Standing Up Against McCarthyism

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

Joseph_McCarthyMemphis Changing planes heading for the West Coast, and even on Labor Day when it’s time to talk about why unions matter and what we need to do about it, we are blocked by our inability to unite to stand together against the new McCarthyism.  My twitter and Facebook buddies were wild in the tweets and all over the status reports on this cave-in from progressives and the disunity that continues to allow the rightwing to attack organizers, leaders, and organizations.  As I’ve already said, I take all of this personally, because I’m going through this whirlpool still.  The difference is that I took no comfort in a Glen Beck switching the attack from me to Van Jones.  The tactics are the same, even when the target is different.

The only way to confront McCarthyism is to call a spade a spade and then stand up together to push it back.  Right now, there’s nothing but bobbing and weaving.

Many had a lot to say.  I have rarely gotten as much response to my blog and my stand here.  Taj James was on the same page.  Ludovic Bain also had a lively exchange of comments on all of this.  He pointed out that no white environmental group stood up on the Van Jones attack.  I wish it were just a matter of racism in the environmental movement, then we could isolate and cauterize the mess.  Truth is, it’s just cowardice everywhere, I fear.

Andy Stern tweeted that:  “Van Jones deserved a more spirited defense. I underestimated the traction of the attacks – and like the White House should have done more.”  Carl Pope from the Sierra Club also did about the same saying:  “We all blew it.”  It’s important that both of them, and maybe there will be others, are recognizing that there is a price to just covering your own ass and organization, and that price will be that no organization or ass is really protected.

The problem is that we can’t really put it part of it off on the White House with Brother Stern nor can we say with Carl, that “we” dropped this ball.  This is what the fight is about.  It’s not personal.  It’s not “tut-tut,” I wish he woulda,, coulda, shoulda done something different.  This is a concerted political attack, not a personal one.  It is not a beltway dish opportunity to watch a young man with promise like Van Jones pulled down or even an old, cranky organizer like me muddied up.

This is a huge fight about whether or not we have the right – and strength – to fight for progressive change in this country.   None of us are ever 100% right (nor 100% wrong), but that can’t be the measure.  We have to measure whether or not we struggle for the change that has to be won.

When it is all said and done no one will care what happens to a Van Jones or a Wade Rathke or even an Andy Stern or a Carl Pope, nor should they, but it will matter if there is health care for all Americans and rights for workers and freedom for immigrants and protection for women and children, and that’s what’s being lost as folks hide to curry foundation favor, gossip with the press hungry for the kill, and sho-sho inside the Beltway in the scorecard of who’s in and who’s out.  We’re fighting for all of the marbles and have been for quite a while now.  We need to step it up and can only do so, by all standing together.

Before it’s too late!