CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 26 — Among the 4,000 people attending a nationwide Unitarian Universalist convention here, there was sharp debate over issues that directly affect the working class: support for an upcoming supermarket strike, scapegoating of Muslims and withdrawal from Afghanistan.
One resolution called for support for 62,000 Southern California supermarket workers, who will probably go on strike. This would be the biggest labor action in the U.S. since the last Southern California supermarket strike, in 2003 — the biggest fight-back against the notion of “shared sacrifice.” A few objections arose: that boycotts might hurt unionized workers not on strike or that not shopping in certain areas would be impossible. These arguments were countered by one speaker, saying that this detracted from viewing the action as class struggle. The vast majority of delegates voted to support the strike in a variety of ways.
One issue that caused debate was whether representative Peter King’s hearings attacking the Muslim community were related to pressure for continued war in the Middle East. Most attendees agreed racist, hate-inspired King’s assault must be stopped. However, many weren’t prepared to support the idea that the “war on terror” is in reality one of control over resources. With that clause removed, the resolution passed. But all delegates present had been exposed to contradictions in Obama’s promises for withdrawal. The issue of CHALLENGE with an editorial on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline as well as an article about demonstrating at King’s office was sold to 99 delegates.
The resolution on ending the Afghan war was opposed by those who felt it was not of immediate concern (resolutions are categorized as “Actions of Immediate Witness”). The retort came quickly that getting out NOW gave the motion immediacy! While that resolution didn’t receive the 2/3 vote necessary, the specter of this longest war put all else in perspective.
The final plenary voted on an attempt by the trustees to eliminate all Actions of Immediate Witness completely. If it had not been defeated, the most significant debate would have been abolished, along with the chance for delegates to bring issues to the floor. Top-down forces are still at work to divert anti-racist and pro-working-class struggle from even appearing on the agenda.
Historically, there has been movement to organize caucuses into all-black and all-white groups, with emphasis given to “multicultural” ideas. This has been countered by a consciously multi-racial caucus that called lunchtime meetings to strategize our anti-racist presence.
Next year, much business as usual will be set aside when we meet in Phoenix, AZ, with the intent on making the immigration issue primary. While the sentiments of many church-goers are on the side of support to immigrants, what actions are taken on the streets of Phoenix most certainly will be led by rank-and-file members.
This is a vital point. The last act of the last plenary was a neo-fascist move by the moderator to appoint an Accountability Committee to assure that no unapproved actions take place. What makes this committee so dangerous is that two members have been appointed from the Allies for Racial Equity (the all-white group) and the Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (the “people of color” group), both led by racist, anti-communist misleaders. These two groups have been instrumental in fighting against multi-racial Unitarian Universalism. We have bad news for them: we will organize forces for street actions of immediate witness right there in Phoenix