No announcement yet.

Activists: Anti-war leaders 'McCarthyists'

This topic is closed.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Activists: Anti-war leaders 'McCarthyists'

    Activists: Anti-war leaders 'McCarthyists'
    Leftists who reveal movement's Stalinist ties silenced from within
    Sherrie Gossett
    May 21, 2004

    Witch hunts. Red-baiting. McCarthyism. Inquisition.

    Since the passing of the Patriot Act, the emergence of an enigmatic
    no-fly list and the galvanizing push to wage war on Iraq, critics have
    used the above terms to characterize the pro-war camp and its
    supporting press, both of which were seen as recklessly and
    manipulatively branding all dissenters as unpatriotic, and sometimes
    treasonous and traitorous as well.

    "100,000 march to give comfort and aid to Saddam," read one headline
    following the first large anti-war protest in the capital.

    Untold however, was the ironic story of a similar struggle within the
    anti-war camp, where some leaders, activists and writers who voiced
    opposition to leadership say they were stigmatized and labeled
    "red-baiters" and "McCarthyists" in an alleged attempt to intimidate
    and silence dissent within protest ranks.

    The behind-the-scenes dynamics provide a glimpse into the extremes the
    left, as well as the right, can go in the midst of the public debate
    over the emotionally-charged issue of war.

    Away from the media spotlight, Nathan Newman, a prominent attorney and
    activist, accused the anti-war ANSWER coalition of having conducted an
    "ideological inquisition" and "witch hunt" against leftist critics.

    Newman, former vice president of the New York City chapter of the
    National Lawyers Guild, is a union lawyer, political activist and
    frequent contributor to Technology Review, Progressive Populist, and
    American Prospect.

    A political activist and former union organizer, he also was the
    project director at NetAction, a consumer technology advocacy group
    and wrote "Net Loss," a book addressing Internet policy and related
    issues of economic inequality.

    Newman's offense? He repeatedly has described the ANSWER [Act Now to
    Stop War and End Racism] coalition, a prominent organizer of the
    anti-war rallies, as a front group for the neo-Stalinist Worker's
    World Party, or WWP, a group he describes as supporters of "mass
    murderers," "morally reprehensible," and "not fit to associate with."

    "The WWP to this day believes that the North Korea dictatorship is the
    model of how society should be run," complained Newman, "They think
    killing students in the streets of Beijing during Tiannenmen was a
    good thing. And they deny that women were raped and Bosnians killed in
    mass numbers at Srebrenica, making them little different from
    Holocaust deniers."

    Newman's understanding of the political leanings of these groups, he
    said, was founded upon their publications, public stances, business
    connections and from his experience of the Guild doing legal work for

    To those who questioned his characterizing of ANSWER as a front group
    for the WWP, Newman responded, "I've worked with the WWP in various
    coalitions. You may not know how front groups work, but when the
    website was created by, the office is run by, and the main
    spokespeople are all from a single group like the Workers World Party,
    it is fair to characterize the group as being derived from that

    He added, "And as a member of the leadership of the National Lawyers
    Guild, which has endorsed ANSWER – against my vote – and who has key
    people doing their legal work, I know pretty well the role of the WWP
    in organizing this stuff. "

    "If the main group leading ANSWER supports mass murderers, " Newman
    concluded, "those working with them have some responsibility for
    disassociating themselves from those views."

    'Supporters of authoritarian butchers'

    Newman called for consistency, saying the left rightly had condemned
    Trent Lott for his association with "neo-confederate racists," but
    added, "The same principle applies to the left not casually ignoring
    its own association with supporters of authoritarian butchers."

    Among the criticisms that got Newman in hot water were the following
    comments he posted on the Internet:

    "This is exactly the problem with the WWP-style 'anti-war left' murder
    and war is okay if the victims have the 'wrong' ideological
    composition. It's just Kissinger principles in reverse.
    "The problem is not just Tiananmen but the WWP's uncritical support
    for every variety of Stalinist butchering regime. They still think Kim
    Il Sung and North Korea are admirable models of socialism.

    "The whole nation-state 'Global Class War' rhetoric of the enemy of my
    enemy (read USA) is my friend is a crock of sh– that allies it with
    repressive regimes globally and creating a machinery of apologia that
    discredits the left more generally."

    Newman's public expression of disdain for the WWP and ANSWER soon set
    him at loggerheads with the Guild, which maintains a cozy relationship
    with the groups.

    Newman reported the Guild's National Executive Committee rebuked him
    and the New York City Guild chapter he led for their strident
    criticism of these key groups that wrested organizational control of
    and led the recent anti-war rallies.

