March 31, 2010

When Religion Forces People To Act

From Palestine:

As I wish you a most blessed holy week and glorious Pascha celebration I wanted to remind you that this holy Palm Sunday everyone was asked to spiritually meet Christ in Jerusalem to walk with Him in his Passion and to be with Him as he offers a new life, each and every time He forgive us.

As Christians of the Holy Land, we have kept the flame of Witness for Christ burning more than 2,000 years and as I have tried so hard to remind everyone that we, as people of God , have accepted the Messiah so we are baptised onto Christ and we are the "new Israel"...the Israel created on the ground in 1948 is not the Israel of our Gospels so this terrible misunderstanding of the Holy Bible is the great force behind Israel currently receiving more than seven million dollars each day from the American goverment to continue the brutal military occupation of Palestine.

Please keep us in your prayers as the fight for Jerusalem is more "hot" than ever. There is a huge effort especially now to make Jerusalem 100% Jewish to the point of taking Palestinian families out of their homes of 30 years to replace them with illegal Israeli Jewish settlers.

A good friend Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D., reported on the most current Palm Sunday non violent action...over 100 native Palestinian Christians and Muslims and internationals including Israelis, breached the tight security separating the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem from the occupied city of Jerusalem. Donkeys and people arrested!

We were initially some 150 strong and started from the Church of Nativity at 11:45 AM carrying palm leaves an banners asking for freedom of worship and movement (as demanded by international law). The demonstration included individuals riding 2 donkeys and a horse. Appropriate since Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Like him, we knew this was not going to be an easy entry but we did believe in the goodness of humanity. We arrived at the main gate used for tourist buses at around 12:30 and decided to just keep going. The few soldiers and police at the gate tried to close it but we managed to get in and the huge 8 meter high metal gate stopped half way perhaps as a safety mechanisms since there were dozens of people passing and they could be crushed if it continued...."11 friends who were kidnapped by the Israeli army for daring to do what every human being on earth is entitled to do (move freely within their own country):

Photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/activestills/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/imemc/

Published stories
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=272253
http://www.imemc.org/article/58309

Salem Parks At Risk

The City of Salem has to make cuts in funding, due to the bad economic times. They feel the neighborhood and community parks of Salem is the place to make most of the cut backs by laying off FOUR permanent park maintenance operators from an already skeleton crew of workers. We can barely keep our heads above water as it stands. Once these positions are eliminated, the parks will be severely undermanned for maintenance Their intentions are to use inmates from state corrections and part time summer seasonal help. If the communities of Salem want to keep our parks safe, usable and in good appearance, we won't let this happen. We believe there are other options to find funding for our parks. In past years the city council has found a way to keep our parks department staffed just enough to keep our parks a place the people of Salem and visitors can use and feel safe in and be proud of. If you have concerns for our parks, please pass the word on to everyone you know and make your voice known. There is a city council meeting that the community is invited to on Wednesday, March 31st at 7:00pm. It is at the Wallace Rd Roths Grocery store in the conference room. If you can not make it, please e-mail your city counsel members with any questions and concerns.

Thank You

Rick Rue

March 30, 2010

Advocates Return to Congressman Schrader's office for answer on Immigration Reform

From CAUSA:

Salem, Ore.-- This morning, close to 70 immigration reform advocates went to the District Office of U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader in Salem to ask again if he would support the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act (HR 4321) and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (HR 1751).

It had been over two months since reform advocates, led by CAUSA, last visited the Congressman's office with signed letters asking for a meeting and his support on H.R. 4321 and H.R.1751.

Today, after not receiving an answer again, advocates staged a peaceful sit-in. Francisco Lopez, CAUSA's Executive Director, told the crowd and the media, "We are prepared to wait as long as it takes to receive an answer from our Congressman."

After 15 minutes into the sit-in, Congressman Schrader agreed to personally meet with leaders representing faith, labor, business, and immigrant and civil rights advocacy during the month of April. The Congressman's Staff also met with reform advocates today--listening to their concerns about immigration reform, family reunification and the DREAM Act.

We will keep you posted on developments from the meeting with Congressman Schrader to take place next month.

Go here for photos.

Meanwhile, where is the United States?

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti.—This Saturday was a joyful one here, although few Haitians noticed it. The fact is that this is a country where the infant mortality rate is in excess of 80 per 1,000 live births, where life expectancy is under 60, and where tens of thousands of people die from tuberculosis, malaria, and dengue fever… it could not experience a better day than one on which its highest authorities agreed to a program to strengthen health services and create a epidemiological prevention network.

The signing this weekend of a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Cuba, Brazil and Haiti relates to aid that will endure and which cannot be undermined by even the most violent quakes.

Read more here.

March 28, 2010

AN ALLEGORY FOR THE CASE OF THE CUBAN FIVE

Jose Varela was born in Cuba in 1955 and has been an editorial cartoonist in Miami for 15 years. Miami is the center of hyperbole when it comes to Cuba. So it was brilliant that he would use the opposite of hyperbole to explain the case of the Cuban Five. The following was printed in Progreso Weekly. Sometimes I know I use rhetoric but maybe we could all learn from another way of communicating.

THE CUBAN FIVE

Imagine that your neighbor has a guest house where he rents rooms and plans to expand and improve his business in the neighborhood.

For that reason, your neighbor wants you to leave your home so that he can buy it and either turn it into another guest house or demolish it and turn the grounds into a parking lot.

But because you don't leave (because even though your property is small and humble, you like it) the neighbor starts harassing you. He throws stones to break your windows and busts your outdoor lights. One day, one of your guests is hurt by the glass sprayed by the rocks your neighbor throws

Your neighbor begins to slip into your backyard at night to alarm the chickens and destroy your ornamental plants. Your faithful dog is poisoned and your cat is hanged from an avocado tree. Your neighbor even laughs when he sees you burying your pets and repairing the damages.

One morning you see your mailbox ripped open, the garbage strewn outside your door, the plumbing clogged and the TV cable cut. To make things worse, as you leave your home, the neighbor drives a truck onto the street and blocks your driveway. And you have to wait for hours until he removes his truck, so you can have access to the street.

Your neighbor who is a friend of the owner of the nearest supermarket, somehow influences him not to give you credit, and you are forced to travel to another more distant supermarket to buy your food and basic necessities on credit.

