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The War at Home

Amid war mongering and escalating racist rhetoric, the murder of two black youths spur protests in Minneapolis and Chicago. The fight against the war abroad is intrinsically linked to the struggle for justice and equality at home.

Juan Cruz Ferre

November 28, 2015
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Photo: Reuters

The Paris attacks have unleashed a competition among GOP presidential candidates to be the most racist and militarist contender. Of course, this was not unexpected, but the statements have reached a rabid level of animosity towards immigrants and Muslims that is impossible to swallow. This week, we’ve heard Trump’s shameless lies about Muslims in Jersey City cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001 and his proposal for a federal registry of all Muslims living in the U.S. . We’ve heard Jeb Bush’s proposal that the U.S. should only accept christian refugees, Marco Rubio’s Syrian refugee policy that would have us open doors only to widows and orphan children. Not to mention Carson’s comparison of Syrian refugees to rabid dogs .

Twenty-six governors raised the stakes and announced they would no longer accept Syrian refugees in their states. Since the refugees’ settlement is a federal program, they cannot legally refuse to receive them — but the lack of collaboration of state agencies would make it very difficult to continue.

Along the same lines, republicans presented a bill in the House that would require additional background screening for all refugees coming from Syria, making it much harder for immigrants to find shelter. The bill, voted by an overwhelming majority of Republicans and 47 democrats, will be vetoed by the White House if not torpedoed before that in the Senate. Even Senator Reid (D-NV) expressed disgust at GOP representatives’ “fear mongering and bigotry.”

At the same time, all GOP presidential contenders have bolstered their hawkish rhetoric. They all pledged to crush Isis and targeted Obama for his supposedly soft policy in the Middle East. This allowed Obama to pose as humanitarian when he stated that “Many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves, that’s what they’re fleeing,” which is partly true — only he forogt to mention how the military interventions of the US and allied forces are responsible for the destabilization of the region and thus the immigration crisis.

However republicans are not the only ones who responded to the French call and got tangled up in the disingenuous -or at least stupid- game of “combat[ting] the bombing and random murder of civilians with the bombing and random murder of civilians” . Hillary Clinton also called to ramp up military efforts against Isis, but made sure to rule out any operations with troops on the ground. After the debacle in Afghanistan and Iraq, any on-the-ground intervention would be unaffordably unpopular for any presidential candidate.

Bernie Sanders Air Strike Internationalism

Bernie Sanders jumped onto the war mongering bandwagon too. He advocated for a “NATO-like” coalition with Russia and regional allies included to effectively fight Isis. As if a confirmation was needed of his record in supporting NATO interventions in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, and Israel’s massacre of the Palestinian people, he made it clear once more: he is OK with US imperialism.

The bottom line is that Republicans and Democrats, including self-proclaimed “socialist” Bernie Sanders, agree on this point: ISIS must be fought with more war.

British Prime Minister David Cameron made the case for airstrikes before a reluctant Parliament, while French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appealed for Britain to join France’s war drive in an Op-Ed published in The Guardian .

Growing Resistance to War Escalation

But these war drives and refugee scapegoating have met increasing resistance in both Europe and the U.S. Last Sunday, despite the ban imposed by the French prefecture, hundreds of protesters marched in the streets of Paris in solidarity with refugees, demanding the opening of the borders and an end to the state of emergency and Hollande’s military escalation after the Paris attacks.

The day before, an even larger march took place in Toulouse, where over 15 thousand protesters took to the streets . Young activists held a banner with the inscription, “Their wars, our dead. Against the state of emergency, let’s strengthen our struggles.” Other signs read, “Imperialism kills”, “Down with the state of emergency,” and “National unity, Capital’s unity.”

This Saturday, November 28, Stop The War coalition has planned a large rally to take place in London and many other cities in the UK.

In several cities throughout the U.S., protesters have taken action against refugee scapegoating. A few hundred protesters rallied outside Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s house carrying signs and chanting slogans against his attempts to block the entrance of Syrian refugees.

Protests also took place in Olympia, WA and Montpelier, VT, where those in support of refugees vastly outnumbered those who rallied against them. In Idaho, where Governor C.L. Otter refused to receive Syrian refugees, a tiny nationalistic xenophobic protest was overshadowed by a pro-refugee march that was over a thousand strong.

The War at Home

The fact that France has the largest Muslim community in the European Union (between 5 and 8 millions) makes the threat of an attack from within always looming. Not because muslims are constitutively evil, as Trump posits. The reason is that segregation of Muslim communities is stronger today than ever. Targeted police persecution and harassment, institutional xenophobic policies like the ban on burqa, and the terrible material conditions to which Muslim immigrants have been condemned have made the lukewarm attempts to assimilate them a blatant failure. The suburban riots of 2005 were proof of that. Furthermore the government and other structures of power know it: that’s why they are taking advantage of the Paris attacks to reinforce targeted policing to muslim minorities, unwarranted raids, the state of emergency and the militarization of the city. Whenever an oppressed minority gets so slammed, so squeezed that it threatens to explode, the repressive forces of the state step forward to suppress the resistance and crush even the dream, the thought of defying law and order.

The militarization of police, along with the ever-growing incarceration system plays this role in the US. In the streets of America, “the land of the free”, a permanent war is fought every day. Muslims, blacks and Latinos are targeted by bigots and law enforcement officials. This harassment makes minorities feel in foreign territory and fear incarceration, unaffordable criminal prosecutions or, in the case of immigrants deportation, thus keeping them under control. Blacks in high places can’t conceal the reality of today’s racist society.

The murder of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis and Laquan McDonald in Chicago are the latest episode in this killing machine that has already taken 1029 lives this year

The fight against war and xenophobic fear mongering is intrinsically tied t0 the fight for social justice at home and for the lives of black, browns and latinos. The ideological operation is to draw a line between us and the “other”, and exaggerate that “otherness,” make it irreconcilable. The black, the muslim, the latino are daily targets of slander and prejudice in the media, at the universities, at their workplaces. The fascist sentiment spurred by Trump’s racist rhetoric galvanises the most rotten elements of white supremacist America and exacerbates hatred against minorities. As a final outcome, the “other” is dehumanized. De-humanization of black people was a central piece underpinning slavery in antebellum America. Today it still serves the master’s purpose.

We have to oppose all military intervention in the Middle East, defund the military and divest the war industry. Students and workers should join the protests, organizations must call for a united front against war abroad and state terror at home. In the same vein, a clear message of welcome for all refugees should be delivered. Labor unions, left groupings and student organizations are best placed to convene these actions and organize solidarity campaigns. Resistance is growing: join it.

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