Obama Echos Kennedy ‘Legacy’: War, Racism, Police State

Barack Obama hopes he can serve the dominant, imperialist wing of U.S. capitalists as well as Ted Kennedy, whom he just eulogized as a national hero. The Kennedy Klan — John, Robert and Ted — helped mislead millions of workers into supporting profit-driven attacks on our own class, including genocidal wars. The Kennedys personify the lie that voting for liberal politicians is the answer to the miseries capitalism inflicts on workers, trying to divert them from militant struggle and a revolutionary outlook.

Liberals, like the Vietnam War-boosting Kennedys — now inflicting Obama’s murderous imperialist oil wars on masses of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — pay lip service to workers’ aspirations. They toss out a few crumbs that provide cover for the rulers’ anti-working class atrocities.

PLP Fought Kennedy Liberals’ Building of Racism as ‘Integration’

Only liberals like Kennedy could organize racism in the name of school desegregation. They pulled this off in Boston in the 1974-75 busing crisis. Kennedy protégé  Judge Arthur Garrity and liberal Mayor Kevin White ordered black children to schools in overwhelmingly white South Boston and Charlestown, where Navy shipyard closings had laid off thousands of mainly white, better-paid workers. The liberals wanted to divert these workers’ anger away from the rulers.

To ensure liberal leadership of a racist response, White had appointed James Kelly — leader of a rock-throwing, anti-busing racist gang deceptively called the South Boston Information Center — to an influential graft-ridden city post which dispensed the few jobs reemerging at the former Navy piers. This whole set-up virtually guaranteed a racist outbreak.

Kennedy often spoke in favor of the Garrity-White scheme, which in fact paved the way for budget cuts and furthered deterioration and segregation of Boston’s schools. This eventually led to the emergence of the Nazi group ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) which violently attacked black workers and students. Our Party, on the other hand, in our Boston Summer Project of 1975, attacked the Kennedy liberals and open racists alike, exposing their ties (see box).

More recently, Kennedy perpetuated liberal deception:

• After voting against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq he voted for every war-funding bill ever since. His only objection was that the initial U.S. force was too small and needed more allies.

• Demanding immigration “reform,” Kennedy insisted on 13,000 more fascist inspectors and a shift from enforcement at borders over to worksites, leading to racist raids on immigrant workers. This enabled capitalists, using the threat of deportation, to increase exploitation at the actual point of production.

• Touting his (and John McCain’s) bill, Kennedy said, “employers will have generous access to the legal workers they need,” establishing a “guest worker” program that gives the bosses just enough exploited, low-wage workers to guarantee greater profits.

• Kennedy also co-sponsored the Dream Act whose promise of citizenship hides behind its real aim: a “national service” that puts millions of Latino youth who cannot afford college into the U.S. war machine.

• “Community policing,” another Kennedy pet project, has a friendly name but actually copies Nazi Germany’s networks of neighborhood informers. It uses black ministers and “community leaders” to terrorize black youth with the threat of jail, one minister declaring that “some kids need to go to jail… for their own sake.” (Harvard Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2000)

Kennedy’s character faults deserve mention only in that they highlight the gross inequalities of a class society and the decadence of the rulers and their privileged lackeys. His serial infidelity, substance abuse and arrogance — persistent family traits — hit a trifecta at Chappaquiddick in 1969. Mary Jo Kopechne, a young Kennedy staffer, drowned when a notoriously tipsy Kennedy drove his car off a bridge while “giving her a lift to the ferry.” For the crime, he won sympathy and re-election to the Senate. Workers do serious prison time for far less.

Add to that the cover-up by Kennedy and his cohorts of a family member’s rape of a woman on a Florida junket, a crime from which he was acquitted.

Obama, apparently more disciplined, currently leads the liberals’ bait-and-switch. His “anti-war,” “I’ll-fix-the-economy” platform gained him workers’ votes and the White House. Today Obama presides over one endless war in Iraq and another in Afghanistan that threatens to engulf nuclear Pakistan.

Meanwhile, worsening racist job and service cuts help fund the widening war effort, corporate profits and bankers’ bonuses. Obama’s pro-capitalist program, including his continuation of Kennedy’s crusade for wartime fascism through the afore-mentioned Dream Act, nationalization, and government control of healthcare in the name of “reform,” impels a working-class fight-back even more intense and broader than PLP’s Boston ’75.

As with the Kennedys and Roosevelt, Democratic officials vigorously spread Obama’s ideas through unions, on campuses, in churches and communities. Only by building a mass, revolutionary, communist PLP, drawing from participation in militant class struggles in these arenas, can we ultimately challenge the liberals’ deadly deceit and build a movement to destroy the capitalist hell these billionaires represent.

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