In a psychological escalation, your neighbor plays loud music all day long. You barely can watch television or listen to the radio in peace and must make all kinds of acoustic adjustments to hold down the noise that comes from next door.

On every occasion you want to dialogue, your neighbor pretends he is deaf so you finally call the police and complain. But the police look the other way. They say there is no proof of harassment. And then you discover that your neighbor has connections with the authorities and the court because he extorts them.

Then you have no alternative but to hold an emergency family meeting. And you decide to send your son to the neighbor's house with one mission: Stop the harassment coming from your neighbor's house

Your son goes to your neighbor's house and tells him he is angry at you and wants him to rent him a room. Your neighbor agrees to do so. And then your son proceeds to throw away the neighbor's rocks, bat, goat's foot, machete, poison, rope - and to disable the truck he uses to block the street.

The neighbor catches your son and presses charges against him. Your son is arrested, tried and sent to prison for transgression and damages.

In truth, the least you can do is to place a picture of your son in your living room, venerate him as a family hero and try to get him out of prison. At least one way or another, the harassment from your neighbor's home has abated, even though the guy remains hostile to you.

So, if you want to understand the case of the Five Cubans, imagine all this and multiply it times five

March 26, 2010

Call to Action in Support of Fred Meyer Workers

Call to Action in Support of Fred Meyer Workers

Fred Meyer workers are in a major struggle across the state for living wages and affordable health care. FRED MEYER is now owned by KROGER, a mega-corporation from out of state.

KROGER CORP. does not care about the health of our community, only about more $$$ PROFITS $$$.

Please support your local grocery workers as they struggle for a fair union contract.

LIVING WAGES AND AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE. IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

When: MARCH 31st WED
Where: at the three FRED MEYER STORES IN SALEM
Time: 4:30 pm
Action = Community delegation to the manager to deliver a workers unity petition.

Locations:
Fred Meyer East Salem
3740 Market ST NE

2855 Broadway St NE
Salem OR.

3450 Commercial St SE
Salem, OR

JOBS WITH JUSTICE SUPPORT ACTION FOR UFCW LOCAL 555
Contact: Martha Calderon at 503-508-8037 to sign up for a location.

March 25, 2010

We Are What We Eat: The Social Movements for Food Justice

“What is Food Justice?

Healthy food produced in an affordable and sustainable manner without exploiting farm workers, the land or family farmers.

The concept that society should arrange its relationships so that everyone has sufficient healthy food.

The idea that how and what a community eats should be placed squarely in the context of community building and social change.”

—Community to Community. C2C is a women-led, place-based grassroots organization working for a just society and health communities. They are committed to systemic change and to creating strategic alliances that strengthen local and global movements toward social, economic, and environmental justice.
But more than a concept, food justice is also a movement. The leading forces in the movement for food justice are the peasants and farm workers themselves. La Via Campesina is an international coalition of peasants and small farmers counting over 200 million members in 70 countries.

Read more here.

Party for the Party! (Oregon Working Families Party)

Party for the Party! (Oregon Working Families Party)
The minor party with major possibilities.

Portland Area Working Family Party Meeting (Party for the Party!).

Please join us for the first OWFP meeting (and party) of the year. There will be discussion about the issue campaigns we are working on, our voter registration drive, and our plans to take full advantage of the first year of fusion voting in Oregon. Most importantly, please join us for the socializing (and even dancing if you are so inclined) that will follow as soon as the business wraps up. Stay tuned for upcoming meetings in other parts of the state.

What: Party for the People! When: Tuesday, March 30th, 6:00 PM
Where: The Kennedy School Gym, 5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland (at Jessup St)

RSVP to info@oregonwfp.org. See you on the 30th. Working Families Party Members and Friends invites activists and progressives to the first Oregon Working Families Party meeting of 2010. Since fusion voting passed in July of last year, WFP has been working hard and we want you to be a part of it. We will be having meetings around the State over the next few months, but we're starting in Portland on Tuesday, March 30th, at 6:00 PM, for discussion about the issue campaigns we are working on, our voter registration drive, and our plans to take full advantage of the first year of fusion voting in Oregon. Most importantly, please join us for the socializing (and even dancing if you are so inclined) that will follow as soon as the business wraps up.

Please let WFP know if you can make it by email. "Barbara Dudley, Oregon Working Families Party" info@OregonWFP.org.

And please feel free to notify your friends, especially folks who are interested to learn more about the WFP.

When Tue Mar 30 6pm – 9pm Pacific Time
Where The Kennedy School Gym, 5736 NE 33rd Ave,

Beware of the new racist counteroffensive by Sam Webb

Many people say that racism is simply an attitude or a prejudice of one people toward another people. That allowed Republican senators to make the ludicrous claim that Sonia Sotomayor was a racist, during the hearings on her Supreme Court nomination.

In reality, racism is a historically developed set of practices, institutions and beliefs that systematically subordinate racially oppressed people to an inferior status in every area of life. It dates back to the 17th century and its genesis lies in the practical economic and political requirements of the interwoven systems of predatory colonialism, slavery and nascent capitalism in the "new world" at that time.

Read more here.

March 22, 2010

Review of Let Them Eat Junk by Robert Albritton

There’s a burgeoning genre of books showing the crisis in food. The 100 Mile Diet, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Slow Food Nation and others point out that one of the key dimensions of the ecological crisis is food. Modern agriculture uses vast amounts of natural resources like water, land and massive oil inputs to process and transport food. What makes Robert Albritton’s Let Them Eat Junk the best book on food politics is his reason for that degradation: capitalism, and its need to make a profit regardless of the cost to natural or human health. However, Let Them Eat Junk falls short on a key question: what do we do to change that system.

Read more here.

Willamette Valley Nursing Home Workers Protest---Now What?

Last Friday I participated in an angry protest at a local nursing home. Workers and some residents were moved into action after two nursing home workers were fired after testing positive on a drug test after certain drugs were found missing in the home. One of the fired workers tested positive for marijuana, which was not one of the missing drugs. Both workers had strong alibis. One worker was especially popular while the other, less popular, is a homeless expectant mother in her eighth month of pregnancy.

The protest was tied to two grievance meetings held at the nursing home. About 39 workers took part, which is most of the facility workers, and it included most part-timers and workers from all shifts and from all areas of the home. The crowd was multigenerational. In most nursing homes workers are often divided by age, shift and occupation, so this is especially significant. The workers marched into the room the bosses were in and surrounded the them. They also wore union stickers to support their issues.

