Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

We Won’t Miss John McCain

John McCain was a racist war criminal. We won’t miss him.

Nicolás Daneri

August 27, 2018
Facebook Twitter Share

CREDIT: ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP/REX/SHUTTERS

Almost every political figure—Democrat and Republican—has offered condolences to the family of Sen. John McCain, who died over the weekend. They tout him as an honorable person and an example of human decency, but he was a racist war criminal.

John Sidney McCain III, son and grandson of four-star navy admirals, was first and foremost a Republican and a staunch representative of the U.S. political establishment and the capitalist class. While serving as a navy pilot in Vietnam, he was gunned down and became a prisoner of war. McCain, a lieutenant commander at the time, had been bombing a lightbulb factory—a civilian target—when he was shot down and saved by a North Vietnamese security guard from the factory. Later, he became a representative and then a senator from Arizona, backing every military intervention the U.S. undertook, from sending troops to Panama in 1989 to Iraq in 2003. In the 2008 presidential debates, he bragged about the “success” of U.S. attacks on Iraq even though he knew well that the “victory” was partly thanks to the U.S. embargo on Iraq, which killed half a million people, along with the deliberate destruction of the country’s water purification system and the ethnic cleansing of Sunni Iraqis at the hands of Shia militants, abetted by U.S. forces.

While McCain is lauded for taking the microphone away from an Islamophobic woman who accused Obama of being a Muslim, it is less well remembered that he supported the rescinding of Martin Luther King Day. His racist history is detailed in Gook: John McCain’s Racism and Why It Matters by Irwin A. Tang, who says, “The combination of racism and warmongering are perfectly encapsulated in ‘gook,’ a racist term formed during numerous U.S. wars… John McCain used this anti-Asian slur freely with the media until he was forced to stop for fear of sabotaging his own presidential ambitions.”

For all this and much more, we won’t miss John McCain.

Why is McCain Important?

McCain’s most important political asset was that he was a POW during the Vietnam War, U.S. imperialism’s first military defeat. During the second half of the 1960s, the Vietnam War sparked an enormous opposition movement involving marches, rallies and clashes with the police. This movement, which developed anti-imperialist positions and solidarity with the oppressed countries, seriously challenged the role of U.S. imperialism, and the resulting lack of support for the war in part led to the U.S. Army’s defeat. The student movement and the civil rights movement were key players in this radicalized left-wing upsurge.

The figure of John McCain, the war hero, represented traditional warmongering, opposed to this progressive tendency. He embodied the celebration of U.S. imperialism, which left over 3 million people dead in Vietnam and millions injured as a result of the war. And he embodied patriotism in a country that considers itself the “policeman of the world”—ensuring the death of millions. He is portrayed as the positive moral representation of the American way of life.

The Democratic Socialist Response

Democrats and Republicans are singing McCain’s praises. Jesse Jackson tweeted, “People like @SenJohnMcCain do not come in bunches like grapes. They are rare like pearls. He represents the best in us. May God give him a special place in his bosom.” Barack Obama said McCain was faithful to “something higher—the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.” This should come as no surprise. After all, the Democrats and Republicans are united in promoting imperialism and the brutal policies of capital around the world.

But why are the country’s most famous democratic socialists singing his praises and mourning his death? By paying respect to his memory, they salute what he stood for; by refusing to denounce him for who he was, they conceal the fact that he was an enemy of the working class, the women’s movement, immigrants and youth.

But it’s not a matter of morals. This thinly veiled “political correctness” reveals the intention to maintain the bipartisan status quo of American imperialism, characteristic of the practice of capitulating to nationalism. Sanders has demonstrated time and time again that he votes like a Democrat while using more progressive rhetoric. Although Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has not even been elected yet, she has clarified some of her positions and backtracked on others, making it clear she is already bending to the Democratic Party establishment.

By whitewashing McCain’s bloody past as a warmonger, she has wasted the opportunity to raise her voice against imperialism. It means ignoring the hundreds of thousands of people who have died as a direct result of McCain’s actions in the military and votes in Congress. While McCain may have espoused a more “politically correct” vision of right-wing politics than Donald Trump’s, his policies still meant death and misery for American workers and people of color who were sent on unjust military campaigns.

At a moment when the left is gaining momentum in the United States, socialists must look to the example of the antiwar students of the 1960s and 1970s and encourage people to organize independently of the establishment parties. Above all, socialists must maintain the fight against imperialist war and racism rather than bend to the norms and pressures of Washington, DC.

We can’t be afraid to say it. John McCain was a racist war criminal who was responsible for the death of thousands around the world– in his role in the Vietnam war, as well as in his role in Congress. We don’t mourn him and we won’t miss him.

Facebook Twitter Share

Nicolás Daneri

Nico is a writer and editor for La Izquierda Diario and a collaborator for Left Voice. He lives in Buenos Aires

United States

Shut Down Guantanamo Bay

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay Prison. Its continued operation shows that the “War on Terror” has not ended.

Tristan Taylor

January 12, 2022

2022 Must Mark a New Stage for the Climate Movement

After a year packed with climate disasters and blatant disregard by capitalists, the climate movement cannot afford to be apathetic or repeat a failed strategy.

Sam Carliner

January 11, 2022
Teachers protested against unsafe conditions in schools on January 5 outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“No One Is Coming to Save Us”: Brooklyn Teachers Organize Sickout

Teachers at a Brooklyn middle school organized a sickout in response to the surge in Omicron cases. We interviewed one teacher who emphasizes the importance of education workers having the agency to determine whether their workplaces are safe.

Left Voice

January 10, 2022
Eric Adams and others standing in front of the apartment building where the fire took place.

Fire in the Bronx: Capitalist Mass Murder

A fire in New York City on Sunday killed at least 17 people. Eric Adams called it a "tragedy." We call it premeditated murder by real estate speculators.

Nathaniel Flakin

January 10, 2022

MOST RECENT

Kazakhstan: A Revolt Against “Transitional” Capitalism

Dozens of protesters have been killed in protests sparked by a rise in fuel prices. The revolt is concerning to Russia and inconvenient for Western powers.

Philippe Alcoy

January 13, 2022

Solidarity with the uprising in Kazakhstan

We are republishing this international solidarity statement with the protests in Kazakhstan. It was written by socialist TD Paul Murphy of Ireland.

Left Voice

January 12, 2022

The Movement to Shut Down Red Hill Forced a Concession from the U.S. Navy. The Fight Continues.

The U.S. Navy has made a first concession to the demands of the movement to shut down Red Hill. Water protectors understand that their fight must continue. The larger climate movement, the working class, and oppressed people must maintain solidarity.

Sam Carliner

January 12, 2022
The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum in New York Joins the Fight for a Unionized Art World

The workers of this prestigious and historic institution have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a union election.

Sarah Frankie Sigman

January 12, 2022