The fear factor

Here we go again.

George Bush’s recent bellicose speeches on terrorism are a warning to all who care about peace and justice. Those speeches are aimed at discrediting the peace movement and silencing all dissent. They show that the spirit of Joe McCarthy is alive and well and currently living in the White House.

The midterm elections are just eight weeks away and the Republicans are in trouble. The polls are showing that if the elections were held today, the GOP would lose its majority in the House for sure, and possibly in the Senate as well — a powerful setback for the Bush agenda.

Therefore, they are hoping to raise the ideological stakes by scaring the people with racism and anticommunism.

They want to change the national discussion away from their failed war in Iraq, their failed response to Katrina and their ongoing racist, anti-working class policies. They want the people to forget that they are torturing innocent people and are spying and lying while more and more are dying. They want us to forget about the 40-plus million without health care and the crisis in education and the environment. This campaign has all the markings of Karl Rove.

Anti-Arab racism is being whipped up to win support for the war. Anti-immigrant racism is being pushed to split the working class. Anti-Black racism is being used to rationalize inaction on Katrina.

Speaking before the Military Officers Association of America on Sept. 5, Bush described his “war on terrorism” as “the great ideological struggle of the 21st century.” He compared it to the effort to defeat Nazism and Communism. He characterized those who want to end the war in Iraq as appeasers like those who appeased Hitler and who did not see the danger of Lenin.

This is the same old unpatriotic charge. It is the height of hypocrisy to make that charge against those who oppose his illegal war in Iraq, particularly since Bush is the grandson of Sen. Prescott Bush, who did appease Hitler.

It is time to reject the slander and anticommunism. Lenin and Hitler were political polar opposites.

When his grandfather was appeasing fascism, the Soviet people, inspired by Lenin’s political legacy, fought courageously against the fascist invaders. The world’s anti-fascist majority supported them. They almost single-handedly turned the tide of the war, all the while calling for a second front which was resisted by many in the U.S., like Prescott Bush.

In the end, the Soviet Union lost 20 million of their people. However, they inflicted more casualties on the Nazis then any other country and drove the invaders back to Berlin. The land of Lenin represented the highest expression of anti-fascism. To be a Communist is to be anti-fascist. The president’s grandfather, on the other hand, wanted to appease Hitler and the Nazis.

This bankrupt thinking fueled the arms race and the Cold War for 50 years and did great harm to humanity. It must be rejected if the fight for peace, democracy, economic and social justice is to succeed.

Bush is in a panic. He has seen the recent CNN poll that shows that 53 percent agree that the war in Iraq has no relationship to the war on terror. That means that a majority of the U.S. people now disagrees with the core reasons Bush says we should be in Iraq.

So Bush and his cronies panic. They know that the only way they can win this election is to use the fear factor.

This election is a referendum on the war, the economy and democracy. The American people, by a substantial majority, now believe that the war was a mistake and want a way out.

The policies of the Bush administration and the right-wing Republican majority in the Congress are responsible for the enormous human tragedies now taking place in Iraq and on our Gulf Coast. Most voters believe it is time for a change. I think the alienation from Bush and the war runs too deep to be reversed at this point. But they are making a serious effort to do just that.

The anti-Bush labor and people’s coalition must be vigilant and keep up the struggle. We must not become dissuaded by Bush’s antics, and we must be prepared for additional provocations.

We must work to make sure that the current majority sentiments will show up at the polls this November. The GOP is long overdue for a big political defeat and 2006 — and 2008 — could be it. The size and scope of the defeat will be determined by the size and scope of the work being done in the grass roots, door to door.

This battle can and must be won.

Jarvis Tyner (jtyner@cpusa.org) is the executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA.