January 11, 2011


People's Voice Editorial

The Jan. 8 massacre at a "meet the voters" event held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has ripped the mask from the face of ultra‑right demagogy. It is clear that the bullets fired by Jared Loughner were aimed at several targets: women who dare to challenge the misogynist ideology of male supremacy, immigrants and racialized people, and anyone who disputes the rabid "Tea Party" line. Perhaps the most critical target is the concept of democracy itself.

This is not to argue that the United States is a genuinely democratic society, or that Rep. Giffords is truly a "progressive". But for many years, ultra-right forces have made increasingly overt threats against any opposition. The election of a non‑Republican African‑American president and the adoption of even some timid measures to expand health care coverage have inspired this neo-fascist movement to mobilize against the limited forms of democracy which remain in the USA. Far from being a grassroots reaction, this movement is funded by the most reactionary, aggressive, militarist sections of US finance capital. One vicious example is Sarah Palin, who emerged from the murky ranks of the "militia" movements to the top leadership of the Republican Party, with the backing of energy and arms industry corporations. A website linked to Palin implicitly urged this crime, placing gunsights on a map of the districts of 20 Democratic politicians, including Gabrielle Giffords.

The smug idea that "it could never happen here" is disproven by Canadian history. But the drift towards the destruction of democracy is not inevitable. What's needed is a powerful mass movement, led by the working class and its allies, to win a program of truly progressive and democratic social reforms. This, not despair or cynicism, must be our response to the murders in Tucson.

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