The nursing home chain changed its drug policy without notifying or negotiating with the union. The union has filed grievances and will probably be filing unfair labor practice charges as well. Workers in non-union homes owned by this chain are being fired without having much recourse while workers in union-represented homes have a means of representation and a stronger ability to protest and demonstrate. This is part of the important "union difference" at work.

The protest took about 25 minutes. Workers were nervous as they took part. A few worksite leaders made speeches and presented a strong and united case to the bosses. For their part, the bosses wanted an orderly grievance meeting and were unprepared for the protest. The "official" union representative present left it to the workers to make their points. Another "official" union representative was on the phone helping to present the grievance and she also encouraged the protest without trying to own or direct it. This was exactly the right thing to do.

We hope that the protest will be effective and help the workers win more power.

On the upside, the workers moved from demoralization and powerlessness to protest. They quickly developed leadership on their own and used their leaders to put forward a strong case and make demands. They remained more-or-less united. A group of workers waited outside of the grievance hearing for about one hour and committed to carrying back the steward's account of the grievance to their co-workers. Most of the people who took part had to overcome some fear barriers and follow union leadership at the home into action. There was strong support in the protest for the union steward. The workers talked positively about the difference having a union can make.

On the downside, many of the workers were protesting out of immediate self-interest and fear and they made this known. Some quickly took off their union stickers after the protest. Support for the fired workers was lop-sided: the popular worker got full support while the single and homeless expectant mother did not get the same level of support from her co-workers. The bosses can see this and can use it against the workers. The workers continue to think of themselves as part of a family which includes management.

What does this small protest tell us?

It shows that workers can be pulled into action. It probably illustrates that it is better to follow an "adventurist" policy of creating confrontations between workers and bosses than it is to stay mum or act within the confines of accepted rules and strategies. Workers can find unity and build leadership, but this unity and leadership will be tested by the bosses--this is the very content of class struggle. Workers can win this contest of the wills, at least in the short run, when they act together. It shows us how important building articulate working class leadership is.

It also shows us certain weaknesses in the class struggle. Many nursing home workers use drugs and a sedated working class will not go into unified or collective action and stay united for long. Many workers continue to think of themselves as part of an abstract family, team or community despite the power of the bosses and how blatantly their power is used against us on a daily basis. Workers continue to support their friends and those they trust, but not one another to the extent that we should. It's hard build broader unity.

It should be noted that the union got representation at this nursing home through a controversial partnership agreement. This struggle illustrates that confrontations will occur despite such agreements and that "official" union reprsentatives will not necessarily have a vested interest in limiting such confrontations.

What happens to the grievants and to the worker-leaders now? If the struggle is successful, or nearly so, a stronger union can be built at the nursing home. The worker-leaders will have to step up and become better leaders--more involved, more articulate, more militant. If the struggle is lost, it is most likely that the workers will move backwards and fear and mistrust will take over. These questions are also part of the real content of the class struggle.

March 20, 2010

Marxism, Queer Theory and the Love Debate

Most debate regarding queer identity is erroneously focused on whether persons who do not conform to traditional gender activity or heterosexual relationships are acting on natural impulses. The only reason this would be of concern is if one is locked into debate within the frame developed by the conservative intelligent design paradigm, in which what is "natural" is synonymous with what is right. Plenty of human activity, such as activity taken as part of philosophical praxis or the most passionate practice of religion, involve the higher mental state of many people and are not criticized for being so complex. Love and life activity belong in this category, and queer identity can transcend the current debate regarding its practice if we regard it properly.

The philosophy of Marxism can provide a new frame with which queer activity can be positively supported.

Read more here.

Beaverton Good Friday Peace & Justice Event

Good Friday Walk of the Cross for Peace & Justice
Friday, April 2
10:00 AM
Starts at First United Methodist Church in Beaverton at 12555 SW 4th and ends at St. Cecilia Catholic Church on 5th and Franklin.

This event is intended as a reflection on Christ's passion for peace and justice in the here and now. It is definitely ecumenical. Each station of the cross will focus on a particular social justice issue.

Final Health Care Bill Strips Key LGBT Provisions

A day after civil disobedience activity in the offices of Speaker Pelosi and at the gates of the White House, it was revealed that all the LGBT provisions that had been included in the Health Care Bill passed by the House were stripped from the final Health Care Bill. As the energy of the new LGBT organization Get Equal is flexing its muscle the apparent need for new strategies is clear. The traditional lobbying strategy of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is being called into question.

The three most important provisions that disappeared from the final Health Care Bill relate to correcting disparate treatment specifically addressing the needs of LGBT people and people with HIV.

UNEQUAL TAXATION OF HEALTH CARE BENEFITS: Taxation of employer provided Domestic Partner health care benefits at times makes it financially impossible for LGBT partners to be able to afford using a hard fought for benefit. It particularly is a hardship for lower paid employees. In addition it means that two workers can be working side by side and receive different benefits from the same employer.

HEALTH DISPARITY: The original Senate Bill had designated LGBT people as a "Health Disparity Population". This opened up data collection and grant programs focused on health disparities related to sexual orientation and gender identity. With collection of data and funding of research we could better address specific health issues facing the LGBT population.

EARLY TREATMENT FOR HIV UNDER MEDICAID: This would have allowed states to cover early HIV treatment under Medicaid instead of withholding treatment until the development of full blown AIDS.

Indicative of the direction we are going is that there is $50 million in the final bill for totally ineffective "abstinence only" sex education.


March 19, 2010

Peña Cultural In Woodburn On March 27

PCUN, Mid Willamette Jobs with Justice, VOZ Hispana Causa Chavista, Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas, and CAUSA invite you to a Peña Cultural. The theme of this Peña is “Solidarity with Immigrant Workers”.

Join us for an evening filled with progressive music, poetry , dance, and delicious food and learn more about...

The plight of Immigrants in the US;
How communities are organizing to defend our rights; and
What it will take to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Saturday, March 27, 2010
7pm – 9pm
at the
PCUN Labor Hall
300 Young St.
Woodburn, OR

History: The Peña tradition started in Latin-America in the early sixties. The main idea is to create a gathering place where artists and musicians gathered to make connections between art and politics. Peñas also make connections between local, national and international efforts for equity, a true democracy and self-determination for all people.

March 18, 2010

LGBT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE BREAKS OUT IN SAN FRANCISCO AND WASHINGTON D.C.

