Women are the target

Hate crimes, especially those perpetrated by pro-life zealots, are on the rise, buoyed by the militant, anti-abortion stance of President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

They’ve developed new tactics in which anti-abortion hardliners no longer limit their targets to the health care professionals who perform abortions, but also target women seeking abortions. Their weapons: the digital camera and the internet.

A network of these fanatics takes pictures of women entering abortion clinics and sends them to one of several web sites where the woman’s picture, name, address – and even her medical records – are posted on the web. Another site carries pictures of abortion providers with their names and addresses and crosses out their picture when they have been killed.

Planned Parenthood says that posting these pictures adds additional stress to women seeking abortions. The group likens the practice to that of “drawing a bull’s eye on the backs of these women and inviting those who are irrationally zealous to take action.”

And take action they do: Recent years have seen seven abortion providers murdered, attempts on the lives of 17 others, the bombing of 41 abortion clinics and 165 cases of arson.

Federal courts have issued conflicting opinions of whether posting these pictures on the net is protected by the First Amendment. The most recent, handed down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, said since this activity was meant to intimidate doctors, it was “reasonable” for physicians who work in abortion clinics to conclude that the protester’s action “amounted to a true threat, not protected speech.”

It has been said that the Supreme Court reads the election returns. We think that still holds, despite what happened in Florida in 2000. All of which means the surest way to win the right decision is to win the 2002 elections.

Bush war erodes rights

Amnesty International’s 2002 report came to one conclusion: the war on terrorism is eroding human rights. “What happened on Sept. 11 was a crime against humanity, a gross human rights violation of thousands of people,” said Amnesty’s secretary-general, Irene Khan. However, she said, “in the days, weeks and months that followed, governments around the world eroded human rights in the name of security and anti-terrorism.”

That would include the U.S. government, too. Amnesty criticized the U.S. government’s sweeping new powers to search, detain and spy on citizens and residents, the authorization of military tribunals and the refusal to grant those captured in Afghanistan prisoners of war status. Amnesty cited that more than 1,100 people, mostly Arab or Muslim men, were detained in U.S. prisons.

But other governments around the world as well have used the war on terrorism to settle old scores and erode human rights and stifle political dissent. The report highlighted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Colombia and Afghanistan.

What the report didn’t say was that many of these governments, including the U.S., are right-wing governments that are doing the bidding of mainly U.S.-based monopoly corporations, of which oil, energy and arms corporations top the list. These interests are in direct conflict with human rights. In pursuit of capitalist domination of the world’s labor and natural resources anything goes: war, terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism, religious fanaticism, poverty and oppression.

While the competing corporate and right-wing interests around the world, led by the U.S., coalesce around the war, the world’s workers and peoples, youth and women, environmentalists and democrats, oppressed and disabled, communist and faith-based people all have common interests to do the same – against this war and terrorism.

Whether you call it the struggle for international human rights or the class struggle, international unity and action, are the only hope for a safer, democratic and peaceful world.

And the American people can make a significant contribution to this process by mobilizing and defeating the ultra-right, Bush candidates this November.