days of Rage."â¨His book "Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelmsâ¨Our Lives" has just come out in paperback. His next book, "Letters to a Youngâ¨Activist," will be published in the spring.â¨â¨Gitlin is against a US war with Iraq and is hoping a strong peace movementâ¨develops. But he has reservations about the group that organized Saturday'sâ¨peace march in Washington, the ANSWER coalition. ANSWER stands for Act Now toâ¨Stop War & End Racism. Gitlin says this group represents the fringe politicsâ¨of the orthodox old left. I asked him about his thoughts on the march and itsâ¨organizers.â¨â¨Professor TODD GITLIN (Columbia University): Well, this is complicated.â¨Movements are sloppy and diffuse, and in general one prefers them that way.â¨That is, people who are small D democrats don't like the sort of hierarchicalâ¨command program that authoritarians embrace and find it easy to organize. Nowâ¨what that means de facto is that the organizations that are quickest toâ¨organize national demonstrations are the ones that are most hierarchicallyâ¨organized, and International ANSWER is one of them. So they get thereâ¨`fustest' because they don't have complicated positions. They have simplisticâ¨positions and they're in place like an army to follow orders and putâ¨demonstrations on the calendar.â¨â¨GROSS: What do you know about this group?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Their steering committee is made up of various left-wingâ¨factions, very far-left-wing factions, that probably total a hundred membersâ¨in America. The best-known of them is something called the Internationalâ¨Action Center, which is represented by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark,â¨who's a supporter of Slobodan Milosevic, who's a supporter of Saddam Hussein,â¨a supporter of the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square. These are peopleâ¨with very, I would say, freakish and wrong-headed positions, I mean, reallyâ¨appalling positions. Of course, very few people who attend these rallies haveâ¨any idea of this or, for that matter, care.â¨â¨GROSS: Are there certain issues that ANSWER brings to the peace movement thatâ¨make you uncomfortable, that you don't think belong in the peace movement?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, their down-the-line support for releasing Mumiaâ¨Abu-Jamal, who may well deserve a fair trial, I don't know about that, but,â¨you know, is a convicted cop killer. This has no place whatsoever in thisâ¨movement. Their sort of `Israel is all wrong and Palestinians of all sortsâ¨are all right' has no business in this coalition. And for two thoseâ¨are--that's the baggage they're bringing to the party.â¨â¨GROSS: What are your concerns about how the leadership of the ANSWERâ¨coalition will affect the peace movement?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, this is difficult. I mean, many people felt in as earlyâ¨as October that since they were committed to opposing the war, and ANSWER wasâ¨the group that was promoting the demonstration, that they should go and atâ¨least go and take a look. I was in touch with some people who went toâ¨ANSWER-sponsored demonstrations, didn't like what they saw and heard and fled.â¨I think many more people, when it came to January and war had become more inâ¨prospect, did decide to enter into the ANSWER coalition, in effect, butâ¨without signing on to their principles and wanted to go and carry their ownâ¨signs.â¨â¨Opposing unilateral war at this point is a mainstream American position. I'veâ¨looked at a lot of polls. In general about a third of the population supportsâ¨unilateral war in the absence of an immediate threat to America. This isâ¨actually an enormous opportunity for an anti-war movement because you don'tâ¨have to be left-wing, you don't even have to be left of center. One of theâ¨major sites opposed to the war, Anti-War.org, has Libertarian sponsorship.â¨There are many Republicans, heartland people, people who aren't especiallyâ¨political at all, who actually are interested in turning out against aâ¨demonstration.â¨â¨So I think it is fruitless, in fact counterproductive, to organize a sort ofâ¨left-wing self-celebration jamboree. You'll offend a lot of people who shouldâ¨be opposed to the war and you're not going to elicit the support of mainstreamâ¨politicians.â¨â¨GROSS: Are you afraid that some of the issues and groups that the ANSWERâ¨coalition is involved with will be used by some people to discredit the peaceâ¨movement? I'm thinking, for instance, of ANSWER's affiliation with theâ¨Workers World Party, its affiliation with other Communist groups.â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: I am concerned that International ANSWER walks out to theâ¨speaker's platform wearing a big sign that says, `discredit me,' and thatâ¨those who don't have the interest of a decent and sensible and majoritarianâ¨anti-war movement can swat the movement as a whole by pointing the finger atâ¨these absurd and reprehensible positions.â¨â¨GROSS: Do you feel like you're a member of, you know, HUAAC during theâ¨McCarthy era when you say this, you know, you're discrediting them because ofâ¨their Communist affiliation?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: No. I think they're actually dishonest in not wanting to ownâ¨up to their politics. My view in the '60s was that there should be anâ¨ecumenical anti-war movement. SDS, Students for a Democratic Society,â¨organized the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War in 1965â¨with a very minimal position. You know, the war is bad for Vietnam, it's badâ¨for Americans, it should be stopped, period. And we were the sole sponsor.