It started this morning when 15 of the most popular gay blogs called for a blog swarm on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand that the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) be moved to a vote. We have been waiting since 1994. Twenty nine states have no law against firing someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The phone calls started swamping Pelosi's San Francisco and Washington D.C. offices this morning. Then the activists entered her offices on both coasts where they had scheduled meetings with Pelosi's staff. They demanded ENDA be brought to the House floor for a vote before the end of March. They told staffers they would not leave until the Speaker agreed to the vote or until they were arrested. They issued a statement: "We have waited too long! Health care for our families is intimately connected to employment. In twenty nine states we can be fired with no legal recourse." They were handcuffed and threatened with the weekend in jail but were cited for creating a disturbance and released with a $25 fine.

Meanwhile Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangela chained themselves to the White House fence to protest the continuing policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). Tonight members of the LGBT community are concerned as they have not been able to be in contact with them since their arrest. The Park Police stated that they were being charged with "failure to obey a lawful order". Generally this means paying bail and being released. Lt. Choi had the phone number of the person who was ready to post bail written on his hand. No one has received a call which means he is in custody and has not been allowed a phone call as of 9:00pm.

Last Fall the LGBT community showed that it was ready to be the first Progressive constituents of President Obama to organize and start pressuring the Obama administration and the Congress from the left. Overcoming resistance from the Democratic Party the October 2009 Washington D.C. rally was a great success. Not only for the numbers of people who showed up but the successful organizing done on college campuses resulted in an outpouring of newer, younger activists. This was where the discussions about moving to a new stage which includes civil disobedience started. And the action started today.

A Democratic President created Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense Of Marriage Act. Democrats in Congress have let ENDA languish for 16 years. The new activists using traditional tactics seem up to the task before them. Stay tuned.

March 17, 2010

From the NW Regional Latin American Solidarity Conference Steering Committee

From the NW Regional Latin American Solidarity Conference Steering Committee:

We are excited to invite you to the NW Regional Latin American Solidarity Conference in Olympia Washington, April 9-11th 2010, at Evergreen State College. This conference is being organized through a collaborative effort by the Latin American Solidarity Organization at Evergreen State College, the Pan American Solidarity Organization at Portland State University and a strong community partnership with the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee.

Our primary goals are to establish collaboration between individuals and organizations working on Latin American issues from San Francisco to Vancouver B.C. Through regional collaboration we can better organize events, campaigns, speaking tours and delegations. Through cooperation we can increase the visibility of our causes and draw in more people by increasing communication channels and gaining awareness of the needs of each other’s organizations, communities and continuing and increasing support for immigrants.

Friday evening, April 9th, we will have a meet and greet to welcome all those who will be participating and Jesse Freeston of the Real News Network will be speaking. Accommodation for housing will be arranged; we need a RSVP along with any specific housing requests e.g. bed requirements, allergic needs, etc. Throughout Saturday, April 10th we will host workshops and speaking events for the public to attend and welcome all proposals your group has envisioned for this conference. On Sunday we will have more workshops in the morning followed by Father Roy Bourgeois of SOA Watch speaking at 2.

We would sincerely appreciate any suggestions you or your group has about how we can structure this two-day event. Any proposals for workshops, panels or skill shares need to be submitted by March 19th. This will be crucial for us to generate a conference program that pays close attention to the needs and ideas of all those who will be attending regarding workshops and presentations. In addition figuring out time logistics as to when people will be arriving/departing and specifics about accommodation and food preferences are also important factors to make sure that your stay in Olympia will be awesome! We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Bruce Wilkinson
NW Regional Latin American Solidarity Conference Steering Committee
latinamericansolidarity@gmail.com
360-753-0499

Rally and March to End the Wars

Saturday March 20th marks the 7 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. In that time, the US has spent more than 1 trillion dollars on the war, yet our policymakers continue to tell us there is no money for education and social spending. Next year, the Oregon state budget is expected to incur a $2.5 billion deficit, meaning further cuts for our schools, universities, and social services, while the US continues to fund the Israeli occupation of Palestine to the tune of nearly $12 billion a year.

On Thursday March 4th, thousands of students across the nation rallied, marched, occupied their campuses, and stopped interstate traffic to send a strong message that students will not tolerate the systematic prioritization of war and prisons over education and human needs. Join us this Saturday, March 20th in the PSU South Park Blocks as we continue to call for funding for education not occupation. Students will rally at 11:00, and then mobilize to join the main rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza at noon, and then continue the dialogue at a teach-in at the First Unitarian Church at 1:00pm.

Please help spread the word.

What: Rally and March to End the Wars
When: Saturday, March 20th 11:00 am at PSU, Noon at Terry Schrunk Plaza
Where: Portland State University South Park Blocks
Who: PSU March 4th Coalition
Why: March 20th marks the 7 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.

CPUSA National Board Criticizes Authors Keeran, Kenny for Canada Visit

Recently, Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny, co-authors of the internationally regarded Socialism Betrayed: Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union, visited the Communist Party of Canada's convention to discuss their work. The CPUSA National Board calls this a "violation of democratic centralism". Some of us here at WR feel that the Board is applying that principle selectively, particularly since forces we regard as social democratic in the Party are given free reign to say and do what they like, including attend meetings of social democratic organizations.

Read the National Board attack as well as Kenny and Keeran's response below:


Dear National Committee Member,

It has been brought to our attention that Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny (pen name), both members of our Party, were invited to and participated in the recent convention of the Communist Party of Canada. Neither the Canadian Party nor Keeran and Kenny consulted with us; we only learned about it after the fact.

We discussed this matter in the Board and agreed to send a letter to our Canadian comrades expressing our strong feeling that this was an inappropriate action by a fraternal party. (letter is attached)

As for Keeran and Kenny, their presence at that meeting was a violation of Party procedure and democracy. Keeran even spoke in a plenary session. Ostensibly his subject was the book on the Soviet Union he wrote with Kenny some years ago, but in fact, he used the opportunity to describe his differences with our Party’s policies and program in a very dismissive and sarcastic manner. He justifies this because he wasn't an official spokesperson (just a ‘concerned member’), but that disclaimer doesn't give him or Kenny the right to slander our Party at the convention of another party.

