Archive for September, 2005

September 25, 2006 Mr. Galloway Came to Washington

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

September 25, 2006 Mr. Galloway Came to WashingtonTodd Chretien“Our two nations are the biggest rogue states on the planet. We have a responsibility to bring the anti-war movements of our respective people’s together. We in Britain want to have a special relationship with the United States. We just want it to be based on peace instead of the colonial policies of Bush and Blair.” That’s how George Galloway ended his speech to over 200,000 people in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, September 24. He spoke at 12:30 p.m. and his remarks were widely reported. Just before he went on stage, he met Cindy Sheehan and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr. backstage. The three joined arms and photographers snapped into action (if any of you reading this are one of those photographers, please contact me!)Once again, getting there was a wild ride. Friday night, after meeting with some folks you would recognize from the tinsel town, we rushed (that is probably not the right word) through LA traffic for a couple hours to get to the HBO Real Time with Bill Maher studio. Apparently, Hitchens enjoyed his drubbing in New York so much that he begged for a repeat on live TV. He got it. Mr. Galloway really didn’t have to do much, in fact. He calmly stated his case for getting the U.S. out of Iraq and ending the American blank check policies of support for Israel against the Palestinian people. Hitchens stammered for a while and then made an amazing argument: Islam is not only the most dangerous opponent facing America today, but it has been for more than two hundred years, from the days when the Founding Fathers launched the U.S. Navy’s first overseas assault on the barbary pirates from Tripoli. A generous interpretation of Hitchens historical revisionism is that he was simply trying to plug his new book on Thomas Jefferson. I’d advise taking Abbie Hoffman’s advice when it comes to getting a copy of this one.Straight from the studio we raced to the airport to catch an 11:25 p.m. United red-eye, and along the way we realized that The New Press traveling media guru Ina Howard didn’t have a ticket for the flight. Somehow we squeezed her into the last seat on the plane and we were off. After a couple hours of sleep, we caught a cab to the protest. Along the way, Elias Rashmawi from the National Council of Arab Americans called me a few times begging us to hurry up as they were saving a prime time spot for George. “You must be here by 12:10. Promise me!” I said that was no problem as we were only a few minutes away, which was a little lie I told so that brother Rashmawi would not have to worry about how far away we actually were. My actual estimate was that we’d be at least 30 minutes late. Out of the cab, and then a 20 minute run through a sea of protesters. To paraphrase the song, “McKay to the left of him, Shawki to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” We formed a kind of wedge and parted the waters shouting, “Excuse us! Speaker needs to get to the stage!” Everyone was very accommodating, and by some miracle we arrived at the backstage hive at 12:10 on the dot.After Mr. Galloway spoke, he went straight to a 10 minute live broadcast on Pacifica Radio, which reached hundreds of thousands more. Then he was mobbed by the media for the next hour or so. Eric Ruder from the ISR editorial board snapped a picture I can’t wait to see: Mr. Galloway posing with the White House just over his shoulder. I think that will be one for the history books. We were starting to relax a bit, shaking hands and chatting with Amy Goodman, Medea Benjamin, Michel Shehadeh, Jim Hightower, Rev. Hagler, and many other folks who make up the heart of the anti-war movement. Then the word came that we had to get Mr. Galloway to the head of the march to stand with the lead banner. Off we went. Another 20 minute run through the crowd searching for the front. But it was simply so big that we could never find it. Many people couldn’t hear the sound stage, so they just started marching, and others followed along. Soon, there were tens of thousands of people making their own routes and crisscrossing all over DC. What a day!The final tour event took place that night at the First Congregational Church at 945 G Street. The church officer said, “oh you’ll never fill it up, no one does.” By the time Mr. Galloway went on stage, there was standing room only. We did manage to lean on some comrades to give up there seats for a few unexpected guests. Ralph Nader arrived wearing a baseball hat and sat unassumingly in the back row with Kevin Zeese, Nader’s 2004 campaign spokesman and current Green Party candidate for Senate in Maryland. I said hello to them and brought them backstage to meet Mr. Galloway. In the meantime, Dennis Brutus, the great South African poet who spent time in jail with Nelson Mandela arrived and joined the rest backstage.After a long, hot day, the panel speakers all more or less kept to their time and delivered wonderful opening remarks. Rose Gentle came from Scotland to say that the next time she sees Tony Blair she wants it to be in court for the death of her son in Iraq. Mounzer Sleiman and Elias Rashmawi spoke about the importance of integrating the Arab and Muslim community into the anti-war movement as equal partners. Camilo Mejia, an American soldier with the heart of a poet who refused to go to Iraq and went to jail instead, argued that it was the duty of the anti-war movement to stand up for the rights of the Iraqis to resist the occupation. Ahmed Shawki introduced Galloway saying, “If it took a lot to get the U.S. out of Vietnam, imagine how much it will take to get them out of Iraq which sits a lake of oil.” Mr. Galloway took the stage to, of course, a standing ovation. By the end of the book signing that night, we sold more than 1,000 copies of the book while on tour, which was attended by more than 7,000 people, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more who read, heard or saw him in the media maelstrom.A short paragraph of thanks in no particular order: Ron McKay, a real international soldier in the fight for justice; Ina Howard, who knows every single person in the United States; Ellen and Colin, the heart and soul of The New Press; the local tour organizers Jen Roesch, Alpana Mehta, Chris Dols, Adam Turl, Vicky Jambor, Sue Sandlin, Danielle Heck, Mike Stark and Ben Dalby; Anthony Arnove, our connection to the stars; Eric Ruder and Josh On for graphics and more graphics; Sharon Smith, for inspiration as always, and Ahmed Shawki, for his NASCAR skills and calm in the storm—or was it storm in the calm? Charlie Jenks, the mastermind of New England; Lara Kiswani, Mounzer Sleiman and Elias Rashmawi who never rest; and to Sherry Wolf and Ashley Smith, who never let anyone else rest. Apologies to the hundreds of other friends and comrades for which there is not enough space here to name. Each of your efforts made the show possible.So, Mr. Galloway came to Washington. And as he became fond of saying in his best Governator accent, “I’ll be back”Todd Chretien was the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and is a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review.Listen to the Washington, D.C. program and see photos at http://www.traprockpeace.org/george_galloway_dc_92405.html or you may download the audio here (48 kbps mono broadband – 1:35:00 minutes; 37.2 mb). Go to webpage to download low bandwidth version for dialups and 96 kbps version for radio airplay.Copyright Notice: Non-commercial use only; all rights reserved. Radio stations may play audio with notification (not permission) to Charles Jenks – charlesjenks@gmail.com. Any use requires this attribution and notice: “Copyright 2005 Charles Jenks; all rights reserved.” Any request for permission to use commercially must be made to George Galloway.