â¨We invited other people to come and, if they want, carry their own signs. Butâ¨we were ecumenical. We did not do what ANSWER does. We did not fill theâ¨platform with left-wing sectarians.â¨â¨GROSS: Now you were the head of SDS for a while. You were president of SDS,â¨and SDS was a pretty radical group that endorsed pretty radical actions, andâ¨many of the more mainstream people in the anti-war movement in the '60sâ¨thought that SDS was going too far and that it would alienate the mainstreamâ¨and was therefore not good for the movement. So do you feel like you're in aâ¨funny spot now saying that there's some kind of like too-far-out-on-a-limbâ¨issues involved with the peace movement now?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, when I was head of SDS, it was not far out on a limb. Iâ¨mean, we were against the Vietnam War, but, you know, we were not embracing Hoâ¨Chi Minh or the cause of Third World revolution. SDS went that way and thatâ¨was catastrophic, and I opposed it. My only regret is that I didn't oppose itâ¨strenuously or successfully enough. There's an awful paradox about the 1960sâ¨that today's activists must face, and it is that as the war in Vietnam becameâ¨less popular, so did the anti-war movement. And the anti-war movement becameâ¨less popular because it was seen as, first of all, ultramilitant and,â¨secondly, anti-American. Much of the charge of anti-Americanism wasâ¨undeserved. I mean, after all if you had a demonstration of a hundredâ¨thousand people and 10,000 of them carrying American flags but, you know, 100â¨of them were carrying Viet Cong flags and one of them was burning a US flag,â¨you know what would have ended up on the evening news that night.â¨â¨But the tragedy of the '60s is that while I think the anti-war movement didâ¨retard the extension of the war, the movement itself committed hara-kiri byâ¨isolating itself at the margins of American life and insulting most of theâ¨people who themselves were opposed to the war, who were in fact the proverbialâ¨mainstream people.â¨â¨GROSS: So you're critical of the ANSWER coalition, which organized theâ¨anti-war march on Saturday. Does that take away for you from the success ofâ¨the demonstration and its turnout?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, the turnout is a vote of confidence in the anti-warâ¨position. And, you know, the turnout was immense, striking, understood asâ¨such by the mass media, which had actually been belittling the movement beforeâ¨that. And I think it's important to understand that these demonstrations,â¨especially the one in Washington, are only moments in the anti-war movement.â¨I mean, they were demonstrations--I've been seeing listservs that send out theâ¨word. Somebody from Santa Barbara wrote to a friend of mine that there wereâ¨5,000 demonstrators in Santa Barbara last Saturday. In a town in Maine with aâ¨population of 1,600 there were 60 demonstrators, 6-0, in the freezing cold,â¨against the war. These are not ANSWER supporters.â¨â¨There's now the very important action of the Catholic bishops, of the Nationalâ¨Council of Churches opposed to unilateral war. There's the MoveOn group thatâ¨has collected vast numbers of signatures on petitions. The Chicago Cityâ¨Council, which is not a bastion of the sectarian left, voted 46-to-1 againstâ¨unilateral war, a very sophisticated resolution, by the way, that unlike theâ¨ANSWER spokesman acknowledges that Saddam Hussein is a vicious tyrant.â¨â¨So the demonstrations are the easiest things to notice, they get ourâ¨attention, but I think this is actually a genuinely mass movement. It'sâ¨happening in little places. It's in this way reminiscent of the Americanâ¨anti-war movement against the Vietnam War, circa 1969.â¨â¨GROSS: My guest is Todd Gitlin. We'll talk more after a break. This isâ¨FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: We're devoting today's program to the emerging peace movement. Myâ¨guest is Todd Gitlin. He was active in the anti-war movement of the '60s andâ¨was the head of SDS from 1963 to '64.â¨â¨Do you think that there are certain difficulties organizing today that wouldâ¨be different from the challenges of organizing in the '60s?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, first of all, let's start with the evident fact thatâ¨the war is not on and a movement of anticipation, you know, requires a leap ofâ¨imagination that the evening news and the daily dose of napalm and burningâ¨villages do not. The anti-war movement of the '60s sprang from the civilâ¨rights movement spirit, and so there was already a mood of affirmation on theâ¨part of activists. Activists had some experience with getting results.â¨â¨Today's movement is springing from a very different mood, a kind of fatalism,â¨a brooding horror about the future which is partly a consequence of our recentâ¨political history and partly a consequence of September 11th. People areâ¨scared and they're less prone to want to oppose an American president of anyâ¨sort. I think also, you know, the erosion of what I would call conventionalâ¨anti-war politics or ecumenical center/liberal anti-war politics means thatâ¨the sectarian groups like ANSWER and the International Action Center andâ¨people like Ramsey Clark and so on loom large in a way that undermines theâ¨tensile strength, the absorptiveness of the movement as a whole.