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Letters to the editor

April 11, 2003 | Page 4

Inspiration for the fight ahead
We can't "support our troops"
Where is Socialist Worker's solidarity?

Red-baiting only hurts the struggle

Dear Socialist Worker,

On March 22, I was among 2,800 antiwar demonstrators at the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Mass. The demonstration was spirited, and the mood among demonstrators was hopeful and enthusiastic, despite a small counter-demonstration.

However, when a representative from International ANSWER got up to address the crowd, I was shocked to hear two friends of mine try to shout him down with boos and cries of "Stalinist!" and "ANSWER sucks!" These were antiwar demonstrators doing the shouting!

Fortunately, a couple of fellow activists got them to stop, and I had long discussions with them afterward about how red-baiting tactics have no place in our movement.

They argued that they weren't trying to red-bait, but that ANSWER's politics were "beyond the pale," because the Workers World Party, which runs ANSWER, supports a host of repressive Stalinist regimes.

I pointed out that they hadn't tried to shout down representatives of the Catholic Church--the same church which opposes a woman's right to have an abortion and has a long history of supporting regimes every bit as brutal and oppressive as any ANSWER's members may or may not support. Instead, they had deliberately singled out socialists and suggested they had no place in the antiwar movement.

There will always be political disagreements between organizations and individuals and engaging in arguments and discussions about these disagreements strengthens the movement. But red-baiting at a demonstration can only divide and weaken us.

Articles in Socialist Worker about red-baiting and the antiwar movement were really helpful in my ongoing discussions with my friends, and I was able to convince them that shouting down fellow activists at a demonstration was a mistake.

Matt Weston, Northampton, Mass.

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Inspiration for the fight ahead

Dear Socialist Worker,

On March 15, while on a visit to Montreal, I was proud to participate in an antiwar demonstration of almost 200,000 people. This demonstration went totally unreported in the mainstream press--as did the February 15 demonstration in Montreal, with an almost identical number of participants.

No single group was dominant. A diverse, multi-ethnic crowd, including lots of youth and not least of all, a large labor contingent, all shared their opposition to the war. Most of the speeches (in Spanish and Arabic, as well as French and English) focused on the single issue of war and peace.

The goal of the demonstration was described by speakers: "[Canadian] Prime Minister [Jean] Chrétien, we are proud that you have not come out for this war. Now we want you to come out against it."

Less than 48 hours after this demonstration (there were over 30 others throughout Canada), Chrétien pledged that Canada would not assist the U.S. war effort. This victory has, once again, shown us that mass movements are the most effective way of stopping this war and should give heart to our own upcoming struggles in days to come.

Larry Lewis, Cambridge, Mass.

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We can't "support our troops"

Dear Socialist Worker,

Recently a student at my university argued with me that this war is thoroughly imperialist--only moments later to conclude that he must now support our troops, no matter what the reasons are for this war.

Through this reasoning, he has moved from organizing against the war into the pro-war camp. In response to this kind of sentiment, many in the movement argue that we should raise the slogan "Support our troops: Bring them home."

But there is still a problem with this call. Although I would like to see our troops brought home, we must also realistically assess how that is possible. As in the case of Vietnam, only a soldiers' strike and opposition to conducting this war for empire can bring the troops home.

The self-activity of working class troops in the Middle East is crucial to the success of our movement. Furthermore, we in the antiwar movement must unapologetically stand for the defeat of U.S. imperialism.

A defeat for U.S. imperialism is also a victory for the American working class, which will build the confidence of American workers to take on the war at home against budget cuts, abortion rights, affirmative action, etc.

For that to happen, we should not favor any call for "support our troops." We should instead stand firmly against this war and say: "No more blood for Empire."

Naveen Jaganathan, New Haven, Conn.

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Where is Socialist Worker's solidarity?

Dear Socialist Worker,

Your article "Building a broader movement" ("What We Think" editorial, April 4) was a piece of rubbish and full of weak arguments that only aim to discourage a variety of forms of resistance to the war.

I encourage you to maintain solidarity, and don't mischaracterize people's motives for opposing war.

Political activists--including you--conduct actions every day in an isolated fashion. It's authoritarian and police-infiltrator-like statements like the ones in your editorial which make your location on the left obviously suspect.

Where's your solidarity?

Aaron, from the Internet

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