Tear Gas Smells the Same in Any City: Galloway on the West Coast

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

September 23, 2005
Tear Gas Smells the Same in Any City: Galloway on the West Coast
Todd Chretien
I’ve been very lucky.

I was there during the Battle of Seattle that shut down the WTO meeting in 1999 and put the fight for global justice on the map in the minds millions of students and workers in the United States. The police were overwhelmed by the size of the protest and the direct action tactics. Naturally enough, they decided to lob tear gas indiscriminately. While activists breathed in our share, thousands of tourists, locals and the cops themselves got hit as well. But the main victim of the tear gas turned out to be the WTO itself.

I was there during the Battle of Los Angeles in 2000 at the Democratic National Convention. Rage Against the Machine played Guerrilla Radio to a crowd of 20,000 activists just 100 yards from the Staples Center where Al Gore accepted the Democrat’s nomination for President. Halfway through the song, the LAPD started tear gassing us. We were trapped in a huge parking lot with only a couple small exits, surrounded by chain link fences with barbwire on top. In order to avoid a panic, we organized a march of thousands of people out of the area, five miles across town to the LA county jail where we demanded the release of hundreds of people who had been arrested during the week of protest. It would be a big overstatement to say that the protests sunk Al Gore’s campaign (he didn’t need much help on that score), but the Democrats certainly did lose the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of young people that week.

I was there during the Battle of San Francisco in February 2003, when thousands of people blocked the streets the day after Bush started bombing Baghdad. The police arrested 1,000 people and, for a time, lost control of the west coast’s most important financial center. In the interest of full disclosure, since my daughter was just two months old, I have to admit I steered clear of the street action that day. In retrospect, it may have been naïve to think that we could stop the bipartisan determination to invade Iraq with street protests alone. Inevitably, many of those who protested, even those who were willing to get arrested, were demoralized by the fall of Baghdad.

But, you know what? It turns out that we were 100 percent right. Bush and his Congressional supporters were 100 percent wrong. The effect of the tear gas in San Francisco and the napalm in Baghdad may be too long delayed, but it is having the same impact it had in Seattle and Los Angeles. Rather than deterring, it is rallying thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then millions to action.

The point here is not to reminisce but to remind readers that George Galloway has many more friends in these cities than the elected officials who claim to represent them. In Seattle, 600 filled up Kane Auditorium at the University of Washington (a week before students returned to campus). In San Francisco, more than 1,000 filled out Mission High School. In LA, another 1,000 filled in Immanuel Presbyterian Church. Standing ovations everywhere. If this sounds repetitive, my apologies.

Especially heartening in San Francisco and Los Angeles was the large number of Arab and Muslim people who attended and helped organize the events, thanks to the National Council of Arab Americans and to Mr. Galloway’s reputation amongst those communities. In San Francisco an Iraqi restaurant owner thanked him and an Egyptian cab driver refused to take any money for speeding us from the KGO radio station to City Hall.

At City Hall in San Francisco, Supervisors Chris Daly and Ross Mirkarimi presented Mr. Galloway with a unanimous resolution form the city council welcoming him to the city and praising his work in opposition to the occupation of Iraq. Later that night, Gulf War One conscientious objector and Green Party leader Aimee Allison brought the house down when she called from the stage not for Bush’s impeachment, but his imprisonment.

As the song says, “There’s something happening here.” But, it’s actually pretty clear. As Mr. Galloway always points out, “We who live in the UK and the US have only one question with which to concern ourselves. Are we with the occupiers? Or are with the right of the occupied people to resist and fight for their freedom?” That opinion is growing and we will see it on the streets in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities tomorrow, September 24.

