On December 26, the New York Post writer Niles Lathem added his two-bit contribution to the smear campaign against those who oppose the U.S. military occupation of Iraq by claiming that the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) is the subject of investigation because of its support of the Iraqi resistance. In his article, “Harlem Radicals Probed,” Lathem implies that because the FSP supports the Iraqis’ legitimate right to resist the occupation of their country, the organization is itself an uncritical supporter of terrorism, including violence against civilians. This is not true. And the sole purpose of such an allegation by Lathem along with his unsubstantiated charge that the FSP is being investigated by federal authorities is to have a chilling effect on the growing U.S. and global opposition to the Iraq war and occupation.
Lathem’s lambasting is based on the FSP’s supporting the right of the European-based Anti-Imperialist Camp to raise funds and meet with other activists peacefully in Italy at a conference called “Leave Iraq in Peace—Support the Legitimate Resistance of the Iraqi People.” Pro-war Congressional members intervened to pressure the Italian government to deny visas to Iraqi civilians, all holding legitimate passports, who planned to attend. Washington, D.C.’s political bullying tactics were met with international defiance, including a petition signed by 41 members of Italy’s parliament protesting the subordination of Italian sovereignty to U.S. dictates.
Leading the assault on freedom of speech and association is Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY) who continues to use her position with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities to slander and criminalize those in the U.S and around the world who support Iraqis resisting the U.S. occupation. At a hearing on August 2, she executed the McCarthy-type ploy of holding up a poster depicting a U.S. soldier being shot in front of an Iraqi flag. She claimed it was part of the Anti-Imperialist Camp’s fundraising efforts, an accusation which a camp’s spokesperson later exposed as “freely invented.”
The FSP is not alone in opposing the occupation. The party joins millions of people around the world who acknowledge the right of the Iraqi people to resist the U.S. invasion and occupation. They say they would do the same if their country was attacked. “Aren’t we here today as the United States because citizens took up arms to defend themselves against the ravages of British colonialism over two hundred years ago?” says Stephen Durham, FSP New York City organizer.
Those who try to defend the U.S. military occupation under the rubric of a “war on terrorism” use the violent and indiscriminate tactics of a minority within the broad Iraqi resistance to vilify and invalidate the entire opposition. But in Iraq, trade unionists, feminists, doctors, scholars, citizens who oppose privatization of Iraq’s natural resources, those who believe no real democracy can exist until the occupation ends—all are active participants in the resistance. The Iraqis, as a people, have the right to determine their struggle as a nation against U.S. military occupation and economic and political coercion.
The U.S.-led military assault has meant the death of thousands of Iraqis, the destruction of infrastructure, and instituting the theft of natural resources, namely Iraq’s rich oil reserves, by U.S. corporations. The FSP supports the right of Iraqis to defend themselves against the violence and destruction of the military occupation. The FSP, in addition, calls on the U.S. antiwar movement do the same as the most effective way to resist government intimidation, strengthen the movement, and bring the bloody U.S. occupation of Iraq to an end.
The Post’s journalistic assault on the FSP was not the only attempt to intimidate dissent in recent days. The past week’s news has been replete with videotapes of NYPD undercover infiltration and provocation during local protests, the Bush administration’s illegal and unauthorized tapping of phone conversations, and, of course, the draconian threats and penalties imposed on transit union members.
In the ’50s, the atmosphere of hysteria whipped up against socialists and communists permitted the McCarthyites to ride roughshod over the civil liberties of everyone. The result was more than a decade of political reaction, and two wars: Korea and Vietnam. We cannot let that happen again.
Stop the witchhunts against antiwar activists!
End U.S. military terror in Iraq! Bring the troops home now!
For the right to national self-determination!
Defend First Amendment rights and freedom of expression everywhere!