A STATEMENT OF CONSCIENCE
Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing
when their government declared a war without limit and
instituted stark new measures of repression.
The signers of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to
resist the policies and overall political direction that have
emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave
dangers to the people of the world.
We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine
their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers.
We believe that all persons detained or prosecuted by the United
States government should have the same rights of due process.
We believe that questioning, criticism, and dissent must be
valued and protected. We understand that such rights and values
are always contested and must be fought for.
We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for
what their own governments do -- we must first of all oppose the
injustice that is done in our own name. Thus we call on all
Americans to RESIST the war and repression that has been
loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust,
immoral, and illegitimate. We choose to make common cause
with the people of the world.
We too watched with shock the horrific events of September 11,
2001. We too mourned the thousands of innocent dead and shook
our heads at the terrible scenes of carnage -- even as we
recalled similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City, and, a
generation ago, Vietnam. We too joined the anguished
questioning of millions of Americans who asked why such a thing
But the mourning had barely begun, when the highest leaders of
the land unleashed a spirit of revenge. They put out a simplistic
script of "good vs. evil" that was taken up by a pliant and
intimidated media. They told us that asking why these terrible
events had happened verged on treason. There was to be no
debate. There were by definition no valid political or moral
questions. The only possible answer was to be war abroad and
repression at home.
n our name, the Bush administration, with near unanimity from
Congress, not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself
and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and
anytime. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the
Philippines to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have
left a terrible trail of death and destruction. The government now
openly prepares to wage all-out war on Iraq -- a country which
has no connection to the horror of September 11. What kind of
world will this become if the U.S. government has a blank check
to drop commandos, assassins, and bombs wherever it wants?
In our name, within the U.S., the government has created two
classes of people: those to whom the basic rights of the U.S.
legal system are at least promised, and those who now seem to
have no rights at all. The government rounded up over 1,000
immigrants and detained them in secret and indefinitely.
Hundreds have been deported and hundreds of others still
languish today in prison. This smacks of the infamous
concentration camps for Japanese-Americans in World War 2.
For the first time in decades, immigration procedures single out
certain nationalities for unequal treatment.
In our name, the government has brought down a pall of
repression over society. The President's spokesperson warns
people to "watch what they say." Dissident artists,
intellectuals, and professors find their views distorted, attacked,
and suppressed. The so-called Patriot Act -- along with a host of
similar measures on the state level -- gives police sweeping new
powers of search and seizure, supervised if at all by secret
proceedings before secret courts.
In our name, the executive has steadily usurped the roles and
functions of the other branches of government. Military tribunals
with lax rules of evidence and no right to appeal to the regular
courts are put in place by executive order. Groups are declared
â€úterroristâ€? at the stroke of a presidential pen.
We must take the highest officers of the land seriously when they
talk of a war that will last a generation and when they speak of a
new domestic order. We are confronting a new openly imperial
policy towards the world and a domestic policy that
manufactures and manipulates fear to curtail rights.
There is a deadly trajectory to the events of the past months that
must be seen for what it is and resisted. Too many times in
history people have waited until it was too late to resist.
President Bush has declared: "you're either with us or
against us." Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to
speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right
to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for
a hollow promise of safety. We say NOT IN OUR NAME. We refuse
to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that
they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend
a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies;
we will show our solidarity in word and deed.
We who sign this statement call on all Americans to join together
to rise to this challenge. We applaud and support the questioning
and protest now going on, even as we recognize the need for
much, much more to actually stop this juggernaut. We draw
inspiration from the Israeli reservists who, at great personal risk,
declare â€úthere IS a limitâ€? and refuse to serve in the
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
We also draw on the many examples of resistance and
conscience from the past of the United States: from those who
fought slavery with rebellions and the underground railroad, to
those who defied the Vietnam war by refusing orders, resisting
the draft, and standing in solidarity with resisters.
Let us not allow the watching world today to despair of our
silence and our failure to act. Instead, let the world hear our
pledge: we will resist the machinery of war and repression and
rally others to do everything possible to stop it.
Besides sending this on to everyone you know, here are five other things you can do today:
1) E-mail a letter to the editor to the Times in support of the statement (firstname.lastname@example.org). In order to be printed, the Times requires that you include an address and phone number.
2) Get the statement printed in your local community or campus press . Both the text and NY Times ad itself can be downloaded from the statement web site (www.nion.us). The statement can be published locally using some of the core signers of the statement together with local signers, provided there is no change or abbreviation of the text.
3) Make copies of the NYT ad and get them posted up in your area (or download the pdf file from the web site and print it).
4) Download the audio file of Ossie Davis reading the statement. It is an MP3 file. (PC users should right click on it and choose "save target as") It would be very important for this to be played on community and campus radio stations.
5) If you have not already contributed, send your check to Not In Our
Name,158 Church St., New York, NY 10007. This will make possible the publication
of the statement in more national and international venues. If you would
like your contribution to be tax-deductible, make the check to Bill of
The over 2,000 signers include...
For a complete listing of signers, see: http://www.zmag.org/nion.htm
Contact the Not In Our Name statement at: www.nion.us