Mr. Galloway will address the mass march in Washington, D.C. on Saturday around noon. No doubt he will make some in the crowd uncomfortable because they believe we have to tailor our message to what is acceptable to Sen. Barbara Boxer so as to not “alienate” the Congressional Democrats who voted FOR the war and FOR the occupation, but are now having second thoughts. But if you do see some chagrined looks when Mr. Galloway is speaking, you will also see the large majority of people there standing and cheering and saying, “Thank god someone is finally speaking the truth, clearly, bravely and directly.”

Later that night, Mr. Galloway will speak at the First Congregational Church in DC. The venue is too small. It will be a hot ticket to get and a hot hall for the meeting. He will share the podium with Iraq veteran and war resister Camilo Mejia; National Council of Arab American leaders Mounzer Sleiman and Elias Rashmawi; Rose Gentle, a British woman who’s son was killed in Iraq; ISR editor Ahmed Shawki; and, assuming she can fight through the rivers of well-wishers and waves of media, Cindy Sheehan. Saturday night will be a fitting and powerful end to a tour that has played a part in girding the confidence, self-respect and determination of the anti-war movement on this side of the Atlantic.

On Sunday, or perhaps after a few days rest, we will have to get back at it and answer these questions: What will it take to get the US and the UK out of Iraq and Afghanistan? What do we have to do to build an anti-war movement that follows the British example of mass participation of and leadership by the Arab and Muslim community? What can we do concretely to strengthen the bond between the American and British anti-war movements? They are big questions, but the answers are too important to defer.

I’ve never written a blog before, but my impression is that the authors are allowed to add personal elements that might not be appropriate for more conventional reporting. Thus, I am going to risk abusing my mandate here.

For my part, I am dedicating this tour to Michal Myers, a teacher, a union activist, a movement leader, a comrade in the struggle for peace and justice. Today I learned that she received some very bad medical news and that, barring a miracle, her time fighting beside us is drawing to a close. There are millions of people just like Michal all over the world who spend every waking moment in the full knowledge of the daily genocide against the poor and oppressed that darkens the spirit of our little planet. She belongs to that conscious part of humanity that has, for hundreds of generations, done its best to improve the odds on the side of justice and humanity against that of greed and selfishness. She is no more or less remarkable than any of these remarkable heroes.

Michal is a bright star in a night sky overflowing with bright stars. The universe dictates that all stars eventually return to their primordial component parts sooner or later. But the sky remains, not unchanging, not static, not rigid, but alive and developing and beautiful. It seems to me that the point of politics is to bring us all one step closer to a day when our children’s greatest worry will be hoping the clouds clear up in the summer sky to reveal the constellations, or a meteor shower, or just the inspiration of a full moon. We have a lot of work to do. But we will win. We will push the wars and the poverty and the racism and oppression into the bitter past of a species that does not have to be divided into haves and have nots. No regrets. My only hope is that Michal, and the millions of others just like her from every nation on earth, know how much we appreciate them, how much we love them, how much we will miss them, and how proudly we will carry them with us in the battles ahead.

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review

George Galloway Brings Chicago to its Feet

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

http://www.traprockpeace.org/galloway_chi_091905.html

George Galloway electrified and tickled the funny bone of 600 in Chicago, who gave standing ovations at the beginning and end of a remarkable program held at the Northwestern University Law School on September 19th.

Loretta Capeheart, Ph.D., introduced the speakers and served as moderator. Preceding Mr. Galloway were Bill Davis, Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Ahmed Shawki, Editor of International Socialist Review and a board member of the National Council of Arab Americans; and Sabah Khan, a student and member of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) chapter at University of Illinois at Chicago. CAN collected donations for hurricane relief that a group of students is taking to the Gulf States.

Galloway’s message was sobering, but he managed to come back to humor, keeping the crowd in stitches:

Galloway on Bush: “I don’t believe that Mr. Bush is a Christian. Christians believe in the prophets, peace be upon them. Bush believes in profits and how to get a piece of them.”

As Todd Chretien, tour organizer, put it: “But as funny as it was, the comedy was only a means to an end for Mr. Galloway. Both the Madison and Chicago speeches aimed at the serious business of convincing his American audience that our government’s policies have caused unimaginable pain in the real lives of tens of millions of Muslims and Arabs all around the world.”

Galloway on the double-standard:

“We have to face the fact that for the powerful people who rule the world, the blood of some people is more valuable than the blood of others….And though this self-evident truth may not be burned on the minds of the majority of our countrymen, believe me there is not a Muslim in the whole world that does not know the double standard that we have on this subject.”

