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Views in brief

March 30, 2007 | Page 12

Neo-Nazis target immigrants
Chávez and struggle from below
Free Genarlow Wilson

Neo-Nazis target immigrants

"IT IS domestic terrorism. It always has been domestic terrorism, and it always will be domestic terrorism until it stops." So testified police detective Matt Browning at a recent hearing at the Arizona statehouse about anti-immigrant vigilantism on the Arizona border with Mexico.

Browning has spent 12 years working undercover in various vigilante groups and confirmed what immigrant rights' activists have argued all along: that "protecting the border" is a cover for neo-Nazi and white-supremacist groups to organize and recruit.

Browning described the three border militia groups and six white-supremacist groups he worked with as some of "the most violent, racist skinheads in the nation." He recalled that almost every meeting of these groups he attended over 12 years dealt with immigration.

Mark Pitcavage, the national director of research for the Anti-Defamation League, drew a distinction in his testimony between these hate groups and vigilante organizations like the Minutemen. But he confirmed that on actual border patrol operations, members of both groups mingle with and feed off one another.

Both speakers stressed that the rhetoric of vigilante and supremacist groups leads to the kind of violence that Steve Boggs perpetrated in 2005.

Boggs murdered two Latinos and an American Indian man at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Mesa--some 200 hundred miles from the border. Boggs had been involved with a white-supremacist militia and had written a letter to the police, in which he stated he wanted to "rid the world of a few needless illegals."

It is often argued that we shouldn't focus so much on the actions and hate speech of racists like Boggs--that the attention only helps this tiny minority to grow. But when federal officials conduct random sweeps and workplace raids, as they did recently in New Bedford, Mass., the atmosphere grows only more rank for racist vigilantes to turn their rhetoric into action.

That is why we need to build a movement for immigrants to stop the raids by ICE officials and confront the racists head-on.
Jeff Bale, Phoenix

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Chávez and struggle from below

LEE SUSTAR'S article on Hugo Chávez and Venezuela gives a sharp and balanced view of a highly complex and rapidly developing situation ("The struggle in Chávez's Venezuela," March 16). There are a few things however that I would like to add, mostly in reference to the proposed united socialist party of Venezuela (PSUV).

First of all, there will be nothing obligatory about joining or merging with the new party. Other political parties of both the right and left will continue to exist.

Significantly, Chávez has emphasized that the new party must have profound internal democracy with party leaders directly accountable to rank-and-file members and that the party's platforms will be voted on by a referendum of party members.

This has led the center-left social democratic parties, "Father Land for All" and "We Can" (PPT and PODEMOS) along with the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV)--all three of which have campaigned heavily for Chávez--to announce that they will not join the new party.

The careerist political elites who operate these parties are hostile to Chávez's proposal because they fear they will lose their privileged and unaccountable positions. If they change their decision not to join the PSUV in the future it will only be out of that same fear.

Meanwhile, Trotskyist union leaders like Orlando Chirino, Stalin Perez and their CCURA tendency within the National Union of Workers (UNT) have joined the discussion process for the creation of the PSUV.

Chirino's tendency in the UNT has remained independent and become the largest tendency, in spite of the UNT being full of bureaucrats and reformists. They would join the PSUV only on the basis of remaining autonomous as an internal tendency.

Of course, revolutionaries should not count their chickens before they are hatched by putting too much stock in this new party before it has formed, but nor should we be overly pessimistic. For all these reasons, the idea that Chávez is trying to establish a "one-party state" must be rejected outright.

The added power granted to Chávez by the National Assembly in the form of a presidential decree is another issue. As socialists we should be critical thinkers who do not gloss over complex questions, but that of course means looking at both sides.

The decree grants Chávez the very specific ability to pass certain types of laws. Laws passed by decree can in fact be revised and vetoed by the National Assembly, unlike the fast-track legislation powers granted to Bush. Also laws passed by decree--like any under Venezuela's 1999 constitution--can be overturned by popular referendum. So while the presidential decree may not be new to Venezuela, the people's ability to check it is.

Of course, we must always be clear that genuine socialism cannot be handed down by decree, but can only be won by struggle from below. We should remain critical while recognizing that Chávez has not yet shown any signs of blocking struggles from below--in fact, quite the opposite.
Zach Mason, Washington, D.C.

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Free Genarlow Wilson

IN YET another blatantly racist case, Genarlow Wilson, a high school senior in Douglas County, Georgia, has been behind bars for the last two years and will stay there for the next eight.

He was convicted of aggravated child molestation for a voluntary act of oral sex with another teenager. He was 17, and she was 15--three weeks from her 16th birthday. The age of consent in Georgia is 16. To put this in context, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 47 percent of 9th through 12th graders have already had sex.

The most disgusting element of the whole rotten case is that, according to the NAACP, a white defendant was recently convicted and sentenced to only 90 days for having sex with a younger child. Compare this to the mandatory sentencing of Genarlow Wilson--who is Black--to 10 years.

How many more Black men need to waste their life because of the criminal injustice system?
Roberto Rosario, New York City

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