Thursday
Feb082018

Letters of February 21

Rallies vs. Bosses’ Slaughter of Muslim Workers in Yemen
Nothing exposes the vicious, racist brutality of imperialist rivalry like the genocidal civil war in Yemen. The U.S. is supporting Saudi Arabia to keep Yemen and its oil out of the hands of Iran. Meanwhile, over 100,000 children have been killed, famine is widespread, and there is the worst cholera epidemic in modern history.
On January 30 there were two demonstrations in New York City protesting these murderous acts by the U.S. government against Muslims. About 50 people, outside the offices of Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, demanded an end to US complicity with the Saudi Arabian bombing campaign in Yemen. There were members present of the NYC Action Corps, the United Auto Workers union, the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY, Jewish Voices for Peace and other organizations, but thankfully no politician’s representative deigned to speak to the crowd. We don’t need politicians promoting themselves and voting as solutions to these imperialist wars. We need more and more people building a mass movement against these imperialist wars that are leading us ever closer to a world war, likely with nuclear weapons.
An hour later, about 100 protestors, including the Arab-American Association, gathered in Washington Square Park against Trumps Muslim ban, where speakers told tales of family separation and inability to find sanctuary from oppression.
Challenges were distributed at both rallies and a few new friends were made. Let’s get more of our friends to turn these wars between imperialist powers into a revolutionary class war for communism, a system run by and for the working class.
*****
Disagreement over Union Leadership
I disagree with the CUNY article (1/10). The article presents the Bronx rally as being opposed to the leadership that called the December 4 event.
The author makes a big deal out a tactical issue: whether to have rallies on individual campuses or have a city-wide demonstration of hundreds of members and supporters that marched to the CUNY Board of Trustees hearing. The union leadership is not “leading us to passivity and to accepting, rather than fighting, the terrible conditions that we face.” Passive leaders don’t call for rallies and marches at all. And passive leaders also don’t call for $7,000 a course for adjuncts, which would more than double their salaries and would be unprecedented at a public university.

It is true that one speaker in the Bronx raised the issue of striking, which would be a violation of the Taylor Law and subject the PSC to massive fines. The article’s implicit suggestion that it’s only the leaders preventing a strike is misleading.
The article is so intent on lambasting the union “bosses” that it neglects to say a word about the main obstacle to obtaining better conditions at CUNY for both employees and students: the capitalists and the politicians who work for them. Although NYC is the home to more billionaires than any other city on earth, CUNY is starved of funds and the PSC is confronting the following reality:
• The Governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently vetoed a bill that would have provided millions more in funding for CUNY, and he has engineered a state budget deficit of $4.5 billion, so he’ll be able to say he has no money to raise the salaries of adjuncts.
• Trump’s federal tax bill and budget will result in serious losses of revenue to NYS.
The author might have provided a serious critique of the leadership strategy, but chose to make unfair accusations instead, even ludicrously suggesting that PSC leaders are “capitalists of one stripe or another.” This is sectarianism at its worse.


CHALLENGE RESPONSE: You’re correct in criticizing the emphasis placed on tactical disagreements. The article would’ve been stronger had it described how PLP is building a strategic alternative for communist revolution, and how that informed their tactical criticism of the PSC.
However, the point of the article is that PLP is building the only alternative to capitalism—not how “active” the PSC leaders are in calling for this and that. Why take such offense to an attack on union bosses? PL’ers are hardly the only people to criticize the union for being passive—just ask CUNY adjuncts and students. Our criticism comes from a place of understanding a hard lesson from the old communist movement: liberal bosses, which include union misleaders, are the working class’s main danger.
PLP fights to earn the mass leadership of students, workers, and faculty on the road to communism. PL’ers organize on campuses and in unions like the PSC, join antiracist fights against budget cuts and tuition increases. We use CHALLENGE to build communist ideas like workers’ power, and the necessity of strikes and breaking the bosses’ laws to train our class for revolutionary struggles.
Class struggles sometimes result in important, but temporary, gains like reforms and liberal unions. But only a mass PLP can lead our class to communism. Struggling for that isn’t sectarian. On the contrary, it would be dishonest to sell CHALLENGE readers the false idea of PSC union exceptionalism.