â¨â¨GROSS: What would you say to people who are very much opposed to a warâ¨against Iraq but at the same time don't support the agenda of Internationalâ¨ANSWER?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: I would say do something. Let your conscience tell you whereâ¨to exercise your intelligence and your conviction. That might be going beforeâ¨your city council or writing letters to the paper. It might be broachingâ¨anti-war positions in your organizations. It might mean going to a bigâ¨demonstration sponsored by somebody like ANSWER and carrying your own signs.â¨It might mean anything that imagination will find congenial. I don't thinkâ¨one size fits all here, but I do think that it is not uncommon and, you know,â¨it is a deep and unswervable truth of political life of all sorts that you endâ¨up in bed with people you'd just as soon not be. One does not have the luxuryâ¨in political life of choosing all of your allies. That's true for leftists,â¨rightists, centrists, everybody else.â¨â¨GROSS: You've attended and spoken at your share of demonstrations. Let meâ¨see if I can frame a kind of dilemma of demonstrations, you know, particularlyâ¨here with the war with Iraq. It's a very complicated issue. Demonstrationsâ¨aren't necessarily the best place for nuanced discussion, you know, you've gotâ¨thousands, tens of thousands of people. The people who are actually at theâ¨demonstrations can usually barely hear what's being said at the podium.â¨People on TV can hear that much better. So how do you think you can still letâ¨in a certain amount of nuanced discussion and stay away from just like bumperâ¨sticker cliches at a demonstration?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, I would always hope that speakers, even within a fewâ¨minutes, can express something of the complexity of the issue, doing somethingâ¨other than simply repeating chants. I think that leaflets can do that. Nowâ¨Web sites can do that. There are many opportunities to tell one's opponentsâ¨that, first of all, one is mindful of their arguments. I think that peopleâ¨who support the war have arguments. I don't think this one is a no-brainer.â¨I think to be concerned about the fate of the people of Iraq is not only nice,â¨it's morally exemplary and mandatory. I think that, you know, Saddam Husseinâ¨is not about to pounce on America, but no question that he'd like to, and soâ¨on and so on. So I think one should be mindful, I think one should alwaysâ¨strive to elevate the level of debate and not collapse it into a sort of, youâ¨know, two legs good, four legs bad. You know, this is a tall order, but Iâ¨would insist it can be done.â¨â¨GROSS: You've probably seen this article. There was an article in theâ¨December 8th edition of The New York Times Sunday Magazine by George Packer.â¨And I just want to read you an excerpt of it and get your reaction to this.â¨It started off by saying, `If you're a liberal, why haven't you joined theâ¨anti-war movement? More to the point, why is there no anti-war movement thatâ¨you'd want to join?' And the article goes on to discuss the `liberal quandaryâ¨over Iraq.' And Packer writes--he speculates that the war in Bosnia convertedâ¨a lot of liberals into hawks. He says, `People who from Vietnam on had neverâ¨met an American military involvement they liked were now calling for US airâ¨strikes to defend a multiethnic democracy against Serbian ethnic aggression.â¨Suddenly the model was no longer Vietnam, it was World War II. Armed Americanâ¨power was all that stood in the way of genocide. These writers and academicsâ¨wanted to use American military power to serve goals like human rights andâ¨democracy, especially when it was clear that nobody else would do it. Theyâ¨advocated a new role for Americans in the world which came down to: Americanâ¨power on behalf of American ideals.'â¨â¨What do you think of that argument that the war in Bosnia kind of changed theâ¨equation for a lot of American liberals and turned them into hawks on someâ¨issues like Iraq; that some people who had traditionally been liberals don'tâ¨oppose war in Iraq, they support overthrowing Saddam Hussein?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: I think this is a true statement of what happened. I thinkâ¨that many liberals became selective hawks, emphasis on selective, and I wouldâ¨here add that many of the people who supported use of American force inâ¨Bosnia, and then in Kosovo, or for that matter, in Haiti, also supported it inâ¨Afghanistan. The problem is that I think many liberals today, whileâ¨acknowledging that the sponsorship of the anti-war demonstrations is not, youâ¨know, their cup of democracy, don't think that Bush is their cup of democracy,â¨either. That is, under present political auspices, it's very hard to imagineâ¨that the people who are making policy in the White House, who came to office,â¨let it be said, in a manner that was not exactly a high point in the historyâ¨of democracy, that they are crusaders for democracy. I think you could wellâ¨believe when Clinton intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo that he did have theâ¨interests of democracy rather than oil companies or arms manufacturers inâ¨mind. But I think the general statement that you read from George Packer'sâ¨argument is accurate.â¨â¨GROSS: Do you think that that's affecting the type of organizing that's beingâ¨done around the anti-war movement now?