President Bush’s State of the Union address represents a major challenge to all progressive forces in this period. It was one of the most militaristic, most jingoistic addresses ever made by an American president.
This was more than a reaction to Sept. 11. It was to use those tragic events to rationalize what could be a decade or more of U.S. imperialist aggression around the world. His “evil axis” warning was a threat to the rest of the world that either they go along with his war or else they will be a target.
He also put the American people on notice. In order to carry out this war, the democratic rights and economic well-being of the people will have to be sacrificed. He promised a whole lot of guns and little butter for the working people. And how many lives of U.S. youth will have to be sacrificed to carry out years of war on three or four continents?
With his call for huge increases in military spending including Star Wars and his declaration of years of war, Bush has virtually ruled out any relief for the jobless, health care for the uninsured, help for the homeless and the hungry.
Prescription drugs, a higher minimum wage, more money for our schools and the environment will have to be forgone in order to feed the military-industrial complex, because “we are fighting terrorism.”
The USA Patriot Act and Homeland Security, while aimed at immigrants especially from the Middle East, is a threat to the civil rights and liberties of all people. How do you end racial profiling and stop police racist harassment in this atmosphere? How do you end racist discrimination when someone can be picked up, their phones can be tapped or they can be kicked off airplanes because they look Middle Eastern?
How do workers carry out a strike in this atmosphere? This puts a more than a chilling effect on the right to protest. The democratic rights of the people are being curtailed, because “we are fighting terrorism.”
Bush’s image of thousands of trained Muslim terrorists invading the U.S. was nothing more than old-fashioned right-wing racist hysteria designed to panic people into accepting a prolonged war and repression.
Bush gave his speech on the eve of African-American history month, and there wasn’t a word about ending racism and inequality. Here we are in a severe economic downturn and millions are losing their jobs, homes and health care. The situation for the masses of African Americans, Latinos and other non-whites is most critical.
Over the past year unemployment went up 1.6 percent for white workers and 2.7 percent for African Americans. Almost one out of 10 African Americans are officially out of work; 32.3 percent of Black teens are jobless. Of the nation’s homeless, 72 percent are African-American or Latino, and 25 percent are children. In all of this, 60 percent of the unemployed receive no unemployment compensation.
Welfare is all but repealed for millions, including children. It is an emergency situation that requires serious action by the federal government. Yet it is not even mentioned in Bush’s address. This omission illustrates the deeply racist nature of this president and his administration.
The great W.E.B. Du Bois once said that war and militarism breed racism. Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and the other administration spokespeople are covering up for this administration’s racist policies. The Bush smiles and hugs are irrelevent. What counts are the effects of his policies.
While groups like the Black Radical Congress have taken stands against war, racism and repression, unfortunately many of the major civil rights organizations have been silenced by this administration’s war hysteria.
The whole world is concerned about terrorism but the “war on terrorism” is perpetuating racism and poverty. Military action cannot defeat international terrorism. The U.S. alone cannot defeat international terrorism. We need an international force sanctioned by the United Nations and working with the World Court to end terrorism.
U.S. war moves cannot break the cycle of violence. Finding long-term solutions to the problem of terrorism means winning peace with justice around the world. It means stopping the U.S. corporations from exploiting millions around the world.
The fight for justice on the home front cannot be won if we don’t fight for peace.
It’s time for the labor and civil rights organizations to unite and step forward like Dr. King did in 1967, when he spoke against racism, poverty, repression and the Viet Nam War.
Jarvis Tyner is the executive vice chairman of the Communist Party USA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.