Army Brass Lets War Criminal Off the Hook
The U.S. Army brass is helping Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who confessed to murdering 16 Afghan civilians in the middle of the night, escape the death penalty by delaying his trial endlessly. They are allowing him to plead guilty and providing him with a top defense team that will whine that he’s not really responsible because of post-traumatic stress resulting from his fourth combat deployment.
Compare that with their treatment of another soldier, Bradley Manning, whose crime was exposing the Army’s war crimes instead of carrying them out. Manning, whose trial just got under way after three years in prison, mostly in solitary, faces life imprisonment.
The Army delayed Bales’ trial as long as possible. He’s being tried by a U.S. army court, so Afghan citizens will have no say in his punishment. Relatives of the victims, such as Mohammed Wazir, who had 11 family members killed, including his mother and two-year-old daughter, are vowing revenge. Wazir’s reaction is representative of other victims’ feelings. He told reporters, “For this one thing, we would kill 100 American soldiers (HuffPost World, May 31).”
Bales’ top civilian lawyer, John Henry Browne, who is leading the “it’s-not-his-fault” defense said he was disappointed the case has not done more to focus public opinion on the war. We have to conclude that public opinion has not been aroused because of the relentless U.S. ruling-class propaganda pushing imperialist war and maintaining a giant military arsenal that threatens workers everywhere. The Bales case is one more example of the trend toward full-blown fascism in the U.S. Other war crimes continue to be committed in Afghanistan, with very little publicity given to them.
The military is not the only place where the bosses’ armed forces commit crimes against working-class civilians, of course. Here in the U.S., working-class youth face intimidation and attacks by cops, stop-and-frisk, and murders by police, who get off scot free — without even being charged with a crime. Bales is another murderous thug for imperialism, just like the police murderers of Shantel Davis, Ramarley Graham, Kiki Gray and a line of others stretching into the past. We need more than to put them on trial; we need to overthrow the bosses who employ them and build a communist society.
Nationalism is Workers’ Enemy
The many letters in CHALLENGE (6/5/13) about the black nationalism debate shows that our comrades are engaging politically with other students and friends, which is a good trend. While it is important to participate and listen at these events, it is vital to workers that our Party’s political line on nationalism as the workers’ enemy be presented, even if it’s unpopular. Capitalist dictatorship supports, and it supported by, the anti-working-class ideologies of racism and nationalism, among others. Nationalism is the capitalists’ main weapon to divide workers and get them to kill each other in their profit wars.
One letter said many young people were receptive to CHALLENGE, which contains articles about nationalism. In the same edition as the letters, an article described how the nationalists restored Apartheid after it had been defeated by the boycotts and massive resistance by the international working class. There are many ways to engage our friends in discussion about this ruling-class ideology which is responsible for the war deaths of hundreds of millions of workers, and the defeat of working-class movements through installment of national capitalists as “our” leaders. Our Party has the opportunities – now we must take them.
Turkey: Workers Are Battling Cops’ Brutality
We are back in Istanbul. As you may know the police brutality in Turkey has reached another level. Many demonstrators have lost their eyes. So far there are five deaths. The police officer that shot and killed a demonstrator was not charged. The incident was recorded and played on TV many times. I am pleasantly surprised with the public mood in Turkey. People are not afraid of the police brutality and they organize and continue fighting back.
Supreme Court Continues to Enforce Racism
In our PLP club meeting we discussed the recent Supreme Court rulings that struck down the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and legalized equality for gay marriages. These two rulings are in stark contrast to each other. Are things getting better or worse?
Everyone felt the ruling on marriage equality will benefit many gay workers, making it possible for gay couples to share the same benefits that straight couples do. And we discussed that, as a Party, we fight for egalitarianism and a world where all the fruits of society are distributed based on need. These rulings clearly show how the ruling class tries to divide the working class through identity politics which we oppose. Identity poltics emphasize all class unity with the bosses based on race and sex characateristics instead of working-class unity against the rulers.
Since the ruling class dubbed Gay Rights, “the new civil rights,” two decades of advances on that front have been accompanied by racist budget cuts and increased police terror to force black and Latino youth into accepting a future of poverty and war. By every measurable category, racism in the U.S., especially against black people, is worse than before the 1963 March on Washington, 50 years ago. The back-to-back rulings which threaten to disenfranchise millions of black voters while establishing marriage equality, epitomize this trend.