Forwarded from Walter Lippmann

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed May 3 07:34:32 MDT 2000

NOTE: Jose G. Perez has posted comments on the position of the US Socialist
Workers Party which described the INS rescue of Elian Gonzalez as "a blow
to the working class".

The US Socialist Workers Party has a long history in the Cuba solidarity
movement, so the views it expresses are significant and should be of
interest to readers of this list.

Many in the Cuba solidarity movement have been stunned by the SWP's
position on this issue. The following is a letter to the editor of THE
MILITANT, the publication which reflects the views of the SWP regarding
their position. At the end of this message, I will add links to the
articles which Karen Wald is discusssing.

[Karen Wald wrote "Children of Che" in 1978 about Cuba's educational
system. She's been living in Cuba for twenty years.]

Walter Lippmann


[May 1, 2000]

The Militant To the Editor:

I usually try to stay out of disputes among and between organizations and
people of the left, as long as we have some basis of agreement over the
issues we are concerned with, whether Civil Rights and Vietnam, Cuba, or
scores of other struggles for social justice.  I think it is much more
productive to emphasize what we have in common than to haggle over the
usually much less significant words, tactics or concepts that separate us.

So it is with regret that I have come to the conclusion that this topic
--which many concerned companeros have been writing me about --really must
be addressed publicly. I feel that the Militant and some of its writers
have really gone off the deep end in attacking the mission to rescue Elian
Gonzalez above and beyond the point that we all agree on: that if the INS
and Clinton administration would have done what they should have in the
first place (if there weren't an anti-Cuba policy in effect for the last 40
years) none of this would have become necessary.  But it DID become
necessary. And we ourselves could not have rescued that boy.

And I have to take exception to the notion that what the Militant prints is
automatically "the communist viewpoint". There is nothing "communist" about
the confused stance being taken by  The Militant and Steve Clark in siding
with the occupants of the "private home" where Elian was kept hostage for 5
months -- and which had ceased to function as a "private home" from the
first days Elian was introduced into it.

Steve Clark objects to the comparison many have made to sending in troops
to enforce integration in the South over the opposition of recalcitrant
segregationist mayors and governors.

Well, you don't need 7 paragraphs of the history of the Civil Rights
movement to understand where the similarities lie -- just read your own
words about the Civil Rights Movement, and then deduct a few:

"How many more lynchings, beatings, floggings, and kidnappings must we have
before the federal government acts to protect the Negro people of
Mississippi?" Steve Clark recalls the grassroots movement of the 50s and
60s asking.

Now, let's ask the same question after 5 months of the political kidnapping
of Elian Gonzalez: "How many more....  kidnappings must we have before the
federal government acts...[to take that little boy out of the hands of a
group of crazed kidnappers and return him to his father, his family, his

It is inconceivable that The Militant would be aligning itself with the far
right of the counterrevolutionary sectors of the Cuban-American community,
the Republican Party, the anti-Castroites of every hue -- including New
York City's death-dealing mayor Guiliani -- in their hypocritical
condemnation of the action that they themselves made necessary.

Criticize all the many things that need to be criticized -- but acknowledge
that when they sent in troops to undo the horrendous mess they had gotten
themselves into (which included bringing into total disrepute the one
sector that gave them "cover" for their anti-Cuban policies), they were
also saving the life of a little boy and reuniting a family.

The raid was neither "unconstitutional" nor "anti-working class"; it was
simply the only way to rescue a small child being illegally held by a
presumably armed group with a known terrorist record who had already stated
publicly and privately that the only way they would give him up would be
through the use of force.

There is no way that that should be equated with the brutal, inhuman
actions that the Migra is prone to in its daily abuses of immigrants
seeking work and a better standard of living that they hope to attain in
the US. The Militant and its writers should be able to separate the two.
Just as you would not condemn the police force in a capitalist city for any
number of proper actions they take on behalf of the citizenry -- against
murders and rapists, for instance -- simply on the basis that at other
times the police force acts in unacceptable ways. You can and should make
the distinction. Criticize what they do wrong, and commend what they do right.

And if you can't, at least don't be so arrogant as to insist that your view
is the only way a "communist" would see the issue (saying your editorial
"presents the communist viewpoint on the brutal and unconstitutional INS
asault in Miami") -- because in doing so, you are writing off the millions
of communists on this island, who don't happen to agree with you.

I hope you will act like real communists, in analyzing what you have
written until now, finding the errors in it, and printing a retraction.

Karen Lee Wald Havana, Cuba


Note by Walter Lippmann

If you wish to read the documents which Karen Wald is responding to, the
following are links to the recent series of articles on Cuba in the
newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party. It's called THE MILITANT.

May 8 issue of The Militant:

INS assault in Miami strikes blow to the working class (editorial)

151 Federal Agents Carry Out Massive Assault at Miami home (news article)

Letters to the Editor May 8, 2000 Militant

Selling the 'Militant' to respond to INS raid

Front page of The Militant May 8, 2000

Debate on parental rights and "la migra" April 24, 2000

Socialists register progress in struggle for a proletarian party (Militant
April 17, 2000). This long article contains a section explaining their
visit to Cuba and their explanations of their views to the Cuban people.

Louis Proyect

(The Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list