You may download and replay:

George Galloway’s Talk
MP3 – 57:13 minutes – 19.7 mb – 48 kbps mono

George Galloway’s Questions and Answers
MP3 – 19:00 minutes – 6.6 mb – 48 kbps mono

Introductory presentations –
Bill Davis, Ahmed Shawki, Sabah Khan, Loretta Capeheart (moderator)
MP3 – 31:21 minutes – 10.8 mb – 48 kbps mono

To download audio and see photos, visit http://www.traprockpeace.org/galloway_chi_091905.html

You may download and air the audio for non-commercial use. Radio airplay is encouraged with attribution and prior notification only requested; email charles@mtdata.com

We ask for prior notification so we may measure the reach of these programs. We do not require permission for non-commercial use. We do require that websites link to the audio rather than post, except as necessary for radio replay, and give the copyright notice provided on the website above. Any commercial use requires the permission of George Galloway.

Mid-West Welcomes Galloway

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

September 20, 2005
Mid-West Welcomes Galloway
Todd Chretien
Over 1,000 people filled the Wisconsin Union Theatre on Sunday night and more 600 came to Northwestern Law School’s Thorne Auditorium to hear George Galloway on Monday night, making it one of the largest left-wing political meetings in years in Chicago.

We were greeted in Madison by a motley crew of 25 College Republicans, which Mr. Galloway referred to as a “mass demonstration of neo-cons.” At least they were good for a laugh.

“We’re out here with the College Republicans, making sure that people know this campus supports the troops,” UW- Madison senior Robert Thelen to Elizabeth Wachowski from the Wisconsin State Journal. “We will support the troops whether they come home tomorrow, in a year or in 10 years.”

I’m sure the troops will be happy to hear that their non-enlisted friends will “support” them in Iraq for the next decade. As Mr. Galloway said of Hitchens, “people like that are willing to fight to the last drop of other people’s blood.”

In Chicago, the expert technicians at Thorne hooked Mr. Galloway up to a wireless microphone, giving him the freedom to roam around the stage, inspiring a stand-up comic streak. The audience was in stitches half the time as Mr. Galloway put his collection of one-liners and witty stories, honed through thirty years of parliamentary duels, to good use.

Here’s my favorite,

“I don’t believe that Mr. Bush is a Christian. Christians believe in the prophets, peace be upon them. Bush believes in profits and how to get a piece of them.”

That brought the house down.

But as funny as it was, the comedy was only a means to an end for Mr. Galloway. Both the Madison and Chicago speeches aimed at the serious business of convincing his American audience that our government’s policies have caused unimaginable pain in the real lives of tens of millions of Muslims and Arabs all around the world.

Even most anti-war activists underestimate this. Mr. Galloway illustrated this by pointing out that Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, had recently been welcomed to New York City, only days after the anniversary of the massacre of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Southern Lebanon more than two decades earlier. He asked the audience in both Madison and Chicago how many of them marked the massacre’s anniversary, and while many people were very much aware of it once it was mentioned, only a very few had recalled it before hand. Mr. Galloway acknowledged this and then explained that, in the Arab and Muslim world, most people remember the day every year and remain in a permanent state of shock that Bush could call Sharon, the Israeli general who oversaw the massacre, a “man of peace.” Sharon himself, Galloway noted, does not consider himself a man of peace.

This gap between the fuzzy consciousness on the part of the American anti-war movement of the crimes inflicted on the Arab and Muslim world by the US and the UK and the acute knowledge on the part of the victims of those crimes must be overcome.

Of course, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t see it that way. But he was gracious enough to invite Mr. Galloway on his show. O’Reilly, the loudest barking dog at Fox News, played possum, eschewing his normal “shut up” routine, perhaps because he was afraid he’d more than meet his match in a real mano-a-mano. Instead, he said, “I have seven questions for you.” Of course the first one was, “why are you such an ardent supporter of Saddam Hussein?” Not exactly original, but at least it shows that someone is reading Greg Palast’s blog. Mr. Galloway had no difficulty at all in knocking O’Reilly shabby pitching performance out of the park. So, despite everything he’s done to the contrary, we should all thank O’Reilly for giving several million people the chance to hear a few actually “fair and balanced” ideas, at least for seven minutes.

Now, we’re on to walk the streets where the “Battle of Seattle” took place six years ago (I can still recall the distinctive odor of the tear gas mixing with the fresh Seattle air). Although the global justice movement is much stronger around the world today than in the city that popularized it, the fight continues. Thousands of Boeing workers have been on strike for weeks, desperately trying to defend thousands of jobs from the corporate axes. Mr. Galloway will be joined on the podium by one of them. You should join him in the audience. Come on down to the University of Washington-Seattle’s Kane Auditorium tonight at 7pm. Tickets will be available at the door, but they’re going fast.

Complete details available at www.MrGallowayGoesToWashington.com

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review.

1300 Cheer Galloway in Toronto

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

1300 Cheer Galloway in Toronto

Todd Chretien, 9/17/05

George Galloway has only recently become a widely recognized name amongst American anti-war activists, but he has earned a reputation as a determined advocate for Arab and Muslim rights, especially amongst people living in Europe or the US who are victims of racist discrimination. After a long day of TV and radio interviews on Thursday, we went out to dinner on East 6th Street in Manhattan’s East Village at Panna restaurant (the best, in my opinion, Indian restaurant on a street packed with wonderful Indian restaurants). George recognized the owner’s Bangladeshi accent and asked him what village he was from (there are 50 or 60,000 Bangladeshi residents in Galloway’s district in East London). The owner replied, and George mentioned that he had been there earlier in the year giving a speech. The owner asked “what’s your name?” When George told him, the owner’s face lit up, “You are George Galloway? What an honor to meet you! Many of the people on this street are from Bangladesh and they will be proud to know that you came to eat here.”

