Organizing around September 11, 2001

colist-admin at colist-admin at
Sat Sep 15 17:45:38 CDT 2001

[ed:  I am including here messages from a number of people 
responding to my request for guidance on how to handle 
September 11 messages.  I would also like to post the many 
other responses I received to the Announcement list, which 
seemed to be the option that most met the advice of everyone. 
Since some of your replies may have been meant for me 
alone, please let me know if I should not post your message. 
Below are messages with organizing thoughts from John, 
Joew, Larry, and RTemple.]

From: "John M. Beam" <beam at>


I'm in favor of trying to discuss the organizing, broadly construed.  I'm 
interested in how we even begin to carve out the space to begin having a 
public discussion that can position these killings in a broader context...a 
chain of violence at least some of the links of which we pay for with our 
taxes and condone by our failure to stand up to a foreign policy built on 
racism and pandering.    Beyond the human tragedy of Tuesday's madness is 
the gut wrenching frustration that no national figure has had a single new 
thing to say.  It's a surreal world on the day that Rudolph Giuliani comes 
off as the measured, reasoned voice of tolerance.  I'm also interested in 
being able to analyze and, if need be, denounce the bigotry and racism that 
is often embodied in actions like Tuesday's without being thought of as un-PC.

Sorry for the rant.  (I live in NYC so please cut me some slack this 
week.)  That's my vote.



From: "joe catania" <jccjlw at>

I could not agree more with Randy's position on how to use 
this list serv. Let's concentrate on how we use our talents, 
commitment and resources to identifying and organizing 
around the issues that affect people in the communities where 
we are and the connection to our brothers and sisters around 
the world. What about a series of teach-ins similar to the labor 
teach-ins that occurred in the mid 90's, but today they could 
include topics like U.S. foreign policy, popular participation in 
foreign policy decisions etc.  

joe c


From: Larry Yates <lyates at>

I think our moderator is on the right track. I am already 
subjected to a flood of general e-mail comments on 9/11 -- 
(and have added my own 2 cents to the torrent, for that 
matter.) These range widely from the banal to the offensive to 
the profound, and I don't think any of us have any shortage of 
each of these. I don't need comm-org to join in that possibly 
necessary but very unfocussed Internet process.  

On a different note, I know of 2 e-mail lists that have 
temporarily (they hope) shut down under the burden of  bitter 
disagreement about what is appropriate to post at this time. 
So I think it is good for the sake of this valuable list to have a 
focus that we can roughly agree on.  

One organizing-related observation that I would make is that 
an event like this does simply stop a lot of local organizing. 
I'm not saying it shouldn't -- but if the U.S. in fact going onto 
some kind of war footing, widely shared dramatic media 
events will be a recurring reality. I have seen a report that the 
folks in Vieques have called a moratorium on protests of the 
Navy presence there, and I have personally observed that a 
local community e-mail list which buzzed with local strategy 
and tactical discussions is now solely focussed on events 
hundreds of miles away and not related to their organizing 

It would be interesting to hear how folks dealt with this in the 
past -- for example, labor organizers during World War II, or 
community organizers during the Indochina war or Watergate.  

I agree we need to discuss how we organize against jingoism 
and anti-Arab racism, and how to connect to and build on the 
positive aspects of the spontaneous response to this terrible 
crime. But I think we also need to think about how we 
organize -- on any issue -- in a war-like or war situation.  

Larry Yates

-- Larry Yates Organizer Center for Health, Environment & 
Justice P.O. Box 6806 Falls Church, VA 22040 (703) 237-
2249 ext 20 lyates at 


From: RTemple297 at

What would be the possibility of developing a set of materials 
that could be widely distributed and used for the purpose of 
organizing/facilitating community based discussions regarding 
the tragedy.  

Clearly people have strongly held opinions.  In the absence of 
a positive forum to express and work through them, we are 
likely to see an increase in destructive responses.  

I am sure that public officials could be easily recruited to 
participate in some of these discussions.  The initial ones 
could be high profile enought to serve as a model for others to 
continue in their own communities.  

Given that people seem to want to "do something."  Maybe 
community based organizations could set up a "Volunteer 
Fair" at each of the sites, to give people options for getting 
involved in positive efforts in their community.  

In the end, this pain can only be healed through contribution.  
Why not find ways to give them the opportunity?  

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