statement from Campaign for Labor Rights -- please read

John Cox hazel_motes52 at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 17 09:16:40 MDT 2001


September 14, 2001

IN THE WAKE OF THE TERROR ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001

A statement from the Campaign for Labor Rights, based largely on a
statement issued September 13 by the Black Radical Congress (BRC).

<<<<<

Terror Attacks of September 11, 2001

During this intensely sad and traumatic time, we extend our sincere
and heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those
who lost their life on September 11th. We also wish for the speedy and
full recovery of those who were injured, and we hope that in the
aftermath of the attacks, rescue crews can find as many people still
alive as possible.

Campaign for Labor Rights condemns the horrific terrorist attacks of
September 11th, 2001 in New York and Washington, D.C. The brazen
murder of countless thousands of civilians cannot be supported or
condoned. An unknown number of our union sisters and brothers have
been lost to the combined attacks--Campaign for Labor Rights will
rally support, beginning in Washington, D.C. this weekend, for their
families.

Here in Washington, D.C., we are experiencing something like nothing
we've ever felt before. It's as if the fabric of our community has
been torn, and the smaller tasks of normal day-to-day life no longer
seem important. From talking with some of you from across the country
and around the world, we know that many of you feel similarly. Yet we
are sending this Labor Alert to let you know that we see hope and
potential in these painful moments. We know that sitting on the subway
or walking around on the streets, we have something deeply in common
with people we may never have spoken to before.  This newfound common
ground provides an opportunity to reach out to each other, and to
forge real, human connections with our neighbors and fellow community
members.

We also understand that there are many ways in which the tears in our
communities can be sewn back together. Our communities could be put
back together in reactionary ways, demanding a violent response from
the US government. Communities could rebuild themselves exactly as
they existed before, largely unquestioning of the way the US interacts
with (and acts upon) the rest of the world. Or we could stitch the
fabric of our communities back together in a way that pulls us all
closer together. We could build something out of this moment. We could
talk to our neighbors and community members about how they're feeling,
and we could create something from this moment that won't allow us to
simply fall back into "business as usual."

It is without question that US imperialism has brought genocidal
levels of death and destruction to people around the world. Whether
one looks at the situation in Iraq with the continual blockade and air
bombardments, the situation in Palestine where the US continues to
give virtually uncritical support to the Israelis in their national
oppression of the Palestinians, or the low-intensity economic warfare
against the vast majority of Central America or any number of other
places which perpetuates labor exploitation, one clearly sees the
callousness and evil intent with which US imperialism treats the lives
and property of others, especially non-white peoples around the globe.

Yet, even with a firm understanding of the causes of the desperation,
fury, and hatred of US imperialism, turning to terrorism to fight
global oppression and exploitation is not an acceptable strategy. A
clear and unambiguous distinction must be made between
radical/revolutionary political action on the one hand, and terrorism
on the other, regardless of whether the causes that *appeared* to
inspire the terrorist action(s) are just. Open and unmitigated attacks
on civilian targets do not advance radical/revolutionary causes and
must be repudiated. Rather, such attacks inevitably antagonize the
populace, weaken any existing popular support, and help legitimize
heightened levels of repression by the imperialist state against *all*
progressive/radical/revolutionary political activity, including
increased restrictions on the civil rights of the people.

We already hear, in the voices of those in power, calls for war and
vengeance. War and vengeance without a precise target, but striking
out blindly against civilians, is nothing more than self-serving
egoism, and it is exactly what has just happened in New York and
Washington, D.C.

Given the track record of the US, this vengeance could include
indiscriminate bombings or missile attacks, such as the attack against
the Sudanese pharmaceutical laboratory two years ago, which was later
found *not* to have been connected with any sort of terrorist
activity.

