BY JON HILLSON AND TONY LANE
MINNEAPOLIS - "Union yes! Buchanan no!" and "Racist, sexist, anti-gay! Pat Buchanan go away!" were some of the chants people shouted as ultrarightist Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan marched in the St. Patrick's Day parade on Chicago's south side March 17.
"The Young Socialists organized a group of us to go down and stand up against Buchanan," reports Megan Arney from the Twin Cities YS. They met up with YS members from Chicago, Peoria, San Francisco, and Bloomington and Muncie, Indiana, for a weekend of selling socialist literature, publicizing the upcoming Young Socialists convention, and protesting Buchanan.
YS members and friends jumped into the St. Patrick's Day parade upon seeing members of the Irish American Student Organization marching to demand that British troops leave Ireland. They joined the contingent with signs saying "England out of Ireland, Buchanan out of Chicago" and "Yes to Irish freedom, No to Buchanan."
Buchanan was met with pickets at three points along the parade route. He received scattered boos and cheers throughout. A young woman ran up to one of the protesters and pointed at the Militant, saying, "I want one of those! I don't like Buchanan!" She bought a copy of the paper and signed up for more information on the YS convention.
One of the socialist literature tables was attacked by some right-wing youth sporting Confederate flags and SS pins, and describing themselves as "true Irish." They threw beer and bottles on and towards members of the team. The socialists were not provoked. Police finally asked the rightists to stop their activities after onlookers pressed the cops to take some action. The team took their sign in support of a united Ireland reading "Unite the 32 [counties of Ireland], no to Buchanan" and continued campaigning down the street.
Later that evening, Buchanan was met by 25 demonstrators holding signs reading "Fight sexism, Fight Buchanan," and "No Borders, No Buchanan" in front of the Marriott hotel by the O'Hare airport.
The ultrarightist politician lost the four primaries for the Republican nomination for president March 19 - in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin - to Senator Robert Dole, who now needs just a few more delegates to clinch the nomination at the Republican Party convention.
One of the highlights of the Chicago trip, Arney said, was a gathering with some student activists and a group of workers, some of whom had been at the Militant Labor Forum the night before. "These two college students said that Buchanan didn't scare them, they were more worried about the mainstream and how the media controls people's lives," Arney said. At the end of the discussion, the two students said they wanted to go on the Youth Exchange to Cuba this summer, sponsored by the National Network on Cuba, and were interested in coming to the YS convention.
Daily organizing for convention
Young Socialists in the Twin Cities, who will be hosting their group's first national convention April 6-7, are stepping up their efforts to organize the fast-approaching event.
Daily organizing for convention
"We begin every day with an 8 a.m. meeting," explained Jennifer Banathy, who came from Boston to pitch in on preparing the convention. "These meetings project daily activities, here and around the country."
The local Pathfinder bookstore has made space available for an office. "A computer has been donated, we've organized files and workspace where local young socialists are involved in convention building. The chapter is responsible for responding to inquiries we've received," convention co-coordinator Diana Newberry noted. Messages have come from as far as Papua, New Guinea, by mail, phone, fax, and e-mail.
The committee has begun preparing three reports to the gathering, Newberry said, "on our political perspectives in the world today, the tasks before us coming directly out of the convention, and a report on leadership of a revolutionary youth organization.
"The high point of the convention," she said, "will be our Saturday night, April 6, rally to support and launch the 1996 Socialist Workers Party presidential election campaign."
Newberry reported that the convention coordinators and the local Pathfinder bookstore are preparing special literature offers for the convention. "They'll focus on the questions that young people need to read and study on," she explained, "like the rise of fascism, the importance of the national question, and how workers and youth can build a communist movement internationally."
Verónica Poses, a YS member from Miami, has been touring cities to help build the convention. From Greensboro, North Carolina, she reported she spoke at the Militant Labor Forum there on "Socialism: a future worth fighting for." More than 20 people came.
"There were a lot of questions," she said, "on Cuba and on Buchanan and what he represents. One person asked whether ending the embargo would help Cuba or not. I pointed out that ending the embargo will help, but it won't solve all the problems Cuba faces. What Cuba needs is more revolutions like Cuba's around the world - including here in the United States."
At the forum, local YS member Montserrat Caballero reported on activities leading up to the convention, including literature tables, a fund-raising yard sale, and discussions the local YS chapter is planning around the principles drawn up by the YS National Committee for discussion and adoption at the convention.
They also reach out to meet other fighters. "Before the forum, four members of the YS and some other supporters of the Militant went to a rally in support of Kmart workers who are fighting for a contract. To get to the forum, one YSer drove three hours from the university she attends in Asheville, North Carolina. She is now trying to set up a meeting at her campus where I can speak," said Poses.
Tami Peterson, a YS leader from San Francisco who joined the activities in Chicago, is spending the next two and a half weeks in Illinois helping to build the convention.
Rebecca Gettleman, from Des Moines, Iowa, reported that the YS there has just signed up another member, a 24-year-old meatpacker who had first come to the Pathfinder bookstore and started attending Militant Labor Forums. "It's great," said Gettleman. "It means we have a chapter here now." The chapter will elect a delegate with voice and vote at the convention. Gettleman is putting plans together for teams to campuses from Omaha to Iowa City in the next week. "Already we have Doug Nelson, a YS member from Minneapolis, coming down, and we are looking for others to come and give us a hand."
To reach the YS convention center call (612) 645-1674 or e- mail the YS at 73323,firstname.lastname@example.org
YS members Tami Peterson and Aislinn Pulley reporting from Chicago contributed to this article.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home