Friday
Jan262018

Letters of February 7

Los Angeles: the struggle to march at MLK parade
Every year around January 15 in Los Angeles, there is a parade in South Central in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. With many political weaknesses, King at the very least did believe in open confrontation with the government and police. Despite this legacy of fightback, the powers that be have depoliticized the parade. Bands and step squads perform, politicians wave from luxury vehicles, and people give away beads and candy to spectators.
This year was different. There was a glimpse of antiracism.
A coalition of different groups throughout the city decided that it was about time to stop treating MLK day as just another holiday without acknowledging the continued fight against racism and its manifestations today. Some unions, anti-racist groups, and student coalitions banded together in one section of the parade with signs that addressed racism, poverty and police terror. They chanted antiracist slogans through the length of the parade route.
The Progressive Labor Party has been pushing for more left politics within these groups for a number of years. The group was created as a result of a PL’er demanding that a union take an official stand against racist police terror. The organization organized forums of hundreds of Black and Latin youth who discussed the racism in their schools and community. When the idea to organize fightback was raised, the campaign to end random search in schools was born.
Since then, there have been many steps forward and some steps backwards. A disagreement arose in the organization about attending the MLK parade at all. Initially, they planned on walking with a banner.
After some struggle about being too complicit with the air of political pacifism the parade has had for so many years, the group decided not to participate at all.
Then, some put forward the idea of having a political march within the parade, with signs and chants. About 200 or so people marched, armed with these ideas. Not everyone in the group attended.
This goes to show that a struggle, no matter how small or how long, has the potential to be intensified towards its most progressive elements. A struggle takes time and you can take steps backwards at times. Any time we can ratchet up, and sustain, a fight outside of the boundaries and rules that the bosses are comfortable with, we are progressing.

We must continue with the work because that is the only way we can advance towards a world without racism and capitalism, a communist world. And we must win.
*****

Hypertension: a matter of racism and capitalism
Recently, the two major heart associations in the U.S., the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, and nine other societies have released new guidelines on the management of high blood pressure.
The management of hypertension is important to workers and revolutionaries, as it is one of the main causes of disability and death, not just in the U.S. but also around the world. It is not possible to be effective in building the Party and fighting for communism if one is seriously ill from one of the consequences of hypertension including peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure, stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.  
Hypertension is a disease of racism, capitalism, poverty, and stress. It is not common in indigenous societies that have been isolated from the psychological and socio-economic stresses of class society.
Income and capacity to afford healthy food, including where one lives, are the major drivers of cardiovascular risk seen in people who do not have access to a healthy diet. People who live in what is called a “food desert” are disproportionately working class and Black. The problems are not just poor access to healthy food due to availability and cost, but the stresses of unemployment, racism, poor housing and healthcare. All are results of a capitalist society where the unhealthiest foods are the least expensive and the most profitable (Alternet, 8/21/13).
The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) replete with fresh fruits and vegetables and low salt meals is much more expensive than the junk food with which we are bombarded. Junk food is loaded with salt so that we consume more than we need. Food portions at fast-food joints are much larger than we need. This is deliberate on the part of the purveyors of fast food. Junk food includes food that is packaged in plastic bags such as potato chips, pretzels, etc. Even when the package says, “No added salt.” it does not mean there is no salt. Processed foods are also bad for our health, especially processed meats (NYT, 1/2).  
Eating healthy is something that can be done with our working-class sisters and brothers. It is a way of showing that we care about our comrades and co-workers. It should be presented in terms of staying healthy so that we can focus on revolutionary activity and taking care of our friends and family. It is political. It will help build the Party as it focusses on the fact that capitalism is bad for our health.

