ANSWER answers me

Yesterday I received the following email to my announce-only email list as ANSWER's rebuttal to yesterday's diary No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum. Since that list is announce-only, [send email to vah-ao@LinuxBeach.net with "subscribe" in the subject line to join] I will publish the ANSWER rebuttal here, together with my response. This is, after all, my diary. The ANSWER rebuttal is the parts in block quotes. They are broken up by my responses, email-reply style, but other than that it is complete and as they sent it.
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Hello:

In the spirit of openness and the ability to respond to organizational attacks, I ask that you approve the attached email, which is a response to a slanderous attack by one of your list members, Clay Claiborne, on ANSWER Coalition and Cynthia McKinney.

Thanks,
Ian Thompson
ANSWER

Hello all:

I strongly disagree with the tone and intentions of this opinion article, written by Clay Claiborne. In the interests of clarity, although I am not a member of all of these email lists, I will respond.

Its sympathies appear to lie with those who openly support the U.S./NATO war on Libya.

I openly support the people's liberation movement in Libya. Those familiar with my DailyKos blog know I first did so in writing on 18 Jan., months before NATO started bombing. ANSWER on the other hand has never supported the Arab uprising in Libya or Syria. I still support the Free Libya movement even after NATO intervened. My focus is on the Libyan people. They see as the next necessary step in their liberation being rid of Qaddafi. Let's see below what Ian has to say about the Libyan people and their struggle for freedom. So far he only speaks of the U.S./NATO war on Libya. That's his US centered focus.

But, political line aside, the article is full of patent distortions, mischaracterizations and shoddy analysis from start to finish. It's headline and main assertion that there were "no Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya forum" featuring Cynthia McKinney is a flat-out lie. I suppose the headline was meant as a false, but catchy "attention grabber" since the writer even admits that several pro-war Libyans participated in the Q and A inside the anti-war event.

Facts are stubborn things, and I've already described what I witnessed in my article, and Ian is right about plenty of video, so I'll let the facts speak for themselves. See also:

ANSWER thugs bar Libyans from Cynthia McKinney event: report
Video: Libyans prevented from entering Cynthia McKinney’s talk hosted by ANSWER LA
RAW,"Eyewitness Libya", Libyans prevented from entering Cynthia McKinneys event
ANSWER Coalition supporters tell Libyans to "go back home"

First for some context on the event, the Eyewitness Libya Forum sponsored by ANSWER and featuring Cynthia McKinney Los Angeles was a very successful event. It drew over 200 people, and 60% to 70% of those were African Americans. 95% of those who came were anti-war, anti-U.S./NATO intervention.

Here's a brief report on the forum on the ANSWER LA website:
http://www.answercoalition.org/la/news/eyewitness-libya-event.html
The feedback from nearly everyone who came was overwhelmingly positive. Here's an email we got from an Arab American activist in Orange County: "It is the best event I ever attended. The event was really worth out time."

He obviously needs to get out more.

Making the miniscule number of counter-protesters outside the LA forum into the primary issue in a "report" to progressive people is ridiculous.

The only folks prevented from entering the forum were the few who came specifically to protest and disrupt the event. It wasn't because they were Libyan. Several Libyans and Arab Americans participated in the event and discussion. Some pro-war, most anti-war.

It's too bad that ANSWER couldn't find any "anti-war" Libyans for their nationwide Libya Forums. Are they just a little hard to find so far away from Qaddafi's intimidation?

I put the number of Free Libya people at 20 or so. IMHO while they did come to protest they didn't come to disrupt. I should think that ANSWER would be especially sensitive to charging protesters with disruption before the facts. In any case I don't want to argue the facts. I have provided links to videos above so that all can judge their numbers as well as their demeanor.

Here I would just like to point out that while most Libyans would see themselves separated into pro-Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi camps, Ian separates them into pro-war and anti-war camps. In other words, it's not about what Libyans want for themselves, it's about their attitude towards US. Ian, we are not the focus of their struggle.

Also clearly by "pro war" Libyans he is referring to those that are attempting to overthrow Qaddafi. By "anti-war" he means Qaddafi and his supporters. What a wonderful way with words he has. In ANSWER terminology, those that have laid siege to Misrata for 4 months with Raf missiles and cluster munitions, those that flatten Ajdabiyah and threaten to do the same in Benhgazi, that's the "anti-war" crowd. Those that are happy to see a little relief from the slaughter, even at the hands of NATO, that's the "pro-war" crowd.

