Tuesday, January 25, 2011
WWP Leader on Tucson: 'Don't Let The System Off the Hook!"
Published Jan 23, 2011 7:41 PM
Following is a somewhat condensed version of a talk by Workers World Party Secretariat member Teresa Gutierrez to a Jan. 14 WWP forum in New York.
In the wake of the events in Tucson, one of the running themes in the media all week was: “This is not the time to point fingers; this is the time to remember the fallen.” We say no. This is exactly the time to point fingers while remembering the victims.
And we point the finger not only at the racist, reactionary rhetoric of the right, not only at the Sarah Palins, Glenn Becks and the Tea Party, but at the entire capitalist system.
The bourgeoisie, the media and the government want to narrow the focus on this tragedy. The theory of a “lone assassin” or “a deranged killer” is in their interests; it keeps the system off the hook. This we must not allow.
We have to point out that the capitalist system cannot function without terror and violence at its command. It needs and counts on divisions and alienation in society so that it can be free to carry out its war against the workers and the oppressed.
From day one this country was built on such violence and terror: the horrific enslavement of African people, the robbery of Mexico, the genocide of Native people, the foreign domination of oppressed lands.
What else can we expect except tragedies like Tucson when the foundation of this country is built on aggression and putrid to its core? This is the “America” we are expected to rally around.
The International Action Center and Workers World Party were the first to call this a political assassination attempt. It was obvious that the extreme anti-immigrant, racist, anti-worker climate in Arizona led to Saturday’s events.
Deepening economic crisis behind tragedy
We did not need to know the mental stability of the suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, because he was influenced by the rhetoric filling the air waves. It was the racist, anti-Obama, right-wing language; the militarization of the border; the ban on ethnic studies; the lying, deceitful rhetoric on health care; attacks on abortion; and so on that led to his actions.
As the sheriff of Pima Country, Clarence Dupnik, said: “Arizona has become the Mecca of hatred.” And while we do not characterize a political climate with an emotion, we agree that the reactionary climate was behind these events.
Dupnik is a life-long cop, a representative of the state, and he is motivated by a desire to preserve capitalist order. Since his comment, the right wing in Tucson has gone after him and is calling for his resignation.
We may never know who was whispering what to Jared Lee Loughner. That may be revealed in some scandalous exposé years from now. But we do know this: Mental hospitals are being shut down with no concern at all for the mentally ill. The sick are forced to sadly walk the streets alone and homeless because of cuts in health care.
Much has been revealed about Loughner’s state of mind. Reports indicate that he was psychologically severely ill. There is no evidence yet to show whether or not there was a fascist conspiracy to use him, but it is clear he was immersed in vile attitudes manipulated by the right.
Loughner had been rejected by the military, kicked out of school, had several encounters with police, was even arrested. He could have made any of these a target. But instead he went after an elected official.
If we lived in another kind of society, where genuine help was available for the ill, an organized community based on solidarity, not profit or individualism, would have stuck to him until it was assured he was being taken care of. Financial issues would not be obstacles to proper treatment.
But that is not the picture of capitalism at all. Capitalist society reeks with alienation and individualism. Every person, every family is on its own. This is fostered by every single racist, anti-worker, anti-poor institution from the courts to the education and health care systems.
Look at what is happening in the prisons around this country. It is state-sponsored terror and violence.
Two women — the Scott Sisters — were in a horrible jail for 16 years for allegedly taking $11! The prisoners of Ohio and Texas are tortured every single day. In a way that is a much worse crime than anything a lone person does.
And we cannot forget terrorist acts like the FBI killing of an Imam in Detroit, the ongoing police shootings of Black and Latino youth, the murder of a 17-year-old migrant on the border just a few days before the Tucson tragedy. All are examples of the violence that is a by-product of the capitalist system.
Above all, we know that behind the tragedy in Tucson is the deepening economic crisis. As the capitalist class goes after public workers, unions, immigrants and oppressed people, as it moves to make conditions here like those in oppressed countries around the world, it needs divisions, racism and reaction to carry out its brutal program.
Tucson was a political, fascist assassination attempt because it took place at ground zero of the right-wing climate; because the target was not random individuals but an elected official, a member of Congress who had been steadily singled out by the right wing.
Paul Teitelbaum, in his article in the Jan. 20 Workers World, lists all the attacks against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, including the infamous crosshairs that Sarah Palin put on Giffords’ district on her website.
