NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – The World Can’t Wait anti-war coalition based in New York City says that while respect is due to the NAACP for their 100-year tradition of “standing up to White lynch mobs and sheriffs’ dogs,” there is no excuse for continuing the relationship they have with military recruiters.
The anti-war community is demanding that the NAACP “dis-invite recruiters from its functions” starting with the 100th anniversary celebration in New York City from July 11 to July 16. There are demonstrations planned for July 14 and July 16.
“It’s a matter of principle and we cannot stand by as the NAACP and the U.S. Army pull more youth into the unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” argues Debra Sweet, national director of the anti-war coalition.
“Does the NAACP not understand how dangerous Afghanistan is becoming for our soldiers; why July 6 was one of the bloodiest days with seven of our troops losing their lives,” she told the Am- News. “Is the NAACP saying these unjust wars are okay, and didn’t the NAACP executive board pass an anti-war in Iraq resolution?” she asked.
“Yes, we passed a resolution back in 2001,” said Hilary Shelton, vice president and director of the NAACP’s Washington, D.C., bureau, in an interview with The Final Call. “It was a unanimous decision by the 64-member board to accept the resolution that was sponsored by our youth division,” Mr. Shelton said.
The resolution stated that the “President of the United States had not made a conclusive argument for using deadly force in Iraq; and that African Americans and other minority youth and young adults are enrolled into service at disproportionate rates to defend their nation.”
The NAACP continued to challenge the war in Iraq when board chairman Julian Bond chided the Bush administration in 2004, condemning his administration’s policies on education, the economy and the war in Iraq. And again in 2007 during the NAACP convention in Detroit, Michigan Bond said “Katrina served to underscore how the war in Iraq has weakened, rather than strengthened our defenses.”
So, that is why observers are perplexed that in 2009, the NAACP would allow the military in the door.
“For the NAACP, it should be especially obnoxious to have anything to do with the military when recruiters take advantage of the desperation of poor, young people,” Howard Zinn, an anti-war and civil rights activist and playwright said in an email to the The Final Call.
“I think of what a violation it would be of the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., who opposed militarism with all his heart, who connected it with racism, and also today would be deeply offended if he knew the NAACP was giving any help to the military,” Zinn said.
“We are not giving help to the military in that context, we continue to oppose the Iraq war and want it to stop, but a military is necessary to protect the country; and the NAACP wants to be at the table to insist on transparency by recruitment entities,” Mr. Shelton said.
He said that for the past 60 years the NAACP has demanded input on what the nation’s armed forces looks like in terms of equal opportunity.
Condemning, but at the same time facilitating new recruitment into the military, makes one party to the war crimes “of a government carrying two wars of aggression on the basis of thoroughly exposed lies,” Ms. Sweet said.
“We are a very strong supporter of free speech,” Mr. Shelton told The Final Call, adding, “I have been trying to contact the leaders in the anti-war community to let them know we understand their position; and we want to communicate our position to them.”
Oskar Castro, a program analyst at the national headquarters for the American Friends Society in Philadelphia explained that the anti-war community is not trying to disrespect the NAACP’s right to associate with whomever they wish, “But, the Army has an overt campaign to trick young Blacks into the military; and we must be there to protest what they are doing,” Mr. Castro said.