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: Well, we see some people who think that, you know--whose sloganâ¨might as well be: US out of everywhere. They think that it's unimaginableâ¨that American force could ever have a just rationale or a good consequence.â¨I'm obviously not one of those people. I daresay that most people who areâ¨opposed to war in Iraq are not pacifists, do not think that American militaryâ¨force is automatically the worst alternative in a situation, but are persuadedâ¨that the interests of a democratic revival in the world or extension in theâ¨world are not served by an American expedition which can't even persuade ourâ¨allies that there is a just cause.â¨â¨I mean, there are many people, not just liberals, who I think are walking intoâ¨an anti-war movement which they're in the process of manufacturing, whetherâ¨it's voting on behalf of an anti-war resolution in the Chicago City Council orâ¨demonstrating hither and yon.â¨â¨GROSS: What do you think an anti-war movement needs to do now to actually beâ¨effective in stopping or limiting a war against Iraq?â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: I think it needs to resort to a panoply of legitimate tacticsâ¨ranging from lobbying members of Congress to getting resolutions out of cityâ¨and state assemblages to working within churches and synagogues and so on. Iâ¨think they need to do wholehearted and intellectually respectable and morallyâ¨complex work to establish that they or we are the mainstream. I think inâ¨short it's a moment to establish the immensity of this movement, not to up theâ¨militancy, as some would argue, but to underscore the normalcy of thisâ¨commitment so that those who are in charge who are reckoning on theirâ¨political careers will take note.â¨â¨I wouldn't want to say that this movement is going to have an easy timeâ¨standing in front of the Bush bulldozer. But there is no alternative than toâ¨try.â¨â¨GROSS: Todd Gitlin, thank you so much.â¨â¨Prof. GITLIN: My pleasure, Terry.â¨â¨GROSS: Todd Gitlin is the author of the book "Media Unlimited," which hasâ¨just come out in paperback. His next book, "Letters to a Young Activist,"â¨will be published in the spring. Gitlin is a professor of journalism andâ¨sociology at Columbia University.â¨â¨I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨(Announcements)â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: Coming up, more on the new peace movement. We talk with one of theâ¨organizers of last Saturday's anti-war march in Washington, Maraâ¨Verheyden-Hilliard. She's on the steering committee of the ANSWER coalition.â¨And we hear from Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council ofâ¨Churches and co-chair of the new coalition Win Without War.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Interview: Mara Verheyden-Hilliard discusses the anti-war marchâ¨that was organized last Saturday and addresses some of theâ¨criticism of the organizations taking part in the protestâ¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.â¨â¨We're looking at the new anti-war movement. My guest Mara Verheyden-Hilliardâ¨is on the steering committee of the group that organized Saturday's peaceâ¨march in Washington, the ANSWER coalition. ANSWER stands for Act Now to Stopâ¨War & End Racism. She's also a co-founder of the Partnership for Civilâ¨Justice.â¨â¨As we heard earlier in an interview with Todd Gitlin, ANSWER has beenâ¨criticized by some people within the peace movement for tying the movement toâ¨extreme or fringy political positions that anti-war demonstrators are oftenâ¨not even aware of. ANSWER has also been examined in several articles,â¨including one by Michelle Goldberg published by the Internet magazine Salon inâ¨October which was headlined Peace Kooks: The New Anti-War Movement is inâ¨Danger of Being Hijacked by Bizarre Extremist Groups. I talked with Maraâ¨Verheyden-Hilliard about her group and Saturday's march.â¨â¨What do you think are the strengths of a mass rally like the one you organizedâ¨in Washington, and what do you think are its limitations?â¨â¨Ms. MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD (ANSWER): Well, I think this weekend we sawâ¨incredible mass opposition to the Bush administration's program of war andâ¨aggression, and we believe that the administration itself is quite shocked andâ¨is reeling from the lightning emergence of this massive anti-war movement.â¨The fact that we're seeing this type of turnout of a half a million people inâ¨Washington, 200,000 in San Francisco, at this stage, before a new bombingâ¨campaign, before a new invasion of Iraq, is really a historical moment.â¨â¨GROSS: I just should mention that there's been various reports on the numbersâ¨of people who turned out on Saturday. Your group is saying half a million.â¨I've read other estimates as well that were lower than that from both policeâ¨and journalists' estimates.â¨â¨There were several other issues on the agenda in addition to preventing warâ¨against Iraq on Saturday, issues that were addressed from the podium, such asâ¨freeing Mumia Abu Jamal and saying that he's a political prisoner and a victimâ¨of racism, and being in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Now I thinkâ¨not everybody who opposes American intervention in Iraq would agree that Mumiaâ¨Abu Jamal is really a political prisoner or would agree with completeâ¨solidarity with the Palestinian people. Many of the people at the march wouldâ¨probably believe in a two-state solution in the Middle East or they wouldâ¨support Israel. What would you say to those people who disagreed with otherâ¨things on the agenda that were spoken of from the podium but who sawâ¨themselves as just being there in support of peace?