Tag Archives: Boston

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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Boston Teachers, Students and Parents Unite to Fight Budget Cuts

BOSTON, MA, May 19 — Chanting “Bail out schools, not banks” and “Money for schools, not war,” Boston teachers, students, parents and supporters rallied at the State House and marched to City Hall. We demanded no cuts in public school programs and full funding for community colleges and public education.

This was the first mass action of Boston teachers against budget cuts since layoffs were announced in December. Teachers attacked cuts in their own schools. A Haitian community leader spoke against cutbacks, pointing to rising immigrant dropout rates. A Roxbury Community College student attacked underfunding at state colleges. A parent explained how cuts in inner-city schools are racist. A school bus driver opposed the Superintendent’s plan to further segregate the Boston public schools by creating five zones and restricting school choice to within these zones.

A PLP speaker called for an end to the system of capitalism that created the economic crisis.  PLP leaflets calling for communist revolution were distributed.

To organize this rally inside the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), teachers had to fight the BTU Executive Board for months. The Board overturned the vote of the BTU membership to sponsor the rally, disgusting many members. The Board is calling for more taxes on working people, and for lobbying “friends” in the government. But many teachers followed the call to hold the rally anyway!

Teachers are skilled workers. But, like all workers, they are under attack by the bosses. Therefore, they must unite with working-class parents and students to fight against the bosses and their budget cuts. Otherwise, other workers may view teachers as “greedy and selfish.” By fighting to improve the education of working-class students and against racism, imperialism and war, teachers can fight for the needs of the whole working class.

The Progressive Labor Party tries to give leadership to the anger of the hundreds and thousands of teachers, parents and students and turn the fight against cutbacks into the fight for communist revolution.

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Ex-Marine Links U.S. Racism, Katrina and Iraq War

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.

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PL History: Red-baiting, ROAR’s Rampage Can’t Stop Boston’s Anti-Racists

(Last issue’s article about the anti-racist struggle in Boston during the summer of 1975 recounted the battle of Carson Beach. PLP and the International Committee Against Racism (INCAR) once again successfully battled the segregationist thugs in ROAR and defeated a trap set by Boston’s cops, liberal politicians, the NAACP and an unholy alliance of nationalists and Trotskyists.)

The day after Carson Beach, rebellions erupted in several sections of Boston. Black workers and working-class youth, who had had their fill of racism and police terror, fought the cops with every weapon at their disposal. The cops responded by running amok in ghetto projects, breaking indiscriminately into homes and unleashing trained killer dogs on elderly people and children.

The rebellions were somewhat tainted with nationalism. A few black youths stoned cars carrying white passengers or otherwise attacked white people. Given the racist atrocities that had occurred every day in Boston for years, the absence until recently of a mass campaign against them and the rulers’ encouragement of nationalism, this mistake was not surprising. The bosses’ media portrayed the rebellion as “black mobs out to kill whitey.”

Meanwhile, ROAR escalated its fascist violence, conducting ferocious gang assaults against black workers several nights in a row. As usual, no ROAR members were arrested.

Some of the most serious physical and political attacks against BOSTON 75 took place during the week after the Carson Beach fight. The day after the beach incident, a small group of INCAR members were leaving a television studio interview, when about 40 ROAR thugs attacked with clubs and other weapons, including a machete. The thugs were led by Warren Zaniboni, a “South Boston Marshal,” whom Ted Kennedy would later dignify with an invitation to discuss busing. The anti-racists fought back valiantly. They made good their escape onto a city bus with the help of the white driver, who slammed the door in the fascists’ face and drove away. The INCAR members went to Boston City Hospital for treatment. While they were in the emergency room, the cops showed up with the ROAR goons and arrested the anti-racists for “assault with a dangerous weapon.”

Seeing that the combination of ROAR’s terror tactics and their own state power had still not succeeded in crushing the anti-racists, Boston’s rulers launched a political red-baiting campaign. Suffolk County District Attorney Byrne claimed that the violence at Carson Beach had been caused by “outside agitators,” who had come to Boston to start “racial disorders.” He named INCAR and PLP and said that 18 “special prosecutors” would work 24 hours a day to produce indictments in the case. Deputy Police Supt. John Doyle told the newspapers that INCAR members had thrown the first rocks at Carson Beach.

The lies went on and on.

However, the red-baiting proved a complete fiasco. The task force of “special prosecutors” vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, without producing a single prosecution. Boston’s workers didn’t fall for the red-baiting. The organized fascist forces failed to grow during the weeks after Carson Beach. Meanwhile, thousands of people throughout greater Boston continued to sign the INCAR petition.

BOSTON 75’s last major action was a demonstration planned for August 18th, when the volunteers intended to present INCAR’s petition, signed by 35,000 people, to a regularly-scheduled City Council meeting. CHALLENGE readers will remember that several Boston City Councilors proudly flaunted their ROAR membership.

Weeks earlier, INCAR had obtained a permit to march to City Hall. However, Mayor White and the cops had one more trick up their sleeves. Late on Friday afternoon, August 15th, three cops came to the INCAR office with a letter from the Traffic Commissioner revoking the permit for the Monday march. He offered no reason. The rulers obviously thought that this timing would prevent INCAR from organizing against the ban. The press announced that the march would not take place.

As usual, the bosses and their media mouthpieces had underestimated the resourcefulness and commitment of INCAR and PLP.

(Next: The August 18 march; INCAR and PLP prepare to demonstrate in South Boston on the first day of school.)

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