The Not In Our Name (NION) project—a self-described “peace movement”—was initiated on March 23, 2002 by the longtime Maoist activist and Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) member C. Clark Kissinger. NION produced, most notably, two documents publicly denouncing America’s post-9/11 policies, both foreign and domestic. One of those documents, the NION “Pledge of Resistance,” condemned the U.S. government’s pursuit of “endless war”; its greed-driven “transfusions of blood for oil”; its determination to “erode [our] freedoms”; and its eagerness to “invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children, [and annihilate] families on foreign soil.”
A separate document, the NION “Statement of Conscience,” condemned not only the Bush administration’s “stark new measures of repression,” but also its “unjust, immoral, illegitimate, [and] openly imperial policy towards the world.” According to NION, it was the U.S.—and not any other nation—that posed the most “grave dangers to the people of the world.”
The aforementioned documents received a groundswell of support from many prominent artists, academicians, and left-wing activists. Among the tens of thousands to publicly endorse NION’s objectives were such notables as Ed Asner, Michael Avery, Amiri Baraka, Medea Benjamin, Phyllis Bennis, Michael Berg, William Blum, Bob Bossie, Leslie Cagan, Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, Ramsey Clark, Kimberly Crenshaw, Tyne Daly, Angela Davis, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Carl Dix, Bernardine Dohrn, Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Eric Dyson, Eve Ensler, Laura Flanders, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Michael Hardt, Tom Hayden, bell hooks, Jesse Jackson, Mumia Abu Jamal, Casey Kasem, Martin Luther King III, Barbara Kingsolver, C. Clark Kissinger, Tony Kushner, Jessica Lange, Spike Lee, Michael Lerner, Jim McDermott, Cynthia McKinney, Robert Meeropol, Michael Parenti, Frances Fox Piven, Bonnie Raitt, Michael Ratner, Edward Said, Susan Sarandon, Pete Seeger, Al Sharpton, Martin Sheen, Gloria Steinem, Oliver Stone, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Leonard Weinglass, Peter Weiss, Cornel West, and Howard Zinn. Also among the endorsers were members of such organizations as the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, the Black Radical Congress, MEChA, and the National Lawyers Guild. A number of the endorsers, such as Ramsey Clark and NION national organizer Mary Lou Greenberg, were RCP members.
NION’s steering committee included the Free Palestine Alliance, the International Action Center, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, the Korea Truth Commission, the Mexico Solidarity Network, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Muslim Students Association, the Nicaragua Network, and the Workers World Party.
NION’s fiscal sponsor was the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization.
Over the years, NION’s advisory board included such individuals as Russell Banks, David Cole, Kimberley Crenshaw, Eve Ensler, Jeremy Glick, Abdeen Jabara, Robin D.G. Kelley, Tony Kushner, Michael Lerner, Dave Marsh, Rev. E. Randall Osburn, Michael Ratner, Naomi Wallace, and Howard Zinn. One of those NION board members, Abdeen Jabara, spent time as a legal advisory board member of the American Muslim Council, president of the American-Arab Ant-Discrimination Committee, a board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and co-counsel (with Lynne Stewart) for the Islamic terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman.
NION’s headquarters were located inside a three-story, downtown Manhattan office building (dubbed “The Peace Pentagon”) which was owned by the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute (AJMMI). For many years, AJMMI rented out subsidized office space in this building to likeminded organizations. Other tenant groups that were based in the Peace Pentagon over the years included: Deep Dish TV, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, Paper Tiger TV, the Socialist Party of New York City, the Socialist Party USA, the War Resisters League, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF, Metro New York chapter).
NION was a member organization of the After Downing Street and United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalitions. It also maintained a close alliance with IFCO, whose federal tax-exempt status enabled it to serve as NION’s fiscal sponsor (thereby allowing donations to NION to be tax-exempt). Moreover, the mutual ties between NION, IFCO, and WILPF were considerable: WILPF chairperson Molly Klopot was a NION organizer, and WILPF executive director Marilyn Clement was IFCO’s treasurer.
By NION’s reckoning, America’s declared war on terrorism was nothing more than a fraudulent pretext for world conquest by a power-hungry Bush administration. America’s closest ally in the Middle East—Israel—was likewise abhorred by NION. In September 2002, for example, NION condemned the Israeli “tanks and bulldozers” that “have left a terrible trail of death and destruction” in Palestinian territories.
During the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in early 2003, NION helped organize a number of major “peace” rallies in various U.S. cities; some of these drew as many as 200,000 people. Hard-left, anti-American radicals made up the bulk of the guest speakers at these events. At an October 6, 2002 NION demonstration in New York, for instance, two of the speakers were Sami Al-Arian (a leader of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and Lynne Stewart (the radical attorney who was convicted of illegally transmitting messages on behalf of her incarcerated terrorist client, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman).
Once the Iraq War was underway, no American military achievement was deemed even remotely worthy of praise by NION. Consider, for example, NION’s response to the December 2003 capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by U.S. forces:
“This ‘new development’ in the ‘war on terrorism’ does not change the fact that this war is immoral, unjust, and illegitimate. It does not change the violations of international law, the lies used to justify the war … or the tens of thousands of Iraqi lives stolen, or the hundreds of U.S. lives lost…. And as they talk about finally seeking justice for the Iraqi people by putting Saddam on trial, they will conveniently leave out any mention of the crimes done to the Iraqi people by the United States.… It was the U.S.-led sanctions that killed over half a million Iraqi children since 1990. Who will put the U.S. administration on trial for war crimes?”
In August 2004 NION organized a demonstration at the site of the Republican National Convention in New York City, to protest President George W. Bush’s “endless war and repression.” Endorsers of the event included Ed Asner, Medea Benjamin, Eve Ensler, Danny Glover, Tom Hayden, C. Clark Kissinger, Barbara Lubin, Michael Parenti, Frances Fox Piven, Rev. George Regas, Leonard Weinglass, Howard Zinn, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Code Pink, the Freedom Socialist Party, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom.
In July 2005, NION joined a coalition that included, among others, such notable individuals and organizations as Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Code Pink, the Culture Project, and United For Peace and Justice—who together issued a “call to shut down the Guantánamo prison camp and demand an immediate independent investigation into the widespread allegations of abuse taking place there.” Added NION: “Guantánamo has become a world-wide symbol for the current Administration’s arrogant disregard of basic human rights. In the past weeks, world leaders including Presidents [Jimmy] Carter and [Bill] Clinton have joined leading human rights groups in calling for the closing of Guantánamo and other illegal prison facilities around the globe.”
On March 31, 2008, NION permanently closed its national office and related infrastructure.