Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
September 10, 2006

Two Infamous Anniversaries
Those behind the September 11, 2001 attacks should be condemned by history not only for the indiscriminate killing of nearly 3,000 people, most of whom were ordinary working people. That was despicable enough but the ramifications of this atrocity have been much greater and long lasting.

Not since the Japanese were maneuvered into launching World War II hostilities with the bombing of Pearl Harbor have those wanting to pursue unrestrained war, and repression of democratic rights, been able to mobilize such popular sentiment. 9/11 granted immediate authority to a struggling President who had finished second in the 2000 vote. Seizing upon outrage and patriotism he quickly declared a “War on Terror,” that included a Bush Doctrine of preemptive war wherever he saw fit.

This new doctrine was implemented within weeks with an invasion of Afghanistan—where some 9/11 terrorists trained. That war was cheered by the liberals, and even some “socialists.” It was followed with the bipartisan supported 2003 invasion of Iraq around the twin lies of weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi culpability in the 9/11 attacks. These unjust, ongoing wars would not have been politically possible without the 9/11 outrage.

9/11 also set the stage for the most serious attacks on democratic rights in this country since the McCarthy days. There was bipartisan support for the PATRIOT Act, secret bipartisan approval of illegal wiretapping at home, as well as bipartisan winking and nodding at secret CIA prisons, and torture of prisoners abroad. And all of us encounter the stupidity and indignities of Homeland Security measures aimed to keep us in a constant state of fear and docile compliance with authority.

In addition to these assists to government, 9/11 helped rekindle bigotry against all Arabs, all of the Islamic faith. This fresh dose of the poison of prejudice has spread to include all immigrants.

We join all who mourn the victims of the 9/11 attacks. We also take the occasion to rededicate our efforts to stop the liars and crooks of all parties who seek to use the memory of the victims to advance war and repression in the interests of corporate and personal political agendas.

And, as we noted in this column last year,

This date was already a dark day in history for those of us who remember the horror unleashed in 1973 in Chile by General Augusto Pinochet. In close collaboration with the U.S. government, the military brass launched a bloody coup that overthrew a democratically elected socialist government. The ensuing dictatorship killed at least three thousand and a thousand more victims "disappeared," their individual fates still unknown. Trade unions were smashed, political parties outlawed, campuses subdued. The working people of Chile are still seeking justice for this outrage–and so should we.

Pillage and Vandalism in Baghdad
We’re not referring to street gangs here but, unfortunately, American GIs under orders from the brass. On Thursday and Friday occupation troops were sent to raid the national office of the Iraq Freedom Congress, an alliance of trade union, student, and women’s rights groups and activists. In addition to stealing papers and smashing up furniture the vandals defaced and destroyed banners recently carried in demonstrations against the occupation. Since no one was arrested or charged with wrong doing the IFC sees this search-and-destroy mission as retaliation for those demonstrations. For the last several months the U.S. occupation—still calling the shots in Iraq—has blocked all funds of Iraqi trade unions. More examples of American sponsored emerging democracy in the Middle East.

Endless Trouble In Long Beach
The patience of the crew of the Panama registered bulk carrier Endless finally came to an end when they docked at Pier G in the port of Long Beach. The eighteen sailors were owed 360,000 dollars in back wages according to officials for the International Transport Workers Federation, a global union that represents seafarers. After the crew decided to strike ILWU dock workers honored the picket line leaving the ship dead in the water.

My Pants Are Smoldering
First I promised a daily series of articles to complete our projected Labor Day Special. Then I got one more piece out to the E-mail list promising the rest by today. I was considering blaming the failure to make these deadlines on faulty intelligence estimates but instead have decided to ‘fess up to the real reason for this embarrassing default—an unfortunate convergence of time sensitive demands, both personal and political, on my time. I really do have notes and outlines on what I promised and they really will appear soon.

As usual, much of the material for this column is based on stories posted on the Daily Labor News Digest.

That’s all for this week.

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