Protesting the Nazis

Protesting the Nazisdsc07310.JPGToday hundreds of protesters confronted the Nazi organization National Socialist Movement, who came with only two dozen people with the aim of recruiting others to their program of thuggery. Billing themselves as
“America’s Nazi Party,” they are coming from all over Texas to rally against
immigrants and Jews.

The NSM has held dozens of hate rallies over the past few years. Everywhere
they go racist attacks increase. They are working to build a violent
movement for the extermination of all people not considered white.

In a recent speech in Austin, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize
winner Elie Wiesel encouraged community members to “come out in full force”
to oppose the NSM.

And so we did.

dsc07312.JPGWhat really really gets to me is the presence of Black and Latino cops, very young, defending those who would lynch them rather than look at them against us–and the Nazis didn’t even have a permit to rally. It was our public space occupied by bigots and hatemongers tearing apart the Mexican flag, giving the Hitler salute, swaggering around in their swastikas, and holding signs that read “Support White Troops.”

Photos here courtesy of Maria Mancha. And here’s the first press coverage of the event:

Opposition outnumbers National Socialist group members 10-1 at Capitol rally.

By Patrick George, Isadora Vail
Saturday, November 11, 2006

Protesters and law enforcement officers in riot gear surrounded and
outnumbered a Nazi rally Saturday afternoon at the Capitol.

The crowd of about 250 protesters yelled profanities during the
two-hour rally by about 20 members of the National Socialist
Movement. Most of the crowd were angry at the Nazi presence and
immediately began chanting, “Nazis go home.”

“I hate racism, and I believe that it has to be confronted every time
it arises,” said Cindy Beringer, a 65-year-old political activist.
“It doesn’t make sense that they would have their rally on Veterans
Day either. They are just nuts.”

“Our presence here tells them that no one in their right mind agrees
with them. We want to keep their group small and disorganized,” said
James Clarke with the UT Anti-racism Network.

Police presence was heavy, with Department of Public Safety officers
in riot gear flanking protestors and Austin police surrounding the
rally area at the Capitol. Officers kept Nazis and protestors about
100 feet apart.

Despite the distance, exchanges between the two groups were heated.

Several of the Nazis, who wore brown military-style uniforms, stomped
on the Mexican flag as they gathered near the south entrance to the
capitol building. One member carried a sign that said “Support Our
White Troops”; another said “Protect Our Borders – Remove Aliens.”


On the Elections: Celebrate Bush Defeat, No Illusions in the Democrats

Looking at the very specific combination of as yet undetonated anger against the system, the collapse of the Republic Party around its own hypocrisy and contradictions, and the very real signs that the election means a shift in consciousness and confidence among the people around us, we should be elated at the downfall of the Republicans—without any illusions in the Democrats.

There has been jubilation across the land, with no fewer than a dozen emails in my inbox expressing euphoria on the Democrats’ taking control of the House and the Senate. Outright delirium has met Rumsfeld’s resignation. Democrats are clearly the beneficiaries of mass discontent with the Bush administration: Exit polls show that 59% voters expressed anger or dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and six of ten voters said they support withdrawing troops from Iraq. 41% said corruption was extremely important to their decision.

Done in by hypocrisy, misconduct, economic inequality, and a war we are losing. Bush and his crew are on the ropes: The Wall Street Journal editorialized that the Republicans have not faced a tougher political climate since Watergate. World leaders are hoping that a chastened cowboy President will stop riding roughshod over the world. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “It’s a reprisal vote against the war in Iraq, against the corruption. . . all this fills us with optimism.” In the Mideast, it is reported, leaders where glad that the U.S. president had paid the price for actions in Iraq. (One Pakistani lawaker said he had hoped for more—maybe a war crimes trial.)

While socialists generally regard Democrats as a business party—capitalism’s B team– very little different from the Republican wing of the business party (and from Clinton’s ending welfare, DOMA signing, etc. Presidency alone, there is evidence for this), this feels like a big change. We cannot act as bystanders wishing a pox on both their houses.

The point is that people’s expectations have been raised by this election. Progressives expect Democrats to withdraw troops from Iraq, make affordable health care happen, promote immigrant rights, raise the minimum wage, rebalance the disparities between haves and have-nots, and so on–but the Dems cannot follow through. Pelosi & Co already have expressed a tendency toward bipartisanship and conservatism.

We celebrate the defeat of the Republicans and the raised hopes of the working class in this country and around the world, who are looking for relief from neoliberalism and war. The widespread victory of the Democratic Party in these elections does not mean we put our hopes in them, however.

The people around us celebrating the defeat of the Republicans are our audience. Their aspirations—to end the war, to make a fair economy, improve health care, and so on—are our aspirations. We can organize on that basis knowing that if we expect the Democrats to come through on all of that, we will be disappointed. We have no illusions in the Democratic Party. But the new confidence among our allies will help to build movement organizations against the war and for social justice that can hold their feet to the fire when they, inevitably, betray us.

Compare these Democratic victories with the election of FDR in 1932—he was elected on the basis of a “new deal” (much like the “new direction” slogan dominating the rhetoric of triumphant Dems) and people’s expectations put pressure on him from below—and their near-revolutionary activity sealed the deal. It was the new hope and confidence, plus high expectations after his inauguration that made for the eruption of the closest thing we’ve had in this country to two-sided class war. There is a real opportunity in the rise in confidence and expectations in the wake of these elections. We have tremendous class inequality and a significant degree of anger at the system that has yet to erupt. So our task is to fight the right and to build the left.

So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s time for a party—in two senses—the Republican crack-up should be a cause for a hootenanny; and it is an opportunity to build a fighting alternative to both mainstream parties on the basis of the message sent in these elections about what people really want: new priorities based on human need not war and greed. My friend’s email basically sums it up: “How wonderful it was to wake up this morning to such a national landslide! In spite of the sickening racist defeat of Harold Ford in Tennessee, there’s an amazing amount to celebrate. Now the work begins!”

Now the work begins.