    At the time of his rebuke, Newman told fellow activists, "At the
    moment, I am being denounced by name within the National Exec
    Committee of my own organization, the National Lawyers Guild, for
    being critical of the WWP's connection to ANSWER on my personal blog,
    and a resolution is being voted on to denounce all such criticisms as
    red-baiting … denying that ANSWER can in any way be described as a
    front group of WWP, thus making any accusation of such 'unfounded' and
    a 'vicious attack.'

    "Our executive director wanted to add part of the resolution that no
    local chapter could criticize the WWP's role or otherwise deviate from
    the national line (something the NYC chapter already has done in its
    own resolutions), so this 'anti-red baiting' position is turning into
    its own form of authoritarianism within various left organizations and

    Newman recounted a month of "internal witch hunts" within the Guild
    against him, culminating in a hour spent at a local NYC Guild chapter
    where members discussed the inappropriateness of his views on his
    weblog, e-mail and "assorted other ideological failings" due to his
    criticism of the Workers World Party.

    In frustration, Newman said, "My tolerance for even a smidgen of
    defense for this 'anti-red baiting' crap is pretty much at an end. "

    Newman believed the war on Iraq should have been stopped, but insisted
    "associating with thugs who actively support dictators around the
    world is not the way to do it. ... I think of that kind of political
    organizing as wrong-doing of a pretty high order."

    'Ideological inquisition'

    Newman later announced a resolution was passed by the Guild in order
    to stifle such dissent.

    "The executive committee of my organization, the National Lawyers
    Guild, has declared in a resolution passed this week that such
    statements are 'unprincipled,' a 'witchhunt,' and merely 'red-baiting'
    and a form of 'McCarthyism," he wrote.

    Newman found the criticism ironic, given his own left-leaning
    political inclinations.

    "I've never experienced this kind of ideological inquisition in any
    liberal group I've been a member of, despite places where I was known
    to have more leftwing 'commie' views," he noted. "My experience in
    life is of far more ideological intolerance from the 'leftwing'
    sectarians than from regular progressive folks."

    Indeed, Newman's own general network of friends are in the core of
    left-wing political organizing. In October 2002, Newman helped to
    manage legal observing at the "Not in My Name NYC" rally. He has
    attended many protest events, been arrested at some and was in D.C.
    for the anti-IMF actions two years ago.

    "I consider myself a 'leftist,' he said, "even Marxist in some vague
    ways, and have been member of softer left groups like Democratic
    Socialists of America and the Committees of Correspondence. So my
    opinion is not 'anti-left' or 'anti-Party' per se, but anti a
    particular kind of sectarianism."

    Instructing and silencing

    How did the NLG come to pass the resolution? Newman explained the
    resolution was proposed by a member of the D.C.-based law firm, the
    Partnership for Civil Justice, which does legal work for Workers World
    and the International Action Center, or IAC, and was picked by the WWP
    as a member of ANSWER's steering committee.

    Partnership for Civil Justice, or PCJ, lawyers Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
    and Carl Messineo are frequent speakers at ANSWER-led events, and
    Verheyden-Hilliard was the emcee of the October rally in Washington.

    The third staffer of the PCJ is Zachary Wolfe, who also is a national
    vice-president for the National Guild of Lawyers. Sarah Sloan, a
    member of the Workers World Party, and a spokeswoman and youth
    coordinator for the International Action Center as well as ANSWER, now
    also works at the Partnership for Civil Justice. The PCJ staff sit on
    the steering committee of ANSWER. In addition, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
    is a member of the Steering Committee of the National Lawyers Guild
    Mass Defense Committee.

    The Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild is described
    as a nationwide network of lawyers, legal workers and law students who
    provide support to First Amendment protected political speech and

    Phone calls made to the PCJ were not returned.

    "And when he made the proposal," Newman recounted," after a few
    obligatory noises about Ashcroft, he made it clear that the purpose of
    the proposal was to silence members of the NLG itself, particularly
    some people in the New York City chapter who had been critical of
    ANSWER's role in New York City, and myself in particular for critical
    comments on Workers World and ANSWER on my personal website," said

    Newman noted the discussion on implementing the resolution was not
    about mounting a public campaign against "some latter-day House
    Un-American Activities Committee," but about how to "instruct and
    silence" local National Lawyers Guild chapters and leaders to "conform

    to the new ideological line."