Ian, the world doesn't revolve around you. And let's be clear about another thing, the Libyan civilians killed in this War of Feb17 have overwhelmingly, and I mean overwhelmingly, been killed by Qaddafi.

The people who were outside the event, however, were not interested in civil discussion or even debate. They made themselves known at the event before it started by wearing Libya's old pro-monarchy flags,

So the Free Libya movement is both pro-war and pro-monarchy. You wouldn't be trying to demonize them would you? It is the pre-Qaddafi flag, that's why they fly it.

waving American flags at people,

I wondered at the time whether they realized that that won't win them any points with this crowd. They are in the United States after all. BTW one good habit I have learned writing for Wikileaks Central is not to use the term "American" when I mean US, because others who share these two continents with us don't like that arrogance.

wearing t-shirts featuring King Idris (the former Libyan monarch), and chanting against McKinney before trying to enter the forum. Some of them made threatening statements about McKinney. They chanted that Cynthia McKinney should "burn in the fire" and also made homophobic slurs at the line of college students and volunteers doing security for the event.

Just because I didn't see any of this doesn't mean it didn't happen, but check the videos.

Not one of them was against the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya. Not a one.

So far I have seen no support for the revolutionary movement in Libya. Does he think they don't need one because they have Qaddifi?

What does he think was going on in the months before NATO got involved? Doesn't matter, it's all about US. That's how you can tell the difference between 'good' Libyans and 'bad,disruptive' Libyans. Just ask them about NATO.

It's worth noting that Clay, the writer of this article, was with the pro-intervention crowd during much of the event, despite our invitation for him to put up a table without charge and sell his movie (which he did, I might add).

On the public sidewalk outside of the church, and without being charged by ANSWER! Gee, thanks Ian.

Others from the pro-intervention camp, those who wanted to participate with the rest of the crowd in a civil meeting, were allowed to participate in the event and speak during Q and A, just like anyone else.

And just how did you determine that?

Opposing views were not censored in any way. Several people with divergent views spoke and asked questions. It is true that the pro-intervention Libyans who spoke, along with Clay, were booed at times by the crowd, but no one from ANSWER was orchestrating that. People at the event just didn't like what they had to say. It's not too surprising for pro-intervention voices to get booed at an anti-war forum.

My question to Ms. McKinney was about Qaddafi's use of inaccurate Raf missiles on population centers and HRW reports that said he was using cluster munitions. I said nothing about NATO or intervention, so I was booed because I was anti-Qaddafi, not for being pro-NATO, which I am not.

Similarly the Libya who was booed spoke about Qaddafi. That was his concern, not NATO. You may think the only Libya issue at hand is NATO's war on Libya. Not a word is said about Qaddafi's war on Libya because you aren't anti that war. That's why you never spoke out about Libya until NATO came in against Qaddafi. You called it the Libya forum but your only concern is the NATO angle. You don't find it surprising that people including myself, that have been supporting the Free Libya movement months before Qaddafi threatened a bloodbath in Benghazi and gave NATO the excuse they needed, should be booed at a progressive Libya Forum?

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with keeping people out of an event after they state their intention to protest and disrupt the event. It is unwise and also a security risk. With several high-profile speakers on the panel, security was a top concern.

Also, its a complete fabrication that anyone from ANSWER ever said anything remotely pro-Gaddafi or referred to him as "brother Gaddafi." That just didn't happen. We have the video of the whole forum if you'd like us to prove it.

Your whole event was pro-Qaddafi. At least three of your featured speakers, including McKinney, heaped praise on "brother Qaddafi" What I didn't hear was any support for the uprising in Libya nor did I hear anyone from ANSWER say anything remotely anti-Qaddafi. Cluster munitions in Misrata all right with you?

The forum was an anti-war, anti-intervention forum.

It certainly wasn't a pro-Libya forum, that would take the focus off of US.

Iraq war veteran Mike Prysner spoke against the war on Libya, as did others. Two speakers did espouse their perspective of pan-African unity and expressed their respect for the Libyan leader.

Like I said, pro-Qaddafi.