â¨â¨Ms. VERDEYEN-HILLIARD: I think everyone that was heard from the stage wasâ¨speaking out against the war. And we recognize that it is necessary, if youâ¨are going to fight against war and militarism, that you must recognize theâ¨fight against racism, and that racism, in fact, is a tool of militarism andâ¨oppression, that you need racism in order to be able to convince people in theâ¨United States that when children are being slaughtered in Afghanistan, theirâ¨lives are less valuable than children in the United States. You need racismâ¨to convince people in the US that the lives of children that will be lost inâ¨Iraq, and have been lost in Iraq from sanctions, are somehow less valuableâ¨than lives in the United States.â¨â¨And so we have many speakers who are coming from different struggles allâ¨standing forward and standing up to say that they stand in solidarity againstâ¨the war, and that really shows the depth and breadth of opposition in theâ¨United States.â¨â¨GROSS: The Middle East is a very divisive issue, and I'm wondering whyâ¨include it in an agenda with war against Iraq? Many people who oppose the warâ¨against Iraq wouldn't agree with a blanket statement of solidarity with theâ¨Palestinian people. Many people would support Israel; others would support aâ¨compromise, a two-state solution. It's hard to get people to agree on theâ¨Middle East. Why undermine the consensus of the issue at hand, which isâ¨preventing war with Iraq?â¨â¨Ms. VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: I don't think there's been any undermining of anyâ¨consensus because the proof is in the demonstration. And there were...â¨â¨GROSS: But do you think a lot of people at that demonstration really had noâ¨idea that the organizers of this particular march saw a connection between theâ¨anti-war movement regarding Iraq and the right of return for the Palestinianâ¨people?â¨â¨Ms. VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: The call for the demonstration, and what we all agreeâ¨on, is that we are fighting against a war in Iraq. And so many differentâ¨people who are coming out and who are speaking from so many differentâ¨backgrounds, many of whom are the victims of the US government's aggressionâ¨and military intervention and control, as well as the victims of US corporateâ¨domination--are coming out and standing forward and standing shoulder toâ¨shoulder. That's what's so powerful. That's what's making this so strong.â¨â¨I mean, certainly we have, in our coalition and the people that were speakingâ¨from the stage as well, representatives of youth and students who are talkingâ¨about the aspect of war and how it impacts them and their lives and theirâ¨funding, as well as their being killed as they're the ones who will be sent.â¨We had the labor community coming out in large force supporting thisâ¨demonstration, and we had religious groups coming out in force.â¨â¨And I don't think that when a religious group comes out and supports anti-warâ¨work and traces it back to their faith, be it a faith in--Christian faith,â¨that they're somehow then telling everyone that they must all agree with theâ¨Christian faith. They're saying, `This is our background. We stand here inâ¨solidarity.' When Muslim groups come out to the demonstration and they speakâ¨of their beliefs, they are not telling everyone that they must worship theâ¨same. They're saying, `This is the origin of our belief, and we are inâ¨solidarity with the anti-war efforts.'â¨â¨GROSS: Another sponsor of the peace march on Saturday was the Internationalâ¨Action Center, which was founded by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, whoâ¨for years has been affiliated with many radical causes. Some of those causesâ¨have struck many people as kind of goofy. He's a member of the Internationalâ¨Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, the former head of Serbia who's nowâ¨being tried for war crimes. And the International Action Center also hasâ¨links to the Workers World Party.â¨â¨And I just want to read something that David Corn wrote about the Workersâ¨World Party in the LA Weekly a few months ago, an article about theirâ¨connections to a peace march. He said, `The Workers World Party is a smallâ¨political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party toâ¨support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialistâ¨revolution and abolishing private property. It's a fan of Fidel Castro'sâ¨regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il for preservingâ¨his country's socialist system, which, according to the party's newspaper, hasâ¨kept North Korea,' quote, "from falling under the sway of the transnationalâ¨banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world," unquote. The partyâ¨has campaigned against the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav Presidentâ¨Slobodan Milosevic. A recent Workers World editorial declared, "Iraq has doneâ¨absolutely nothing wrong."'â¨â¨Are you comfortable with the connections to the Workers World Party?â¨â¨Ms. VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: I think it's unfortunate that you're quoting from anâ¨article that is an extremely incorrect, inaccurate and really intended to be aâ¨divisive and offensive caricature of a political group in the United States,â¨as well as of the people in our coalition who associate with others in ourâ¨coalition. And I think using that as a basis of fact itself really is quiteâ¨questionable.