Despite the cold and the rain a 100-person strong rally was held in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh to protest against a war in Iran and U.S. occupation throughout the Middle East. The demonstration drew a wide range of people with long-time activists and newcomers to the anti-war movement alike.
A diverse range of organizations endorsed the rally, including the ANSWER coalition, Pittsburgh Anti-Imperialist League, The Green Party of Allegheny Count, New Afrikan Independence Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the United Electrical Workers Union, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Jewish Voice for Peace, Christian Alliance for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine (University of Pittsburgh), Friends of Sabeel, North America and the Izaak Walton League (Allegheny County).
The speakers were united in their condemnation of the U.S. empire’s effort to dominate the world, whether it is through sanctions that deprive working people of resources they need to survive or the more direct means of destruction and occupation and in their demands: No War on Iran! US out of Iraq and Middle East!
The crowd chanted “No justice no peace, US out of the Middle East!”, “They say more war, we say no more!” as people honked and cheered when they drove by.
Rev. Paul Dordal of the ANSWER coalition and an Iraq war veteran stated, “We are the only country to have used nuclear weapons. We are one of two countries not signed on to not use nuclear weapons offensively. We were the ones to pull out of the Russia and Iran nuclear deals. We threatened a non-nuclear nation with weapons of mass destruction in violation of our own laws and treaties. We have a system where only one person can push a button and destroy the whole world.”
Emily Hannon of the Party for Socialism and Liberation called attention to the multi-racial, international, and intergenerational dimensions of the anti-war movement. Reminding us of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said over 50 years ago, “the ‘triple-pronged sickness that has been lurking within our body politic from its very beginning,’ King identified this sickness as consisting of racism, militarism and poverty. These three evils will lead to the ultimate destruction of society if they are not stopped. He condemned the immoral U.S. war against the people of Vietnam … King’s criticisms of Vietnam would have been just as accurate if he had been speaking about the illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or now the increasing hostilities towards Iran,”
Speaking on behalf of the the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Elizabeth Bjerke noted: “Every citizen is needed to transform our culture to that of peace. We need to cast the vision of what a peaceful world would look like. We need to work together from our communities to our states, country, and internationally to move from increasing militarization … to utilizing our most precious resource – our population – each individual person – to develop to our fullest extent the potential for peace and justice,”
David Hughes, a life-long anti-war advocate and a member of the Green Party of Allegheny County starkly laid out what is at stake, “US foreign policy is based on lies to cover the fact that our military adventures are designed to: (1) protect the capitalist need to exploit foreign economies and (2) ensure that no alternative economic model ever succeeds. Changing this paradigm is a huge challenge, but we have no choice but to do just that if we are to survive”.
In between the speeches, the protesters enjoyed the anti-war songs performed by Mike Stout, an anti-war activist and rock singer and the Raging Grannies.
Despite a surface level cessation of hostilities against the people of Iran, those of us within the heart of the empire should remain vigilant and continue to take action against U.S. aggression towards working people globally.