They represent valid [if you say so] political currents within the Black community. In fact, nearly every speaker has divergent views on one thing or another, but they were all against the war.[and not against Qaddafi] We did not censor those who came to oppose the war on Libya at an explicitly anti-war meeting.

But you did censor those who oppose Qaddafi.

This includes Cynthia McKinney, who has now traveled to Libya twice during the NATO bombing, at great risk to her own life. [How so? Was she staying in Qaddafi's compound?] She is not a pro-Gaddafi mouthpiece in any way. She is not being paid by the Libyan government, not even a dime. In fact, part of the reason for the tour is to raise funds to pay back debts incurred by traveling to Libya on these fact-finding missions.

Then she should have gone a little more into debt. Traveled outside of Tripoli. Talked to some Libyans not under Qaddafi's control.

Debts to who? Who paid for this trip? Inquiring minds want to know. We do know that the Nation of Islam has received millions from Qaddafi so I can understand why they are supporting this tour. Why not? Qaddafi has millions to give. But no money for ANSWER, McKinney? What a shame!

The main thrust of Cynthia McKinney's talk at the Los Angeles forum was for self-determination for Libyans,

So now we get to the question of self-determination for Libyans, very late in this letter and even latter in the forum. But note that "self-determination" doesn't allow them to make their own determination about NATO 'support', in that case ANSWER will determine the proper attitude.

and to urge people in the United States to oppose the U.S./NATO war. As a former elected Congresswoman, her heroism in speaking out against the war on Libya should be lauded, not attacked without cause.

Ian goes on and on...

Finally, the "third camp" politics espoused by the article are way off base. They are out of step with people in the U.S.--who polls show oppose the war on Libya 2-to-1--and they are out of step with the people of Libya, who just had a massive 250,000 person march against the NATO bombing this past week, as bombs were dropping around them. Civilian casualties of the NATO bombing are now mounting--even the LA Times and CNN are reporting this.

Despite what the writer would have you believe, the issue isn't one's opinion on Gaddafi--it is the war on Libya, and which side are you on?

Because the war on Libya is like the war on Iraq. There was no uprising in Iraq then so there can't be one in Libya now. It's all about US.

Just as the Pentagon and press demonized Saddam Hussein before the Iraq invasions in 1990 and 2003, they have done the same with Gaddafi as a way to confuse people (and in this case, people who move in progressive circles) into being inert and not vigorously opposing the war.

We're not pro-Qaddafi but you have no right to call him a mass murderer.

The goal of anti-war activists right now seems pretty clear to me--we should be doing everything we can to expose the U.S./NATO war for what it is and building as much support as we can to stop it. There is nothing "humanitarian" about this war--there has never been, nor will there ever be a humanitarian intervention by the U.S., NATO or the UN in their current forms. A short look at history confirms this: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yugoslavia and so on.

For 10 days NATO warned pro-Qaddafi forces against launching missiles into Misrata. They warned, but did nothing to stop him. Today the people of Misrata are cheering because NATO finally blew up the ammo dumps from which the pro-Qaddafi forces [your side Ian] have been raining down missiles on the city. That is what you want to put a stop to. That is more important now than what NATO is doing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somali combined. Hence this tour. Or could it be that there was someone willing to pay the freight for this tour?

This article by Clay does not help build a stronger movement against the war on Libya.

But that's not my mission. I am trying to help build a revolutionary movement. I am trying to help the Libyan people oust Qaddafi. Which is to say help build a stronger movement against the Qaddafi war on Libya.

It appears to attempt the opposite. It's beyond me why we would chose to spill more ink denouncing ANSWER, an anti-war group, while saying almost nothing against the war on Libya. Unfortunately, the article's tone is nothing new. The now right-wing Christopher Hitchens similarly (but more eloquently) attacked those of us who unequivocally opposed the Iraq war before the catastrophic U.S. invasion and occupation. Look at Hitchens now!

That is way out of line! Now you are getting personal and nasty! You can call me all these other names. That's politics and I understand. But to imply that Christopher Hitchens is a better writer than me... You call that civil discourse?

He then goes on...

