Revolution Online, November 2, 2008

In Light of Reports of White Supremacist Massacre Plots...

More on The Elections, and Being Ready for Anything


Dear Revolution,

I really agree with the letter from a reader recently posted at “The Elections, and Being Ready for Anything.” That letter raised important challenges (and had good suggestions) off of what was posted in the Revolution editorial: “The Morning After the Elections...and the Change We Really Need...WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO NOW?”

In light of what is spoken to in the Revolution editorial and that letter, I feel strongly people have to take very seriously news reports (including an article the New York Times - 10/27/08) that federal agencies including the ATF and the Secret Service are charging two white supremacists in Tennessee with plotting to massacre Black school children and assassinate Barack Obama. Authorities say that this included plans to massacre 88 people at a predominantly African-American school, and to behead 14 people. And according to news reports, the numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic of Adolph Hitler and a white supremacist slogan.

It must be said that people cannot take “information” from “law enforcement” agencies like the ATF and Secret Service at face value. “Law enforcement” agencies have a long history of acting to lie about, set up, and crush progressive and revolutionary movements, even while these same agencies work with and even orchestrate supremacist and fascist groups. This is something that was widely exposed and documented during the 1960s. For example, the FBI—working through an “informant,” was involved in the murder of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo. And the FBI then played a key role in a smear campaign against Liuzzo after she was killed.

But with all that, this arrest, and accompanying news reports are very ominous.

Recently, Congressman John Lewis—who himself was beaten during the civil rights movement by both white supremacists and the police—speaking of the atmosphere being incited at McCain and Palin rallies warned that: “During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

What has come out from the arrest of these white supremacists confirms Lewis’ fears and concerns.

And the way the media and law enforcement authorities have handled this is a double-edged sword. First, the charges against the racist skinheads are being portrayed in the mainstream media as no big deal. Think, for example, what the response would be if the shoe was on the other foot, if the authorities were alleging that two Black youth were planning to massacre 88 white school children, behead 14 white people, and assassinate a presidential candidate. By contrast, the authorities are now saying that these skinheads did not have that good a plan to actually carry out this massacre and assassination.

Beyond that, these fascist skinheads and their plot are being “popularized” by the media. The Times for example had a photo of one of them posing with a high-powered rifle and a swastika tattoo—a photo that served as something of a recruiting poster for these fascists.

And the media is not touching what should be an obvious connection—John Lewis’ point that the rhetoric and “winks” coming from McCain and Palin rallies are a signal to these kinds of forces to do this kind of thing. It is important to note that McCain and Palin have continued to attack Obama for supposedly “palling around with terrorists.”

Revolution has pointed out the sheer gall and hypocrisy of John McCain, who eagerly and unapologetically participated in the genocidal American war against Vietnam, accusing anyone of terrorism. But this accusation (associating Obama with “terrorists”) is in line with the way the Republicans over the past years have over and over again criticized Democrats as “traitors.”

Obama does not represent any real challenge to the system, or to white supremacy—Revolution has made a compelling case for that argument in many articles. However, any attempt to assassinate him would be a vicious crime of this system. When Martin Luther King was assassinated, it represented an attack on the struggle of Black people for liberation. This was true even though King was no revolutionary, and he opposed revolution at a time when the revolution was being viewed by millions as the solution. And while Obama does not, actually, represent the aspirations of Black people to be free of oppression and racism, if there were some kind of attempt to assassinate Obama, it would be widely perceived as, and would represent, an attack on Black people. It would be one more link in the long chain of enslavement, executions, lynching, massive imprisonment, widespread police murder and all the rest of the sordid white supremacist history of this country.

And if something like this happened, it would represent a leap in the fascization of society, and could pose sharply the question of the legitimacy of the whole system. The aim of revolutionaries is certainly NOT to defend bourgeois democracy—that is, the “democratic form” of capitalist dictatorship. But it would be utterly remiss and not revolutionary at all to fail to recognize what these fascists intend by attacks such as those alleged to have been made by these arrested white supremacists.

Any such moves must be opposed with mass political resistance. Revolutionaries, coming from and putting forward the need to get beyond this oppressive system of rule, in whatever form it takes, have a responsibility to join and give direction to people to see the hand of the system at work, and the possibility of a whole better future through revolution, even while taking responsibility to join with millions and lead political resistance to these kinds of attacks.

* * *

Revolutionaries must be prepared for unanticipatable scenarios. We need to have a deep appreciation for the fact that reality isn’t simple; it’s complex. There are contradictions between the people and the ruling class, and there are contradictions within the ruling class that could emerge in sharp forms, but these things interpenetrate and overlap, and constantly react back on one another. Developments that start out as sharp conflicts within the halls of power can move into the streets, and these conflicts can be like “fissures” through which the discontent of the people can find expression and burst into the open—they can be transformed from a conflict between the rulers to a conflict increasingly between the people and the rulers overall, as people learn from the unfolding of things, and through the work of revolutionaries.

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