by Bill Onasch
More Hate Driven Terror
As the first funerals for the victims in Orlando were beginning, a Labor Party Member of Parliament was shot and stabbed in front of her constituency office in a small town in northern England. Horrified witnesses to the murder of Jo Cox reported the assailant shouted “Britain First!”
This manic utterance of Thomas Mair was a first clue to the motive of this shocking crime. Cox, born and bred in Yorkshire–and looking like it–would not be a typical target of racist xenophobes. But she offended the psycho-fascist on two counts.
Cox was a very active campaigner for Stay in Brexit—the highly divisive plebiscite scheduled June 24 on whether Britain should stay in or leave the European Union. While there are divisions even among the far-left, the Leave campaign has been largely shaped by the anti-immigrant far-right. They utilize the Britain First slogan–and that is also the name adopted by one of its most extreme components.
But this nascent revival of fascism doesn’t limit their hate-mongering to those born elsewhere. There are millions of people of color, some now fourth generation in Britain, who came to the UK from former colonies. One of this demographic group was recently elected Mayor of London on the Labor Party ticket. The Britain Firsters hate Muslim subjects of the Queen even more than the Irish Catholics who have long been able to reside and work in Britain.
Cox was preparing a report to be introduced in Parliament on violent Islamlamophobic attacks–which increased 80 percent last year in Britain. That alone would have made her an apostate and traitor to the crazed fascist gunman.
The shooter, who was soon tackled and arrested by police, had recently been a voluntary some-times resident of a Mental Health Care facility housed in a sixteenth century manor house looking like a scaled down version of Downton Abby. It turns out the Southern Poverty Law Center in the USA knew more about what was driving the assassin than the health professionals–or Britain’s equivalent of Homeland Security for that matter.
The SPLC have documented long-held ties between the murderer and neo-nazi groups in America and South Africa. These included purchase of literature with detailed directions for making bombs–and guns. These were provided by the same group that influenced Timothy McVeigh—the mastermind of the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building that killed 168, including children in a day-care center. There have been reports that the murder weapon appeared home-made. Guns are highly restricted in the UK, possibly leading Mair to DIY. Lack of confidence in his gunsmithing may explain why the assassin also used a knife as well.
Jo Cox had received death threats via “social media.” When she was in London she had protection provided by the Metropolitan Police. But she had no such security in Yorkshire. Only a 74-year old man tried to stop the attacker–and was himself injured. Undoubtedly, the workers movement will start giving more attention to defending our own.
Of course, the best defense against fascist scum is mobilizing class solidarity to defend those like the thousands of victims of race, ethnic, religious, and LGBT violence who seldom get headlines.
I offer this reminder to those in a country that I admire in so many ways knowing its credibility depends on me pursuing the same in my own land. I didn’t choose to be born in the most violent country in the world. Nor was I offered any options to select my skin pigment, gender, or sexual orientation. I’m not ashamed of my luck of the draw but I do renounce any entitlements some who look like me claim at the expense of others who don’t.
We don’t have Free Will to do whatever we want. But we can make meaningful choices in our limited alternatives. Once we understand the class forces at work in our society then we will recognize that as we work to promote the interests of our class as a whole we also advance our own self-interest—and take the moral high road to boot.
An injury to one is still an injury to all.
The Bust Is Still to Come
Last weekend’s People’s Summit that drew about 3,000 participants to McCormick Place in Chicago, was initiated by National Nurses United–and it was an addendum to the NNU national convention. They put together a diverse list of sponsors that included the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and the UE; 350.org and Friends of the Earth; Labor Campaign for Single Payer, Physicians for a National Health Program and Healthcare Now; and left groups such as Democratic Socialists of America, Communist Party, International Socialist Organization, PortSide, and Socialist Alternative.
DD Gluttenplan closed a Nation article entitled “There Was No Clear Agenda at the People’s Summit—And That’s a Good Thing” with these inspiring words,
“So if I left Chicago without a clear sense of which way the political revolution would be headed after November—still no certainty about what form it would take, or how much of it will survive—I also came away impressed by the creativity, energy, optimism, and willingness to listen of the people I met. We may all have to walk a while past the political graveyard. But we have good company—and plenty of tunes to whistle.”
