Barnard-Columbia International Socialist Organization

September 22, 2008

Barnard-Columbia ISO Election Editorial for the Columbia Spectator

Filed under: Statements — Barnard-Columbia ISO @ 12:05 am

The Columbia Spectator solicited, and we submitted, an editorial on what issue (or issues) we thought were most important in the presidential elections. It ran in today’s issue of the campus paper and we appreciate the Spectator’s offer to allow us a voice in their publication and hope to contribute again in the future. You may read it here. Despite the fact that our work ran as an opinion piece, the editors decided to edit or remove a couple of our statements, over our objection. There was one line in particular that the Spectator editors insisted on eliminating: “We…oppose the slew of racist slander directed at Obama.”

We were told that this would be removed for two reasons: it was patently partisan, (or “anti-Republican”) and “It comes out of nowhere” in our editorial. We rejected both of these rationales, but received only an ultimatum: either the line would be cut or the piece would not run at all.

Since when did being anti-racist become tantamount to a partisan endorsement? Our editorial makes it clear that we don’t believe that either candidate has a plan to remove all troops from Iraq or Afghanistan and that grassroots organizing is the most important factor in changing this. We are not endorsing McCain or Obama, but does that mean we can’t challenge racism when we see it? From the “terrorist fist jab” and “uppity” comments, to the Obama Waffle Mix, the New Yorker magazine cover and more, it’s clear that this election is sullied by bigotry. If Republicans happen to be the ones making racist comments, as Congresswoman Lynn Westmoreland did, it doesn’t surprise us. However, it was a Democrat, Hillary Clinton, who claimed only she could gain the support of “hard-working Americans, white Americans.” Likewise, the Democrats used to be the defenders of slavery and Jim Crow in the south, so clearly, opposition to racism is not an endorsement of either party.

Adding insult to injury, in the editorial printed right next to ours, Landon Tucker of the College Republicans made an unabashed endorsement of McCain and Palin. Clearly, he didn’t have to abide by the same “non-partisan” standards.

Lastly, we don’t agree with the idea that our talk of racism in the campaign “comes out of nowhere” in our editorial (even if it was the Spectator’s place to alter the content of our opinion!) The questions of the war and the economy, which we focus on in the piece, have been talked about in racist terms not simply in this election season, but for much longer. The demonizing of all Arabs and Muslims has been used to justify the continuation of war on Iraq and Afghanistan, and immigrant workers, or workers abroad, are blamed for “stealing” native-born workers’ jobs.

Hence, organizing to stop the war and demand economic relief are crucially linked to standing up against racism in all of its forms. Apparently, the Spectator thinks that its readers aren’t savvy enough to pick up on these connections, but we think more highly of you. Here is the original, unedited version:

Opinion Piece on the elections from the International Socialist Organization

By Akua Gyamerah and Matt Swagler

Polls indicate that a vast majority of Americans are now in favor of an end to the war on Iraq and a full 82 percent of people think the government needs to increase spending on social services and public works projects to create jobs – not more bailouts for Wall Street. As socialists, we see these two interconnected demands as central to the election.

Despite the deaths of over a million Iraqis, the displacement of over 4 million more, and despite the fact that a majority of US troops polled wanted to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2006, neither presidential candidate is talking about a complete or immediate end to the occupation of Iraq. Certainly McCain is committed to continuing the war, but even Obama’s position for withdrawal is tenuous, would take many years, and will leave behind tens of thousands of troops and countless private mercenaries such as Blackwater. Both candidates are united on escalating the Afghanistan war, and we’ve already seen a rise in US bombing runs and Afghan civilian deaths, alongside a monthly casualty toll for US soldiers now surpassing that of Iraq.

This week, the Wall Street Journal declared that the economy is at the brink of the worst crisis since the great depression of the 1930s, and things will only get worse. Unfortunately, as the economy deteriorates, working class people are expected to pay for this disaster, something we see already with higher prices for commodities like food, education, housing, millions of foreclosures and evictions, growing poverty and unemployment, and cutbacks in social programs. Despite bailing out Corporate America with billions of our tax dollars, the federal government claims that it cannot afford to help homeowners with their debt, provide free healthcare for children, or restore cuts to public schools. The excuses are plenty, but the evidence to justify each is meager, especially as all of this past week’s disgraced CEO’s are getting exorbitant departure packages-Richard Syron, the former head of Freddie Mac, will likely get $14.1 million simply to walk out the door.