The dangers presented by the September 11th terrorist acts do not
restrict themselves to the external threat. We hear on television and
radio calls for changing the laws and regulations in order to make it
easier to conduct surveillance and to carry-out covert operations
against potential opponents of the US. Rather than accomplishing
anything in terms of reducing the threat of terrorism, such steps will
eliminate basic civil liberties and strengthen the existing tendency
toward a racist and classist police state.  The police are already out
of control and on the rampage in communities across the country. We
cannot afford to further unleash their undemocratic and frequently
racist and murderous behavior in the name of national security.

We should add here that the terrorist attacks have also brought
potential damage to the growing anti-capitalist globalization
movement. The ruling class has been making noise for months about the
demonstrations that accompany the gatherings of capitalist
globalizers. They have inferred that these demonstrations will get
increasingly out of control.

There is no question that the events of September 11th will be used as
a pretext to both discourage activity, as well as to clamp down on any
and all popular outrage with neo-liberal globalization. Campaign for
Labor Rights has heard that this crisis will be used to push forward
that neo-liberal agenda. Specifically, we have heard that Republican
leaders intend to pass a "broad economic stimulus package," which will
most likely include some form of Fast Track, giving President Bush the
authority to negotiate trade deals with other countries with nearly no
input from congress.

This is undoubtedly a crucial moment. We must not let the atrocities
that have already occurred to continue. We must demand that there be
no violent retaliation on the part of the US, and also that there be
no violent, undemocratic legislation pushed through in the haste to
get "back on track."

It is also critical in moments such as these that we as human beings
fight and resist popular impulses toward scape-goating and
racism. From almost the moment of the first attack on the World Trade
Center, there has been an assumption floated within the media that
Arabs or Muslim fundamentalists were behind the attacks. The reaction
to the attacks is reminiscent of what we witnessed immediately after
the Oklahoma City bombings. There was a widespread assumption that
Arabs or Muslims were behind the attack on the Federal Office
building. Few establishment observers expected, or led any of the
public to expect, that the terrorist could be -- and was -- a
homegrown, white American right-winger.

Therefore, it is important to reserve judgment until a more thorough
investigation is conducted. This is particularly important given the
anti-Palestinian/anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bias of the media. The
automatic assumption of the US media is that Palestinians
specifically, and Arabs generally, are animals, or at best, fanatics
with no concern for human life.  The just Palestinian cause is rarely
given credible time, and when offered, generally dismissed by
allegedly objective (but really pro-Israeli) commentators.

Therefore, in the current situation of horror following these criminal
acts, we must actively oppose any and all "witch-hunting" and
stereotyping which is bound to emerge.

Yet another danger we currently face will be xenophobia and, general
anti-immigrant sentiment. This will almost inevitably be directed at
immigrants of color and particularly those who "look" like they might
be of Middle Eastern (North African) origin. The attacks on immigrants
and the condemnation of entire communities must be stopped before they
escalate out of control. We already see some of this happening with
numerous reports of anonymous death threats sent to Arab and Muslim
institutions, as well as the spray painting of racist slogans and
direct, personal threats and attacks on individuals who are assumed to
be from the Middle East (North Africa). We call on all clear-thinking
people to be especially vigilant at this time in making sure that in
the aftermath of this tragedy, another tragedy born of pain, anger,
and hatred does not occur. True anti-racism may require us to put
ourselves at risk physically in order to defend Arabs and Muslims from
unwarranted attacks.

Lastly, we must not condone or be indifferent to the horrendous loss
of human life resulting from this tragedy, nor can we allow these
horrific acts to be used as an excuse to further repress
Arab-Americans, Muslims, or those perceived to be opponents of
capitalist globalization.

As labor rights supporters, we understand the bloody history of the
labor movement in the US, and we understand that violent repression of
workers and organizers around the world persists today. Because we
understand this suffering, some of us more directly than others, we
must show our full and unqualified support and compassion for all
those suffering as a result of this horrible tragedy.


In Solidarity,

Daisy Pitkin and Zakiyyah Jackson

Campaign for Labor Rights

~please send any comments or feedback on this statement to: CLRDC at afgj.org

~to subcribe to Labor Alerts, send an email to CLRmain at afgj.org



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