News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Communist Party Statement on statewide elections

The 2010 elections:
Strengthen the fight for peace, democracy and equality!

The National Situation

We’ve got our work cut out for us.

Since the 2008 election of Barack Obama, the extreme right has gone on a rampage, especially with the formation of the so-called Tea Parties, perhaps the most openly racist “movement” this country has seen in decades. While polls show that they represent a very small portion of American working people, they have an undue amount of influence, as they are supported by, even created by, much of the mainstream media and the Republican Party, the tools of extreme sections of monopoly capital.

Labor and the people’s movements have won some amazing victories under the new balance of forces that was ushered in with Obama’s election, especially health care reform and the stimulus package of 2009—but much more needs to be done. Every good initiative by the President, by Congress and by the people’s movement has run up against immediate obstruction by the minority Republican Party. The recent attempts to deny extensions of unemployment compensation are but one example of their callous disregard for the well being of America’s working people.

This is why the 2010 elections are of historic importance: we could consolidate the victory of 2008 and move forward in a pro-people and anti-racist direction, or we could see the beginning of a big step backwards. In order to improve the economic situation and the situation of working people overall, and to beat back the Republican-Tea Party offensive, we need to ensure that the Republicans do not pick up seats in the midterm elections and to further turn the Congress against them. While the Democrats are far from perfect, the biggest obstacle to progress it the Republican extremists’ bloc.

The Situation in New York State

Using the current economic crisis as a pretext, monopoly capital—the corporations, the big developers and so on—is on a rampage to break unions and to decisively shift power even further away from working people towards Wall Street. Here in New York, their first line of attack has been to cut services and, as we’ve seen in the budget fights and the attempt to privatize schools under the guise of creating more charters, to break the public sector unions.

The assault on public workers is an assault on all workers: they hope to divide public and private working people in order to weaken the working class fightback overall.

While monopoly capital has a home in both the New York Democratic and Republican parties, the Republicans are leading the most vicious assault. And while there are Democrats in our state leadership who’ve taken some terrible positions, the legislative Democrats have by and large been the group that has been most responsive to the needs of working people. Senate Democrats, for example, were able to restore $600 million in education funding, and more in health care funding, to the budget. The prospects of overriding the gubernatorial veto would be much greater were there far fewer Republicans.

Consequently, as bad as Governor David Paterson has been, our main enemy is at the present time still the Republican Party, the preferred party of Bloomberg, Wall Street and the big developers. In the upcoming elections, working people have a great stake in ensuring that there are more Democrats and less Republicans in office.

Andrew Cuomo and the state Democratic ticket

Still, there’s absolutely nothing to be excited about when it comes to the Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Cuomo. He’s been arguing for exactly the same business-friendly, anti-worker policies as David Paterson. Further, his shocking insensitivity to the African-American, Latino, Asian-American and Afro-Caribbean communities is despicable. How can it be that, in a state where millions of African Americans and Latinos live and contribute, there is not a single member of either of these communities on the statewide Democratic ticket?

The only possible response to this is condemnation.

The way forward in the fight against racism

While we understand the indignation felt by the African-American and other communities, we don’t consider the creation of the new Freedom Party, co-chaired by City Council member Charles Barron, to be a viable tactic to fight racism. We believe that history has shown that the only way to defeat racism is for all working people, Black, white, Latino, Asian, male and female, old and young, unionized and unorganized, to unite together in common struggle. We see the anti-union posturing and chauvinism that has come from some of the state Democratic leadership as two sides of the same coin. You can’t defeat one without the other. Consequently, you can’t win workers’ rights without all sections of the working class, and you can’t defeat racism without the participation of white working people.

When united, we win; divided we lose.

Council member Barron has said that African Americans have been used by Democrats. It is true that the African-American community has overwhelmingly supported Democrats in all of the most recent elections, including between 80-90 percent support for Spitzer in the previous gubernatorial elections. And we’re sure Barron is right to suggest that Cuomo is banking on the mature political sense of the African-American and Afro-Caribbean people of New York to vote, despite the obvious shortcomings and chauvinism inherent in his campaign, against the Republican candidate.