Below is a brief summary of Keeran’s presentation
--Two main issues in the U.S. are the fight for health care and EFCA. We look to Canada for examples of what we need in U.S. just as during Civil War, U.S. abolitionists looked north to Canada as the terminus for the Underground Railroad. And judging by the discussion at this convention, I think American Communists again need to look north for inspiration.
--Since the collapse of the USSR there has been a lot of vacillation and retreat among communist parties on some key issues and theoretical perspectives, including in our party.
--It is true the the CPUSA supported Obama in the election and supports him now. The reasons should be clear, right? With Bush we had a president who started wars in the Middle East and now we have a president who escalates them. With Bush we had a president who started warrant-less wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, and waterboarding. Now we have a president who uses warrant-less wiretaps, extraordinary rendition, but not waterboarding. Before with Bush we had a president whose administration was filled with Wall St. profiteers, Robert Gates, Summers, Bernanke, and Dick Cheney. Now we have a president whose administration is filled with Wall St. profiteers, Robert Gates, Summers, Bernanke, but not Dick Cheney.
--Despite all of this change you can believe in, there are still some Communists south of the border who believe that President Obama is secretly a member of the CPUSA.

He then went on to talk for a few minutes about the main theses of their book, and when he finished, received a standing ovation.

Neither Keeran nor Kenney play a major role in the work of our Party. We are concerned not only about the misrepresentations of our positions at the Canadian convention -- more troubling is that they are in touch a handful of Party members who disagree with the Party’s democratically adopted positions, actively campaign against those positions in a factional way, and thereby, cause disunity and division.

This activity dates back to our last convention, where the same handful of people failed to convince the delegates to oppose the new party program, which was then adopted by an overwhelming majority. And ironically, since this group frequently declares its allegiance to democratic centralism (and criticizes the Party’s leadership for insufficient discipline), they have since continued their campaign against the Party's program and policies.

Specifically, they interfere in the work of districts other than their own; they have their own website whose mission is to attack our Party's policies and leadership; they call members around the country in hopes of peeling them off; they make no effort to recruit or build the press. Many of them are deep underground and write using psuedonyms, while again, criticizing the Party and its leadership for inadequate militancy, public presence, and independent role.

We had some hesitation about sending a letter about this now. We don't want to cast a pall over the preconvention discussion or the convention. Given the complexity of the moment, we need to collectively assess our work and policies and bring everything in line with current realities. Moreover, we have to find better ways to build the Party and press.

So far the discussion is going along well and we should do everything we can to encourage it. No one should hesitate to express their views, but they should do so within our collectives and, as much as possible, do so based on actual experience.
Unfortunately, the incessant criticism and campaign against the Party by this handful can hobble the discussion because comrades who don’t agree on one or another issue don’t want to express that, for fear of giving ammunition to this factional group. That is understandable, but we should all resist letting this happen.

We are not suggesting any immediate action to respond to this provocative action by Keeran and Kenny, or to the other individuals. However, there have to be some limits, but that is for another discussion at a later time.

Over the next few months of the preconvention period, we should continue our involvement in the struggle for jobs, build the Party, YCL, and online press, while organizing a rich give-and-take discussion.

We have much to be proud of and much to do. We can be confident in our Party. Let's have a great convention!

Comradely,

The National Board


Dear Sam, Jarvis, and National Board Members,

Several members of the National Committee have forwarded a letter sent by the National Board (NB) criticizing us for attending the recent convention of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). Though the letter singles us out for rebuke and impugns our motives and character, the NB did not send the letter to us. We protest this way of operating. It is both undemocratic and uncomradely. Moreover, the NB letter ignores some facts and distorts others.

1. The letter was the product of a NB meeting that included many non-members of the NB, including C. J. Atkins, an American student in Toronto, who like us was a guest at the convention. We, however, were not invited to participate in the NB meeting.

2. The letter ignores the context of our attendance, namely that the Canadian Communist Party, like other Communist Parties, invited us to speak on our book. The letter does not give the title of the book, SOCIALISM BETRAYED: BEHIND THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION, nor does it mention that International Publishers(IP)published the book in 2004 after the NB voted in favor of its publication over the objections of Sam Webb. It does not mention that Communist Party publications in Ireland, England, Australia, Germany, and Canada have favorably reviewed the book, that Communists have translated and published the book into Bulgarian, Russian, Farsi, Turkish, Portuguese, Greek (in part), and French and Spanish (in process), and that the authors had previously been invited by the Greek CP (2007) and Portuguese CP(2008) to speak on the book, and did so without objection. The NB letter says that our presence at the Canadian convention was a “violation of Party procedure,” but they do not make clear what procedure they are talking about. Before speaking on their books, does every IP author get the NB’s approval?

3. The main distortion of the letter is the portrayal of my (Keeran’s) opening remarks, which were meant to be gracious and humorous, as if they were the whole thing. The letter says that the talk was only “ostensibly” on the book, but that really I (Keeran) spoke as a ”concerned member,” and devoted only “a few minutes” to the book. This is totally misleading. Before speaking, I met with Miguel Figueroa, Chair of the CPC, who indicated the parts of the book the convention would find the most relevant. Figueroa introduced me as the author of the book, and I spoke (as an author not a “concerned member”) for twenty minutes about the book.

4. The letter’s summary of my (Keeran’s) welcoming remarks, apparently comes from C.J. Atkins, who seems to have attended the convention for the sole purpose of taking notes and reporting to the NB. In my opening remarks, I thanked the CPC for the invitation, asked how many delegates had read the book, praised the headway that Canadians have made on two issues of concern to the American working class (health care and employee free choice), and congratulated them on their convention. I said that though we supported Obama’s election, President Obama has not brought much change in which we can believe with regard to wars in the Middle East, violations of
human rights and civil liberties, and the domination of policy by finance capital. The letter mangles (in fact, inverts) my punch line which was “that some of us remain doubtful that Obama is a secret member of the CP.”

5. The letter then makes a series of vague and defamatory statements beginning with: “Neither Keeran nor Kenney [sic] play a major part in the work of our Party.” One of us (Keeran) has been a member of the Party for thirty years, and a member of the Jersey City Club for twenty-five years. He wrote a previous book on Communists and auto workers published by International Publishers, served on the now defunct history commission, and served on the Board of the now defunct Reference Center for Marxist Studies. He has participated in all activity of the Jersey City Club, among other things: distributing the PWW, serving as club chair, participating in the Jersey City Peace Council and its peace demonstrations, and canvassing for our own candidates (Lee Barile and John Rummel) and for the Democrats (Kerry, Obama, and most recently Corzine). Though this Jimmy Higgins work may not make him a “major” player in the party, it does make him as active as most members in the district. The other of us (Kenny), who likewise would not claim a “major” status, has nonetheless been a party member for twenty-three years, has held senior staff positions in the labor movement for twenty years, serves as his club’s education director and a member of the Economic Commission, and writes for the paper, including an article in the current issue of the PW.