*****

Friday
Jan262018

Letters of January 24

Cuba today, an eyewitness account
I recently traveled to Cuba to participate in a program sponsored by MEDICC, Medical Education in Cooperation with Cuba. They were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the organization that promotes communication between healthcare workers in Cuba and the United States.
As a communist myself, I thought of what it means to be in a country that claims to be communist. It would be easy to dismiss Cuba as the product of a revisionist false ideology of Castro and Che Guevara. However, something can be learned from the Cuban experience, starting with the 1959 revolution to the present.
Initially Cuba did not claim to have had a revolution. But shortly after the overthrow of the brutal capitalist gangster regime of Fulgencio Batista (who was backed by the U.S.), Cuba allied with the Soviet Union, which under Khrushchev turned state capitalist. That said, Cuba under Castro went about building a country with new management. Property of the rich, including industry, was confiscated. Most Cubans were suffering badly without any healthcare to speak of under Batista. Cubans with money who had something to lose left for Miami if they could.
Given this background, here are some positive observations about Cuba. Cuba has built a health system that is the envy of Latin America and much of the world, with health outcomes comparable to much larger industrialized nations. Maternal/infant mortality is better than the U.S. average. Doctors and other staff take care of patients in primary care neighborhood clinics. They either live above or within walking distance of the clinic. They know their patients because they too are part of the community. There is health care for all and the focus is prevention. Pregnant women often live in group homes where close monitoring of the pregnancy is provided and good nutrition is guaranteed.
Cuba has monuments to the leaders, with an obvious reverence for Fidel and Che. There are other monuments too. We visited a museum and large monument with statues commemorating the 1843 rebellion led by an enslaved woman named Carlota Lucumí. Carlota led a slave rebellion that started in her sugar cane plantation and then moved onto several others. Unfortunately the army crushed the revolt. It struck me that monuments like this should replace the ones in the U.S. South that commemorate the slave-owning Confederacy. The Carlota monument should be emulated in the U.S. with one to Nat Turner or John Brown. In fact, the Cuban army under Castro intervened in support of the rebels in Angola and named their mission Operation Carlota.
The Cuban health system exports itself to other countries in terms of providing healthcare, including Venezuela and Brazil. We heard from a woman physician that led a relief mission in Pakistan after the earthquake several years ago. Another doctor described leading a mission to assist in the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. There is a medical school in Cuba that trains doctors from dozens of countries, including the U.S. Some students pay tuition. Others, including the 20 U.S. students, do not. Castro agreed to train students from the U.S. in a six- to seven-year program tuition free in exchange for the promise of returning to the U.S. to practice in underserved areas. One speaker stated, “we are a communist country.” It is rare to hear that word used.
Wages are very low in healthcare (including for doctors). Often those working in service or tourism industries make more money. However, healthcare and housing is virtually guaranteed. The condition of housing varies, from the beautifully maintained home (helped by remittances from relatives sending back money from the U.S.) to the broken down. There is a false claim that racism does not exist in Cuba; more lucrative jobs go to lighter-skinned individuals. Many LGBTQ rights are not recognized in Cuba.
There is much more that could be said, but the Cuban experience regarding basic needs such as housing, food, and health care is positive. Interestingly, areas of Cuba lost power with some major damage in the recent hurricane season, but it was restored within a few days (unlike Puerto Rico).
There is a certain level of cooperation and solidarity within the population that enabled the Cuban people to somewhat overcome the long-standing embargo with very limited resources. I recommend a visit there. It is humbling to witness the residue left from workers’ fightback. Although not a communist country, much can be learned from the workers in Cuba and their 60-year struggle for a better life.
*****
Workers fight tax cuts for the rich
Along with 14 others, I was voluntarily arrested as part of a larger demonstration of hundreds of people who are furious over a tax give-away to the huge corporations and the ultra-wealthy. The union I am part of, Professional Staff Congress, played a major role in organizing the protest. Chants of “Tax the Rich, Not the Poor, We Won’t Take It Anymore!” and “Kill the Bill!” filled the plaza.
The richest 1 percent of the U.S. population already has $33 trillion in wealth, and they will receive 83 percent of the bill’s tax benefits. By raising the deficit, tax cuts for the rich will trigger automatic cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social programs. The capitalists couldn’t care less about the elderly who rely on their social security checks to pay their rent and eat, or the sick poor who will be cut off Medicaid.
We talked politics for five hours while waiting to be released:
• Although the Democrats opposed this particular tax bill, they do not oppose tax cuts for the big corporations. Obama had wanted to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 28 percent. He established the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles commission, with nine Democrats and nine Republicans. The commission proposed cutting $341 billion in Medicare spending and $268b in spending for Social Security by raising the retirement age to 69 and lowering benefits. Obama was ready to accept the recommendations, but the GOP killed the deal.
• More significantly, the Democrats protect capitalism, which allows a sliver of the population—.01 percent (one out of ten thousand people)—to own   $6 trillion in wealth. This is the U. S. ruling class. The Democrats are every bit as guilty as the Republicans in propping up a system that inevitably produces racist and sexist inequality and countless imperialist wars to expand their profits.
• There is no way to reform the system so that working people have a secure, decent life free of exploitation, racism and sexism and other ills. We have a ways to go before we can smash capitalism, but struggles like these and conversations with our friends take us one step closer.
*****