â¨â¨Now if we want to step back and talk from a basis of reality, I think callingâ¨former Attorney General Ramsey Clark `goofy' really also is a rather negativeâ¨reflection on even your questions at this point, to be honest, because formerâ¨Attorney General Ramsey Clark is recognized not only in the United States butâ¨around the world as a man of remarkable principle and a man who has fought toâ¨defend people who he felt required and were entitled to a defense, as we wouldâ¨hope that everyone is. And he has fought particularly when there wereâ¨situations that he has felt that the US government is using its powersâ¨unfairly and unjustly in a way that really diminishes the standing of theâ¨United States worldwide, and he has sought to bring justice in that way. Andâ¨he's really--he's loved around the world as well as by many people in theâ¨United States.â¨â¨Now I think if we want to address the real basis of what David Corn's pieceâ¨is, and even sort of those questions like, `How do you feel about affiliatingâ¨with people in the Workers World Party?'--we all recognize that what that is.â¨That is basically classic McCarthyite Red-baiting. Now there are some peopleâ¨in the International Action Center who are also in the Workers World Party,â¨and just because there are Marxists or socialists in an anti-war movement,â¨that shouldn't be incredibly shocking. I think all of us in ourâ¨coalition--and there are 11 major organizations who are on the steeringâ¨committee--have found that those in the International Action Center have beenâ¨really excellent partners in this coalition and have been really veryâ¨principled and great people to work with.â¨â¨The nature of David Corn's article, and the point of that article, is toâ¨divide and diminish an anti-war movement that he has had no part in building.â¨It's not even clear that he has an anti-war position. Frankly, he was writingâ¨articles about Afghanistan that suggested he supported military interventionâ¨there on a poor and absolutely destroyed country. Frankly, we repudiate anyâ¨type of, you know, demands for a purge of the movement. We find that to beâ¨really rather offensive and quite regressive.â¨â¨GROSS: I know you're comparing the question to McCarthyism, but I think yourâ¨critics would probably say that the problem isn't that they are afraid you'reâ¨going to try to take over the world, but rather that affiliating withâ¨communism now, and the Communist parties that are represented within theâ¨coalition, are just so irrelevant, at this point; so fringy and irrelevant.â¨â¨Ms. VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, I don't know which Communist parties youâ¨believe are in the coalition. And when you talk about `fringy andâ¨irrelevant,' the relevancy of this coalition and its work is proven by theâ¨fact that we have done the mass organizing to build a really powerful anti-warâ¨movement in coalition with many people from many different backgrounds:â¨Republicans, Democrats, Green Party members, anarchists, Independents, peopleâ¨with no political affiliation. And that's what a real, true, broad movementâ¨is. I mean, obviously, there are many who sit on the sidelines, includingâ¨former activists who are kind of armchair activists at this point, who amongâ¨them haven't organized one person.â¨â¨And, frankly, I think the line of questioning is really interesting andâ¨somewhat ludicrous. I mean, here we are, a few days after the largestâ¨demonstration against a war in US history, at a critical moment in time, onâ¨the eve of war, when we are trying to stop the slaughter of Iraqi people andâ¨stop US service people from being killed needlessly and sent back in bodyâ¨bags, and there are some folks out there who are whining that there might beâ¨Marxists in the movement or that Mumia Abu Jamal has an anti-war message thatâ¨is shared. I think that we need to decide--as our coalition has, I would hopeâ¨others would decide that what the real objective here is right now, and that'sâ¨fighting a war.â¨â¨GROSS: Is your group opposed to war of all sorts? Is there ever a time thatâ¨you would endorse American military intervention?â¨â¨Ms. VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Our group is a coalition of many differentâ¨organizations around the United States, and we have come together to stand forâ¨Act Now to Stop War & End Racism, and that is our view, which is that we areâ¨in opposition to the Bush administration's war drive and their efforts forâ¨global conquest, and we recognize the need to merge that struggle with theâ¨struggle against racism and oppression, because racism is a tool of war andâ¨militarism. That's what we have consensed on, and that is the position of ourâ¨coalition.â¨â¨GROSS: I want to thank you very much for talking with us.â¨â¨Ms. VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Thank you.â¨â¨GROSS: Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is on the steering committee of the ANSWERâ¨coalition, which organized Saturday's anti-war march in Washington.â¨â¨Coming up, Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churchesâ¨and co-chair of the new coalition Win Without War. Both groups are organizingâ¨against a war with Iraq.