- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2001

The liberal-conservative divide has narrowed but not quite closed.
While public-opinion polls show as much as 95 percent of Americans back Mr. Bush's war on terrorism and more than 80 percent favor military action in Afghanistan, pockets of vocal dissent crossing racial and ethnic lines are appearing.
Some of the dissenting voices echo Vietnam war protests, back for a nostalgic encore. Others are based in racial grievance.
In North Carolina, Curtis Gatewood, chairman of the Durham chapter of the NAACP, urged blacks to sit out the war on terrorism. Many of the companies in the World Trade Center discriminated against blacks, he said, and "our brothers" should not help fight a war on terrorism because America "has not protected our rights."
Kweisi Mfume, national chairman of the NAACP, distanced himself and his organization from Mr. Gatewood. "Mr. Gatewood surely has a right to his beliefs, but they are not the beliefs of the NAACP," he said. Mr. Mfume issued a strong statement of support for President Bush last week in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
"This is not a time to sit back and pontificate with pointed fingers about the fact that there are imperfections in our society," he said. "This is a time to find a way as Americans without the hyphen to work together to protect our way of life and the lives of innocent people."
The racial divide emerged in other places. In Florida, Miami-Dade County firefighters Terry Williams, James Moore and William Clark refused to mount their fire engine because it flew an American flag.
A Miami newspaper reported that Mr. Clark said "he and the two other firefighters are also grieving, but he's sticking to his opinion that once the country's renewed patriotism is over, racial discrimination will rear its head."
In California, top Democrats reacted differently to angry rhetoric at the same event they were attending. Gov. Gray Davis and Sen. Dianne Feinstein walked out on the Rev. Amos Brown, a black minister, after he blamed America during what was supposed to be a memorial service in San Francisco for the Sept. 11 New York and Washington massacres of Americans.
However, both Mr. Davis and Mrs. Feinstein said they meant no rebuke but left because they were running late for other engagements. Mr. Davis later said Mr. Brown "is a good man," but his remarks were "out of line" because nothing Americans "may or may not have done is justification" for the terrorist attacks.
Neither Sen. Barbara Boxer nor Rep. Nancy Pelosi left the service. Mrs. Pelosi took the stage to say that although she agreed with much the minister had said, the bad things America did around the world didn't justify the terrorism against it.
Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano said Mr. Brown's comments reflected the anti-war tradition of the California left. "What can you say? It was largely a lefty and pro-peace crowd, and Amos was playing to the house."
The Women's Fightback Network of the International Action Center in Boston issued a Sept. 21 statement that expressed "heartfelt sympathies" for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks but warned that the Bush administration's response will have negative effects.
The statement quoted Mahtowin James, an American Indian and a Network board member, who said, "Like everyone else, I am unspeakably saddened by what happened [on Sept. 11, but] I am appalled that the Bush administration is attempting to take advantage of this crisis to militarize U.S. society with a vast expansion of police powers that is intended to restrict our basic rights."
A group called the International Act Now to Stop War & Racism called for a Sept. 29 "rally at the White House" and "marches on the West Coast and around the world against war and racism."
Signers of the call to action range from Ramsey Clark, U.S. attorney general under President Johnson and supporter of left-wing causes, to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit; Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Middle East Children's Alliance; Tom Hansen of the Mexico Solidarity Network; and Kriss Worthington of the Berkeley (Calif.) City Council. Signers include New Hampshire HIV/AIDS Task Force, Al-Awda Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Jews Against the Occupation (of Palestine) and the New Communist Party of the Netherlands.
Movie and television producer Michael Moore blamed U.S. "taxpayer-funded terrorism" for the Sept. 11 atrocities. "In just eight months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again," Mr. Moore said.
"He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all."

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