Not in my name
You fight a war against terrorists and violence and try to wave your guns to
Fear us all into silence.
You built your empire with natives and slaves like the truth won't
Resurrect waging ward from its grave."
— From "September 12th."
Hip Hop artist, musician, producer, actor, and poet Saul Williams released the EP Not in My Nametwenty years ago, in May 2003, just a few short weeks after President George W. Bush Jr. announced an end to "major combat operations" that were part of the Shock and Awe military invasion of Iraq launched in March of that year. Featuring three tracks and remixes by DJ Goo and DJ Spooky, who also produced the record, the protest EP introduced the anthems: "The Pledge of Resistance" – performed live at Central Park, "September 12th," and the hauntingly prescient and patient "Bloodletting."
"Where is that voice from nowhere to remind us
that the holy ground we walk on, purified by native blood has rooted trees
whose fallen leaves now colour code a sacred list of demands?
The EP was a project of the anti-war protest collective Not in Our Name that included writers, musicians, actors, political activists, academics, a couple of national political figures, and other prominently personalities at the time.
"The Not In Our Name Pledge of Resistance was created collectively by artists and activists in April 2002 as a means of inspiring protest and resistance. It is at the heart of the Not In Our Name Project. The Pledge was not intended to be signed, rather, it is a tool to be used by individuals, organizations and communities to inspire and strengthen individual and group resistance."
In this 2003 interview with Satya Magazine, Williams shared his role and reasons for creating the EP
"I helped to write their Pledge of Resistance [along with Starhawk], and I've written some music for them. I have been speaking non-stop and working with them in saying, We don't condone the atrocities that are occurring by the American government in our name. Since we are tax-paying citizens, anything the American government does, they are basically doing in our names; and if we are not in agreement, then we have a right to stand up.
We don't want people killed in our names, and unfortunately that is exactly what is happening. Here I am, 100 percent against the war—I'm not one of those people who is saying, Let's just get Saddam out without any warfare—I'm not thinking about Saddam, to me Bush is a bigger threat, a bigger terrorist. Whatever Saddam has done, he's done to his people; Bush is aiming to impose terror on the world, on humanity itself. Countless Iraqis are dying at this very moment, as we speak, and I'm sitting at home, chilling. And not only civilians, but soldiers, I don't want the soldiers dead. If you really want to support our troops, don't send them to war, don't ask them to fight."
From "The Pledge."
We believe that as people living in the united states it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government in our names.
We pledge resistance.
We pledge alliance with those who have come under attack for voicing opposition to the war or for their religion or ethnicity.
We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom and peace. Another world is possible and we pledge to make it real."
According to the Cost of War Project at Brown University, from 2001-2021, the War on Terror cost over $8 trillion, with 900,000 lives lost. "The research team's $8 trillion estimate accounts for all direct costs of the country's post-9/11 wars, including Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations funding; State Department war expenditures and counterterror war-related costs, including war-related increases to the Pentagon's base budget; care for veterans to date and in the future; Department of Homeland Security spending; and interest payments on borrowing for these wars. The total includes funds that the Biden administration requested in May 2021."