MUSLIMS (& OTHERS) MARCH
* Maria Margaronis's account of the 400,000-strong September 28 antiwar march in London misrepresents the character of this historic event ["Blair, the Go-Between," Oct. 21]. The marchers, many of them first-time protesters, were extraordinarily diverse and extraordinarily united. Contrary to her claim, it was precisely concern for the lives of those who will be most affected by a war--Iraqis suffering under Saddam, Kurds in the firing line--that deeply motivated them. This central human theme was stressed repeatedly by numerous speakers, including Iraqis themselves (for their speeches go to www.stopwar.org.uk).
The extreme elements Margaronis highlights were minute and unrepresentative of the vast swath of Muslim opinion at the march. The British and international media descended in force, many strongly motivated to single out anything to discredit the march, including the kind of elements Margaronis highlighted. Yet none of them reported it in the terms she did.
Margaronis also fails to note the exceptional breadth of labor union support for the demonstration, which was officially backed by twelve national unions--representing more than one-third of organized UK workers.
We have built a united, dynamic, broad-based Stop the War Coalition with support from unions, elected politicians, Muslim organizations, students and a wide variety of other constituencies. But our task has only begun. We look forward to working closely with all those in the United States who share our opposition to war against Iraq.
ANDREW BURGIN LINDSEY GERMAN, MIKE MARQUSEE
* I described the march as "a landmark demonstration--the most multicultural British march in memory." I also made it clear that the people Burgin, German and Marqusee characterize as "extreme elements" (not my phrase) were by no means the main body of Muslim marchers, whose presence in such numbers was a tremendous achievement. But it would have been dishonest not to mention the militant Islamists, and the tinge of anti-Semitism some of them brought to the march. First, because you have to name racism when you see it, whatever its causes. Second, because the participation of groups who have no problem with theocracy as long as it is Islamic illustrates the contradictions we have to get our minds around, now that America's official targets are not struggling socialist governments but fundamentalist terrorists and oil-rich dictators. The demonstrators were admirably united in their conviction that war is no solution but not, I think, in their assessment of the problems. Yes, everyone was concerned about the Iraqi people's fate in case of war, but few people were shouting about what they're suffering now. The British press mostly glossed over these issues--on the left, I suspect, for fear of harming the antiwar movement, on the right because of the afterglow of the previous weekend's even larger Countryside Alliance demonstration. But coalitions require honesty as well as tact. If we can't talk about these matters here, where can we talk about them? And if we don't talk about them, how can we make sense of the complicated situation we are in?
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH ...
Ken Silverstein's "Police Academy in the Alps" [Oct. 7] drew letters of corroboration from many formerly connected with the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, and related organizations. A sample follows.
Ft. Myer, Va.
* Having worked at the Marshall Center from the initial concept development through its inauguration, and then for its first two years as the executive officer to the director and then as senior US military instructor, I can report that Ken Silverstein only scratches the surface. Like rusty iron that is only repainted, the corrosion remains under the surface and worsens. …