From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
Regarding “New York City and Ferguson, Missouri, police show pattern of violence against Black people” (Aug. 11 N&L web statement): In 2009 in the UK we saw something similar. Police officers killed a man in the vicinity of a political protest, then told the press he’d collapsed from a heart attack and that protesters had impeded police paramedics attempting to save him. Subsequent video footage exposed this for a lie, yet British journalists were perfectly happy to publish this account as factual simply because of who was saying it and who they regarded as credible.
Serious, accurate journalism, involving not just fact-checking but real comprehension, suffered a huge loss nearly 20 years ago when the six unions representing the Detroit News and Free Press couldn’t win their strike—even with broad community support—against the billionaire Knight-Ridder and Gannett corporations. Many professional workers—from printers to drivers to writers, photographers and editors—lost their jobs and union protections. The quality of “news” reporting tanked.
“Fast food workers betrayed by so-called ‘leaders’” (July-Aug. N&L) said, “The movement in New York City last year was designed to put Mayor Bloomberg in a bad light as far as justice demands go. The call for $15 an hour was used as a mobilizing tactic, as was the call for the right to organize unions.” That is just nutty! The people suffering under $7.25 an hour, now $8, are in a living hell. It had nothing to do with Bloomberg!
The point of the fast food article is not that workers’ demands were wrong, but that the change from last year to this year constituted a sellout by the union leadership. Saying that people thought they were fighting for a living wage means that the goals of the workers and the goals of the organizers from the union bureaucracy were different. Union leaders designed last year’s campaign to embarrass Bloomberg by having him veto the increase in the minimum wage. Now that de Blasio is in office, the mass mobilization of fast food workers in NYC ended. No revolutionary should defend those who stand in the way of the self-organization of the working class.
“Right wing wins in Europe” (July-Aug. N&L) says that disillusionment with mainstream political parties does not necessarily translate into support for the revolutionary Left. That is not helped by clueless leftists announcing their “anti-imperialist” support for Assad or Putin, and never making any convincing connection between imperialism and oppression of the working class at home.
“Stop Israel’s war on Gaza: the need for revolution in life and thought” (July 28 N&L web statement) skillfully ties in the current regional political climate without neglecting the barbarities of Israel’s onslaught. It’s refreshing to also see somebody point out the military and political ineffectiveness of Hamas rocket fire without simultaneously falling into pacifism or denying the Palestinians the right to armed resistance.
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