Just a word on Giffords. She is no progressive. She supported the militarization of the border and was basically quiet on SB 1070 and the Arizona ban on ethnic studies. But the right wing hated her nonetheless.
We do not know if the fact that she was a Jewish woman contributed to why Loughner went after her. A lot has to do with how her opponent in the congressional race, Jesse Kelly, conducted his campaign. He invited supporters to join him at a gun range to fire an M-16 assault rifle; his election poster showed him cradling one with the words, “Send a warrior to Congress.” Some on the right attended Giffords’ events carrying arms.
In our statements, we pointed out that if the shooter had been a person of color, an immigrant or a Muslim, this would have immediately been characterized as a terrorist act.
The case is now in the hands of the FBI, the same ones who have not rounded up fascist right-wingers or Minutemen but have instead gone after anti-war activists. That is why a people’s investigation and a people’s response is the only alternative to the events in Tucson.
It is very likely that the Justice Department and its FBI will cover this all up. If the state proceeds with a nonpolitical interpretation of Saturday’s events and restricts the action to that of a lone deranged individual, this will be a signal to fascist elements: Keep doing what you are doing; you are safe. This will allow the fascist elements in society to grow. And this we cannot allow.
The memorial on Jan. 12 was a rally of social democratic forces and the more moderate wing of the ruling class. Not all of those there, of course, were social democrats; many were part of the capitalist establishment. But the event definitely strengthened the social democrats in the movement who are loyal to the capitalist parties.
President Obama’s initial statement after the shooting was rather weak and completely skirted the politics of the event. He appeared fearful, and rightly so, as he is the target of a racist and violent campaign himself.
Our party understands the contradiction that the Obama presidency poses for our movement. On the one hand are his thoroughly imperialist policies of war, bailing out the banks and so on. On the other hand, we deeply understand the national question in this country, and would defend Obama from any racist, right-wing attack in the context of solidarity with the Black community and against racism.
The moderate wing of the Democratic Party recovered itself on Jan. 12. What was a memorial to the victims also became a political event. It became an opportunity for mainstream forces among the ruling class and the Democratic Party to send a message to the right wing. It was very mild; it was very touchy-feely. But it was nonetheless a rebuke to the Palin-type ideology.
The event was opened by a Native person, a U.S. citizen who is half Mexican and proudly declared it. There was an immediate round of almost thunderous applause. For sure many Mexicans among the masses must have sighed a small sigh of relief. After all the racism and vilification of Mexicans in Arizona, it was a teensy-weensy blow against racism.
I am positive that many Mexicans wished that when a tribute was paid to the gay Mexicano who saved Gifford’s life and he took the mike, he would have said something, anything about the anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican climate raging in the area, anything against the senseless, brutal and cruel deaths of Mexican immigrants on the Arizona border. But he did not. Oh, well; I know many gay Latinos who will.
Workers & oppressed must push right wing back
The social democratic forces who rallied in Tucson cannot have the last word on these events. This is an issue for the working class; an event that revolutionary forces and class-conscious activists must take hold of. We cannot allow the liberal bourgeoisie, much less the far right of the ruling class, to set the agenda on this or any other such important development.
The working class and the oppressed must be the ones to push the right wing back. Arizona may be ground zero for the right, but it must also become ground zero for the fightback.
Who will benefit the most from the events in Tucson? Will it be the right wing? Will it be the Obama forces, who will only use the events to continue their war on the working class? Or will it be the progressive and revolutionary forces?
Can events in Arizona become the magnet for a broad working class May Day, where not just immigrants march in record numbers but other sectors of the working class join them in large numbers?
This is long overdue.
Our party is committed to finding ways to connect the struggles, to build the movement against the cuts and attacks on all workers, here and around the world, to illustrate that the capitalist system is the root of all the problems and must be destroyed if humanity is to prevail.
Whatever the political landscape in the coming period, the time is long overdue to wage a militant, righteous struggle against the dire economic crisis, which is at the heart of everything in this period.
So on to defeating the right and ending fascist terror! On to winning justice for the workers and oppressed of Arizona, for land stolen from Mexico! Down with the Tea Party and Sarah Palin! Enough with the Democrats and Republicans!
Down with U.S. imperialism!
Abolish capitalism and build socialism! Si se puede!
Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.