Neo-McCarthyism: Red-Baiting to the Fore as Anti-War Movement Gathers Momentum in USA

As the Bush Admin. intensifies its drumbeats of war against Iraq, as the US Govt. launches an offensive to coerce and cajole other countries into acquiescing and into suppressing civil liberties at home, the anti-war movement is gathering momentum in the belly of the beast.
Millions of people are coming out in protests in major cities in USA to oppose war on Iraq. Such protests have already forced the government to return to UN forum after having declared that this course was not necessary.

An important feature of the current anti-war movement building up in USA is the growing realization among the broad sections of the people that their government is endangering world peace and their own security, a growing realization that their government’s policies are creating havoc in third world countries. This growing movement is making US people aware of the gross injustices being heaped by their government on Palestinian people and on the people of oppressed countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The issues like Israeli atrocities on Palestinian people and US complicity in it, US armed intervention in Colombia, Philippines and a number of other countries are finding expression in the speeches being made at these rallies.

The sweep of this anti-war movement is really heartening to the world people, particularly to the people of third world countries who see in the workers and progressive sections of USA, allies in their struggle against hegemonism of US imperialism. The two coalitions which are spearheading this broad-based movement are ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and NION (Not In Our Name). The October 26th demonstrations called by ANSWER in Washington and San Francisco attracted a big turnout. It is particularly significant as both the major parties, Republicans and Democrats, have endorsed President Bush’s war plans. The growing movement demonstrates the growing chasm between people and their Senate representatives who are apparently elected by them but are actually selected by the corporate houses.

The growing sweep of the anti-war movement is definitely unnerving the US Admin. They have already curtailed civil liberties of US people, particularly Muslims and people of Arab origin. But this is not proving enough. To divide and disorient this vast movement in which revolutionary communists, liberals, youth and people of different concerns are participating, a deliberate campaign is being conducted in the media to label this movement as controlled by revolutionary communists. Two Marxist-Leninist organizations are being targeted for this campaign, the Workers World Party and Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Such red-baiting attacks are being conducted by a number of pseudo-liberal commentators like David Corn, Christopher Hitchens, Mare Cooper, Michelle Goldberg and such attacks are being provided space in Washington Post, L.A. Weekly, The Nation etc., to name a few.

In an article by David Corn that appeared in L.A. Weekly, Corn attacked the organizers of the October 26 anti-war demonstrators as “commies” or dupes of Workers World Party. In a reply published in November 28 issue of Workers World newspaper, a group of progressive leaders in southern California have condemned this attack as an “old-fashioned example of Joseph McCarthy style red-baiting at its worst”. In the letter sent to the Editor of L.A. Weekly, the leaders have enumerated the organizations taking part in ANSWER including members of Workers World Party. But they have also drawn attention to the fact that members of Socialist Workers Party and the Communist Party of USA were among the leadership of the two major anti-war coalitions during Vietnam War. They have further highlighted “The speakers and demonstrators on October 26 came from every segment of the population; from public officials like John Burton, head of the Californian Senate to thousands of college and high school students; from actors like Mike Farrel to
Vietnam veterans like Ron Kovic; from labour leaders like Walter Johnson, head of the San Francisco Labour Council of AFL-CIO to
business executives against the war, from old peace activists like Daniel Ellsberg to younger ones like 12 year old Sarah Enteen; from
hotel workers to Dolores Huerta; from religious leaders like Bishop Gumbleton to socialists like Richard Becker. And the list goes on and on.”

The reply noted “Congress’s old House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) used to say the same about the protesters demonstrating against the Vietnam War. Happily, it didn’t frighten people away from the anti-war coalitions then and it won’t frighten them away now. People saw through the discredited red-baiting tactics of HUAC, and they will see through the red-baiting tactics of commentators like Corn.”

Noting the role of media in aiding the war plans of the Admin., “WWP is mindful of the constant propaganda from the ruling class here aimed at undermining international solidarity. Whether it’s films or television or the slant of the news, a chauvinist arrogance, hatred and fear of countries that resist imperialist dictates is inculcated daily.” (12th December 2002, Workers World newspaper)

Rebuffing the attack of journalist Michelle Goldberg and others warning that the involvement of revolutionary communists and radicals will harm the newly emerging anti-war movement, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has asked “But will the anti-war movement be more powerful if radicals and communists are driven from the leadership and something Goldberg and others consider “a more rational group” moves to the forefront?” (Revolutionary Worker, 8th December, 2002) It is a strange logic indeed that the division of anti-war movement will make it more powerful!

RCP has talked “About the need for a movement of resistance that could unite people very, very broadly – from different perspectives, walks of life and regions of the country – to stand up and say: “not in our name”. RCP has condemned Goldberg’s articles and other distorted accounts painting a picture of manipulative “leftists” with hidden agendas in the anti-war movement.

Goldberg has resorted to duplicity, describing the “Not In Our Name” Statement as a “beautifully written declaration of conscience whose sentiments would be shared by a great many liberals” and yet demanding that the movement keep distance from Maoists like C. Clark Kissinger, who has been an important organizer for the statement, because his participation will alienate the masses. Goldberg has gone on to slander Clark Kissinger, attributing to him completely false statements.

Commenting on these attacks, RCP has noted “Goldberg and others who are playing the game of “outing” communists and radicals in the movement appear unconcerned about the whole history of political witch-hunts in this country, as well as the current political climate. For anyone familiar with the period of the 1950s, there is a feeling of McCarthyism about all this – where government committees called upon people to testify about their communist membership and people were branded by affiliation.” (Revolutionary Worker, 8th December, 2002)

There is nothing surprising in these attacks against the growing anti-war movement particularly against revolutionary communists and radicals who are playing an active role in it. Their whole game is to weaken this movement by raising the bogey of communists controlling the movement. They cannot do so openly, so they are resorting to subterfuges and slanders. They are trying for alternate anti-war groupings dissuading the people from participating in mass rallies against the war-drive of Bush Admin. Their “anti-war” programme is complementary to war designs of Bush Admin. and they want to emasculate and render ineffective the growing anti-war movement by dividing and disorienting it. They want to oppose war by saying that the same objectives can be achieved without war; while they support the objectives behind the war, the anti-war movement is attacking the very objectives behind this war. Therein lies their disquiet and desperation to attack revolutionary communists. Raising this dust they want to render the anti-war movement harmless and within the accepted confines!

They will not succeed in drawing the wool over the eyes of the people. They will not be able to isolate the horrors of war from the politics behind the war. In brief, they will not be able to hijack the leadership of anti-war movement. They will not be able to scare the
people showing the spectre of communism. Their attack against the forces of peace is doomed to failure as are the efforts of US imperialism to become overlord of the world.