The Homeland Is In Danger!

by Bill Onasch


August 4, 2002. As I write this I believe the homeland of American workers is in imminent danger. But I don't think it is the same danger that Bush, Ashcroft, and Fox News keep talking about. Certainly there is always a threat of  terrorist acts. Certainly everyone with common sense favors reasonable security measures to prevent another recurrence of 9/11.

What I'm talking about is an ultimately much more serious attack on our freedom and security—the drive by bosses, brass hats, and politicians to exploit our outrage and apprehension stemming from those horrible attacks last September in order to advance their own class agenda. Their objectives include:

trampling under important protections of the Bill of Rights through the bipartisan Patriot Act sending undocumented workers the message that complaints about their boss will bring swift deportation threatening dock workers and others with reprisals if they dare use their right to strike
setting up a KGB-like informer system to rat out neighbors and coworkers you don't like busting unions and tearing up civil service protection for tens of thousands of federal employees and last, but not least, promoting an unwise and unjustified war against Iraq.

If we surrender our hard won democratic rights then we dishonor all those who died in war, on the picket line, or fighting for civil rights. We would be handing over an enormous victory to both the  9/11 terrorists and  the ruling rich here at home.

Real homeland security for working people must include a vigilant defense of rights, liberty, along with the material means and working conditions to assure successful pursuit of happiness. Anyone who attacks this security— whether they be bomb throwing terrorists or greedy bosses, belligerent brass hats, or the best politicians money can buy—are our enemy.

As one corporate scandal after another shakes public confidence, and sends both stock indexes and Presidential approval ratings plummeting, there is renewed campaigning for a good patriotic war against that “axis of evil” Iraq.

Of course none of the 9/11 terrorists came from Iraq. They mainly came from staunch allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Is Saddam Hussein an evil dictator? Certainly. He has repressed democratic rights among his own people, been involved in past wars with his neighbors, and carried out genocide against the Kurds.

But is he really much different than Bush's allies in the region? Allies that would prefer to see school girls perish in a fire rather than have them contaminated by contact with male firefighters. Allies that allow no democratic rights for their own people and routinely whip and chop off body parts of immigrant workers who run afoul of their rules. Allies who have been involved in past wars with neighbors. How about Turkey who has had an even more vicious genocide campaign against the Kurds? And what of the present regime in Israel that thinks nothing of firing a missile into a teeming apartment building in order to kill one man?

A war against Iraq would do nothing to protect our homeland against terrorism. If anything it could be expected to inspire new recruits throughout the Arab world to the terrorists. And it wouldn't  any more produce a democratic regime in Baghdad than the war lords have been able to do in Kabul.

Most of Bush's allies—except for his ever-loyal junior partner Tony Blair—in fact are resisting plans to invade Iraq. They have made clear that, unlike the Gulf War, they will not be contributing money, or much of anything else. 

If the war is launched it will be strictly for domestic consumption to divert our attention from our pressing problems at home and to use patriotic fervor to quell all dissidents. American workers will pay the price both in providing our sons and daughters for the conflict and picking up the tab with our taxes.

Yes, our homeland is in imminent danger. Our defense will be mounted through our unions, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and independent political forces such as the Labor Party.