Friday
Jan262018

Letters of January 10

Greetings from Comrade Camacho
On the day of the centennial celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution in Brooklyn (see page 4), coincidentally, I received a package from our comrade Epifanio Camacho giving revolutionary greetings. He was a leader in the National Farm Workers Association. He led struggles that led up to the famous farm-worker strikes in the 1960s and 1970s and his subsequent expulsion from the UFW by Cesar Chavez for organizing farm workers for something much more profound and important than reforms. In the mid 1970s, Camacho joined the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) and has helped organize many workers into the ranks of international communism through his efforts as a party organizer.
Today, reading what he sent, I was struck by the parallel lessons we have learned from farmworkers here as well as by the valiant comrades in the Soviet Union. If it were not for the Soviets leading our path, we might as well be fighting for socialism today—stopping short at a better wage system.
Farmworkers here have shown us courageous struggles and the necessity to go beyond reforms, uniting immigrant workers and citizen workers to smash borders. Camacho’s politics were beyond that of the more publicized “leader” Cesar Chavez of the NFWA. Long before joining the union, Camacho fought the rose-production bosses against their thieving practices. For example, the bosses promised a bonus of $2 per thousand rose grafts IF the grafts proved 90 percent successful the following year! Though the plants survived, year after year, the bosses never followed through. Camacho led this fight alongside a handful of workers. For his efforts Camacho was blacklisted not only from rose fields, but all agricultural bosses’ crops. In the spring of 1965, he had to steal food from the fields at night so that he and his wife and their two daughters could eat. For more on the life struggles of Epifanio Camacho, read Autobiography of a Communist: Communists are Made, not Born. Available at www.plp.org.
Later, hundreds followed his leadership in a strike demanding a contract for the NFWA giving wage increases. He had confidence that the skilled grafting workers would never scab, but Chavez cut the strike short to three days. Chavez also betrayed the fight by settling for a promise of higher wages without a contract.
Camacho was undiscouraged. He wasn’t even disappointed that the blacklist against him in the roses remained in effect. He told his friends, “be prepared because strikes are contagious.”
There were more than 63 “labor disputes” in California in 1965. Despite these hard-fought efforts, official wages during these years rose from an average of $1.33 an hour to only $1.50! We are encouraged by the history of workers here who have fought for unions. But we will never forget the need to point the way from a slave wage system to communism.
*****
The Story of the Chicken
While building the party there are steps or events we leave out or don’t realize are part of base building process. We don’t noticed our communist morals playing a role in our everyday life. Is it base building or is it your working-class morals that are at play on any given day? I would like to think they are one and the same.
We develop theories on how to win people in our base to fight the good fight and not just reform. Yes, CHALLENGE is a good base building tool but what practice leads up to introducing a person to CHALLENGE? I would would say it’s chicken! Yes chicken is what leads to CHALLENGE being introduced to another person. Please let me explain.
It’s past the hundred-year anniversary of the great October Revolution. The Bolshevik comrades that led the way didn’t do it by publishing a newspaper. Their newspaper might have been the twitter of their time, but neither waving the paper nor tweeting will lead to revolution. The pre-twitter comrades got their hands dirty, as should we. They broke bread with the same workers they wanted to win over. They shared dinner, difficult working conditions, stories, and traditions with their base.
They didn’t lead how the rich lead. They were not standing on the hilltops winning people over. They were in the trenches. We need to be in the trenches. We need this, and everything else we write and say, to be discussed in the trenches.
I’m not just talking about the trenches of some war the bosses make us fight for their profit. The trenches are the streets, your job, your school, your hospital, your fightback, and everywhere else you have been building a base.
In the trenches of my current transit job, the rules (traditions with a more aggressive approach) are you buy chicken under three occasions: if you’re new to the location; if you break a jerry (sledgehammer); and if your work anniversary comes up.
Now I could have just said no. However, what would that do for me? It’s the workers’ tradition. Am I not a worker? Do I not want to build with my fellow co-workers?
