Michael L. Betsch | Staff Writer | Thursday, February 13, 2003
International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War End Racism) has actively recruited America's youth via the Internet to participate in its nationwide anti-war demonstrations. Information packets, fliers and protest organizing instructions are readily provided to students and campus organizations that indicate an interest in protesting war and racism.
International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website provides various opportunities for students to volunteer their service to the Feb. 13-21 anti-war effort by indicating interest in the following items:
-- "I can help get the word out and get signatures on the Peoples' Anti-War Referendum on my campus or in my community -- please send me a packet of referendums, flyers and posters."
-- "I am interested in showing a video about Iraq or having a speaker on my campus or in my community."
-- "I am interested in organizing for the February 21 coordinated Students and Youth Action on the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, including trying to organize a student walkout at my school or in my area."
Organizers of the "Week of Anti-War Resistance" are encouraging America's young people to act like slain black militant, Malcolm X, as a means of achieving "solidarity with the people of Iraq and Palestine."
"We feel that Malcolm X embodies the spirit of struggle against militarism and racist establishment," said Peta Lindsay, the group's youth coordinator. "We will honor his life and legacy the right way -- with resistance."
International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website urges young people to skip school on Friday, Feb. 21, so they can "take to the streets to fight war and racism on the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X."
Dishonoring Malcolm X's life
"This idea that they are honoring Malcolm X on Feb. 21 is a lie," said the Rev. Jesse Peterson, founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (B.O.N.D.). "It is a dishonoring of Malcolm X. I'm sure he's turning over in his grave.""\b
Bond said Malcolm X was an angry man who "hated white America" during his years as a follower of Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam founder. However, a rift with Muhammad and pilgrimage to Mecca changed Malcolm X's whole outlook on life and race, Peterson added.
"Malcolm X strongly believed in America. He believed in education. He believed in the family," he said. "And, he believed that one of the ways that black Americans can overcome racism and slavery was through a tight family, a strong belief in God, hard work and a good education."
Peterson said Malcolm X would be angered by International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s attempt to honor his memory by urging kids to throw away their education, even if it's just for one day.
"For these boys and girls, especially these black ones, to be asked to not go to school and to walk off their college's campuses is a slap" to the civil rights movement as well as the memories of Dr. King and Malcolm X, "gave their lives so that these black boys and girls could go to the college of their choice and to get a good education," Peterson said.
"Asking them to skip out of school is not going to do them any good, nor any good to America," he added.
School endorses anti-war week
The anti-war effort has the blessing of some public schools.
"Our whole board of education wholeheartedly supports the anti-war effort," said Eric Mar, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education. International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website cites him as an official endorser of the group's anti-war agenda and activities.
"I have no position on whether I am encouraging people to walk out or not," Mar said of the Feb. 21 walk-out. "I never encourage un-coordinated activities."
However, he said an impromptu anti-war protest rally such as the one International A.N.S.W.E.R. appears to be planning for Feb. 21 could help students "make up their own minds" about America's role in the war on terror and Iraq.
"If there's a learning process involved and teachers and educators are a part of it, I think that it could be a useful educational experience," Mar added.
He said any high school students who decide to skip school in support International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s tribute to Malcolm X must provide school administrators with notes from their parents stating the specific reason for their absence.
As far as disciplinary actions that could be assigned to those who cut class in protest against war and racism or could not secure a note from their parents, Mar said he was unsure what repercussions the students would face.
"It depends on the school districts' own policies," Mar said. "I think if different teachers linked it up with class activities...it could be considered education."
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