Monday, September 19, 2005

George Galloway in Madison (Chad Goldberg)

Chad Alan Goldberg wrote:
I felt compelled to spend a couple of hours today composing this letter to the editor about George Galloway's appearance in Madison. Unbelievable that neither the Capital Times nor the Wisconsin State Journal included any of this in their articles. I hope the letter gets printed.

Chad

Chad Alan Goldberg
Assistant Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin
1180 Observatory Drive
Social Science Building 8116B
Madison, WI 53706
Home page: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~cgoldber/
Democracy, while weapons were everywhere aim'd at your breast, I saw you serenely give birth to immortal children, saw in dreams your dilating form, Saw you with spreading mantle covering the world.

Walt Whitman
--------------------------

[Chad's letter is below. My response:],

Unbelievable ... but, unfortunately, not surprising. I also hope your letter gets printed, because it's right on target.

Frankly, what I find most disgusting is that Galloway openly supports the indiscriminate mass murder of Iraqi civilians by the so-called "insurgents" in Iraq (on the grounds that these civilians are all "collaborators"), and that his explicit and enthusiastic support for the murderers is ignored or whitewashed in almost all the journalistic coverage of Galloway--including the articles to which you responded.

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub

===================
September 19, 2005
To the Editor:

Re: “Anti-war activist fires up crowd” (September 19, 2005)

You note that British MP George Galloway was “ousted from British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor Party because of his outspoken opposition of the Iraq war. He then formed a new party, Respect, and was returned to Parliament.”

In fact, Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party for supporting Saddam Hussein (The Forward, April 29, 2005). He was for many years an open and enthusiastic supporter of Hussein and his Baathist dictatorship, not just an opponent of military action against them. Unlike other members of the Labour Party who opposed the Iraq war, Galloway publicly called for British troops to disobey orders and for other Middle Eastern countries to join the fight against them. Now Galloway’s Respect party openly and explicitly supports the fascists and theocrats who make up the “Iraqi resistance,” despite the terrorist murders of Iraqi and foreign civilians they continue to perpetrate. Following the recent terrorist bombings in London, Galloway recommended that the British government respond by capitulating to the terrorists’ demands and abandoning the Iraqi democrats and women’s rights advocates who are struggling against all odds to build a free, pluralist, and democratic Iraq.

Finally, it is worth noting that Galloway’s Respect party does not merely oppose Israeli policies, but openly and explicitly opposes Zionism as a political movement. While advocating “national self-determination” for Iraqis, Palestinians, Kurds and Kashmiris, the Respect party pointedly declines to support national self-determination for Jews. Galloway and his party have also advocated collective punishment of Israeli citizens (Arab as well as Jewish) by calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and services, of tourism to Israel, and of academic, sporting and cultural links with Israeli bodies. At times, this animus against Israel has shaded into outright anti-Semitism. After Galloway won his seat in parliament by unseating Oona King, a black-Jewish member of the Labour Party and a critic of Israeli policy, King revealed to the Evening Standard: “I have been told by several people that members of Respect have told them not to vote for me because I am Jewish” (The Forward, July 1, 2005).

Madison’s antiwar left is mistaken if it thinks Galloway is a kindred spirit. Galloway is no leftist. If anything, his words and deeds constitute a betrayal of the left’s most cherished values.

Sincerely,
Chad Alan Goldberg

=========================

The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
Monday, September 19, 2005

Anti-war Activist Fires Up Crowd
Fonda A No-show But Brit Doesn't Disappoint

The Capital Times :: FRONT :: 1A
Monday, September 19, 2005
By Samara Kalk Derby The Capital Times

"Hanoi" Jane Fonda may have helped British Member of Parliament George Galloway fill the Wisconsin Union Theater Sunday night, but it was Galloway who kept a crowd of about 1,000 in their seats -- and on their feet.
The actress, who was scheduled to introduce Galloway, was a no-show. Instead, she sent word that she was recovering from hip surgery.

"I do intend to speak out about Iraq," Fonda said in a statement. "Those of us who were opposed to the Vietnam War were right. And those who oppose the Iraq war are right."

She also put in a pitch for audience members to travel to Washington, D.C., for an anti-war protest Saturday.

Galloway -- who along with grieving-mother-turned-activist Cindy Sheehan is scheduled to speak Saturday -- has been calling for U.S. troops to pull out of Iraq.

Early in his 75-minute lecture, Galloway referenced the two dozen or so college students and others protesting his speech in front of the Memorial Union, many holding signs in support of U.S. troops.

