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Subversion in Bush Country By: Brendan Steinhauser
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 11, 2003


If an alien drove across the Congress Avenue Bridge that links the north and south halves of Austin on the night of President Bush's State of the Union address, he might be forgiven for thinking he was in France rather than the United States, let alone in the city where Bush launched his political career. Several thousand members of Austin Against War, the University of Texas International Socialists, and the Texas Green Party lined the bridge holding signs with venomous insults directed at Bush such as "We Don't Want Your Fundamentalist Fascist Crusades Or Your Oily Wars" and "Bush is Evil, This I Know."

Austin has been buffeted by such protests on a weekly basis, including one conducted by campus activists outside a U.S. Army recruiting office at the University of Texas. The anti-war marauders there chanted "No Blood for Oil" and disseminated pamphlets explicitly citing propaganda from the Iraqi government claiming the U.S. has killed 1.2 million Iraqis. Participants in this charade were justifiably banned from entering the private dormitory where the office is located, but one later expressed outrage at this clearly lawful exclusion from private property.

However, the barbarians in Austin aren't merely at the gates; they are in the halls of power. On Thursday, February 6, the Austin City Council passed a resolution denouncing the "unilateral" war against Saddam Hussein and calling on Bush to "let inspections work," apparently indefinitely. Anti-war activists virtually took over the council meeting, as they conducted a nonstop Bush-bashing session in the public comment part of the meeting.

The Austin resolution passed 5-0 with two Council Members abstaining.
The resolution rambled from one non-sequitur to another, objecting to disarming a madman on the grounds that "most American cities and states are suffering fiscal crises that threaten funds for basic services and endanger programs that benefit working people and the poor."  The resolution also claims "the U.S. has not built an anti-Iraq coalition similar to that which underwrote the financial costs of the Gulf War," even though dozens of nations, including virtually all of Europe except France and Germany, are on board.

Austin became the 65th city or county government in the United States to pass an anti-war resolution, joining Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit and Washington, D.C. Of course, Berkeley led the way, unanimously approving an anti-war resolution in October. Berkeley Council Member Dona Spring told The Daily Texan the issue is not out of municipal government's jurisdiction, because war has effects in every city. She reasoned, "Because our federal legislature is bought and sold by huge multinational corporations, they can no longer act in the interests of the people. This is a grassroots movement."

Lame duck Austin Mayor Gus Garcia, who is retiring rather than face voters this year, supported the resolution. "I think this community is very much for it," he crowed. "They're concerned about what [President George] W. [Bush] is doing . . . He has a pulpit from where he speaks, and it's very difficult for cities to stand up and speak out. They're doing it for the same reason we are. We think that war is wrong."  Garcia pushed through a measure several years ago prohibiting the Austin Police Department from enforcing federal immigration laws, which now hampers federal anti-terrorism efforts.

While those against the war are the most vocal, neither Garcia nor the other Council members who backed the resolution could point to a single poll showing the majority of Austinites are against the war. In fact,
one Austin poll available, although unscientific, shows most residents support Bush's policy on Iraq.

Austin has always been to the left of the rest of the state, but a far cry from Berkeley or Madison, especially as it has grown from a small university town to a high-tech metropolis of a million people. The truth may be that Austin is about evenly divided on the war, with many still digesting the evidence, including Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent disclosures to the U.N. Security Council. In contrast, City Council members, with no more knowledge or evidence than the average Austinite, have already made up their minds, even when their constituents have yet to reach a consensus.

Regardless of local public opinion, many critics point out that it is not within the purview of city governments to pass such resolutions. David Rogers of the Young Conservatives of Texas argues, "There is simply no authorization for the City Council to make foreign policy pronouncements. Austin has two representatives in Congress -- one from each party -- and they are authorized to speak to national issues.  Austin City Council members campaign on local issues, not on issues of foreign policy. They should focus on the multi-million dollar city budget deficit they have created, instead of pulling cheap publicity stunts."

By far the most entertaining response to the Council's approval of the anti-war resolution came from El Arroyo, one of Austin's most popular Mexican restaurants. The restaurant's often witty signboard along one of Austin's busiest thoroughfares ridiculed one of the Austin City Council Members who cosponsored the resolution, proclaiming: "Daryl Slusher for Mayor of Baghdad."

