Arguably the best satire of political activist infighting ever produced was the classic scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian where the People’s front of Judea terrorists stumble upon the Campaign for Free Galilee in the palace where both are intent on kidnapping Pilate’s wife. Upon realizing this, the groups accuse each of stealing the other’s idea and set to brawling. Amid the ensuing melee Brian, ever the practical one, exclaims:
BRIAN: Brothers! Brothers! We should be struggling together!
FRANCIS: We are! Ohh.
BRIAN: We mustn’t fight each other! Surely we should be united against the common enemy!
EVERYONE:The Judean People’s Front?!
BRIAN:No, no! The Romans!
EVERYONE:Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes.
Yes, classic. And apparently timeless, in that it effectively lampoons some of the current goings-on among the at least two peace groups united in their goal to end the Iraq war and, apparently, united in their having both planned marches for September 24 in our nation’s capital as well. This from United (front?) for Peace and Justice’s web site:
United for Peace and Justice is circulating this memo to explain the political reasoning behind our organizing approach for the September 24-26 mobilization, and to respond to concerns about our decision not to merge our September 24 demonstration with a separate anti-war event being organized that same day.
After several paragraphs touting the broad and inclusive nature of UFPJ’s anti-war organizing efforts, they finally manage to get around to the point of the memo which is:
Some people have urged UFPJ to consider a joint demonstration with the Sept. 24 National Coalition, initiated by A.N.S.W.E.R., which is also organizing an anti-war protest on September 24. We take seriously the concerns from local organizers about the potential for confusion if there are two separate marches on September 24. Therefore, we have agreed to US Labor Against the War’s proposal to convene a meeting with A.N.S.W.E.R. to work through logistical issues about the day, including the possibility of bringing the marches together. We are committed to working in good faith on this process. But because of our different approaches to organizing and how demands are articulated, we are not proposing a “unified” program that day.
People, can’t we all just get along?
Note the word unified above in quotes. Earth to UFPJ: you’re either unified or you’re not. At this crossroads in history, progressive activists need once again to be united in their opposition to this war and the other likely criminal activities of the Bush administration. We need to do what it takes to find the common ground that can and should serve to unify us in this goal. Our enemy is not ANSWER or The Judean People’s Front. Rather the enemy is, or should be, Emperor Augustus Dubya and his bible thumpin’ and neo connin’ cronies. If two organizations with such a singularly common goal can’t effectively and productively get beyond sweatin the details, then what real chance do we have of actually ending this war and hopefully toppling this tyrant through peaceful democratic means?
So please folks, I ask you to commit today to doing what it takes. Suggest, with extreme prejudice, to your “steering committee” that they stop steering the peace movement into the ditch and instead get with the program. Do so because there’s a mother camped on a dusty hot ditch near Crawford Texas right now who needs us to get it right and get it TOGETHER.
Here’s to one movement, one world, one love.
P.S.: For my part, I’m putting both marches’ banners on A Bigger Tent. It would make the me very proud indeed to replace those before 9/24 with one banner for a combined march.