We see the answer to this differently, however, and also take note of the fact that no other leaders of the African American community have as of yet endorsed Council member Barron’s proposals. We have to ask the question of how the working class, the racially and nationally oppressed, women and youth can build up the movement to push the state Democrats to offer better choices. We’ve seen that, in communities across the state, we’ve been able to do so: all one has to do is to look at the progressive, labor-oriented, Black, Latino and Asian city council members. There are many in the Democratic Party, and even more in its orbit, who are part of this fight: the labor movement, especially the transport workers, the service workers, SEIU 32BJ and 1199, and the teachers; organizations of racially and nationally oppressed people; women’s rights organizations—all of these groups especially, as well as the African-American and Latino Democratic clubs, the progressive Democratic clubs, the peace movement and so on. This movement must defeat the Republicans in November, but at the same time it has to strengthen the anti-corporate, anti-racist currents pressuring the state Democratic Party. Many of these important progressive forces are working within the Working Families Party.

In doing all this, these forces help to build their own independence.

We should throw ourselves into the fight with the optimism of knowing that, despite Cuomo’s shortcomings, we can build the movement stronger and better, and the November elections can be a huge step forward in defeating the anti-worker, racist extremists and building a broader and more united movement for peace, equality, civil rights and democracy, both at the state and national levels.

State Committee
New York State Communist Party

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Islamic center has broad support in new york

To see original article, click here.

Some media reports give the impression that Islamic fanatics have won the right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, over the wishes of the vast majority of New Yorkers. But the truth is far different. A self-described moderate Islamic group hoping to promote tolerance and diversity, and to do its part to help rebuild the community injured by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is hoping to build a community center-and people of all faiths are supporting them.

The controversy arose when the Cordoba Initiative, which aims at "improving Muslim-West relations" announced it would renovate a building - which is already used as overflow for a nearby mosque - into an Islamic community center.

"This is a center like the 92nd Street Y or the Jewish Community Center," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative said at a press conference. "It is meant to have programs to serve the community, to serve the Muslim and the non-Muslim community. This is also our expression of the 99.999 percent of Muslims all over the world, including in America, who have condemned and continue to condemn terrorism."

An assembly of extreme-right wing Republicans, Tea Party members and others influenced by their rhetoric has denounced the project because it is to be built near to the site of the 9/11 attacks. They claim it will be a "breeding ground" for terrorists and demand that the government intervene to stop its construction.

As many point out, despite the Republican-right hype, the center isn't actually that close to the old World Trade Center site. In a huge city like New York, a few blocks is essentially a world away.

And, said Feisal, "We condemn terrorism. We recognize it exists in our faith community, but we're committed to eradicating it." He appealed for the help of non-Muslims, saying, "We cannot do this by ourselves. We need your support, we need your cooperation. We need coalitions of Muslims and non-Muslims together to achieve the common objectives that we as patriotic Americans want to achieve."

People of all political and religious persuasions have voiced support, including Christians, Jews, and others, even outspoken atheists. These disparate groups all argue that, no matter how offended some may feel, there is no basis for interfering in the Bill of Rights guarantee that the government must not discriminate based on a person or group's religious affiliation.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the Jewish American group J Street, said the fight over the Islamic center is, in many ways, a battle over the soul of the United States. "The principle at stake in the Cordoba House controversy goes to the heart of American democracy and the value we place on freedom of religion," he said.

J Street collected 10,000 signatures "to counter the opposition" to the plans "to build a community center in lower Manhattan modeled after Jewish Community Centers and Y's all over the country."

New York's Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in an August 3 speech, noted that the building OS private property and "the owners have a right to use it as a house of worship" and said, "The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right."

"Part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance," Bloomberg said. "It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11."

New York City's progressive Comptroller John Liu voiced his support for the project, saying, "The development of both the mosque and the center gained strong support of the local community board earlier this month. Both are dedicated to promoting education and understanding, and intended to help bridge the divide and unify New York."

While those raising a hue and cry over the project say the Bill of Rights religious liberty protection must be suspended so as not to offend families of 9/11 victims, many survivors disagree.

Donna Marsh O'Connor, spokesperson for September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, said, "This building will serve as an emblem for the rest of the world that Americans stand against violence, intolerance and overt acts of racism and that we recognize that the evil acts of a few must never damn the innocent."