BROOKLYN, NY, January 9 — During a high school debate tournament here, a “speakout” of over 100 students and teachers was organized against the budget cuts. While awaiting the final awards ceremony, debaters described how the budget cuts affected them and their schools. Usually this time is spent just hanging out but coaches city-wide responded well to PL’s call to push debate from talk to action.
Initially it seemed interest in the speakout would be low, but as the ball got rolling and some stated they lacked books in class and others stated that they had no lunchrooms, a hush fell on the room. Scores of teens listened intently to each other, and applauded more vigorously than for awards later on. Many made direct connections to the war in Iraq.
A PLP’er and debater attributed the budget cuts to capitalism, accusing the bosses’ government of shelling out $700 billion to save Wall Street and then attacking workers by making us pay by cutting our school and hospital budgets and laying us off. She also advocated organizing fight-backs and described a walk-out the year before on May Day against budget cuts and the immigration raids.
Another ex-debater, now a college student, championed the need to fight racism and other divisions existing under this system. She focused on the importance of shaking hands after a debate round, remembering that we are one community, not each other’s enemy.
Then teachers spoke up, relating the hardships in their schools caused by the cuts and being inspired by students taking a stand at this speakout. Others declared that more than a speakout was needed, calling for actions and demonstrations against the budget cuts and environmental injustice, a topic relevant to this year’s debate.
The speakout must have hit a nerve because at the end the leader of the debate organization said that while our talking about issues was good, we need to complain to our political leaders, especially now with Obama’s election. He said that he kept hearing students blame “them” (the government) for these problems. We in PLP applaud the indictments of the rulers by the youth at the tournament but this “leader” advanced his rotten liberal line — “we all need to take responsibility” for a degraded environment, racism and a collapsing economy.
He didn’t want us joining together and proposing action to find a solution. It was good to see him exposed in his closing remarks; the applause for him was minimal.
After the tournament, students and teachers showed their openness to communist ideas, taking over 100 CHALLENGES. Some coaches have also agreed to take subscriptions and use them with their debate teams.
The bosses’ economic crisis and Mid-East invasions will intensify in the immediate future. Today’s debaters will be tomorrow’s national service “volunteers” and draftees. We must continue to organize workers and youth to reject liberal misleaders who try to deflect our righteous anger away from the billionaires, their politicians and their system and to win them to embrace the communist PLP.