Why OWS Should Lead the "No Iran War!" Resistance

by Joe Scarry 

A national call went out just a week ago for a National Day of Action to resist U.S. war against Iran. Will the Occupy movement be the leading voice saying "No Iran War!" ?

Some people might argue that the problem of preventing the newest U.S. war is not squarely within the area of concern of Occupy. I would argue that, in fact, there is no one better-positioned to take up this resistance than the biggest group of people in the U.S. who have gotten first-hand experience of U.S. government threats and repression.

It is not a coincidence that legislation that aimed at both Iran and at the Occupy movement was signed into law on New Year's Eve.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides sanctions on Iran, and it also has sweeping provisions for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens that amount to "Guantanamo for EVERYONE!" and are clearly aimed at the Occupy movement (among others).

The Occupy movement is not the first group within the U.S. to find itself in the federal government's cross-hairs -- but it's quite clearly the one that's there right now. It takes courage to stand up to that, and that's why every day more and more people are signing on to the call to support OWS and help it resist its suppression.

It also takes courage to talk sense when a large part of the U.S. population has been convinced that another country is full of "bad" people, and is "asking for" a confrontation with the United States. This situation needs mass courage of the kind that few but OWS today possess.

OWS is a movement that is about ideas and debate and analysis. There is no problem as urgently in need of ideas and debate and analysis in American life today, as the threatened war with Iran. Consider some of the issues I raised in early December in my #NoIranWar blog post:

(1) "WMD?" Haven't we see this movie before?
(2) Where does the real threat of nuclear weapons lie?
(3) What is the role of oil in this conflict?
(4) What is the role of the U.S. military enterprise in the Mideast in this conflict?
(5) How do we evaluate the role of Israel in this conflict?
(6) Are we proceeding from a deeply flawed understanding of the Iranian people?
(7) What role does history play in this conflict?

OWS should lead the "No Iran War!" resistance because OWS is prepared to tackle the range of ideas that the current threat of war against Iran poses.

To me, the most important reason that the Occupy movement must take a leadership role in pushing back against the current demonization of Iran is that the idea of accepting people -- even those who look different from oneself -- is so central to the entire Occupy movement.

Over the course of many teach-ins that I have attended at Occupy Chicago, and many conversations with people there, I have come to recognize the power of the idea that we are NOT isolated knots of people who have to be at odds with each other. We have a common humanity, and that's what allows us to have a movement together. 

At Occupy Chicago, we've talked about the way the prison industrial complex lures people into thinking that there is an isolated group of people called "prisoners" who are "different" ... we will never be able to understand each other, and so I should just think and behave as if they don't count. We've talked about how people get recruited into the military, and the rest of the society writes them off ("we will never be able to understand each other, and so I should just think and behave as if they don't count . . . "). We've talked about people on every part of the sexual orientation and gender spectrum -- how many times are people written off on these grounds ("we will never be able to understand each other, and so I should just think and behave as if they don't count . . . ")? Pretty soon, I and other people at these events started to realize that people aren't really that different from each other; or, at least, 99% of them aren't, anyway . . . .

If the Occupy movement has taught me one thing, it is that every time I hear some person or group of people being described as "different," I should stop and think. And think again.

Would it really be possible for U.S. leaders to be talking about war with Iran if people here stopped to think about how different people there aren't?

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This article originally appeared on the blog Scarry Thoughts.

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.