Last night Mr. Galloway spoke to 1300 people at Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto and tonight will address a crowd of 3,000 at the conference of the Canadian Muslim Association and the Islamic Circle of North America. James Clarke from the Toronto Stop the War Coalition called to say the event has really stirred up debate.

Canada’s largest daily paper, the Toronto Star, reported:

‘Canada needs to stop fooling itself and pretending that it’s not involved in the “illegal” war on Iraq, British MP George Galloway told a boisterous crowd gathered last night to hear him speak at the University of Toronto.

“There is a certain myopia in countries like Canada about the way in which they are perceived by the victims of this so-called war on terror,” said Galloway, an internationally renowned speaker and firebrand who’s also a leading figure of the peace movement.

“You can’t send 1,000 Canadian soldiers to join Bush’s coalition of the killing and occupy the people of Afghanistan and claim to be neutral,” the maverick politician told more than 1,000 people at Convocation Hall.

Galloway’s speech was jointly organized by the university’s undergraduate student union and the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War. Many in the crowd, which included NDP Leader Howard Hampton and City Councillor Olivia Chow, cheered when he criticized American foreign policy. But there were a few who jeered when he said the attack on the World Trade Center emerged out of “injustice” created by the Western world.

Galloway was kicked out of the Labour Party in October 2003 for his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq. But in May 2005 he was re-elected to Parliament as the first MP for the newly-formed anti-war party called Respect The Unity Coalition, defeating the pro-war Labour incumbent.
Not a bad report from Canada’s version of the New York Times.

Tomorrow, Sunday, Mr. Galloway will fly in for a speech at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Tickets are going fast. The unfortunate news for the day is that, due to medical complications from a recent surgery, Jane Fonda is under doctor’s orders not to fly, so she won’t be able to come to Madison and Chicago.

But on the good news side, legendary working class hero Studs Terkel will be sitting down with Mr. Galloway for an interview with him to be aired on radio in the near future. At 93-years-old, Studs recently became the oldest person in history to have major heart surgery. The doctors are amazed at how quickly he’s bouncing back. For his part, Studs reports that he “feels like he’s 90 again!”

In other tour news, San Francisco City Supervisor Chris Daly plans on presenting Mr. Galloway with a commendation for his tireless opposition to the war and occupation in Iraq. The presentation will take place at a press conference on Wednesday, September 21 on the steps of City Hall hosted by Green Party Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi to publicize Mr. Galloway_s speech that night at Mission High School, as well as the September 24 mass march in San Francisco.

Tonight, don’t forget to tune into watch the debate with Christopher Hitchens on C-SPAN Book TV at 9pm EST.

C-SPAN details, ticket info for Madison, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. are all available at www.MrGallowayGoesToWashington.com

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review.

C-SPAN, Scribblers and My Mother

Friday, September 16th, 2005

C-SPAN, Scribblers and My Mother

First the good stuff.

Hundreds of thousands of people will be able to watch the debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens on CSPAN this weekend.

Now the annoying stuff.

A gaggle of supposedly liberal journalists are doing their best slander the Galloway tour. Try to match the following quotations with the following writers.

A. “Friends and comrades, this is not about George Galloway. He’s just another self-promoting fart. Six months from now, even his smell will be gone.”

B. “George Galloway defiled Faneuil Hall by bouncing a torrent of ant-U.S., anti-West, pro-Islamist invective off its hallowed walls. Galloway left the stage to a long standing ovation. Since he clearly sides with the suicide bombers, the beheaders ad the other psychopaths that murder civilians in Iraq and elsewhere, a wave of horror washed over me when I realized that the people in the generally well-dressed, well-educated crowd cheering Galloway were, in essence, cheering for their own deaths.”

C. “British M.P. George Galloway… has just begun an ‘anti-war’ speaking tour of the U.S… I put ‘anti-war’ in quotes because Mr. Galloway isn’t really opposed to the war in Iraq. He simply supports another side. Apart from being a shill for Saddam (and for Stalin) Mr. Galloway is also a sleazy and corrupt dandy… MR. GALLOWAY, PLEASE GO HOME.” (The ALL CAPS are in the original.)

Rocco DiPippo, a contributor to extreme right-wing agitator David Horowitz’s Moonbat Central group blog.
Marc Cooper, liberal columnist for the LA Weekly.
Greg Palast, respected professional journalist who exposed the 2000 election fraud in Florida and self-described opponent of the Bush administration.

If you matched DiPippo with B, Cooper with C, and Palast with A, you win the prize.

It’s worth holding your nose and reading these rants, because they do a marvelous job of illustrating the diminishing distance between the pro-Kerry section of the Democratic Party and their “opponents” on the Republican side of the aisle. They both want to “win” the “war on terror,” they simply differ over the means. As US public opinion turns sharply against the war, these tactical differences within the pro-war camp (Bush on one side, Kerry and his scribblers on the other) are harder to explain, or even to see, as they become more disassociated from mainstream opinion.