    The criticism clashes with characteristic statements made by the
    Guild, as in its recent fight to quash an FBI Joint Terrorism Task
    Force subpoena issued in February, which asked Drake University in Des
    Moines, Iowa, to produce all records relating to a Nov. 15, 2003,
    anti-war conference that was sponsored by the campus chapter of the
    National Lawyers Guild. In addition to labeling the action illegal,
    Guild President Michael Avery specifically condemned the action as an
    attempt to intimidate protestors.

    "The subpoena has nothing to do with national security and everything
    to do with intimidating lawful protestors and suppressing First
    Amendment freedom of expression and association," said Heidi
    Boghosian, executive director of the Guild.

    "In the 1950s our members suffered harm from disclosure of their
    associational relationship with the Guild," she said. "The Guild is in
    the business of fighting illegal government activity, and we will
    fight to protect our membership information. We will also work to
    support and defend the rights of the other activists targeted by these

    The Guild added that its members "well understand the nationwide trend
    toward increasingly repressive measures deployed against political

    WND asked Boghosian about Newman's experience and the resolution that
    was passed. After repeatedly declining to comment, Boghosian said the
    resolution was passed by a "universal consensus" in order to solidify
    support for the anti-war movement.

    She declined to comment on Newman and also would not comment on who
    initiated the resolution. Boghosian added the guild only criticizes
    the U.S. government and not individual groups. When asked if the NLG
    had ever engaged in criticism of right-wing groups, Boghosian
    hesitated, then said, "No."

    McCarthyism on the authoritarian left

    Newman, as well as others who had been critical of ANSWER and the WWP,
    saw the charges of "red-baiting" coming from the PCJ, other activists
    and even the media, as manipulative and designed to intimidate and
    coerce loyalty.

    "Throwing the phrase 'red-baiting' around works within the left like
    charges of 'subversion' does within the right," responded Newman. "It
    encourages people to fall into line for fear of being labeled disloyal
    and leads to suppression of dissent internally. And unfortunately, the
    national leaders of the Guild scurried to condemn 'red-baiting,' while
    really endorsing the suppression of dissent – suppression which is
    what real historical red-baiting was all about."

    "Crying 'red-baiting' is just a form of McCarthyism within the left,
    an attempt to shut people up when they raise criticism of policies,"
    observed Newman. "You may find the Soviet suppression of Hungarians in
    1968, the shooting of Czechs in the streets of 1968 and the murder of
    students in Beijing in 1989 to be dandy service to the revolution, but
    ... those in the WWP who applaud the murder of other leftists should
    not be considered comrades. "

    Newman described the intervention of the Workers World Party into the
    National Lawyers Guild as part of a systematic campaign designed to
    silence those who criticize their politics and their role in the
    anti-war movement. He also said the tactics were used to avoid
    discussing the problems many leftists have with "what's been going on
    in the peace movement."

    "Folks like myself are not critiquing the fact that large numbers of
    left groups are organizing to get people to these rallies or
    participating in them," Newman explained. "They are criticizing a
    particular group, the Workers World Party, because its politics and
    allied regimes are as repugnant as the warmongering of the Bush
    administration, and the WWP's methods are sectarian and exclusionary."

    After the Guild incidents, Newman drew attention to fellow activist
    Chuck "ChuckO" Munson, on the LBO-talk [Left Business Observer] e-mail
    list. Newman alleges Munson, after criticizing ANSWER's treatment of
    other activists, "was described as an agent of the cops by the
    leadership of the National Lawyer's Guild – repeating the views of our
    WWP-allied D.C. folks [The Partnership for Civil Justice]."

    Munson is the founder of the popular alternative newssite Infoshop,
    Spunk Library, and is a former editor with the
    Alternative Press Review.

    Said Newman, "Anyone who criticizes the WWP's role gets described one
    way or the other as agents of the right wing, a pretty disgusting
    approach to treating differing opinions by people who all oppose the
    war with Iraq."

    Munson responded: "Activists with the Workers World Party and ANSWER
    have finally gotten around to responding to their critics … with at
    least one public statement. They avoid answering the criticisms, but
    instead charge their critics with red-baiting."

    "This is pretty hypocritical," he noted, "because as writer and
    blogger Nathan Newman finally has revealed, core activist leaders with
    ANSWER are themselves engaged in red-baiting and cop-baiting of other

    He continued, "I can report that the people referred to as 'our
    WWP-allied D.C. folks' are the lawyers with the Partnership for Civil
    Justice, a small law firm specializing in civil law."

