[Marxism] M. Junaid Alam exchange with Snehal Shingavi

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 3 14:15:47 MDT 2005

(Snehal Shingavi is an ISO member at U. California, Berkeley.)


One point I want to make, and perhaps a previously unbroached one, relates 
to Snehal's comment:

" I think that the size of the Arab and Muslim working class is a secondary 
question, though, to the demonization of Arabs and Muslims that takes place 
in the US (despite their size and perhaps because they are such a small 
part of American live), and as long as such scapegoating continues, there 
will be concrete barriers to the radicalization that Junaid and I both want."

Yes, the demonization of Islam led by the hatemongers on the Right is a 
concrete barrier to radicalization. We all want to defeat this idea. The 
penultimate question is: how? The dividing political issue, distilled to 
its bare essence is: Iraq or Palestine?

It strikes me as extremely bizarre that pro-Palestinians have utterly 
failed to grasp the huge reality that Iraq *is our Palestine*. What has 
always been the barrier to getting people to care about Palestine here? 
That the US is only secondarily involved from a military, political, and 
strategic standpoint. What material, concrete, tangible factors would 
compel the average American to radicalize over Palestine? The question 
answers itself. But now, the same system and the same logic which produced 
Palestine has produced Iraq - that, after all, is the whole thrust of the 
pro-Palestinian analysis. We have massive American military, financial, 
political, and social involvement with huge media coverage about Iraq every 
day. A hell of a lot more than we'll ever have on display about Palestine.

So, how in the *world* does Palestine make for a more catalyzing way to 
segue into anti-racist, anti-colonialist thinking for Americans than Iraq? 
We will be doing a hell of a disservice to the Palestinians if we waste the 
opportunity to galvanize Americans who oppose the war in Iraq, since a 
significant portion of them can certainly be won, in the course of 
struggle, to a pro-Palestinian position. The "Palestine as point of unity 
or bust" position is like opening the house to get into the door instead of 
opening the door to get into the house. You can't just judge Joe Sixpack by 
saying, "well, he doesn't care about Palestine, so screw him". Joe Sixpack 
cares about the unfolding American disaster that is Iraq, and when he gets 
more deeply drawn into the issue during the course of the struggle, he can 
more clearly see how Palestine, not to speak of the entire imperialist 
system, is interlinked.

Of course, he may not see this at all. Maybe Joe Sixpack is a real 
dumb-ass, cares about Iraq only because of the American factor, and his 
politics will never develop, deepen, or advance. But if you have that 
attitude when it comes to the potential of most Americans, well, then why 
the fuck are you (directed generally) a radical to begin with? Indeed, by 
following the ANSWER route, you only increases the chances that Joe Sixpack 
will never be truly radicalized, because all the radicals are at some 
other, smaller, holier demo. And after flipping the news channels and 
seeing the pundits mock the anti-war movement for not being able to a hold 
one fucking coordinated march, seeing the cameras focus on what appears to 
be a small crowd of people hollering about something that's not even about 
the war, maybe Joe Sixpack won't even bother given the anti-war position 
another thought.

I know some radicals want Joe Sixpack to be a superhero. He's supposed to 
swing his big proletarian hammer, bust through the house, and then find the 
door. But that's not how it's gonna happen. First let Joe open the 
god-damned door, and get into the house. And then, with us there inside 
pitching our arguments for our position, trust him to make the right decision.



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