Most people in the country now are beside themselves with anger at the racist massacre by neglect in New Orleans, and have arrived at the common sense conclusion that the US is doing more harm than good in Iraq. That is why it is Galloway, and not Palast or Cooper (of course, no one expects any help from DiPippo), who is helping energize and organize the anti-war movement in the run up to the massive protests on September 24.

There is one thing that Cooper says that is true. He says that Galloway supports the right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation. Galloway fully acknowledges this, and proudly.
Palast, on the other hand, has lost all touch with reality and actually argues that the Saddam Hussein’s “killing spree easily exceeds theirs (the Senators).” This clever play on words will not be at all funny to the families of the one million Iraqis, mostly children, who were starved to death by the US imposed sanctions, the hundreds of thousands who died during the first Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the hundred thousand more who have died as a consequence of the second Bush’s invasion.

Yes, Saddam was a brutal dictator. But to argue, as Palast does with his comparison of the Senate and the dictator, that he was a greater danger to world peace than the most powerful empire the world has ever seen, signals the start of Palast’s drift into the currents that washed Christopher Hitchens out to sea.

Cooper goes further, calling for people to “show… up to one of the Galloway events to let him know… that apologists for murderers are not welcome amongst us.” If I remember correctly, Cooper encouraged people to not only “welcome” an actual, self-described war criminal “amongst us,” but to vote for him last November. The worst part is that Cooper doesn’t even realize he is a hypocrite, but self-delusion doesn’t change reality… at least not for the rest of us.

Cooper and DiPippo and Hitchens and Palast aside, the tour continues.

Galloway is in Toronto tonight, speaking to 1500 anti-war activists. Then he will come back south of the border to complete a great arc around the country, organizing thousands to help build the protests for September 24 and to gather aid for victims of hurricane Katrina and the system’s racism.

Reading the scribblers, I worried, for a moment, that maybe they would discourage people from getting involved in the movement to end the war.
But then I received the following email from my mother:

“I have just spent the last hour and a half watching the video of the debate. Please tell Mr. Galloway that we are so proud to have him here, speaking the truth so clearly to the American people. His clarity spoke volumes against the wandering words of Mr. Hitchens. The ending, especially, of the debate, was amazing to watch, as Mr. Hitchens disintegrated into a small, mumbling man, while Mr. Galloway rose to tower over him with the strength and clarity that truth brings to argument.”
My bet is that many more people agree with her than all the aforementioned columnists combined.

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review.

To get tickets for the remaining Galloway stops, or to get info about
how to watch the debate with Hitchens online or on CSPAN, go to
MrGallowayGoestoWashington.com

The Grapple in the Apple: Galloway Takes a Bite Out of Hitchens

Friday, September 16th, 2005

The Grapple in the Apple: Galloway Takes a Bite Out of Hitchens

September 15, 2005
Todd Chretien

It was a hard ticket to get. A reporter for GQ magazine called asking if he could get a press pass to just stand in the back. He didn’t get in. But the New York Post, The Economist, the BBC, the London Times, the Guardian and dozens of independent media did get in, so hundreds of thousands of people will know what went down. The debate was the largest ever audience for live webstream, hosted by Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org).

It wasn’t that easy to get Mr. Galloway himself to the debate. We almost missed our 6:55am flight out of Boston because, for some strange reason, we were all flagged for “extra security” and spent 15 minutes being poked and prodded by TSA guards. We arrived at JFK airport and spent the next 90 minutes in traffic, which has been gridlocked all week because President Bush is in town addressing the UN assembly. Although the most powerful government in the history of the world was unable to get helicopters into New Orleans to help the sick, the poor, and the elderly evacuate, the secret service did manage pour thousands of agents into mid-town Manhattan and coordinate hundreds limousines converging on the UN.

Ina Howard, the unstoppable publicist for The New Press, spent the entire afternoon trying to tame the whirlwind of media around Mr. Galloway, delicately balancing the competing priorities of maximum press exposure and the preservation of his vocal chords.

One hundred volunteers and the wonderful staff at the Baruch Performing worked feverously for four hours to get the hall wired and ready for the showdown. When we finally opened the doors, the line to get in snaked around the block in both directions. Despite the fact that we had to make them stand in the heat and humidity to get them though the metal detectors that our insurance policy required, the vast majority of the crowd was good-natured, patient and helpful.

However, there were a noticeable number of belligerent patrons, most of them white men, quite a few of them smelling of happy hour. I had assumed that only a few of Hitchens fans would attend, so I didn’t necessarily put two-and-two together at the time.

At 7:30, (yes we did start 30 minutes late) Jen Roesch, the organizational mastermind of the New York operation, mounted the stage to welcome the moderator, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, and announce the imminent arrival of the evening’s protagonists. As Hitchens and Galloway emerged from the wings, the crowd applauded for their favorites. Much to my surprise, almost one-third of the audience was boisterously on the side of the polemicist from Vanity Fair.

