SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, Oct. 22 — “Fight Anti-Muslim Racism! Build Multiracial Unity Across All Borders!” proclaimed posters blanketing campus in response to the David Horowitz-sponsored “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” (IFAW). They were posted by student organizations opposing IFAW’s racism and war-mongering and its attempt to build support for U.S. imperialism’s resource wars in the Middle East and worldwide. The postering was part of a series of actions challenging IFAW on campus, including a teach-in, documentary screening and a number of op-ed pieces in the college newspaper.
Many students, faculty and workers were upset with the blatant racism being promoted by IFAW, but viewed it as a “freedom-of-speech” issue. Other students pointed out that IFAW’s racist hate speech has nothing to do with “free speech,” but is an attempt to win workers and students to fascist ideas and activities rooted in jingoism, nationalism, patriotism and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
“Free speech” is a myth in class societies, especially under capitalism, where the ruling class controls the overwhelming majority of the means of communication, and the university itself, deciding most of what gets taught in classes and the framework of academic and intellectual discussions. Racist and fascist ideas must be opposed at every opportunity, whether in the university or on the shop floor.
After an anti-war documentary screening before 37 students, a speaker traced the economic roots of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: the need to dominate Mid-East oil for profit and to secure the U.S. global empire. The IFAW’s racism tries to hide this fact, presenting the “War on Terror” as a defense of “Western democracy” and against radical Islamic politics. It argues that U.S. imperialist wars are in the interests of workers and students, trying to convince them to sacrifice blood and sweat for the ruling class’s profits.
But while Exxon-Mobil’s profits skyrocket and more wealth is accumulated at the top, workers lose their homes and face wage-cuts, vanishing pensions and declining health benefits. Every day workers must suffer more closed hospitals, higher prices for daily necessities and neighborhoods devastated by racist cutbacks, police terror and increasing poverty and unemployment, from South Central Los Angeles to Oakland to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. This is the reality of capitalism and its imperialist system.
Later that week, a teach-in brought out nearly 60 students and campus workers. A faculty speaker exposed the racist sensationalism behind Horowitz’s language, and the fact that fascism historically has been rooted in capitalism and its need to maintain exploitative relations. The ruling class funds and supports his racism and attempts to build U.S. nationalism as tools to prepare workers, students and soldiers for wider resource and profit wars.
While liberals may publicly distance themselves from outright racists like Horowitz or the Minutemen, they fully support their racist and warmongering ideas which they promote in more subtle and dangerous ways. A student speaker also linked today’s wars to the long history of U.S. imperialist terror against the world’s workers for the benefit of the capitalist class.
Throughout the week internationalism and multi-racial solidarity among workers, students and soldiers were stressed. Students, faculty and workers called for unity to fight Horowitz’s racist attack not only on Muslim families, but on the whole working class. CHALLENGE and PLP’S communist politics proved crucial to mobilizing students around anti-racist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist ideas rather than “free speech” issues, helping to organize a multi-racial group of students who understand more why capitalism must be smashed and replaced by a communist world.