I saw first hand how they talked about the one worker who didn’t buy chicken. That worker was not “in.” In order to build with my co-workers; I needed to be in. They needed to know that I could come through for them. I bought that chicken and some sides. Did it improve my base? Will this lead to the CHALLENGEs for everyone? Only time will tell but workers gave me an opportunity to relate. If I can relate then maybe so can my fightback. Let’s build this movement but let’s not downplay the small things that can lead to workers relying on each other and future victories.
*****
Oakland Celebrates Bolshevik Centennial
Some comments from participants at the celebration of the hundred-year anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Oakland:
After learning about the Republican tax bill passed in the dead of night, it felt like good medicine to dine and discuss fight back with a hall full of people dedicated to a better society. Shout out to a disabled comrade as they played your track, “I’m a worker” in which you spit hot fire for disability justice!
After a great discussion against racism, sexism and fascism, we listened to Public Enemy’s Fight the Power. It seemed appropriate after the short film, “Fight like Ferguson.”
*
At the time when capitalism is robbing the poor to give to the rich, it is beautiful and hopeful to see more and new faces, especially young people recognizing the need for communism to destroy capitalism. The PLP celebration of 100 years of the Bolshevik Revolution was a gain and I hope to see the party growing to achieve our goal, smash capitalism.
*
Thanks for including us. It was a great program. I think the idea of discussing how workers can run the economy and guide the society towards a common goal of taking care of all, uplifting those oppressed, and preserving the ecology should be a topic of further discussion in future meeting, in my opinion.
*
The Progressive Labor Party’s celebration was a wonderful and educational event. We examined the past and the present history of class struggle through a diverse set of lenses. We shared these stories through pictures, songs, and speeches. I learned a lot that night and had a fantastic time!
*****
Welcome to Therapy: Fighting Mass & Individual Cynicism
Capitalist blues. The daily terror campaign from that orange Hair Führer. Lack of confidence combined with deep cynicism. Whatever you call it, we live in profoundly subjective times.
One answer the bosses provide, a Kool-Aid I drink, is therapy. I’ve been going to a nice liberal shrink for longer than I’m going to admit and still manage to be miserable. Capitalism is a cesspool of hypocrisy, lies, and dispossession. The system chips away at our class and individual ability to make change and own our destinies. So, we develop maladaptive behaviors to stay sane, some more than others (like me). But no one is truly sane in an inhumane and insane system. (Under communism will we begin to fathom what we are capable of doing, thinking, and creating.) In reaction, we choose the comfort of individualism, which proves to be just a Band-Aid anyway.
Therapists are not your friends. They will be useful ruling-class tools under growing fascism. Therapy sells you the dream that happiness is an inside job. Isolate yourself in the Redwoods or Green Mountains to find inner peace. (Yea, that doesn’t sound lonely at all.) Self-actualization, they call it. Understand your deepest darkest parts, and stay confused of the dark times around you.
Therapists will openly admit their concern is your health—not your friends’, co-workers’, or wife’s. And they definitely don’t care about the health of the class struggle. Stressed? Don’t go to so many protests; take a bubble bath instead. Do you, boo. Unable to commit to a relationship? It’s your mother’s fault.
Joy is a collective job. It lives with the working class. Growing through sh*t is part of the capitalist package—some more than others because of racism and sexism. The system isn’t just about wage slavery. Marx and Engels had a name for it: alienation (it covered both the economic and political condition. Yea, your subjectivity is a political thing.)
So what does this mean in a time when our class is beaten down? To be honest, I don’t have the answers. That’s why I read CHALLENGE. But I do know my attitude and mood have a relationship with my involvement in the class struggle.
The kind of confidence we need as a class happens in a process where we fight together and stretch outside the borders of what the ruling class finds manageable. If we fight the false comforts, and confront our shortcomings in an honest, collective way, we stand a chance to be useful to our class, our kids, and ourselves. We got to weather this unstable climate.
Communists are not immune from this toxic system. We can’t let the bosses win by becoming toxic ourselves. “The revolutionary must destroy the rut or the rut will destroy the revolutionary.”
Open yourself up to those around you. A shrink is a poor substitute for the real therapy of class struggle. There is no glorious short cut; it’s an ordinary and protracted process. We can choose comfort. Or we can have struggle, connection, and a little bit of courage to put our ideas and our flawed selves out there. We can get cozy with a beer and a binge on Stranger Things. Or we can learn to face discomfort, change ourselves, and contribute to a fighting atmosphere in this turbulent climate.
*****