I won’t even try to reproduce the heat and the light generated by the verbal jousting that carried on for the next two hours. You can watch it yourself on CPSAN or on the internet. All the details are available at < a href="http://www.MrGallowayGoestoWashington.com" target="_blank">www.MrGallowayGoesToWashington.com

But here’s just a bit to tantalize.

Hitchens opened the debate by declaring the invasion and occupation of Iraq a “noble” effort and launched into a personal attack on Galloway, calling his testimony in front of the US Senate a “disgrace.” His partisans in the audience hooted and yelled their approval. Watching them stamp their feet and howl, it dawned on me that my assumptions about Hitchens’ fans were all wrong.

Rather than the declining ex-liberals, grown comfortable on the fat of successful careers and embarrassed by a flirtation with a few radical principles in their long past youth, that I had imagined, they were almost all white men in their 20’s or 30’s. Most of them were much better dressed than Hitchens himself, and they unapologetically reveled in Hitchens sexual and sexist innuendo. Amazingly, the loudest response Hitchens elicited from his side was when he denounced the idea that racism stood at the heart of Bush and the government’s pathetic response to the disaster in New Orleans. His boys loved that.

Galloway, gave it as good as he got it. ”Hitchens, you have completed a metamorphosis from a butterfly into a slug, reversing the processes of nature.”

It got more bitter from there. But at base, this debate was about two questions: whether or not we should bring the troops home now and whether you stood on the side of empire or resistance. Mr. Galloway’s one word answer to the question of pulling US and British troops out was, “yes.” Hitchens, although it took him about 500 words, replied ”no.” As for empire, Hitchens waxed poetic about the great humanitarian adventure the 82nd Airborne is
embarked upon in Sadr City. Galloway, replied by wondering “Why Hitchens did you support the Vietnamese resistance with all your heart then, but now you support those with the “Tomahawk missiles and Apache helicopters.”

And that is the debate that Mr. Galloway is bringing across the country in the run up to the massive September 24 protests. Do yourself a favor and watch the debate on CSPAN this weekend or on the web at Democracy Now! And then, if you are within 200 miles of Toronto, Madison, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., get yourself a ticket and get down to hear Mr. Galloway.

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review.

Galloway Does Boston Proud

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Galloway Does Boston Proud 9/14/05 Todd Chretien

To hear George Galloway’s talk,follow this link.

Click this link to see the PhotoAlbum of George Galloway’s tour stop at Boston’s Faneuil Hall on September 13, 2005.

“We who live in the United States or Britain, only have to answer one question, do we stand with the occupier, or with those who are resisting colonial occupation.”

“The swamp of hatred that our policies have created in the Muslim world nourish the mutation of hatred that believes killing innocent people in New York or London is somehow a blow against those responsible in our countries for those policies. All we have done be invading and occupying Iraq is increase the number of people who hate us and the intensity with which they hate us.”

“The US and Britain’s unquestioning support for the State of Israel is the flaw that lies at the heart of the West’s attitude toward the Muslim world.”

Standing ovation from 400 people.

George Galloway did historic Faneuil Hall proud last night. Despite a complete boycott by the mainstream media, the boisterous crowd cheered the MP who took a stand against the hawks in the Senate. They rose to their feet and pledged to work for the next two weeks to mobilize for the September 24 national anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. to show Bush that his is in an ever-shrinking minority of American opinion that believes the war is just.

In a small gesture of respect that very few people could see because of the position of the stage, he touched his fingers to his lips and gently laid a kiss on the bust of Fredrick Douglass that adorns the stage. Galloway then strode to the podium and announced that he stands proudly in the tradition of an English MP named Fox who was twice expelled from parliament: the first time for supporting the American Revolution; the second time for submitting a resolution (“perhaps it was a bit provocatively phrased”) congratulating the French people on the separation of their king from his crowned head.

Before Mr. Galloway mounted the platform, meeting chair Annie Zirin kicked off the night saying, “we need to make a change to a system that can put 250,000 troops in the Middle East, but cannot evacuate the sick, the elderly and the poor from New Orleans.” She then introduced Eriko Nagai from the Northeastern University chapter of the Campus Anti-War Network who announced that CAN was sending a bus with volunteers, supplies and money to New Orleans and asked the crowed to contribute.

Boston City Councilman Chuck Turner called on the crowd to speak and act in order to challenge the sick priorities of the system that found money for war but not education. Prof. William Keach, spoke powerfully to need to challenge not only the war criminals in the Oval Office, but the pro-war Democrats who made the invasion possible. Prof. Naseer Aruri, speaking on behalf of the National Council of Arab Americans said that it was not only the duty of the brave parents like Cindy Sheehan who have lost children in the war to stand up, but that it was every person in America’s duty to challenge the dangerous and racist policies guiding its actions today.

Boston was a great first step. Tonight, Galloway takes on ex-leftists, turned character assassin and professional hatchet man Christopher Hitchens in the Baruch Performing Arts Center here in New York City. The grapple in the apple will be a thing to watch and you can!

See it re-broadcast on CSPAN or see it live via webstream.

Watch the Baruch Assault on Hitchens and then get your tickets to see him in person in your city.

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review.