The most important issues for this election year are not what is discussed during the campaigning period, but what happens before and after a new president takes office. As history has shown, the US government does little for working class people without pressure from below. In light of the billions spent this past month to rescue for-profit financial institutions, it is essential and absolutely justified for working class people, including immigrants, to protest the priorities of this government and to pressure them by demanding forgiveness of mortgages, affordable housing, universal healthcare, and an increase in financial aid for education. An end to the failing wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, which would free up $340 million a week, is central to these demands. While we follow the elections attentively and oppose the slew of racist slander directed at Obama, we feel that it is ultimately through grassroots, independent, and mass organizing that we can begin to see real change.


September 11, 2008


Filed under: Solidarity — Barnard-Columbia ISO @ 1:22 am

Troy Davis, an innocent man on death row, is set to be murdered by the state of Georgia on September 23rd. Please take action to help save a brave fighter against racism and injustice. We recently stopped the execution of Jeff Wood in Texas and Troy’s case needs to be next. Read about his case here in Socialist Worker, as well as an article by Troy and one by his sister Martina in The New Abolitionist #45.



Wednesday, September 10 & Thursday, September 11
Phone: 404-657-9350 Fax: 404-651-8502

*NYC – Join us at Union Square on THURS., SEPT. 11 at 6 PM; south side by the stairs for tabling & speak-out.

The State of Georgia has given Troy Davis, an innocent man, an execution date of September 23. Troy, who is African-American, was convicted of killing Mark McPhail, a white police officer. Seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, several saying they were coerced by police, and a number of other witnesses who were never allowed to testify fingered Sylvester “Red” Coles as the killer. But in a 4-3 ruling the Georgia Supreme Court refused to give Troy a new trial based on this evidence. And outrageously, the State of Georgia did not even wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether to take the case before setting an execution date.

Now, Troy’s life is in the hands of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, which meets on Friday, September 12 and will make a decision some time before his scheduled execution date.

On Wednesday, September 10 and Thursday, September 11, people all over the country will be taking action to stop Troy’s execution and let Georgia officials know that we are watching to make sure they do not execute an innocent man. Here are suggestions for what you can do:

*Call, fax and email the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to call for clemency. Also get in touch with the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Attorney General’s Office and demand they rescind Troy’s execution warrant.

*Join us at Union Square on THURS., SEPT. 11 at 6 PM; south side by the stairs for tabling & speak-out.

*Send an automated email message via Amnesty International’s action center by clicking HERE.

*Organize a meeting, rally, protest, press conference or speak-out on your campus or in your community.

*Organize a letter-writing event and fax the letters to the board.

*Please contact to let us know about an action in your community. We will publicize it on this list. Also let us know how many signatures you were able to collect. Fax copies directly to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles but send copies to 773-955-4842.


Chairman Gale Buckner
State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909

Telephone:  (404) 657-9350
Fax: 404-651-6670 and (404)651-8502

Thurbert E. Baker
Office of the Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, Ga 30334
Phone:(404) 656-3300
Fax:(404) 657-8733

Spencer Lawton, Chatham County District Attorney
Chief Assistant District Attorney David Locke
133 Montgomery Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Phone:  (912) 652-7308
Fax:  (912) 652-7328 or (912) 447-5396
Troy Davis: Finality Over Fairness


The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will hold a clemency hearing on Friday, September 12. Please join
Amnesty International and others for a rally on Thursday, September 11 to help save Troy’s life!

Justice Matters: Rally to Save Troy Davis
Thursday, September 11, 2008
6 – 8 p.m.
Georgia State Capital (front steps on Washington St.)
Atlanta, GA / 404-876-5661 ext. 13

September 5, 2008

Capitalism, Crisis & the Case for Socialism

Filed under: ISO Events — Barnard-Columbia ISO @ 12:48 am

Fall 2008 ISO kickoff meeting! – Note: New Building and Room!

Capitalism, Crisis & the Case for Socialism
Wednesday, September 17th,
312 Mathematics, Columbia University

A forum featuring East Harlem community activist Maria Lichi D’Amelio.

Socialism is based on the idea that we should use the vast resources of society to meet people’s needs. If people are hungry, they should be fed; if people are homeless, we should build homes for them; if people are sick, the best medical care should be available to them. Socialism would take the wealth of the rich and use it to meet the basic needs of all society.

Instead of that kind of society, we have been through years of war for oil and empire, decades of rollbacks on workers’ wages and living standards, attacks on civil rights and women’s rights, cuts in healthcare and more. On top of this, the growing economic crisis – foreclosures, food and fuel inflation, and increasing unemployment – are calling into question the ability of the system as it is currently set up to function at all.

Come to this forum to discuss how we can organize a society without war and racism, a society based on human need instead of corporate greed – and to get involved in activism in and around Columbia, Harlem, Washington Heights and City College.

For more info: or 585.278.4855

International Socialist Organization website:
Socialist Worker newspaper (now updated daily):
International Socialist Review magazine:

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