New York - Last year there was an overwhelming response to the International Action Center’s call for an anti-racist demonstration on Sept. 11.
A year ago on 9/11, thousands rallied against racism in downtown New York. WW photo: Monica Moorehead
The demonstration, headed by the slogan, “Unity, Respect, Jobs Justice; No to Racism and Anti-Muslim Bigotry,” vastly outnumbered last year’s anti-Muslim September 11 rally against New York’s Park 51, the Islamic Cultural Center.
Racist forces such as Stop the Islamicization of America and other similar hate groups thought they could use the anniversary to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment but were out-mobilized. The free publicity they received from the corporate media actually helped build the IAC’s anti-racist mobilization.
WW photo: Greg Butterfield
This year the SIOA and their kind are at it again and have called another racist Sept. 11 rally. With all the patriotism and praise for the imperialist military that will accompany the day’s tenth anniversary, this year’s IAC counterdemonstration will be more important than ever.
It will also be an opportunity for building multinational, classwide solidarity at a time when the economic crisis is worsening and a unified fight for jobs is all-important.
Outnumbered in 2010, the anti-Muslim forces thought that this year’s tenth anniversary of Sept. 11 would score them a propaganda victory. That changed when neo-fascist Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway and cited the writings of SIOA’s Pam Geller as an inspiration.
Racists like Geller and Florida pastor Terry Jones — who last year threatened to burn copies of the Quran — are not dominating the news cycle this year. However, the scapegoating campaign against Muslims, as well as other nationalities, is in full force as the capitalist crisis shows no sign of abating.
The Associated Press recently uncovered a campaign jointly organized by the New York Police Department and the CIA to spy on Muslims in mosques, cafes and other gathering places.
Also, a study by the Mother Jones independent news organization and the University of California exposed something suspicious about the vast majority of so-called domestic terrorist plots “thwarted” by the FBI and supposedly organized by Muslims. They were, in fact, manufactured by the FBI — especially through reliance on paid informants and provocateurs.
The atmosphere created by these witch-hunt and criminalizing activities led to incidents like one in late August, when Muslim families attending an amusement park in Rye, N.Y., were attacked by police. Women defending their right to wear the hijab were shoved to the ground and beaten.
“What is being described in the media as a ‘melee’ or ‘brawl’ was, in fact, a police assault,” said IAC co-director Sara Flounders in a press release.
“The attack on people who were simply out to enjoy a day at the amusement park is part of a systematic attempt to criminalize Muslims in order to justify unpopular U.S.wars against countries where Islam is the dominant religion,” Flounders said.
This climate of scapegoating has included a vicious anti-immigrant frenzy in the media and legislation targeting the Latino/a community, along with openly racist rallies like the one in West Allis, Wis., on Sept. 3, against which the Bail Out the People Movement organized a successful counterdemonstration that outnumbered the Nazis at least 50 to 1.
“As the Great Recession deepens, the need to counter the ugly rise of racism has become a necessary part of the fight for jobs and against cutbacks,” said Larry Holmes of BOPM, one of the groups supporting the Unity Solidarity Rally.
“As we fight mass layoffs and evictions, we can’t afford to be divided by racism or bigotry,” Holmes said. “And New Yorkers can’t allow the anniversary of September 11 to be used to promote an anti-Muslim frenzy. This is the time for thousands to come out as they did last year for solidarity, respect and jobs.”