Friday
Dec082017

Letters of December 20

Healthcare Worker and Marie Fired In Retaliation
Marie Trinidad, a respiratory therapist, was fired from Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. She worked there for seven years and was active in a petition drive demanding more staff and equipment, which she helped present to the board of directors at their annual meeting. This struggle resulted in a temporary improvement in the number of staff and more equipment was purchased by the respiratory care department, as well as some staff members getting a raise. But the reforms won under capitalism (i.e. the dictatorship of the bosses) are temporary. Working conditions have deteriorated; heavier assignment loads are regularly piled on fewer workers.  When bosses are faced with economic crises they attack workers, and especially workers who fight back against oppressive working conditions.
Marie was given an especially heavy assignment one night. Her assignment was to cover the 5th and 6th floors, as well as the busy emergency room of a trauma center on a hot Saturday night. She called the supervisor to complain, because the shift had been left short staffed. Management had switched another therapist’s weekend and had not replaced her, which left the shift with four instead of the customary five therapists. During her busy night, Marie was occupied working amongst the three areas, and notified the charge therapist that she was unable to respond to several calls because she was occupied on the various floors.
The supervisor came in from home and sent Marie home without explanation. The next night, Marie came to work but was almost immediately sent home again without explanation. The next day a group of workers confronted the president of the hospital to find out why. All he offered was a weak promise to “look into the matter.”
Following this, the respiratory manager demanded to know why she went to speak with the president, but assured Marie that she would be paid for the time she was sent home. But instead, the following Monday, Marie was fired for “refusal to perform assigned duties.” In reality, she was fired for complaining about working conditions and retaliation for going over the manager’s head and complaining to the president.
PLP is organizing to help Marie get her job back. Several workers have questioned why she was fired and have written letters of support. The manager has tried to silence workers by telling them not to talk about what happened.
This is an example of how workers have to stick together and fight for our class, the working- class. We are the class that produces all goods and services, and the ruling-class is the class that exploits and oppresses us. What side are you on? Join PLP and build the fight against the racist and sexist bosses!
*
DC: Thanks for Fighting Racism Dinner
Today November 18 makrs  the 32nd Thanks-for-Fighting-Racism Feast was held in the Washington, DC – Baltimore area. This celebration is a PLP answer to Thanksgiving, which unfortunately celebrates the genocide of Native Americans.
This year, over 70 anti-racist fighters—Black, Latin, Asian, and white--assembled to report on their struggles and share a spectacular feast. Students from Howard University’s HUResist reported on their battles against former FBI Director James Comey and on their engagement with the working-class members of the community surrounding the University. A Baltimore activist in the struggle for justice for Tyrone West, who was murdered by racist cops, reported on the ongoing, weekly actions against police brutality in Baltimore.
A worker who participated in the PLP contingent at the Charlottesville anti-Nazi protest reported on our successful activity there, while another comrade gave a stirring speech about the need to build the PLP as a revolutionary party in order to have the means to make a communist revolution, the solution to all aggressions by capitalism.