â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Interview: Bob Edgar discusses his opposition to the war againstâ¨Iraqâ¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨We're looking at the new anti-war movement. My guest, Bob Edgar is theâ¨general secretary of the National Council of Churches, which opposes a US warâ¨with Iraq. He's also the co-chair of the coalition Win Without War. Bothâ¨groups have been organizing anti-war demonstrations.â¨â¨In December, Edgar went to Iraq with a delegation to carry out what he'sâ¨described as `humanitarian inspections.' On Martin Luther King Day, theâ¨National Council of Churches held a prayer service and procession at theâ¨National Cathedral in Washington. The National Council of Churches helpedâ¨organize Saturday's anti-war march in Washington. I asked Edgar if he'sâ¨comfortable with the politics of the ANSWER coalition which organized theâ¨march.â¨â¨Former Representative BOB EDGAR (Democrat, Pennsylvania; General Secretary,â¨National Council of Churches): Well, I think it's a real important question.â¨And my experience in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and now in the new century isâ¨that movements like the movement Dr. King had to move us away from segregationâ¨to civil rights and the anti-war movement of the '60s gathered around it aâ¨large coalition of people, some of whom I would feel comfortable with and someâ¨of whom would make me nervous. And one of the difficult things about workingâ¨to stop this war in Iraq is that in order to build enough momentum, you've gotâ¨to work with a lot of different coalitions and coalition partners.â¨â¨The umbrella under which most of this is operating is a group called Unitedâ¨For Peace, and as part of that, the ANSWER group is a component of it. Aâ¨group of us who are part of that United For Peace, who find the tactics thatâ¨go too far to one extreme or the other, formed a subset of coalition partnersâ¨called Win Without War. While our people show up at these larger rallies, weâ¨have some difficulty. Often, it's Al Sharpton who gets to speak rather thanâ¨the Episcopal bishop of Washington or the United Methodist bishop ofâ¨Washington. And ANSWER tends to focus on names that they think will draw aâ¨crowd. And I believe that while I respect their ability to gather folks, theyâ¨don't speak for all of us, and that's why we ended this weekend of peacemakingâ¨with a very prayerful, thoughtful prayer vigil which may speak much moreâ¨closely to middle America as opposed to some of the issues that are raised byâ¨some of these peace partners who have other agendas.â¨â¨GROSS: Are you worried about those other agendas, and are you worried thatâ¨the leadership, like the ANSWER coalition, is going to misrepresent the agendaâ¨of the larger group of people within the peace movement, or that it will makeâ¨it possible for large peace demonstrations like last Saturday's to beâ¨discredited?â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: I'm not so worried about it. On Saturday, I know there wereâ¨people demonstrating who were from a group called Peaceful Tomorrows. Theseâ¨are made up of people whose family members were killed in 9/11, and I respectâ¨the fact that they went over to Iraq and they said, `We've had enough victims.â¨Let's find another way.' Present on Saturday were thousands of average,â¨ordinary citizens; housewives and young men and women who simply can't findâ¨justification for this war.â¨â¨So, yes, we would hope that some of the more radical groups would modify someâ¨of their tactics. We don't think that it's a problem to find other means andâ¨venues even inside of big demonstrations like the one that took place onâ¨Saturday. And, frankly, I think that it's unheard of to have as broad aâ¨coalition against this war before the war even starts.â¨â¨GROSS: Now you're coming at this from an interesting perspective, becauseâ¨you're not only the head of the National Council of Churches, you're a formerâ¨congressman from Pennsylvania, a former Democratic congressman. You servedâ¨six terms, and you were in Congress when the war in Vietnam ended. Can youâ¨talk a little bit about what impact you think peace demonstrations had onâ¨Congress during the Vietnam era?â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: My experience there was that in the '60s and early '70s, anyoneâ¨who opposed the war was thought of as un-American, and it took organizedâ¨religion a long time to come to its opposition. When we shut down the war inâ¨April of 1975, I was there on the House floor. We celebrated shutting itâ¨down, but we shut it down many, many years too late, and with a lot of pullingâ¨of institutional religion.â¨â¨What's different today is that those religious traditions that took so longâ¨back in the '60s and early '70s are already out in front in opposition to thisâ¨war, and many of them across the United States have said, `We're not going toâ¨do that again. We're not going to sit back. And we think it is American, itâ¨is being a good citizen to stand up and speak out when we see injustice orâ¨when we oppose something.' So I think there's a difference, and I think theâ¨difference comes from experience.â¨â¨GROSS: My guest is Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council ofâ¨Churches, and co-chair of the coalition Win Without War. More after a break.â¨This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨GROSS: We're talking about the new peace movement. My guest, Bob Edgar, isâ¨the general secretary of the National Council of Churches, which opposes a USâ¨war with Iraq. He also co-chairs the coalition Win Without War.