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Bill Fletcher Jr. is a labor activist and co-chair of the Black Radical Congress:
There’s a danger that in response to the political right going on the offensive and waving the flag, there will be those who come to believe that any protest or agitation will lead the broad mass of the people to misunderstand our message. That would be a tragic mistake. We need to continue the fight. It‘s a time for profound education, mass profound education. We need to be posing questions, we need to be challenging the juggernaut that’s moving forward. There‘s a lot of good people who are really angry and confused, and we’ve got to talk to them.
They say we‘re all going to have to get used to greater security, but some of us are going to have to get more used to it than others. The points of identification for potential terrorists will be people of color, who could be from the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, the Arab world, North Africa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, the Sudan, and many African-Americans. Many people are going to be under scrutiny, and that’s something that, particularly, white Americans don‘t appreciate.
Jim Hightower is a nationally syndicated columnist and radio commentator:
The fires were still burning when officials were already talking of the need to strike a new balance between personal liberties and internal security, when of course a there can be no internal security without a tenacious defense of those personal liberties. Bush said our nation is being tested, and indeed it is. The test is less military than it is about our democratic will.
Of course we’ve got to take steps, we‘ve got to pursue these guys, and I don’t know what is appropriate. This is not a time when brute force is going to be the answer, and in the zeal to punish we can‘t become the very thing we’re trying to punish. If we on the left or we as a nation allow the conventional wisdom and the powers that be to shut off legitimate protest against a legitimate target, then the terrorists have won.
MarCUS Raskin is a co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-wing think tank, and has written extensively about the national-security state:
If there is something like a declaration of war, what this does is change dissent and difference into conspiracy and sedition in the minds of those who are running the war. We have to make clear that we‘re not standing against the people who died, but are standing with them.
There is a way of making clear that those who did this will be punished, but it’s also got to be clear that the U.S. should look at the way it‘s lived in the world for the last couple generations. If the left begins to take very strong positions on this, people in leadership positions will find themselves in trouble. There’s no question about that. The question is if people will be willing to put themselves at risk in that way.
We have to say that violence is not the way, and we are urging people to step back and try to calm down and not get carried away in blood lust. We are very concerned that George Bush will kill thousands of innocents to avenge the killing of thousands of innocent people, and we are mindful that a military response of that kind will further water the roots for more terrorism. I do believe that whoever did this must be apprehended and prosecuted, but I do not believe we should go to war against an entire nation.
I am very afraid that the terrorists have already won a major victory, and that is that our civil liberties will fall by the wayside. I‘m getting e-mails already saying “fuck you.” One reads, “You leftists will be abolished one way or another soon.” It’s going to be ugly.