Fighting Back Against the Rising Tide of Nativist and Racist Reaction

A statement by the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) call on all progressives across the United States to join together in a broad coalition against the rising tide of racist and nativist politics in the United States. The nativist fear-mongering by one Democratic and 27 Republican governors about the alleged threat posed to U.S. residents by Syrian refugees (themselves often fleeing ISIL violence) and undocumented immigrants obscures the true violent threat to our collective security: nativist, racist and misogynist terrorism.

Recent tragedies have shown all too clearly the state of crisis in which we find ourselves. The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting illustrates how right-wing hostility to women’s rights makes those providing and seeking reproductive services targets for murder. The shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis by white supremacists demonstrates that anyone doing work around racial justice must now expect and prepare for a violent racist response. And in Chicago, recent revelations of a year-long cover-up by city officials of the blatant police murder of Laquan McDonald add yet another chapter to the shameful history of police terror against African Americans and other communities of color. Meanwhile, ongoing harassment of individuals and groups who appear to be Muslim or immigrants goes under-reported in the press, as do attacks on mosques and Black churches.  

Over the past decade, heavily armed and mostly white men have killed or injured close to 1,000 individuals in politically-motivated shootings and other mass killings. These are not isolated incidents. They are encouraged by a rhetorical climate produced by right-wing politicians and media personalities who blame immigrants, poor African Americans and foreign countries for the decline in white working-class standards of living. Donald Trump is a perfect example: for him, the barriers to America’s “greatness” are Mexican immigrants, Muslim terrorists, Black protesters, China’s economic and military power and American leaders too weak to oppose them. This nativist politics diverts attention from the 1% — the capitalist class — that long ago declared war on working-class and poor people of all races. This politics is not the fault only of the Republican leaders who espouse it, but also of Democrats like Barack Obama and both Bill and Hillary Clinton, whose “free trade” and austerity policies contribute to the declining standards of working-class communities. This utter failure to put forward convincing ways to explain and solve the crisis leaves a vacuum that racists easily fill.

The far right is a threat to DSA and our allies on the left in two ways. First, they are literally threatening the lives of progressive organizers and protesters and the communities that we come from — the white supremacist shooting in Minneapolis makes this clear. As we plan protests and organize campaigns, we must now always take seriously the possibility of a violent reactionary response — whether from the police or right-wing terrorists — and plan ways to keep participants and organizers safe. Second, like democratic socialism, right-wing extremism recognizes that our society is in crisis and proposes a radical departure from the status quo. But, unlike the Left, these extremists blame people of color rather than the ruling class. Because of this parallel, far right politics directly competes with democratic socialism to win over downwardly-mobile and economically squeezed white people who are currently being politicized.

This nativist, racist and misogynist terrorism and the tragedies it creates can only be ended by a mass coalition of progressive social movements fighting together to put an end to this frontal assault on Muslims, immigrants, people of color and women. Such a coalition must also advance a coherent political analysis and program  that directs white working-class anger at the billionaire class and their politics of austerity and violent repression.

DSA unconditionally condemns the recent killings of innocents by ISIL/Daesh in Lebanon, France, Nigeria and Mali, but we believe the fight at home is primarily against right-wing (not Islamic) fundamentalism. DSA applauds its members and friends who recently organized a rally to defend the right of immigrants and refugees against the racist exclusionary policies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. We urge our members to engage in similar activities across the country to protect the rights of immigrants, women, people of color and followers of all faiths (and no faith). Such actions can take the form of clinic protection, providing sanctuary for refugees, aiding mosques in their defense of religious freedom, and fighting against police violence and mass incarceration and for democratic, accountable law enforcement. DSA also supports the fight of students of color and their allies on campuses across the country to build a more inclusive, multicultural and democratic university. Whatever the particular local form this resistance to racist and nativist reaction may take, socialists must join this crucial struggle for democracy.

This statement was passed by the DSA National Political Committee on December 1, 2015.