6. Finally, the Sunday before the NB issued this attack, I (Keeran) participated in a District discussion of the main convention document, which I sharply criticized for focusing on Democrats and Republicans while marginalizing class struggle. I criticized the way the document fails to make a class analysis of the Obama administration and ignores facts about imperialism abroad and the capitalist crisis at home.Isaiditignores: Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the building of more military bases in Colombia and the Middle East,the expansion of the military budget, the increased exploitation of the working class during the past thirty years of record breaking profits and flat wages, and the increased inequality between workers and capitalists, now greater than at any time since 1927. Moreover, I said the main convention document ignores the way the Obama administration’s response to the crisis favored the bailout of finance capital over help for the working class by a factor of 100 to 1. I said it neglects the fact that finance capital gave more campaign contributions to Obama than to McCain and more to the Democrats than to the Republicans. Whether the NB attack on Kenny and Keeran is the result of my criticism or mere coincidence, it is nonetheless disingenuous for the NB to declare that “we don’t want to cast a pall over the preconvention discussion.” This is precisely what the letter does. Moreover, it is preposterous for the NB to declare that criticism like mine rather than threatening letters like theirs “can hobble the discussion.”

7. For the sake of fairness, we ask the National Committee to reject the NB letter as an inappropriate way to handle political disagreements and an alleged violation of party procedure, and we ask the NB to circulate this response to the same list that received their letter.

Sincerely,

Roger Keeran
Thomas Kenny

March 15, 2010

What if our economy was built on cooperation - not competition?

Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom talks about her work on cooperation in economics.


"The Commons" - a concept we're all familiar with, even if we don't think about it. And some very practical advice on working cooperatively. It really does work.

March 9, 2010

Portland's Black Panther Party History

From Michael Munk:

The Northwest History Network presents

"We're going to defend ourselves": The Portland Chapter of the Black Panther Party & Local Media Response

A presentation by Jules Boykoff & Martha Gies (Publication planned in the Oregon Historical Quarterly) with special guests Kent Ford & Percy Hampton, original members of the Portland chapter, Black Panther Party

Thursday, March 18 at 7:00 pm Free and open to the public.

Architectural Heritage Center
701 SE Grand Avenue

See Lange's Oregon Photographs In Bay City 'Til March 28

From Michael Munk:

If you missed OCHC's first ever and long over due exhibit of Dorothea Lange's 1939 Oregon photographs in Portland, it has been extended to March 28 at Bay City on the Oregon coast.

It's at the People's Museum of Art in Artspace, 9120 Fifth Street, where regular hours are Sun-Wed, 11-7 and Sat, 11-4 or by appointment 503.377-ART2. Bay City is just north of Tillamook.

The day before the close, Saturday, March 27, at 2-3:30PM, the Tillamook County Historical Museum will present a free demonstration and dramatic reading of Lange's captions and field notes. This will be at the Bay City Art Center, 5680 A Street in Bay City, followed by a special viewing of the exhibit at the People's Museum.

Tualatin Riverkeepers Event Coming Up

Tualatin Riverkeepers are inviting everyone to a "Restoration Tree Planting with Tualatin Riverkeepers" event on Saturday, March 20 at 9:00am.

Event: Restoration Tree Planting with Tualatin Riverkeepers
Start Time: Saturday, March 20 at 9:00am
End Time: Saturday, March 20 at 12:00pm
Where: Metro Natural Area on Munger Lane

Houston Communists Talk Action And Theory

The Communist Party USA offers the best political hope for working people in this country. At a time of great change in the United States, the CPUSA has the experience and history to lead important struggles. With these opportunities come significant questions for our party. The decisions, tactics and conclusions offered by party leadership over the last couple of years demand examination. We believe that our party is at a crossroads and we must make major changes in ideology and practice in order to end years of stagnation and dwindling membership.

POLITICAL STRATEGY AND TACTICS
Alignment with the Democratic Party
Although most progressives were thrilled with the election of President Barack Obama, the first African-American President of this country, we must make a realistic assessment of this achievement.

President Obama's election marks a departure from the direction of the extreme right. However, in no way can it be considered a qualitative change in the direction of our government and nation. Obama is a Democrat, and as such, will continue to represent the interests of the wealthy elite. Many policies antithetical to the interests of working people have been continued, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By not acknowledging these facts, the Party leadership appears to be forsaking its historic role as an unremitting fighter for jobs, equality, peace, not to mention its role in championing socialism.

Read more here.

Sam Webb On Socialism

Socialism has its material roots in the inability of capitalism to solve humanity’s problems. Working people gravitate toward a radical critique of society out of necessity, out of a sense that the existing arrangements of society (people don’t necessarily call it capitalism) fail to fulfill their material and spiritual needs. It is no coincidence that around the time of the economic meltdown last fall, public opinion polls showed growing support for socialism.

I think this gravitation towards radical change is closely connected to the end of an era in which U.S. capitalism was relatively stable and provided reasonable economic security on the one hand and to the beginning of a new era – of uncertainty, instability, economic crises, and, not least, political possibility on the other.

Read more here.

March 7, 2010

Tom Chamberlin To Speak In Salem

Marion County Democrats is hosting the "DemoForum---Tom Chamberlain of the Oregon AFL-CIO " on Thursday, March 11 at 12:00pm. He will be discussing the issue of jobs and "getting Oregon and America back to work."

The event will start at noon and will end at 1:00 PM. It will be held at Kwan's in Salem.

Call 503-363-8392 to RSVP.

March 6, 2010

Forward Steps And Side Steps In Oregon

The people won one (or two) with the vote on Ballot Measures 66 and 67. Not all problems are solved with their passage, but since they passed with a popular mixed feeling of support for both taxing the rich and supporting social services we have a somewhat more level playing field in Oregon. DHS and DHS constractors are following up the vote with enrolling kids in the Healthy Kids program and in enrolling people over 19 in OHP. This is not the healthcare solution we were seeking, but it plugs some holes and provides some basic needed services for part of the working class and helps make the case for expanded government social services.