â¨â¨Do you consider yourself categorically opposed to war, or was this a difficultâ¨decision to make about the war against Iraq?â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: Well, I'm not categorically opposed to all wars. I think ifâ¨there's a nation that is subjugating its people, we ought to intervene. Iâ¨think we should have intervened in the Rwanda situation when it was clear thatâ¨millions of people were being hacked to death, and I wonder why we did notâ¨intervene in that effort to at least stop the violence.â¨â¨But I think wars have to be just and we need justification. So to answer yourâ¨specific question, if Saddam Hussein was lobbying weapons at someone, if heâ¨was invading a neighbor, there could be some justification for war. But Iâ¨think this president has won the war with Iraq. We ought to celebrate theâ¨victory. The inspectors are in; we really ought to let them inspect.â¨â¨GROSS: If the UN weapons inspectors do find weapons of mass destruction,â¨would you then support bombing Iraq?â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: No. I think if the weapons inspectors find weapons of massâ¨destruction, they should destroy them.â¨â¨GROSS: And they might think that there's others that they're not going toâ¨find, and that...â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: Then they should keep looking.â¨â¨GROSS: ...Saddam Hussein, if he stays in power, will use them.â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: Just finding the weapons isn't justification for going to war.â¨There are 20 or 30 nations that have weapons of mass destruction. You gotâ¨Pakistan and India that are seven minutes apart by missile to each other'sâ¨capital with nuclear weapons, and we've had a mixed history with both Pakistanâ¨and India. I think it's a very dangerous precedent to say we're going to bombâ¨any nation that has weapons of mass destruction. I think that, clearly, weâ¨can have more confidence now that we have inspectors there. And if they findâ¨canisters, as they did a few weeks ago, destroy them, move on, look for more,â¨add more inspectors. But I don't think that the use of military force or warâ¨is the answer to every diplomatic question that we face in our world today.â¨â¨GROSS: You were in Iraq in early January on a mission that you described asâ¨`humanitarian inspection.' And I'm wondering if you saw anything there thatâ¨you didn't expect to see.â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: I didn't expect to see mothers huddled with their children next toâ¨incubators that were broken in the hospital. I didn't expect to see Bishopâ¨Mel Talbert of the United Methodist Church at a Chaldean Catholic Church onâ¨New Year's Eve bringing in the new year by singing "We Shall Overcome" andâ¨having the congregation respond. I was impressed with the Muslim andâ¨Christian people who, together, felt they could live in peace with each other.â¨And I was very much moved by the fact that Baghdad is the size of Paris, andâ¨if we do go to war, there are going to be deaths, thousands and thousands ofâ¨deaths; not just of our military people, but those very beautiful faces thatâ¨we saw on the children that we met at the schools and hospitals and churchesâ¨who are going to be bombed.â¨â¨GROSS: Bob Edgar, you're the head of the National Council of Churches, and soâ¨you're head of a group of religious people. President Bush is a religiousâ¨person, and he completely disagrees with your point of view on Iraq. Theâ¨terrorists who struck us on September 11th, they were pious people. You mightâ¨disagree with their interpretation of Islam, but they professed to have deepâ¨faith. So people on all sides of this right now profess deep faith aboutâ¨religion. I'm not sure what my question is, but I'm sure this is somethingâ¨you've been thinking about a lot.â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: Well, let me say two things. One is I think all of us sufferâ¨from our fundamentalists, whether our fundamentalists are Muslim or Christianâ¨or Jewish. We're living in a world of violence because our fundamentalistsâ¨have said and acted in violent ways. Most of the majorâ¨religions--particularly Islam, Christianity and Judaism--grow out of the rootsâ¨of Abraham. Abraham is the father of all three traditions. And I think it'sâ¨important for those of us who find ourself with moderate and progressive viewsâ¨within the broader religious community to both speak publicly and privatelyâ¨with each other and find those common areas of peace and justice. Islam,â¨Christianity and Judaism all lift high the value of peacemaking, love of theâ¨planet, care of our brothers and sisters and particularly care of ourâ¨children. And I think that it's incumbent, particularly here in the Unitedâ¨States, for Christians, Jews and Muslims to model different behavior. If weâ¨allow our world to be propelled into moving to the direction of ourâ¨fundamentalists, we're going to find ourself in a very violent century and inâ¨a very religious confrontation that all of us will be losers because of that.â¨â¨GROSS: Well, Bob Edgar, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.â¨â¨Mr. EDGAR: It's great to be with you, and I look forward to talking to you inâ¨the future.â¨â¨GROSS: Bob Edgar is the general secretary of the National Council ofâ¨Churches, and co-chair of the new coalition Win Without War.â¨â¨(Credits)â¨â¨GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.