In general, it doesn't give anti-war folks more credibility to side with to pro-war forces and go along with demonization campaigns mounted by the U.S. and NATO to justify a war of aggression. Sure, people who are pro-war have the right to be pro-war, but anti-war activists don't have to agree with them or give them a platform on which to speak. The pro-war opinions have been aired ad nauseum in the corporate media. Meanwhile, the war on the people of Libya continues to rage on. Bombs continue to drop. Civilians continue to die in this unjust war for oil and strategic regional domination.

ANSWER will continue to speak out and organize against the war on Libya. People who want to oppose the war can do so with us. We don't have to agree on everything as long as we oppose imperialist intervention and support the right of oppressed nations and people's to self determination. On July 9, ANSWER and others are organizing a march and rally in Washington, D.C. in front of the White House to demand an immediate end to the war on Libya.

One final note, the Eyewitness Libya speaking tour with Cynthia McKinney has drawn hundreds of interested people at each tour stop. It has proven to be an important forum for anti-war voices and organizers from LA to Chicago and beyond. As the bombing of Libya continues, let's hope that more people join the anti-war chorus so that we can bring an end to all U.S. wars and occupations. That should be our goal.

Ian Thompson
ANSWER Coalition, Los Angeles

If you can find the parts of his message that support the Libyan people's struggle please point them out to me.

How do Libyans in Tripoli feel about the NATO bombing of their city?

This video from LibyaResistance may give us a clue. The description reads:

In Tripoli, as Nato undertakes its most intense bombing of the campaign, locals come out to show their appreciation by cheering and whistling. Rooftops are full of people watching in appreciation. Later security roamed the streets shooting in the air to silence and intimidate… They should know by now.. Tripoli can never be silence

A comment reads:

@KernelThread We don't need to rebuild gaddafi's compound. In fact we need help to tear it down. His compound takes up tens of square kilometres and houses his own palaces and security. The OVERWHELMING consensus in tripoli is that we want it to be turned into a green park for EVERYONE to enjoy. So we will be tearing down the buildings anyway. The rest of civilian Tripoli is untouched by NATO. Compare it to gaddafis indiscriminate bombing of misrata - now THAT we need to rebuild!

Here are the links to my articles at WL Central:
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
2011-03-11 Who's running Egypt?
Libyans are spilling their blood for us all!
2011-02-24 Arming Gaddfi
2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre
2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
2011-02-12 Algeria Protesters Defy Ban, Demand Change
The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
2011-02-10 Mubarak is Defiant
2011-02-10 Mubarak Expected to Step Down!
2011-02-09 The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
2011-02-08 The New Egyptian Normal: Thousands Demonstrate in Cairo, Alexandria
2011-02-06 Tunisia's Revolution Continues
2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency
2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow
2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets
2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-28 Mubarak Refuses to Step Down!
2011-01-28 Egypt is on Fire!
2011-01-27 Libya is in Revolt as Gaddafi Worries
2011-01-27 Algerians Plan Big Protest Rally for February 9th
2011-01-27 Tunisia Protests Continues as a Warrant is Issued for Ben Ali
2011-01-27 Tens of Thousands Rally in Yemen, Demand Change
2011-01-27 Mubarak Blinks as Egyptian Protests Continue for 3rd Day

North African Hacker Humor

Here is a recap of my other DKos dairies on the Internet, North Africa and Anonymous:
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Who's running Egypt?
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Californians Support North African Revolts
Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too!
Secret U.S. Intelligence Source on Middle East Revealed !
Arming Gaddfi
Are "mutinous officers" are being executed in Egypt now?
Algeria's 19 year long State of Emergency to end soon, President says
Senior Egyptian Army Officers Ordered Massacre!
Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman
UPDATE: Egypt's Mubarak Has Resigned! - The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger
BREAKING: Mubarak is Defiant
The Google Search for Wael Ghonim
Tunisia's Revolution Continues
Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest
Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause
Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! w Petition
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!
They Should Have Helped That Street Vendor
Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Redux
No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
Egypt is on Fire!
North African Revolution Continues
Egypt Protests Continue, Tunisia Wants Ben Ali Back
BREAKING: Protesters Plan Massive "Day of Wrath" in Egypt Today
Tunisians Thank Anonymous as North Africa Explodes
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution
Tunisia: A Single Tweet Can Start A Prairie Fire!
Anonymous plans Op Swift Assist in Tunisia
Arrested Pirate Party Member Becomes Tunisian Minister
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation
Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago
The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia
EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!