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US artists damn 'war without limit'

Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Friday June 14, 2002
The Guardian


A group of leading American writers, actors and academics have signed a statement strongly criticising their government's policies since September 11. It is an indication of a growing feeling that the administration is promoting its own agenda on the back of the attacks.
In a statement called Not In Our Name, the signatories say the government has "declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression". They also criticise the media for failing to challenge the direction the government has taken.

They include the musicians Laurie Anderson and Mos Def, the actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, the writers Alice Walker, Russell Banks, Barbara Kingsolver and Grace Paley, and the playwrights Eve Ensler and Tony Kushner.

Martin Luther King III, Gloria Steinem, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and Rabbi Michael Lerner have added their names, making this the widest ranging group of opponents of government policy since September 11.

Jeremy Pikser, one of the organisers of the statement, said yesterday that he had been concerned that the rest of the world was under the impression that there was no dissent in the US to the bombing of Afghanistan and the plans for a war against Iraq.

Pikser, a screenwriter who wrote Bulworth, a satire on American politics in which Warren Beatty played a politician who finally decided to speak his mind, said some people had been reluctant to add their names. "A lot of people haven't signed it, although they agree with it, because they think it might jeopardise other things they're involved in."

Clark Kissinger, another of the organisers, said they had been heartened by the number of people wanting to sign.

Mr Kissinger, one of the organisers of the first anti-Vietnam war marches on Washington in 1965, said he was receiving about 60 emails a day from people who wanted to add their name to the list.

"It's a shame that there's not a voice of opposition coming out of the United States."

The statement, which the signatories hope will be published by the American media, ssays: "We must take the highest officers of the land seriously when they talk of a war that will last a generation and when they speak of a new domestic order.

"We are confronting a new openly imperial policy towards the world and a domestic policy that manufactures and manipulates fear to curtail rights."

Support for the president's policies remains high, however, and those who appear critical of them have been accused of lacking patriotism.

It was announced last week that Bill Maher, host of the television show Politically Incorrect, has not had his contract renewed by ABC.

Maher was criticised for an exchange six days after September 11 in which he and a guest agreed that whatever else the hijackers were, they were not "cowardly."