Almost immediately after the vote the Aryan Nations attempted to set up a base in John Day. A spontaneous reaction in the area against the fascists is working against them and this has drawn national attention and support.

While these fights have been going on, Oregon's labor movement has been winning some victories. SEIU will be able to represent some workers employed with the state's developmentally disabled population and recently picked up representation for two nursing homes. The ban on employers using job applicants's credit history for purposes of hiring or promotion went through at the legislature. Labor also won an extension of unemployment insurance benefits. Winning union representation for faculty in the university system will be easier because of new legislation. Some green energy projects which will create real jobs also won legislative approval.

The buy-Oregon and jobs-at-almost-any-price crowds got mixed play at the legislature. The tea party forces will no doubt take advantage of this and I do not have the sense that either labor or the left in Oregon is prepared for the attack from that quarter. Labor is almost reluctantly sliding towards endorsements for Kitzhaber and other centrist or right-wing Dems instead of the relatively more progressive Bill Bradbury. This comes after some of these Democratic forces generally helped block repassage with fine tuning of Oregon's Worker Freedom Act, which strengthened workers' rights and drew national attention when it first came up.

March 4, 2010

Some Notes On The Vote On The Armenian Genocide

The issues and outcomes surrounding the vote taken by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today on the Armenian Genocide, which saw narrow approval of a resolution calling on President Obama to “characterise the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide,” are too complex to fully analyze here. Still, a few notes and points can be made.

The vote proceeded despite some heavy pleading from the White House, the State Department, the defense industry, the Turkish government and the academics and establishment figures the Turkish government has been buying in the US for many years. The vote triggered predictable breast-beating from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, and has once more led to the recalling of the Turkish Ambassador. This recall will no doubt be temporary as the Obama administration will work to mend fences and prop up a political ally who is facing problems of his own in Turkey. Washington needs Erdogan to stay firmly in place in order to have continued access to northern Iraq, threaten Iran, see the region's oil pipeline project through and destabilize regional moves for autonomy or independence. Hawks who continue to see Russian interests as primarily problematic for the US also want to see either Erdogan or those to the right of him in power.

The Turkish government has managed to keep such a tight lid on class and national contradictions, education, protests and resistance to the regime that the peoples of Turkey cannot formulate unified and credible positions on the issues at stake. Erdogan seems to be rarely in Turkey these days and has generally supported neo-liberal globalization as an ally of the imperialist powers.

The Obama Administration will probably seek to prevent a full vote on the resolution in the House of Representatives. It seems unlikely, though certainly possible, that a full vote will properly recognize the Genocide for what it was.

Republicans have made opportunistic use of the issue, but votes and strong support for the Turkish position are troublingly apparent in both parties. Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) sponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution H.Res.252. It currently has over 137 cosponsors. Armenian-American organizations have built this support through opportunistic use of their own position, which has used both right-wing and left-wing arguments to get to this point, and dependency on the Armenian-American middle-class and wealthy people in the Armenian Diaspora. Moreover, these organizations have acted alone, rejecting a strategy of alliances with Arab-American and Palestinian groups with whom they share much objectively in common.

Today's vote was close, with 23 congressmen in favor and 22 against the resolution. This demonstrates both the tremendous strength of Turkey's lobbying efforts in the US--helped along by Israel--and the relative strength of anti-imperialist forces and those who have been moved to push for a reconsideration of the Genocide. The threat or myth that passage of the resolution will jeopardise stillborn efforts begun in recent years to create normal diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia was not taken seriously. Indeed, Armenia and Turkey each have internal problems of their own which are hardly affected by the resolution or how the Genocide is viewed internationally.

Obama promised as a candidate to break with US policy and call the Genocide what it was if elected President. He waffled and then refused to use the word on a visit to Ankara. He and Secretary of State Clinton have been quick to distance themselves from the vote and its implications.

France and Canada have both classified the killings as Genocide. Britain and the US both remain officially opposed to the designation.

CAUSA To Meet In Portland

CAUSA Social Hour in Portland!

Old Town Pizza
5201 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97211
Thursday, March 11th at 6:00 pm

Special Guest Speaker: Nancy Haque, Building Political Power Director with Western States Center will speak about Civic Engagement, the 2010 Elections and Why it is Important to Register to Vote.

Come and meet other CAUSA supporters and hear an update on the National Immigration Reform Campaign from CAUSA's Executive Director, Francisco Lopez. You pay for your own drinks and the hors d'oeuvres (or botanas) are on us. All ages are welcome to attend!

Bring your friends! Please Click Here to RSVP and Get Directions

For more information, contact Andrea at (503) 551-6573 or andrea@causaoregon.org

Rally in Portland TOMORROW Against Police Violence

RALLY FOR JUSTICE
Stop Police Violence!
*Hear the voices of our youth*

Join the Struggle for Justice for Aaron Campbell. Where do we go from here?
Hosted by Pastor CT Wells, AMA Coalition for Community Justice and Police Reform

When: Friday, March 5, 2010 6:30 PM
Where: Emmanuel Temple
1033 N Sumner (at Michigan)

Salem Peace Event Coming!

Official Kickoff of Peace Visioning Art Project Slated for Coffee House Cafe in downtown Salem

March 13, 2010, 5-7 p.m. with free concert to follow.

The progressive movement needs a comprehensive shared vision and Salem's MyPeace Project is a step in the direction of generating that vision.

The MyPeace Project asks Salem residents to imagine what peace might look like if it broke out - or what peace means to them - and then express that vision using some form of art. In October, the project will present the collective vision comprised of all the peace visioning art projects to the community through a series of multi-media events and other community events.

On March 13 from 5-7 p.m. in the rear display space at the Coffee House Cafe in downtown Salem, Oregon PeaceWorks will introduce the project to the community. Featured at the event will be examples of peace art projects from other times and places, music, poetry and dance presentations, an explanation of the project and a chance for new projects to be proposed, a welcome from City Councilor Chuck Bennett, and acknowledgment of MyPeace art projects currently underway.

There is no charge to attend and the public is invited.

Following the event, beginning at 7 p.m., there will be a free concert presented by Eugene folksinger Patrick Dodd in the front part of the cafe. Readers are encouraged to attend the Kickoff and to sign up an art project for the October events. For more information, visit www.mypeaceproject.org or email dan@oregonpeaceworks.org.

