Below an American flag, on the steps of City Hall, British MP George Galloway came to San Francisco. “Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair have led us on a pack of lies down a cliff and we haven’t reached the bottom yet!” His voice was hoarse after speaking from Boston to Canada continuing a call to arms for peace that grabbed American attention this last May 17th in Congress. “Thank God there are courageous politicians like Mr. Galloway,” opened Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. “Unfortunately they are not from America. Our (representatives) do not ask the incisive questions because our (representatives) are deciphering poll numbers. There is no support for this war – it is bullshit!” Still, the outspoken MP has generated plenty of hostility. “Galloway go home and take Jane Fonda with you!” cried an orange shirted spectator.
Americans tuned into airwaves when, during a Senate hearing last May 17th concerning his conduct in the Oil for Food issue, Mr. Galloway sacked justifications for the war in Iraq.
“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.”
A coalition of movements united on the city’s steps. Aimee Allison, Green Party’s Oakland City Council candidate, spoke impassionedly against the war in Iraq. “All you have to do is read the soldiers’ blogs to make the connection that we shouldn’t be there,” she said. Ms Allison earned an honorable discharge as a Conscientious Objector during the first Gulf War. Today, she supports soldiers applying for CO discharges and steers both the College Not Combat Initiative and the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth. “Hurricane Katrina hasn’t channeled the federal budget from Iraq to provide relief (in the U.S.). Instead they are cutting moneys from healthcare and from the basic fundamental fabric of our rights in a democracy.”
Dr Jess Ghannam, of the National Council of Arab Americans, described the war on terrorism as a war on race and freedom of speech. The war “has everything to do with controlling the (Gulf) region and stopping free speech over here.” The NCA was formed as a counterblow to provide Arab Americans with a space to speak openly and progressively. “We have been afraid to speak freely with safety,” he said.
The war in Iraq mobilized strong union opposition. According to Howard Wallace, of San Francisco’s Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the most recent convention voted unanimously to bring the troops back home. “It is unparalleled for the AFL-CIO to come out against war in the midst of shooting.” He said that the current president was one of the most aggressive corporate presidents in history. “Labor is on the defensive because of a huge corporate assault silencing the movement – in this era of deregulation for corporations, labor is heavily regulated.”
“We saw through the lies,” Mr. Galloway railed. “How come we the people saw through these lies and our politicians didn’t? It’s a crime; it’s a sin in any language to . kill innocent people. It’s a crime whether the killer is Saddam Hussein or George Bush or Tony Blair.” He said that the war has caused a collapse in the credibility of Spain, England and the U.S. “No one believes a word they say,” he said. He said that international diplomatic and legal systems have been defaced. “We say the killing has to stop!”
The tour advances to Los Angeles on the 22nd and musters in Washington, D.C. this Saturday, Sep 24th where Mr. Galloway will speak alongside Cindy Sheehan, founder of Camp Casey, Crawford, Texas. A Stop the War protest is organized this Sept. 24th at 11am in Dolores Park.