BEWARE OF THE PHONY "RADICALS" WHO SUPPORT TERRORISM
"Hello Mrs. Smith, I think you and all of your neighbors should die a violent death at the hands of oppressed people of the world, and I was wondering if you would sign this petition against the U.S. government's crime of ..."
Apparently, this is how Richard Hugus thinks radicals should organize in the United States. In his emailed article (copied below), Mr. Hugus defends terrorism against ordinary Americans, such as was carried out by whoever did the 9/11 attack. Mr. Hugus's email was widely distributed by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP), in reply to my previous post, "The 9/11 Litmus Test for American Radicals." In my "9/11 Litmus Test" post I said that terrorism against ordinary people, like the 9/11 attack, is morally wrong. Furthermore, supporting such terrorism in the name of "radicalism" sabotages the efforts of genuine radicals to build a popular mass revolutionary movement. It plays right into the hands of ruling elites who try to portray those opposed to them as terrorists who are a threat to innocent people. This is so obvious that a number of individuals asked me why I even bothered to post a long article making these points which everybody already agreed with.
As if to convince skeptics that there really are people posing as radicals who support 9/11-type terrorism against random Americans, along comes Mr. Hugus, speaking apparently for the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, who actually equates radicalism with support for the 9/11 terrorists. I think that is the only possible interpretation of his words when he writes:
"He [Spritzler] attacks the 9/11 bombers. And then he attacks the people who support them. The CIA couldn't have found a better agent - one who claims to speak for radicals while denouncing everything they do, and ignoring the entire history that led them to it."
There aren't very many people in the United States with the pro-terrorism views of Mr. Hugus. But if you want to find them, the place to look is in organizations, like the NECDP for example, which oppose U.S. imperialism and/or Israeli oppression of Palestinians, but on a basis which is morally and politically corrupt. We need good radical organizations that expose and organize against U.S. crimes abroad and Israeli apartheid, but we need the likes of Richard Hugus like we need a hole in the head.
There are basically just two ways to frame our opposition to the very real crimes that the U.S. and Israeli governments commit against people around the world. One way can succeed in stopping these crimes, and the other way only helps the criminals stay in power.
We can truthfully frame the crimes as things that elites do to strengthen their undemocratic control over ordinary people, "their own" people as well as those they label the enemy. Or we can wrongly frame them as crimes of one entire people (Americans or Israeli Jews) against another people (Muslims, "people of color," Palestinians etc.)
In the first framework, the logical strategy is to call on ordinary people everywhere to oppose these crimes, in the name of the values that most people share: equality, solidarity and democracy -- values that are the opposite of the elite values of inequality, pitting people against each other, and top-down control. In this framework, violence against Israeli soldiers and armed civilians who violently enforce racist oppression of Palestinians, or violence against American soldiers who violently attack Iraqis, is justified; but violence against non-combatants (like random Israeli or American civilians) is not justified. This is the framework and strategy I advocate, and this is the way we can persuade millions of people to join us. Obviously, we cannot appeal to people on this basis while simultaneously supporting those who intend to kill them with 9/11-type attacks.
In the second framework of Mr. Hugus, we would view ordinary Americans as the enemy. The strategy which this logically implies is to seek out the few individuals who share a contempt for ordinary Americans, and then to commit or support those who commit terrorist acts like 9/11.
When confronted with the wrongheadedness of their pro-terrorism views, the Richard Huguses of the world have no convincing arguments. So they rely on childish name-calling and invective. And they try to guilt-trip people into not thinking for themselves.
If you find there are Richard Huguses in an organization you are part of that is trying to persuade Americans to oppose the crimes of the U.S or Israeli government, do not fall for their guilt-tripping or their contemptuous views of ordinary people as being guilty of the crimes their governments commit. These pro-terrorists are an albatross hanging around the necks of good people working to build a popular movement to make the world more equal and democratic. If pro-terrorists prevail, we will have perpetual war between peoples of different ethnic or national groups, spurred on by all the fear and hatred that terrorism against innocent people fuels. And we will have elites firmly entrenched in power over all of us.
When we knock on Mrs. Smith's door, petition in hand, if she asks us what we think about 9/11 or Palestinian suicide bombers, let's tell her the truth -- that we agree with her: killing people for the crimes of their government is wrong. And then we can talk about why it is also wrong to use the terrorism of some as an excuse to support even bigger crimes of others, like apartheid Israel and the U.S. war in Iraq.