Friday, April 21, 2006

Exposing the Military…One Door at a Time

The following was submitted to us:

For the past two Sundays I’ve participated in ‘Outreach Sunday,’ going door-to-door to talk to inner city people about Canada’s military. At first I was nervous because I had never done this type of thing before. Would people be receptive? Would anyone be angry and slam a door in my face?

But I had nothing to fear: no doors were slammed in any of our faces.

In fact, most people were friendly and curious about what we had to say. Some expressed support for protesting the military training in our city. Going door-to door gave us the chance to talk with people about the Charging Bison, Afghanistan, and the ‘war on terror,’ and to find out what people think about ‘all that.’

A typical door for my team started off like, “Have you heard about the urban war exercises happening in your neighborhood? What do you think of that?” Several people had heard of it, but most had not, despite the fact that the training is supposed to be happening in the inner city.

We were eager to expose Canada’s military for what it is, an arm of the world imperialist system, acting to protect the interests of a few, over the needs of the many. This is no doubt a difficult view to get across, considering the media cheerleading for Canada’s new combat role. But we were also eager to learn from the masses, from their experiences and world view.

I found myself talking about the media and government fixation with ‘terrorists.’ They say they are fighting the ‘terrorists,’ the Taleban, but at the same time they’ve formed a government with warlords who are like the Taleban, surely no less brutal. I mean, they only weeks ago put on trial someone - for converting to Christianity. And Canada supports this theocracy, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Clearly, not all the people resisting imperialism in Afghanistan are terrorists – no less than the U.S., who uses torture, commits massacres like Falluja in 2004, and abandons thousands of poor and oppressed people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But it sure makes the war easier to sell if the public fears and stereotypes the entire geopolitical region…

Over the two outreach days we distributed several hundred copies of ‘Get on the Bus.” The four page World People’s Resistance Movement-Winnipeg newsletter features articles on Canada’s role in Afghanistan, Haiti, an exposure of Canada’s support for the use of torture, and a front page commentary on undrinkable water on Reserves (and why the Canadian government is not fit to rule.)

Powder Keg of Potential: the Inner City

One thing that is striking is the very multi-national make-up of Winnipeg. There are literally people from every corner of the world! While walking between houses my team met two Somali refugees. They are only staying here until things improve at home, so they supported Canada, they said. I replied that I was born in here, but don’t support Canada!

What I was getting at, and what I feel they understood after we shared our views, is the sort of shame that comes from being from an imperialist country that is oppressing other peoples.

One team told me about how they met some men from the Phillipines hanging out on a corner. The men were very advanced on many levels, they agreed with the team that imperialism is the main enemy facing the people of the world, and they shared some of their experiences of how US imperialism has exploited their home country. But on another level, they held some seriously backward views. For example, they expressed their frustration that their wives in Canada had “too many rights”. It was a real eye-opener for that team to learn about these difficult contradictions present among the masses.

Another Outreach Sunday participant told me of how he approached several Aboriginal and African youth enjoying the day on their front steps. They said they didn’t care about what Canada is doing in Afghanistan or around the world. So the outreach participant asked, ‘well what do you care about? Your neighborhood? The cops? Do the cops treat you well?’ They were able to find some common ground on having been negatively affected, and having problems with, the role of cops in society in oppressing and policing the poor.

Canada is built upon the backs of the most oppressed. This is true around the world – where Canadian owned sweatshops make super-profits for the imperialists. But it is also true at home, where super-exploited immigrant labour holds the economy together, perpetuating racial and economic oppression, and where police can get away with murder and brutality against Aboriginal and immigrant communities.

WPRM realizes where there is oppression, there is resistance. Where there is more oppression, there is more resistance. Winnipeg then can be seen like a powder keg waiting to go off. The desire for a real break with the imperialist system and the misery in perpetuates, is not something that can go unrequited forever.

Doing mass work is the oxygen and lifeblood of any anti-imperialist movement. You get to confront head on the media myths, and learn from the people what they think of the burning issues of today, and what they think of the political line of the anti-imperialist movement. This is the type of community building that needs so desperately to take place. After visiting people in their homes and talking to people in the streets, I’ve come to realize that this is where hope for change begins.


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