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Fascism is Not an Option

By Vietnam Veterans Against the War National Office

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January 15, 2021

When VVAW was formed in 1967, we were about opposition to an illegal and immoral war that was chewing up our generation and untold numbers of the Vietnamese people. We became part of the largest social movement in history that organized for peace and real social justice. We engaged in peaceful forms of protest, including civil disobedience.

Since those days, we have continued organizing for peace and social justice, in opposition to repression of all types. Our members, in large part, had parents who fought against fascism in World War II. We still take that seriously.

The home-grown fascist mob we all saw invade the Capitol on January 6, 2021, did not care about human life or democratic norms. They were all about support for the Great Leader, no matter what the cost to human life. Their propaganda and the actions of the hate groups who form their Brownshirts reek of racism. These echoes from the history of fascist movements in Italy and Germany are all too significant. This includes their efforts to lay the blame for the death and destruction on democratic activists on the anti-fascist left.

VVAW protested in Washington, DC, many times in our history. In April, 1971, we led a large contingent of veterans in an event called Dewey Canyon III. We occupied the Mall in opposition to a Supreme Court order. We petitioned members of Congress and lobbied them to help end the war. We marched to Arlington National Cemetery to honor our dead brothers and sisters. We were refused entry. We occupied the steps of the Supreme Court and were peacefully arrested. When we ended the week's events with a plan to return our medals to the US Government, we were faced with a ten-foot high wire fence around the Capitol building. Did we try to knock it down? No. We simply tossed the medals over the fence while making public statements about our opposition to the war.

We were targeted by the Nixon Administration due to our effectiveness in promoting greater activism against the war.

We occupied the Statue of Liberty twice. Always peaceful and well-organized.

In July 1974, we marched on DC again, demonstrating for decent benefits for veterans. Again, well-organized and peaceful. We were attacked by the cops. We defended ourselves.

Our history has always been about organizing for greater democracy, political, social, and economic.

We fight fascists when necessary, as we have done many times in our history. We fought them in Miami in 1972, when they tried to disrupt a peaceful protest during the Republican Convention. We fought them in the streets of Chicago.

We now have a situation where the outgoing President of the United States is trying to hold onto power with the aid of fascist mobs. Fascists want to be above the law. Their Great Leader IS the law. We need to be clear about who the enemy is and how we need to respond to them.

We are not saying that the US Government is perfect, but we are not out to destroy the remnants of democratic institutions. Democratic actions, broad social organizations that engage in peaceful protest, unionization of greater numbers of working people, all these are needed to make any positive change.

We should have no illusions about the Biden Administration. We should oppose any effort to let the fascists off the hook for their murderous violence.

As veterans, we never claim to be above the law. In our actions, we always knew that we could go to prison for what we did. We were not violent. We defended ourselves when attacked. We were trying to stop a war. We were fighting for decent benefits for all veterans.

So, what do we do in this current situation? This is not a joke. This crisis will not go away with Trump. We need to understand who is behind this fascist resurgence. How are they funded? What is the corporate interest in setting the stage for fascist violence? How might we view this period in the light of earlier historical examples of the undermining of democratic institutions and attacks on political and racial minorities?

We know that there were organized cells within the insurrection that were intent on destruction and violence. Our elected representatives, staff, and anyone in their way were at the risk of death. We know that some on the Capitol police force, and possibly even elected officials, were also in on the attack. These people saw those around them as disposable and used them as cannon fodder to achieve their goals. A common tactic of these authoritarian movements is a disregard for those around them. This stands in stark contrast to our history and the many movements since then. Our struggles are FOR the people and work WITH the people to fight for social justice.

We also know that in contrast to the white-kid-gloves treatment of these insurrectionists, our brothers and sisters in the Black Lives Matters movement have suffered at the hands of these white supremacists and fascists and their agents within the police force and armed services. We call on all our fellow veterans and officers of the law to root out those racists and insurrectionists and remove them from their ranks.

We must be vigilant. We must use our experiences to educate others. We must demand explanations, not coverups; justice, not slaps on the wrist. People died in the Capitol for Trump's personal vanity and for the class interests that continue to support him.

By the time you read this, Trump will be out of office. The craziness that he promoted every single day of his time in office will not go away. It may go underground, and we should all be on our guard.

Know who the enemy is. Prepare for the continued struggle for PEACE and REAL SOCIAL JUSTICE !!

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