If the Austin City Council was not responding to the majority of Austinites or even acting within its scope, whose bidding where they doing? It was Austin Against War that initiated the effort to obtain this resolution. A statement from Councilman Daryl Slusher, who introduced the resolution, was posted on their website www.austinagainstwar.org before it was publicly reported or even appeared on his own site.

Just who Austin Against War is becomes very apparent after perusing their site. Among the items on their site are books such as "The New Intifada: Resisting Israel's Apartheid" by Roane Carey and "news" articles such as "U.S. declares open season on UN workers, international law" and "800 American professors sign document warning of coming Israeli ethnic cleansing." Given that a million Arabs currently live in Israel, this is one ineffective ethnic cleansing campaign.

Leaders in the Austin Against War movement include University of Texas Journalism Professor Bob Jensen and his protégé UT graduate student Rahul Mahajan. On September 13, 2001, only two days after 3,000 Americans were massacred, Jensen wrote in a Houston Chronicle op-ed entitled "U.S. Just as Guilty of Committing Own Violent Acts" that, "This act was no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism -- the deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes -- that the U.S. government has committed during my lifetime." The Austin Against War website trumpets Mahajan's screed "The New Crusade - America's War on Terrorism," which argues that our mission in Afghanistan was not for self-defense and that the U.S. did not try to avoid killing innocent civilians.

The site also promotes several publications of M.I.T. linguist and leftist cult figure Noam Chomsky. Chomsky recently proclaimed,
"The US is one of the leading terrorist states in the world." During Operation Enduring Freedom, Chomsky recklessly charged that the U.S. intent was to commit genocide and that we were deliberately starving four million Afghans to death.  Chomsky conveniently ignored the fact that we were dropping food to the desperate people who were repressed by the Taliban. 

In his University of Texas lecture on October 20, Chomsky declared, "If the U.S. wins a cheap victory, the world is in deep trouble. Don't let them get away with it." He accused Attorney General John Ashcroft of "proto-fascism" in securing the homeland and alleged, "legally speaking, there's a very solid case for impeaching every American president since the Second World War. They've all been either outright war criminals or involved in serious war crimes."

Chomsky concluded his diatribe by saying,  "The main way to prevent terrorism is to take a look at Crawford and Washington." An overflowing crowd of thousands of leftist students and community activists greeted Chomsky's invective with thunderous applause.

While even a cursory review clearly reveals the beliefs motivating the anti-war movement, their sources of funding are far more difficult to determine than their sources of misinformation. However, some clues have emerged. Accuracy in Media reported this week that the Institute for Public Accuracy, the anti-war group that sponsored Sean Penn's trip to Iraq, received a $100,000 grant from Bill Moyers' Schumann Foundation.

The Center for Consumer Freedom recently revealed that the
Tides Foundation and Tides Center are major supporters of anti-war and left-wing causes. One of their projects is the Institute for Global Communications, a clearinghouse for leftist propaganda of living-wage advocates, anti-war protesters, slave-reparations hucksters, and a wide variety of extreme environmentalists. In February 2002, Orange County Register columnist Steven Greenhut termed it "a network of the loony left" that "has to be seen to be believed.”  One alert posted in an IGC member bulletin board calls for financial support for the Earth Liberation Front, which has committed numerous documented acts of domestic terrorismAnother posting warns readers against cooperating with the FBI.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that the Tides Center had given the
Independent Media Center $376,000, ironically, from its "9/11 fund." The Independent Media Center serves as an organizing outpost for protests and was the virtual staging ground for the April 20, 2002, anti-war protest in Washington.

In the end, what will the 65 anti-war resolutions passed by cities and counties and this well-funded network of anti-war activity amount to? Perhaps it is telling that Chomsky never mentioned Afghanistan in his lecture at UT and, in numerous debates on the war at UT, anti-war student activists have refused to offer justification for their opposition to our intervention in Afghanistan, let alone admit their mistake.

If the U.S. removes Saddam Hussein and liberates the people of Iraq, there can be little doubt that the doctrinaire leftists and professional protestors will simply find another cause. They will salivate at any opportunity to oppose America, Israel and President Bush - even in the heart of Texas. While the anti-war activists and their benefactors will never be required to answer to anyone, voters in Austin and communities across the country will soon have the opportunity to tell their local elected officials that, by passing these resolutions, they have exceeded their mandate and undermined our nation.


Brendan Steinhauser writes for The Austin Review and is the Executive Director of The University of Texas at Austin brach of The Young Conservatives of Texas.


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