Letter to the Editor: WE NEED POLITICAL DISCUSSION

The following letter was written by a student activist, a member of the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy (YSDFP).

My experience tells me that for the antiwar movement to advance, the people themselves must take an active role in discussing the politics of the movement. Too often it is taken for granted that "we are all antiwar" and that therefore there is no need to discuss the politics. This is a dangerous assumption, one that lets in opportunists who liquidate our movement and try to pressure us into watering down our demands.

There are too many antiwar events where people have no role to play except to listen to a panel of "experts." At a recent meeting, advertised as an antiwar discussion, the audience had to submit their questions to the panel on note cards, and there was no time for an actual discussion with the audience. I was outraged! The opinions of the audience are just as important as the opinions of the "experts" they are called on to listen to - the audience should be able to make comments and have a real discussion, not just ask questions.

Some political forces try to rule out political discussion by claiming it will "divide" people. But who is it dividing? Real political discussion divides the pro-war from the anti-war. By not allowing political discussion, pro-war people are let in the movement. For example, there was another meeting I went to where we were preparing for an anti-war protest, and no political discussion was taking place. Then when we began writing signs, I said we should say "U.S. Troops Out of Iraq Now!" One person actually said we can't say that because not everybody in the group believes we can withdraw the troops immediately. Someone who had been advertising himself as antiwar said an immediate withdraw would cause chaos. He used racist arguments like "Iraqis will all kill each other if we leave."

To fight this opportunism and pro-war politics, we must get more and more people involved in true political discussion, and make our demands clear: U.S. and all foreign troops out of Iraq now - no ifs, ands or buts!