    "They've done a lot of good work for activists locally," Munson noted,
    "The PCJ has had a friendly relationship with the International Action
    Center – a front group led by Ramsey Clark and run by the WWP- dating
    back to the April 2000 World Bank/IMF protests. This relationship in
    and of itself is nothing remarkable, but when the ANSWER coalition was
    formed by the International Action Center and WWP in the days after
    9-11, PCJ was a prominent member of ANSWER's steering committee. PCJ's
    relationship on this steering committee represents an endorsement of
    ANSWER partisan politics and actions towards other activists."

    "The petty authoritarians running ANSWER need to look in the mirror
    before accusing other activists of unethical behavior," he concluded.

    The 'bogey man of McCarthyism'

    A WND expose of the ties of these same groups was discussed on Fox
    News Watch in November 2002. While the article was praised by
    Newsday's Jim Pinkerton as a "terrific piece of investigative
    reporting," author Neil Gabler derided it as "McCarthyist" and
    incorrectly claimed the article labeled all protestors as
    "communists." No errors were noted.

    Fox News later published a report similar to WorldNetDaily's, as did
    other news agencies on both the right and the left.

    What media and media watchers like Gabler seemed unable to grasp was
    that the controversy arose not over those espousing a theory of
    Marxism, but those actively supporting and defending current and
    former communist and dictatorial regimes engaged in torture,
    suppression of dissent, summary trials and executions, slave labor
    camps, the loss of rights of association and travel, the denial of
    free speech, and the shooting on sight of public protestors – all
    practices that are antithetical to the core anti-war/peace message.

    Author Kevin Coogan, who has written the definitive history of the
    WWP, is familiar with charges of McCarthyism as well, and suggests the
    media were silent on the issue for fear of "being labeled
    'red-baiters.' "

    Coogan's articles have appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones and the
    Village Voice. In addition, he has written "Dreamer of the Day," a
    hallmark book on Francis Parker Yockey and the post-war fascist
    international movement.

    "I too got slammed by ideologues with the boogie man of McCarthyism as
    well," Coogan told WND, " However to me it just meant that I had hit a
    nerve as none of the attacks raised any factual errors in my piece."

    "The important point to keep in mind is that the knee-jerk types and
    the WWP fans make noise but they are a handful of people," said
    Coogan, "and that the general population, if presented with the facts,
    would shun the WWP like the plague. The fanatics are dopes, and I
    don't mind making them mad."

    Coogan said after 9-11, he felt it was time to "take the gloves off"
    when it came to the most "egregious of these characters" – the Workers
    World Party. He said the Revolutionary Communist Party USA is "right
    up there as well," but to date, the WWP has been more effective.

    About those who labeled him a red-baiter, Coogan said: "My feeling was
    that the attackers were pretty much on automatic pilot and that they
    represented either knee-jerk types who would react to any criticism of
    any leftist group – no matter how crazy its politics – with vitriol
    without knowing or caring to know about the group, and, fans of the
    WWP who simply pounded the table."

    Coogan said he expected the reaction, and for that reason based much
    of his story on written material from the inter-related WWP, IAC and

    He added, "The far left can be as fanatical as the far right, but for
    years the far left has gotten a pass because of the 'red baiting' fear
    by the liberal media."

    Media blackout?

    "The media interview members of these groups as if they are legitimate
    pacifists," complains Michael Tremoglie, veteran police detective,
    writer and novelist, "I often wonder if mainstream journalists have
    the IQ of house dust or if they just think everybody else does."

    Impervious to mainstream journalists, the ties and the controversy
    have been transparent not only to activists, but also to underground
    newspapers such as New York City's The Shadow, and Berkeley's Hit
    List, both of which pioneered the investigation of the groups and key
    figures. Manny Goldstein and Kevin Coogan were the first to break
    ground on the subject within the pages of those publications.

    Self-described "council communist" Lefty Hooligan also criticized the
    WWP-IAC-ANSWER connection in an article that appeared in the punk rock
    publication Maximum RocknRoll." He referred to "WWP honcho" Gloria
    LaRiva as engaging in "handcuffs-and-nightstick Leftism," which he
    said was "evident in her unapologetic support for Saddam Hussein's
    brutality." La Riva also was slammed for telling protest audiences
    "Cuba is far more democratic than the U.S."

    A dissenting activist website, mockingly named International
    R.E.S.P.O.N.S.E. sprang up to rebuke the "Authoritarian Opportunists
    Who Cozy Up To Genocidal Dictators – for Peace."