One protester wore a T-shirt that read, "We love our troops," Galloway said.

"Well, we love them, too. We love them so much, we don't want them either killing or being killed anymore in Iraq as a result of these liars in the White House and in No. 10 Downing Street," Galloway said.

Many soldiers join the armed forces because of the bleak job prospects in the post-industrialized United States and Britain, Galloway said.

"It's because we don't hate our armed forces that we say it's time to bring them home from these occupations," he said.

Galloway was ousted from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party because of his outspoken opposition of the Iraq war. He then formed a new party, Respect, and was returned to Parliament.

He became a player in the American anti-war movement after appearing before a U.S. Senate sub-committee in May to defend a report accusing him of benefiting from the united nations oil-for-Food program.

During the hearing, Galloway condemned the war in Iraq and the Bush administration and subsequently wrote the book, "Mr. Galloway Goes To Washington: The Brit Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq."

His current tour, which he calls, "Stand Up and Be Counted: No To War and Occupation 2005," is in support of the book. In Madison he nearly filled the Union Theater at $20 a pop, with students paying half price.

While the protesters didn't come into the theater, Galloway did have to contend with a heckler in a camouflage shirt who continually disrupted his speech. At one point Galloway chided his detractor as not being a student of British Parliament.

"I'm an expert at dealing with hecklers, so keep it coming," Galloway joked.

Galloway acknowledged that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were monstrous, criminal acts of mass murder, but called it naive for Americans to believe that the attacks came out of the clear blue sky.

"They emerged from a swamp of hatred and bitterness and enmity against us in the Muslim world as a result of the injustice upon injustice visited by your country and mine against Muslims all over the world," he said.

He pointed out that the killing of innocent people in Baghdad, Fallujah or Afghanistan is as reprehensible as the killing of innocent people on Sept. 11 or in the London bombings of July 7.

Galloway got one of the loudest reactions when he defended himself against the charge that he is on the side of Osama Bin Laden.

Galloway said he despised it when the U.S. and British governments were giving him guns and money and diplomatic and political support to invade Afghanistan and to occupy the land.

[JW: Part of the reason, of course, was that Galloway supported the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and turned millions of them into refugees. This is not entirely surprising, since he has often expressed his admiration for Stalin and has said that the end of the Soviet Union was the saddest day of his life. --JW]

"Don't try to hang Osama Bin Laden around my neck. He was your creation. He was the creation of the neo-cons and the American and British political establishment," he claimed. Galloway charged that the crisis between the East and West, the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world, is fueled by 50 years of injustice toward the Palestinian people, supported and financed by the United States.

If this point is not grasped soon, he added, it will continue to take the West further into the current cycle of violence, terror and counter-terror, he said.

In his closing remarks, Galloway noted Iraq's rich history: It was where the alphabet was first written, where the number zero was invented, where paper was first used to communicate, and where agriculture started.

"Iraq is perfectly capable of working out how to govern itself," he said.

Then he warned that the U.S. and its British allies are in the process of setting the entire Muslim world ablaze.

"If we stay there and the current trajectory in Iraq continues, you will have a Yugoslavia-style war on top of the biggest oil field in the world," Galloway said.

"And you are worried about oil at $70 a barrel? You won't be able to buy a barrel of oil at any price if that Yugoslav-style war begins" in Iraq, he said.

If civil war begins in Iraq, neighboring countries will be drawn in: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, as well as Sunnis and Shiites from all over the Arab world, he said.

"Be careful what you wish for," he said.

Anyone who thinks the Iraq war is making the world safer is "as daft as George W. Bush!" Galloway said as the audience rose for a long and loud standing ovation.

Kelly Schultz, a recent UW-Madison graduate, said she hasn't been involved in the anti-war movement until this summer when Cindy Sheehan and Galloway stepped up.

"I'm going to do anything I can to get to Washington," she said about Saturday's rally.

UW freshman Robert Lewis of Lake Geneva was impressed by the enthusiasm of Madison's political left and called Galloway's points "unarguable." His friend and fellow freshman Ainsley Schumann, of Naperville, Ill., noted that one heckler was able to interfere with the lecture and not get tossed out.

"There is a very open environment for political debate here," she noted.

Meanwhile, Charlie Deming, 51, a driver for Badger Cab, said he was surprised by Galloway's candor. The heckler just "helped stir the caldron a little bit," he added.

The heckler's selfishness is indicative of the mess the country is in, Deming said.

"There's no end in sight as far as I can see," he said.

\ E-mail: skalk@madison.com

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