Day 1 (Boston – September 12)

Monday, September 12th, 2005

George Galloway in Boston on Tuesday at Faneuil Hall
Todd Chretien – 9/12/05
Galloway Tour Blog

Faneuil Hall has had its fair share of excitement. Built in 1742 by Peter Faneuil, a rich local merchant, it was gutted by fire in 1761, only to be repaired in the nick of time to kindle the revolutionary flames that burnt the colonial strings tying America to Britain. In 1764, Samuel Adams defied the empire’s local hacks and organized the Sons of Liberty to harass the occupying Redcoats and intimidate the tax collectors. No Taxation Without Representation became the rallying cry that galvanized the people to oppose the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act, which were more or less schemes to offload the price of decades of war for empire onto the locals. While his cousin John Adams led the respectable elements in the boycott of all British goods, Samuel’s shock troops collected the sailors, the apprentices, the ruined farmers, the unemployed, and the laborers to tar-and-feather the King’s men. It was all perfectly illegal, and Faneuil Hall was the hub.

In 1770, British troops shot dead six Bostonians who had spent the afternoon taunting them and pelting them with snowballs, no doubt fortified with rocks. The Boston Massacre polarized the debate within the movement against British oppression between those who counseled moderation and constraint and those who argued for rebellion. Within the Adams’ family, John served as the successful defense lawyer for the troops who carried out the killings, while Samuel organized to strike back. In 1773, liberals in the British government stumbled upon the idea of unloading unsold tea from the Indian sub-continent imperial holdings onto the American colonies. In Boston, Samuel made sure that Tea ended up in the harbor. King George demanded the rebels be hanged by the neck and imposed a blockade on Boston aiming to starve the city into surrender. He proclaimed to the rest of the colonies (to paraphrase a different dynasty of Georges), “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” The majority of the American people took the side of the terrorists, the Sons of Liberty transformed themselves into armed militias, and the revolution was on. If the American Revolution had a church, it was Faneuil Hall.

Making a mockery of the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal,” John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton conspired to oppose Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine’s demands that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” be applied to Black slaves. This unforgivable moral failure condemned tens of millions of African Americans to decades of tyranny much worse than anything ever suffered by the Sons of Liberty. But once again, Faneuil Hall became a center of rebellion, sedition and illegal action, all aimed at overturning the slave power and making American Revolution live up to its own self-satisfying image.

In 1849, an escaped slave named Fredrick Douglass spoke in Faneuil Hall to demand freedom for his people. For the next decade and a half, abolitionist Bostonians, both white and free Black, smuggled escaped slaves to freedom, broke captured slaves free from prisons and defied the federal government to do anything about it. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, thousands of Bostonians volunteered to join the war to free the slaves and the 54th Massachusetts regiment went down in history as a testament to the bravery, discipline and humanity of the Black soldiers who fought for their own freedom.

Today, Faneuil Hall is surrounded on all sides by a tourist-centered, upscale, outdoor mall. The ground floor of the hall is stuffed with trinket shops where you can buy everything from t-shirts with Johnny Damon looking like Jesus Christ to Paul Revere refrigerator magnates to American Flag throw rugs. It is as if the soul of American Revolution and the Abolitionist movement is drowning in a sea of knickknacks. Tipsy businessmen talk too loudly over their three martini lunches and politicians in slick suits, no doubt partly financed by the disaster of the Big Dig, don’t seem to notice the homeless man picking through the garbage or they just don’t care. Just two blocks away, the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans stands as a monument to the betrayal of the ideals that came to life in Faneuil Hall. But, if you walk up one flight of stairs, then you enter a different world. The hall still smells of defiance. If the walls could talk they would complain that they are lonely, they crave inspiration and stand ready and willing to give it. The hall deserves reverence and it needs a work out.

And we’ve got just the man for the job. British MP, George Galloway will be speaking here tomorrow night, September 13 at 6:30pm. In the best Boston tradition, he was expelled from the British Labor Party for taking the side of the colonists against those who rule his motherland. He helped found the RESPECT political party in Britain and sought revenge on Tony Blair by running for and willing a seat in parliament in East London. Like Thomas Paine, he carried his protest against empire from London to America, testifying on May 17 before the US Senate, in no uncertain terms, that they had blood on their hands for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I know it’s September and the Sox are only a few games up on the Yankees, but some things are more important than baseball, even in Boston (and, yes, I grew up in Maine as a Sox fan during the era of Jim Rice, Yaz, and Bill Buckner so I know what I’m talking about). Justice, peace, equality and solidarity are more important. Come out and get involved. Galloway will be joined by Palestinian rights leader Prof. Naseer Aruri, revolutionary literature chronicler Prof. William Keach, civil rights fighter Boston City Councilman Chuck Turner and students from the Campus Anti-War Network who will be accepting donations to send to those in New Orleans victimized by Mother Nature and the Bush Administration in equal measure. Manny will take care of the Yankees. You should be at Faneuil Hall.

Tickets still available at www.ticketweb.com until Noon on Tuesday, 9/13 or for $10 at the door.

Todd Chretien is the Galloway National Tour Coordinator and a frequent contributor to the International Socialist Review, www.isreview.org

National tour schedule, links to purchasing tickets (including on-line) and George Galloway resources