A highlight of the night’s event was the report that we had raised $900 towards the legal defense of the Anaheim 3 who had boldly confronted the knife-wielding Klansmen and were arrested instead of the Klan. Invigorated by the strong ties made at this event, the anti-racists pledged to re-double their efforts against racism in this increasingly dangerous time for the world’s working-class.
*
Howard Student Continue to Resist FBI Director Comey
The students in HUResist at Howard University in Washington, DC, USA have continued their activism this semester. After shutting down former FBI Director James Comey at the university’s opening convocation (see CHALLENGE, 10/11), they have continued to bird-dog him as he continues his year-long Howard University appointment as the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy.
The University has tried numerous dodges to limit student access to Comey, but the students have succeeded in challenging him at every event where he speaks. Comey shows both his arrogance and ignorance when challenged by the students.
When asked why, under his watch at the FBI, the reward for the return of Assata Shakur doubled, he said he didn’t know anything about that. When asked why he supported the racist “Broken Windows” theory of policing and the phony “Ferguson effect,” he claimed he didn’t know about those things either.
In short, he refused to respond to the tough questions the students asked, further clarifying that the University had no business honoring this ruling-class jackal by appointing him to a prestigious position. Brushing Comey aside, the students are continuing their efforts to build an alliance with working-class members of the surrounding community who are threatened by gentrification and poverty.
They are engaged in developing a local food pantry and surveying local residents to determine what the next steps should be for HUResist. At their recent food distribution to the homeless, they witnessed a case of police brutality. Stepping up, they filmed it and joined in a formal complaint to the police department. The struggle never ends!
*
Hurricane Maria and Access to Meds
Hurricane Maria, that devastated Puerto Rico, is not just a catastrophe for our Puerto Rican working-class sisters and brothers, but also directly for workers in the mainland U.S.
Many pharmaceutical companies, to reap the benefits of extra-low wages, had located themselves in Puerto Rico, in order to 1) pay the lowest wages possible, 2) enjoy weaker, if any, regulations against pollution and worker safety hazards (that are rarely enforced anyway), 3) decrease their corporate taxes—in short, to enhance their profits off the labor and endangerment of the working class.
In addition to the devastating destruction of homes and lives faced by our Puerto Rican sisters and brothers, the drug factories in PR also suffered significant direct storm damage. And just as the working class there is experiencing storm-caused shortages of electricity and clean water, so are the drug factories, though theirs will undoubtedly be restored sooner.
One vital medical product is saline, in which all sorts of medicines are dissolved and administered particularly in hospitals. But manufacturers of saline were among those encountering damage, resulting in a shortage of saline in mainland US as well as Puerto Rican hospitals.
No doubt there are many other medicines that are in short supply as well. This is one way that the working class suffers from the bosses’ globalization.
Capitalism truly kills, and not just our fellow Puerto Rican working-class mates. The old International Workers of the World (IWW) slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” is not just an attitude that can unite the working class and not just true through indirect pathways, but is literally true in many situations.
All workers need to come to understand that when one portion of our class anywhere in the world, including in the same country, suffers, we all suffer, often directly as well as indirectly. The main thing blocking that realization is the very same racism that the capitalists resort to when they aid Puerto Rican storm victims even less than they aid mainland working-class victims. Racism is the enemy of us all and the friend only of our capitalist exploiters and oppressors.