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Vol. 81/No. 14      April 10, 2017


Attacks on political events are blow to workers’ rights

NEW YORK — A small number of students and others protested outside a New York University meeting here March 24 demanding that conservative author Charles Murray not be allowed to speak. This follows the breakup of a meeting for Murray at Middlebury College in Vermont three weeks earlier by a group of students, professors and middle-class radicals. A violent protest in February also prevented self-proclaimed “libertarian, gay, Trump-supporting provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the University of California in Berkeley.

These actions are a deadly threat to the political space working people need to discuss and organize. At the same time, anarchist “black bloc” and other left groups organized to physically attack marches organized by supporters of President Donald Trump across the country March 25.

Protesters at NYU carried signs that read, “No free speech for racists” and chanted “Charles Murray’s got to go!” They shouted “shame!” at economics student Christopher Zhen and others who walked past them to attend the meeting. “I like what Murray says about free markets, but don’t agree with what he says about intelligence in his book The Bell Curve,” Zhen told the Militant.

When he was walking by, NYU student Evan Daniels said he previously agreed with the demands of the protesters “but now I think it’s wrong to prevent other students from hearing speakers.”

The previous evening Murray spoke at a similar restricted meeting of 60 at Columbia University. Prior to the talk a number of Columbia alumni released a public letter saying Murray’s views were “Nazi eugenics.” Protesting outside the meeting, Bronx Community College professor Alex Wolf told the New York Times he hoped “something similar” to the assault on the meeting at Middlebury could be repeated at Columbia.

“The furor,” surrounding Murray’s book “is not primarily because of what the book says about race. The scandal is its open self-rationalization of the class inequalities and privilege benefiting a growing upper-middle-class layer, and its justification for the anti-working-class bipartisan convergence around economic and social policy,” explains Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes in the Pathfinder title Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism.

“This book and my campaign answer the denigration of the working class, which is not unique to Murray,” Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York mayor, explained in discussions with students outside the Columbia meeting. Hart went to both the protests there and at NYU, discussing and debating how best to advance the fight of the working class to organize and take political power. “We’ve heard the same thing from Hillary Clinton, who called workers “deplorables,” and many on the left who say the problem today is that workers — especially those who are Caucasian — are more racist and reactionary than ever today.

“We need to speak out against all attempts to shut down meetings and speakers. Attacks on political rights always end up targeting the working class,” Hart said. “We need this space to discuss and debate the road forward in a world where the deepening capitalist economic and political crisis is creating depression-like conditions for our class worldwide. Only the working class can lead a revolution to overthrow dog-eat-dog capitalism and create a society where every human being can reach their potential.

“As the crisis of capitalism deepens, the rulers are beginning to fear the working class and look for ways to restrict political rights,” he said. “Today it’s anarchists and the middle-class left, not the ultraright, that are at the forefront of shutting down meetings and limiting the space that working people need to carve out a road forward.”

Attacks on Trump rallies

Workers World posted an article on their website March 27 hailing the attack that prevented supporters of Trump from holding a march in Philadelphia March 25, saying “multiple forces, notably a large ‘black bloc’ waving Antifa (Antifascist) and communist flags, mobilized to confront a racist ‘Make America Great Again’ rally.”

Similar efforts to bust up rallies and assault Trump supporters took place in Denver; Omaha, Nebraska; Huntington Beach, California; and other cities.

The Philadelphia attack was aimed at keeping Trump supporters from being able to “normalize a fascist presence,” Workers World’s post said.

When the police told the Trump people their march permit was revoked, “black bloc activists took to the street to celebrate.”

This was no victory for working people, who need to jealously defend the right to protest.

An anarchist group in Omaha, all dressed in black with masks hiding their faces, tried to take on some 100 supporters of Trump there. The cops pushed them away, including shooting pepper balls at them.

Some 50 others who had come to protest against Trump’s policies, but not to attack the rally, were pushed aside.

“It’s very upsetting that neither side can exercise freedom of speech peacefully right now,” Trump supporter Melynda Ream, 27, told the Omaha World-Herald.

Shayla McShannon, 36, another participant in the pro-Trump rally, told the paper she would have liked to have had the chance to talk with the protesters.

Candace Wagner and Lea Sherman contributed to this article.  
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