From the KC Labor E-Groups List

From Phil (1)

I am fairly new to your news group.  I am a long time Union man as were four generations before me.  I generally agree with the statements that I have viewed on this news letter but I think you are a bit off base on this one. I join you in urging caution on the use of military action but I have watched this fight on terrorism now for nearly thirty years both in the Military and as a civilian.  If this does turn out to be "the usual suspects" then It's time to take the gloves off brother Bill..it's time to end this for the sake of our future generations.  God Bless America !

From Judy

Dear Phil:

I too was horrified at these unspeakable acts, but I really wish that before our macho culture reacts by bombing more innocent bystanders, it would pause to reflect on what would produce the kind of hatred that gives rise to this kind of terrorism. If you want to punish terrorists, I'd start at home with the U.S. government which has perpetrated more terror on innocent working people and their families around the world than any other country. I am attaching an article which lists the numerous interventions by the US military to overthrow governments and movements that had a much higher notion of justice than our government does.

What never ceases to amaze me is that so many good trade unionists in this country understand perfectly how our government stamps out dissent, crushes workers movements for justice, and denies people their rights at home, but as soon as an issue becomes international, they drop their working class consciousness and become patriots, defending the interests of that same government and business class which oppresses them at home. Sure, there's plenty of wretched governments in other countries and a few which coddle or support terrorists, but if you look beneath the surface, much of the time that government was installed by or supported by our government.

 
The Taliban in Afghanistan is a prime example. For geopolitical reasons having to do with the Cold War, the US armed and trained them with no thought to who they were or the kind of reactionary regime they would install. Then they act surprised when the enemy of our enemy turns out to be as wretched as what we were supposedly opposing. With the end of the Cold War and communism, the US needed to invent new enemies to justify maintaining the military industrial complex and providing the pretexts to intervene wherever the interests of capital were threatened. The new enemies are international terrorism and narcotrafficing. We've seen the results in the Gulf War where we allied with one set of dictators (Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) to oppose another (Iraq) in the name of freedom but in reality to secure future profits for Daddy Bush's oil cronies. Currently we're militarizing Columbia and giving free reign to right wind death squads who murder more trade union leaders than in any other country in the world all in the name of fighting narco traffickers.

From Bill (1)

Phil 

As I understand your response your main criticism is that I don't “take off the gloves” and support “the end” of the terrorist threat once and for all. The U.S. armed forces undoubtedly have the ability to reach anywhere in the world to take out particular terrorists. They may very well succeed in destroying those responsible for the New York/Washington attacks and punishing the country or countries deemed “harboring” them. But we should have no illusion that this would save us and future generations from the threat of terrorism. 

Terrorists can have different motives and agendas. But much of the terrorism in the world today is a frustrated reaction to injustice. I condemned the IRA's bombing campaign while still understanding and supporting their objective of a united Ireland free of British occupation. I am sickened by suicide bombers in the state of Israel while recognizing the legitimate demands of Palestinians for self-determination. I am appalled by the criminal violence in our country's Black ghettoes while remaining focused on opposition to racism that nurtures this violence. 

In the long run we will end the threat of terrorism once and for all only by eliminating the injustices that spawn it. As Judy points out quite well we have to accept the unpleasant truth that policies of the government that speaks in our name are responsible for much of this injustice.

Civilized people reject terrorism. But there can be no stable civilization that profits from or ignores oppression and exploitation.

From Phil (2)

Shame on you for turning your backs on America in our darkest hour and criticizing our history and past political practices in the face of this tragic attack. No, I don't support all of our government's ideals all the time. These events, however, have nothing to do with the labor movement. How dare you try to indirectly justify terrorist acts by criticizing our government's past actions now. These attacks were an act of war...nothing else. Are you Donna, Judy or you Bill old enough to have fought in Viet Nam, Korea or actually remember WWII? I did and I am. We have been tolerating terrorism and violence in the middle east and elsewhere for nearly thirty years. I say again, these attacks were an act of war! Like it or not, we can no longer stand on the sidelines and play observer while complaining about how unjust the American government has been in the past. We are at war. Instead of slapping America in the face now by thumping the drum of anarchy...organize your locals to go down and give blood. Has that idea even crossed your mind? Being a good Union man or woman doesn't mean you are automatically at war with the U.S. government. Don't forget those who have fought and died to give us the right to even have a labor movement in this country!

From Bill (2)

Phil 

I'm disappointed with the tone this discussion has taken. I certainly reject your characterization that I have turned my back on America. 

I love my country. I've always thought it was as good as any and have never wanted to live anywhere else. Far from turning my back I've devoted much of my life to trying to make it a better place. 

But I've always known there are two Americas. The America that you and I are part of is mainly made up of decent, honest, hard-working people who care deeply about their families, communities, and their fellow workers. Our America is comprised of the working class, family farmers, family businesses, self-employed professionals—the big majority of our nation. 

But there's another America, a much smaller component, the ones who own and control not only our economy but much of the world's. They really have turned their back on our America.They've moved hundreds of thousands of our jobs elsewhere and hold those remaining hostage. The political, social, and economic policies they promote through their control of the politicians have driven our wages—once the envy of the world—far below most workers in Europe and Japan. They've given us a health care system that's ranked 37th in the world in effectiveness of delivery. They've wrecked our urban schools, are trying to gut our Social Security, and want to rape our environment. 

These guys are no different when it comes to foreign and military policies. They try to use our country's military might to advance their America's interests—not ours. "Beacon of freedom in a world of darkness”? Maybe you buy that. You'd have a tough time convincing the peoples of Iran, Chile, Guatemala, or the Dominican Republic—to name just a few of the countries that had democratically elected governments overthrown by CIA-orchestrated coups (backed up in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic by U.S. troops as well.) 

No, I don't think class conflict ends at the border, nor do I think my democratic right to question government policy ends there either. And when a question of war comes up that sure as hell entitles those who will be called upon to fight it and pay for it to have something to say. 

I was born during World War II and was in grade school during the Korean “police action.” But I reached manhood just in time for Vietnam. Even though I strongly opposed that war I reported for induction into the Army when I got a nice letter from Lyndon Johnson requesting that I do so. I'm generally a law-abiding citizen and I was prepared to go to war with the rest of my generation. The Army subsequently decided they didn't want me. I won't pretend that I was heartbroken by their decision. 

I lost some good friends to Vietnam. I know others who came back drastically changed—and not for the better. I always rejected the notion that I was letting our boys down by opposing the war. Just the opposite—I was trying to save their lives and health by getting them back home where they belonged. 

I have the utmost respect for veterans of the armed forces. GIs aren't personally responsible for military policies. They do their duty, sometimes risking their life to do so. 

But I resent those individuals who try to usurp the authority of all veterans—who after all are a diverse lot, reflecting our society—and try to impugn the patriotism of those they disagree with. It seems particularly hypocritical when it's done in the same breath as claiming to have saved my freedom. 

Working people are entitled to question everything that impacts our lives. We have some tough issues to debate and hammer out answers. We should take appeals to God and Flag out of our discussions and maintain a tone conducive to learning from one another. 

Bill