Do your progressive friends receive OPW's emails? If not, please use the forwarding link below to let them know about these events.

Oregon PeaceWorks has been educating and activating people to work for peace, justice and environmental sustainability since 1987.

104 Commercial St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
503-585-2767, info@oregonpeaceworks.org

Oregon PeaceWorks
Peter Bergel
Executive Director

March 2, 2010

More on the Greek Situation

This mornings news:

The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and The Associated Press are all cautiously hinting that a bail-out of Greece is soon to happen. The bail-out is predicated, of course, on further austerity measures which the Greek center-left social democratic government says are soon to be announced.

Meanwhile, resistance to austerity measures from the Greek working class increases. Last week's general strike (Feb 24) was much larger than the first public sector general strike of February 10. The February 24 general strike included both public and private sector workers and significantly, spread to parts of the country outside of the Athens, the capitol. A third general strike is planned for March 15 (Beware the Ides of March?).

Meanwhile again, Spanish workers are building towards a general strike as well, with Spanish workers likely to be the next to fall under the hammer of the EU fiscal enforcers. French workers too are building towards a mass mobilization on March 23rd, according to the French daily, l' Humanite'. The issue behind the March 23rd mobilization is a move by the French government of Nicholas Sarkozy to cut pension benefits by up to 40%.

For more on the Greek crisis, see the following article:

http://www.spectrezine.org/greek-fire-greek-protests-boom-economy-busts

For more on the French mobilization of March 23rd, see here:

http://www.humaniteinenglish.com/spip.php?article1463

March 1, 2010

Against the Anti-Communist Impulse: Getting our History Right

This article responds to a pre-convention discussion contribution by Ari Goldman, which can be found here.

Recently in our pre-convention discussion, the issue of communist history was raised in Ari Goldman's "For Truth and Reconciliation". It is true that communist history is a vital area of discussion. However, the sentiments expressed in "Truth and Reconciliation" owe far too much to the bourgeois distortions that are passed off as the history of communism.

Goldman claims to be for restoring the "good name" of socialism by acknowledging socialism's "criminal past" as well as its achievements. For acknowledging that actually existing socialism has any achievements at all, Goldman deserves much credit, as few are willing to make such an admission. Indeed, the idea of a Party-wide discussion of our history and what it means is a fine one. However, we must be cautious that we base our interpretations on historical evidence, rather than "common sense" understandings of history as Goldman appears to do. The danger of anti-communist distortions in this regard simply cannot be exaggerated. For example, Goldman refers to "mass starvation," a common theme in anti-communist polemics. Since it isn't clear which specific allegation Goldman is referring to, we will consider the commonly accepted narrative on the Ukrainian famine in the USSR under Stalin. Robert Conquest's Harvest of Sorrow, one of the most widely accepted works on the Ukrainian "famine-genocide," asserts that ten million Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death during the collectivization movement between 1930 and 1934. There are a number of problems with this view. First, the allegation of deliberate starvation has no archival support; as the Soviet archives are no longer closed, one would expect that some evidence of Stalin's plan to starve millions of Ukrainians would have surfaced by now. Indeed, if such a document existed, anti-communist scholars of Conquest's ilk would never tire of citing it. Conquest's allegation is not founded on archival research. Rather, it is based on a misinterpretation of calls to "liquidate" the kulaks (rich peasants) in Pravda. The kulaks were to be liquidated as a class."Liquidation" does not mean extermination; indeed, anyone who loses their home to foreclosure could be said to be "liquidated". Second, the methodology that Conquest uses to determine the number of lives lost to the famine is seriously flawed. Conquest cites Soviet census figures from before the famine, applies an unspecified "natural growth rate," then compares his result to the actual census data from after the famine, arriving at a "population deficit" of ten million people. Going further, Conquest alleges that post-famine census data were faked by Soviet authorities, again providing no evidence, and claims that the death toll was likely much higher. Further, if one applies Conquest's methodology to U.S. census data, one can obtain a "population deficit" of ten to twenty million for the years 1933-39. In short, Conquest's work on the Ukrainian famine is complete bunk. Indeed, even Conquest himself has backed off his more extravagant claims of a Soviet conspiracy to starve Ukrainians. Nevertheless, Harvest of Sorrow continues to be regarded as worthy of serious scholarly consideration.

While there is not space here to specifically address all the alleged crimes that Goldman points to, there are more general considerations that communists should take into account when forming interpretations of our history. First, the historical double standard which is routinely applied to socialist countries; as we saw above, applying Conquest's "population deficit" method to Soviet census data is considered reputable, but applying it to U.S. census data produces results which are laughable. Likewise, members of the Democratic Party are never called to account for the bombing of Hiroshima, the Vietnam War, or any other crime against humanity committed by Democratic politicians. At worst, these Democratic atrocities are labeled "mistakes" or "Cold War excesses". Indeed, in an organizational sense, Democrats are much closer to these crimes than CPUSA members are to the actions of the CPSU or CPC. Why no "Truth and Reconciliation" for the Democratic Party? The difference is not in the nature of the events, but in the dominant historical narrative. Second, as already stated, we must be vigilant against anti-communist distortions of actual events which can and do reach mythic proportions. Third, it is imperative to consider not only the actions of leaders like Stalin, but also the reasons and historical context behind those actions. For example, it is not enough to note that the Gulag system housed two million prisoners at its peak (not the tens of millions of anti-communist legend); it is also important to understand that of these, not more than 33% were political prisoners, that most survived their terms, and that all this occurred at a time when sabotage and foreign infiltration truly was a threat to the Soviet Union. In short, we must be aware of our tendency to cleave to dominant American attitudes, particularly American exceptionalism, and ways of thinking about history. As an aside, this tendency is clearly embedded in Goldman's opening quote, "None of us, as Americans, would be content to live as citizens in any of the so-called socialist countries in the world today."

The greatest threat to a sane and evidence-based understanding of our history is not the "mealy-mouthed, unconvincing mumbling" of communist apologists, but the blatantly untrue, yet widely accepted, anti-communist myths that make up the dominant historical paradigm. It is true that, unless we confront our history, "we will be forever subject to capitalist finger-pointing," but it does not follow that the dominant capitalist view of our history is correct. Instead, we should endeavor, while holding ourselves to the highest standard of intellectual honesty, to correct the myriad myths and outright lies about communist history. A professor of mine once said, "there is no Truth in history, only contending truths". It's time we made our truth heard.