The Freedom Socialist Party mourns the 11 Jewish congregants assassinated on Saturday, Oct. 27, and extends our sympathy and solidarity to their families and friends and to the six others wounded at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We condemn the bigotry of organized ultra-rightists, emboldened by President Trump and Steve Bannon, that has set the stage for a wave of violence by individual reactionaries. And we are helping to create working-class united fronts to defend the targets of these neo-Nazis.
Robert Bowers, the murderer of the Jews attending services in Pittsburgh, had written heated anti-Semitic screeds online. He was angered that the congregation had recently celebrated the work of an immigrant support organization active for over 150 years. Bowers saw this work as threatening to replace “his people” — white people. His attitudes echo the chanted epithets of “White Lives Matter!” and “You Will Not Replace Us” by torch-bearing white nationalists during the despicable rally that claimed three lives in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.
Far-right violence is rising, and the president’s own loudly proclaimed racism and xenophobia are in large part responsible. His incessant rants against the caravan of immigrants marching here through Mexico, in which he claims they are coming to steal jobs and pervert “American” culture, are provoking a growing spate of anti-immigrant actions that include everything from rabid outbursts on the internet to arson against the Iglesia Ni Cristo church in Seattle during services. Two African American elders were murdered while shopping at a supermarket in Kentucky on Oct. 24, after the gunman tried but failed to enter a predominantly Black church nearby. A score of Trump administration opponents were sent pipe bombs in the past two weeks. And that administration has now opened a potentially lethal new front by attacking the legal rights of transgender people.
The conditions for fascism are ripening. Economists are warning that the next recession is on the horizon. That means there will be another broad, radical protest movement in the United States, and Trump and his friends are trying to prepare for that inevitability. They know they can be defeated by a unified working-class movement, so they attempt to whip up fear of “the other.” They lie that immigrants and the poor are to blame for economic scarcities and hardships that the 1 percent is responsible for.
Jews have always been a target of the far right, sometimes in deadly assaults, but more often in the veiled or open anti-Semitism that helps create the climate for them. In Nazi Germany, they were caricatured as greedy, almost un-human money-lenders. Today, they are still cast as villains in the nonexistent “international Jewish banking conspiracy,” while Trump and his kind also use them as scapegoats because of their role in helping “job-stealing” immigrants.
Along with scapegoats like Jews and desperate refugees, fascism requires thugs. German industrialists in the 1930s used Hitler’s street gangs to instill fear and to divide the working class in order to smash the strong socialist movement of the time and keep profits high. Well before the concentration camps, Hitler drove his followers to murder Jews, socialists, unionists, Roma (gypsies), and LGBTQ people. His street brawlers are the ancestors of present-day goons like the Proud Boys who take open pleasure in assaulting and intimidating Muslims, immigrants, reproductive rights defenders, leftists, and other so-called threats to patriarchal, “Western” values.
Hitler himself said that Nazism’s rise to power could have been stopped had it been smashed in the egg. Now is the time to fight back against the far right and encroaching fascism with a democratic, multi-issue united front of all who are victimized!