Sometimes the story comes to you. That's what happened this weekend, when some Associated Press pictures we used in a Saturday story revealed an interesting fact: U.S. leftist and socialist groups staged rallies across the country in support of Egyptian protesters. It's a curious phenomenon, so we decided to dig deeper. Here's what we found. Some of it will surprise you, and unfortunately some of it will not.
Connecting the dots
Your e-mails hit my inbox Saturday evening with a vengeance. Something wasn't right with the pictures featured in our story of U.S. protests across the country meant to show solidarity with the Egyptian people. Those pictures must have been photoshopped, one person said, because they showed something almost too strange to be true. That "something" included signs instructing anyone who saw them to visit leftist websites -- one called ChicagoANSWER.net and the other PSLweb.org. An examination of more photos revealed ads for two other sites: IACcenter.org and AnswerCoalition.org.
Here are the pictures:
A quick visit to one of the sites, AnswerCoalition.org, shows why many of the signs in the above pictures look similar. The group (A.N.S.W.E.R., or Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) not only gives instructions on how to make the placards, but also provides downloadable templates:
Indeed, a recently posted article on the national ANSWER site boasts about the group's involvement in the protests. For example, it explains how the Chicago event included a local ANSWER leader who preached an anti-U.S. message to the frenzied crowd. "The same war machine that sends tear gas to Mubarak and bulldozers to murder the Palestinians denies us jobs, healthcare, housing and equality here in the United States," Heather Benno said.
In San Francisco, "an organizer with ANSWER Coalition-San Francisco emceed the rally," while in Seattle a protest organizer "thanked ANSWER Coalition-Seattle for providing the sound that was used to lead chants and for speeches." The group also praised itself for involvement in protests in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.
[The video below appears to show an ANSWER-style sign as well as signs from SocialistWorker.org:]
While ANSWER didn't detail its involvement in a protest in Boston at Harvard Square, it did mention the details of that protest in a posted guide to 26 protests across North America. A video plastered on the Boston protest's Facebook page shows one person holding a red bed-sheet-like sign indicative of a staple ANSWER position: using spray-painted letters it says "Rise Up!" and lists Tunisia, Egypt, and the United States with boxes by each country; the Tunisia and Egypt boxes have check marks, while the U.S.'s doesn't. A question mark hangs on the coat tails of "United States" (at the 2:25 mark below), as if to suggest America is next:
What are these groups saying?
A visit to the websites in the pictures show they groups aren't ashamed of their views or Egyptian support. And they're also not afraid to paint the protests as oppressed workers rising up against their rulers. In short, the groups are fitting the protests into a Marxist/socialist revolutionary mold.
The PSL (Party for Socialism and Liberation), for example, can't hide its glee. "The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) salutes the heroic uprising of the people of Egypt against the U.S.-backed Mubarak dictatorship," it says in the lead story on its website. That introduction quickly gives way to propaganda-like language portraying the protests as a worker's struggle: "All revolutions throughout history demonstrate the capacity of working people, and especially young people, to enter the political stage and, through their own deeds, their own heroism, become the force that shapes and changes society."
The article goes on to rail against American support of the Israeli "Zionist government" (a term that eerily reflects Iran's term for Israel, the "Zionist regime") before revealing exactly why it's doing activist cartwheels while supporting the Egyptian uprising: the power vacuum that would result from a government collapse would make the country a prime target for a socialist takeover.
"Egyptian society can be reorganized on the basis of a new social and class power," the article says [emphasis added]. "The working classes, both urban and rural, can take hold of the vast resources of the nation and use them for the benefit of the masses of people rather than the international corporate and banking elites, the International Monetary Fund and the Egyptian comprador capitalist class.
"Long live the struggling people of Egypt!" it concludes. PSL followed that up with action this weekend, supporting numerous protests, or "emergency demonstrations," across the U.S. and Canada. It included a link to those protests at the end of its article.
As it happens, however, that link brings readers to ANSWER's website and its list of 26 protests. PSL calls itself a "member organization" of ANSWER (in a press release supporting Wikileaks), so one might expect the groups to be aligned regarding Egypt. They are.
The front page of ANSWER's website includes a link to "important analysis of the underlying political situation" in Egypt. Where does that link take you? You might have guessed it -- the PSL article referenced above.
The local Chicago ANSWER chapter offers a clearer picture of ANSWER's passions. The Chicago chapter's site reveals the group hosted a an event to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. "and the Black Liberation struggle." It also advertises upcoming "socialism classes," where interested parties can take a class called, "Is a Revolution Possible in the U.S. and What Would it Look Like?" That class and others are taught in partnership with the local PSL chapter.
Considering the close relationship of PSL and ANSWER, it's not surprising that the third group pictured is in bed with the other two. Not only does the International Action Center (IAC) describe itself as an "anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist" organization (something the other two groups embrace), but as Michael Albert explained in 2002, ANSWER and IAC at one point shared a New York City phone number. Today they have different phone numbers but share the same address.
But there's more. IAC was founded by Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General under Lyndon B. Johnson, who's also been connected to the Stalinist Workers World Party (WWP). According to a 2002 LA Weekly article, both ANSWER and the IAC appear to be front organizations for the WWP. And David Horowitz's "Discover the Networks" puts them not only in the same bed, but as Shakespeare once said, "making the beast with two backs."
In fact, a new video posted on the WWP website regarding the Egyptian unrest features an IAC poster in the background. Like ANSWER, the video's speaker equates the Egyptian struggle to the struggle of workers in the U.S. But chillingly, the video's audience cheers at reports of violence:
"Over the next days there are demonstrations planned in cities around the U.S. to show solidarity with the Egyptian people’s struggle," the article says. "The IAC calls on its supporters to join these actions."
Why support this uprising?
The decision to support this uprising in Egypt may be curious to some. Indeed, when the "green movement" in Iran broke out in defiance of the Iranian government, many socialists and Marxists ignored those protests or refused to support them. Additionally, the ANSWER site trumpets the success of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, even announcing an upcoming celebration on the anniversary of him taking over the country.
Is it really about democracy, then, as some of the signs suggest?
Not really. The reality seems to be closer to something like this: when a revolution opposes a leftist dictator, leftists and socialists ignore it. When a revolution opposes an American ally (particularly an ally as pivotal to U.S. security as the Egyptian alliance is) leftists and socialists support it. Succinctly put, the groups have a vested interest in the current American system being defeated (a goal shared by leftist dictators). That's why they can support Chavez, Ahmadinejad, and even Hussein, but rally against someone such as Mubarak.
That is not an observation about Mubarak, and his appropriately-criticized rule, as much as it is one about those who oppose him. And when those who oppose him seem to have ulterior motives, questioning them seems appropriate too.
More on that to come from The Blaze.