While The Nation warned us to ignore all the talk about Bernie or Bust, the New York Times took a more balanced if still sanguine approach to various potential deal-breakers,
“One of the last remaining questions of the Democratic presidential primary season is how many of the 12 million people who voted for Mr. Sanders will back his opponent, Mrs. Clinton, now that she is the presumptive nominee. And if interviews with about a dozen Sanders supporters who gathered here this weekend are any indication, the ‘Bernie or Bust’ component of his large following will survive past the summer, even if Mr. Sanders eventually endorses Mrs. Clinton.”
One of those interviewed by the Times minced few words,
“Ethan Winnett, a 31-year-old from Waukegan, Ill., said that if Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton after his decades as a progressive champion, it would amount to nothing short of ‘a betrayal of all of his principles.’”
But a lot of those in attendance were echoing the slogan of loyal Democrats “vote blue, no matter who.”
In the last WIR we commented on the fight for influencing the Democrat Platform. In his non-concession speech streamed to 200,000 supporters, Bernie urged continuing the political revolution by running progressive candidates in local contests. That seemed to spark a lot of interest among those anxious to have something to support in November.
In 2013, after Kshama Sawant was first elected to the Seattle City Council, her Socialist Alternative Party called for 150 independent labor candidates for Congress in the 2014 election. That was a worthy objective–but not a single union wanted to risk not voting blue.
Since then, even more Seattle unions have backed Kshama, and even some important national unions backed Bernie—at least until he was mathematically eliminated in his pursuit of the Democrat nomination. But Socialist Alternative, and ISO, now seek a “left,” not labor option. It appears that the Green Party meets their minimum left requirements even though they strive to be a multi-class party—and sometimes engage in “tactical voting” for Democrats.
Whether as Democrats, Greens or independents, new candidates at this stage probably won’t be able to get on the ballot. The time periods for petitioning for either primary or general elections have mostly expired. The 2016 political revolution will largely stand moot if not mute.
In his pre-concession speech, Bernie reiterated,
“The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly.”
Clearly, neither Greens nor socialists are up to that time-sensitive task. Neither are the Democrats without most of those 12 million Bernie voters turning out for Clinton in November. The political revolution looks more and more like the same old, same old.
The People’s Summit missed a good opportunity for reviving, or at least discussing, the movement for a working class party—a labor party. This wasn’t the last chance. But it would have been better to start preparing while Bernie’s supporters recognize they have some potential power and remain in a fighting mood, rather than the glum prospect of at “best” a second Clinton in the White House.
* The Minnesota affiliate of the NNU are still taking care of bargaining business. Nearly 5,000 nurses are on strike at five Allina Health Hospitals in the Twin Cities. The NNU website describes the issues, “safe patient care staffing, inadequate planning by the hospitals to ensure a safe environment to reduce workplace violence, and hospital demands for cuts in health coverage for nurses and their families.”
* From the Guardian, “May was the 13th month in a row to break temperature records according to figures published this week that are the latest in 2016’s string of incredible climate records which scientists have described as a bombshell and an emergency. The series of smashed global records, particularly the extraordinary heat in February and March, has provoked a stunned reaction from climate scientists, who are warning that climate change has reached unprecedented levels and is no longer only a threat for the future. Alongside the soaring temperatures, other records have tumbled around the world, from vanishing Arctic sea ice to a searing drought in India and the vast bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. The UK has experienced record flooding that has devastated communities across the country and scientists predict that the flash floods seen by parts of the country in recent days will increase in future.”
* The insurance industry essentially wrote the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, but they claim they are losing money. The New York Times reports, “Get ready for big increases in premiums under the Affordable Care Act. A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation examined the most popular individual plans under the new health care law in 14 major cities around the country and found that insurers were asking for increases in 2017 that are twice as big as this year’s. There is wide variation, including some places where rates will go down, but the average requested increase is 10 percent.”
That’s all for this week.
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