    Coogan also pointed out WWP-International Action Center connection
    also has been repeatedly exposed by the WWP's rivals in the fringe
    Trotskyist movement, most notably in the Spartacist League paper
    Workers Vanguard, which in its Sept. 28, 2001, issue referred to the
    "Stalinoid Workers World Party" as well as the "WWP's International
    Action Center" without further elaboration, "presumably since the
    WWP's role in the IAC is already so well known to fringe leftists."

    Coogan also noted the WWP's presence inside the IAC is equally
    transparent to European leftists like Max Bohnel, a writer for the
    German Communist paper Neues Deutschland.

    In describing the IAC in a June 23, 1999, article, Bohnel wrote:
    "Behind the IAC stands the Workers World Party, which has withstood
    the gradual collapse of the remaining U.S. left remarkably." ["Hinter
    dem IAC steht die 'Workers World Party' die den langsamen
    Zusammenbruch der US-Restlinken bemerkenswert gut überstanden hat."]

    "Neues Deutschland then points out that both Ramsey Clark and the WWP
    have even come under criticism from other leftists because of their
    lack of criticism ["wegen mangelnder Kritik"] for the governments of
    Iraq and Yugoslavia," said Coogan.

    Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General in the Lyndon Johnson
    administration, is the founder and director of the International
    Action Center.

    Coogan pointed out, "Up until recently it has primarily been voices
    from the fringe left that have pointed out the ties between the IAC
    and WWP, ties that are utterly transparent to anyone with even the
    slightest knowledge of the left, but which appear to be utterly opaque
    to big 'capitalist' media outlets like Reuters, the Washington Post
    and CNN."

    Coogan recalls the progression of events and the spread of criticism:
    "Luckily, a bit of glasnost on the left regarding the WWP finally
    broke open after Christopher Hitchens criticized the WWP-ANSWER in the
    Washington Post … and Nation magazine columnist David Corn did so as
    well in the LA Weekly. So too did Marc Cooper, another Nation writer."

    Northwestern University journalism professor Abe Peck offers another
    perspective on the lack of coverage of the "far, far left."

    Peck is a former contributing editor for Rolling Stone; author of
    "Uncovering the '60s: The Life and Times of the Underground Press," a
    contributing writer for "Voices from the Underground, Rolling Stone's
    History of the '60s," and a former reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times
    and Chicago Daily News.

    "It's ignored by mainstream media because most coverage is
    'narrow-casted' to the middle," he said. He also believes the far
    right is covered because and when it is engaged in crime.

    "It's a crime story, it's not based on ideology. The far right becomes
    relevant when it's shooting abortion doctors or blowing up
    courthouses," he said, "There aren't a lot of leftists blowing things

    He noted wryly that, "To squawk-show hosts, even Hillary Clinton is
    far left. Anyone to the left is 'crazy.'"

    He also cautioned against those who make blanket generalizations about
    how the left handles and communicates internal divisions.

    Recalling his own involvement in the anti-war movement in the 1960s
    Peck observed, "Did we cut people on our side more slack, due to peer
    pressure, and the fact we were under 'hippie surveillance'? Did I
    compromise intellectually, in the heat of the moment? Yes, I did. Did
    everyone? No. That's a silly argument."

    'I will not be silenced'

    After Nathan Newman boldly voiced his opposition to the WWP-IAC-ANSWER
    leadership, anti-war activist Chuck Munson put his support in writing:
    "I'm really glad that Nathan has spoken up about the bull–– that
    ANSWER and their supporters are up to."

    Decrying ANSWER and "their WWP puppet-masters," Munson described the
    charge of 'red-baiting' as a move employed by authoritarians to stifle
    debate and discussion among activists and in the greater left."

    Munson noted, "They seek a movement that is organized from the top
    down and one that doesn't tolerate anybody questioning how things are
    done. This is an evasion of accountability and transparency by the
    core ANSWER group and it is our job as progressive activists to call
    them on their bull––."

    He added, "I will not be silenced."

    Author Coogan sums up the core controversy: "My only wish would be to
    make the point that the WWP (like the [Revolutionary Communist Party])
    isn't horrible simply because it is leftist or Marxist per se; it is
    horrible that both groups raison d'ętre has been on cheerleading the
    worst Stalinist and human rights abusing governments in the world from
    Pol Pot to Saddam as long as they are feuding with America. And both
    do so under the pretext of being peaceful humanitarians concerned with
    human rights, poverty and the suffering of innocent people.

    "This is the real reason why the influence of both groups today is
    such a scandal."

    Union Against Multi-Culty

    "Time to string up the traitors in our midst"

  • #2
    iN youR misT ISsmoke

    DUH! tIME TO DO What?
    Some live and learn while some learn to live