artists damn 'war without limit'
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Friday June 14, 2002
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
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
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
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."