Who has not sobbed at the pictures of the drowned young migrant child on the beach, of children shivering under thin foil blankets without their parents in ICE detention, of the refugees living in squalor in camps in northern Syria or the islands north of Australia?
And yet the stories keep multiplying and the protestations of immigrant advocates cannot prevent most of the tragedies.
Just too many desperate workers are roaming the world, and now, with no sorrow from capitalists, a pandemic may cull their number.
Since this article was written, most factories in Italy and the rest of Europe have shut down, but not until worker protests forced them to. In the US, auto plants are still operating and have only promised more cleaning and safe practices as the UAW pressures them to close.
“We’re not cannon fodder!” cried millions across Italy as wildcat strikes erupted in every major industry to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease. Workers were protesting government and corporate attempts to force them to keep the factories open, risking their lives in unsafe factories so the bosses could jam them into cramped assembly lines to pump out profits.
One of the most heartbreaking encounters of my life occurred in 2011 when my husband and I were on a Global Exchange environmental justice trip to Ecuador. One stop on our trip was to the area of a former oil drilling town called Lago Agrio (“sour lake”) in eastern Ecuador. We met a family that lived close to a toxic waste pit from an oil drilling site of Texaco, which drilled there for twenty years beginning in 1972.
Trump has unveiled his new Israeli “peace” plan, proposing much increased territory for Israel and an even smaller piece for Palestine. What used to be Areas A and B of Palestinian territory in the West Bank (WB) would now have great holes in it carved out by annexed settlements and a strictly Israeli Jerusalem. The Jordan Valley, militarily controlled by Israel as Area C, but home to 65,000 Palestinians, would be entirely in Israeli territory. The non-contiguous Palestinian areas would be connected together and to Gaza by as yet unbuilt roads or tunnels, and the so-called state would be under Israeli control of its security, water, borders and air space. A poor suburb outside of Jerusalem would serve as the Palestinian capital.
The US assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, leader of the paramilitary wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, puts millions of people at risk from violence, either retaliatory or from wider war. It represents an escalation and expansion of US aggression in the Middle East. On January 3, Trump’s forces used a drone to target and kill Soleimani as he rode in a car at the Iraqi airport, generating a vow of revenge from Iranian leaders. The US rationalized this killing as payback for Iranian attacks on US interests and as prevention of future attacks. Trump cited unproven accounts of impending Iranian actions to justify his decision. This certainly sounds like other US lies to sanction the invasion of Iraq because of their non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” and of Afghanistan because they allegedly tolerated Al Qaedas plotting of the 2001 crash into the World Trade Center towers. These are only two recent examples of US pretenses to wage wars, which are really designed to control resources.
It is the era of disavowal of
Trump. Long despised by anti-racists and
humanists of many stripes, his foreign policy has now even offended US empire
builders, leaving us with an overlap of interests between those who wish to
scuttle Trump’s overt policies of hate and those who hate to see US power
decrease in the world. Whether via impeachment or election, the time has come
for a new carrier of the torch. That person will almost certainly be a
Democrat, one who is “liberal” enough to appear to support human rights,
justice and democracy but who is also committed to the maximization of US economic
and political influence, just more nicely done.
What could be more ironic and
cruel than witnessing the increasingly racist and nationalist mistreatment and
expulsion of Haitians following the devastation wrought by hurricane Dorian in
the Bahamas? How does a former victim of British colonialism become a fount of
racist nationalism itself? How do the citizens of the only land to have
overthrown slavery in modern history deserve this treatment? Because,
unfortunately, racism and nationalism are the strategies with which governments
around the globe retain power.