BOSTON, April 14 — Students, faculty and staff at Roxbury Community College (RCC), a mainly black and immigrant working-class school here, showed considerable interest in an anti-war event marking the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war. It highlighted the recent Winter Soldier testimony that publicized veterans’ criticisms of the war. (See CHALLENGE 3/12)
Thirty-five in attendance heard the stirring remarks of two veterans and a speech explaining that U.S. rulers went to war to control Mid-East oil. One ex-Marine said Hurricane Katrina exposed the true nature of U.S. imperialism, which allowed mostly black workers to die in New Orleans while it was killing working people in Iraq. As a black man of Haitian descent, he declared that the racism of Katrina punctured his belief in U.S. patriotism and his willingness to “serve my country.”
We watched some of the recorded testimony of other veterans who described the atrocities the U.S. committed in Iraq. It was inspiring to see how Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is helping to transform soldiers — damaged by their experiences — into anti-war organizers. However, although IVAW is introducing veterans to anti-war politics, the organization is also injecting patriotic content into those politics, undermining an understanding of imperialism, the real cause of the Middle-East wars. This builds a movement which the capitalist class can easily manipulate as they plan wider war to protect their strategic interests in the region.
Because PLP understands the crucial role of soldiers and students in the growth of a revolutionary communist movement, we played a pivotal role in this function. Some students who had attended our May Day dinner a week earlier helped to organize the event, distributing leaflets on campus.
The speech that presented a class analysis about the war helped people make more sense of the veterans’ testimony by putting their personal tragedies into a political context. Soldiers are being forced to kill and maim Iraqis in a genocidal war so that U.S. capitalism can maintain its control over oil.
This analysis inspired one veteran to expound on his previous talk. “It’s RCC students and Bunker Hill Community College students who are fighting this war,’ he said, “not students from Harvard and Milton Academy.” Then, he called for students and soldiers to “revolutionize” themselves as a necessary step in fighting back.
By understanding the class character of the war, working-class students can see the many ways imperialism is attacking them and their loved ones, and their role in organizing resistance. This event made it clear that PLP needs to sell CHALLENGE more consistently and expose students to a communist analysis about both world events and their own reality at RCC.