Workers Vanguard No. 467 (16 December 1988)
What Was the Workers League Doing at 207th Street?
The day before the November 5 mobilization that stopped the Ku Klux Klan and skinhead racists from terrorizing, the streets of Philadelphia, a woman comrade selling Workers Vanguard was surrounded by six white thugs outside the 207th. Street transit barn in New York City.
They physically tried to prevent her from talking to the members of this heavily black shop about coming down to Philadelphia on November 5. They screamed that the Partisan Defense Committee’s call to bring out labor and black power against the KKK night-riders made the Spartacist League “antiwhite racists.” They could have been members of Tom Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance, whose psycho skinhead killers scream about “anti-white racism.” But they weren’t. They were members of David North’s shady and sinister outfit, the Workers League.
Members of the powerful New York City Transit Workers Union, Local 100 proudly served in the front lines of the November 5 mobilization against the KKK. They came with their own banner calling for “Labor/ Black Defense to Smash Racist Terror!” TWU members were part of the disciplined and effective union defense guard which lined the perimeter of the rally to defend against fascist provocation. Those who couldn’t make the bus to Philly bought seats for others.
Both the United Motormen’s Division and the Track Division of Local 100 voted overwhelmingly to endorse the “All Out to Stop the KKK!” mobilization. At the October 19 evening meeting of the motormen, a Workers League supporter was the only one to vote against endorsing. At the morning meeting another WL supporter, Allen Cherry, abstained. Outside, he denounced the November 5 mobilization to a group of workers as “divisive” and “black nationalist.” In fact it is the Northites who are united with the frenzied black nationalists in loathing the sight of the integrated power of labor and blacks mobilized in class struggle.
After the Spartacist League initiated a 5,000-strong labor/black mobilization that stopped the Klan from marching in Washington, D.C. in November 1982, the WL dismissed this victory as an “adventure which played right into the hands of the police”! They wrote that the Spartacists separate “the struggle against racism from the struggle of the working class.” And in. 1986, a Bulletin smear job on the SL indicted us for “An Obsession With Race” – in this deeply racist country!
The Northites are cynical hustlers who have for years been trying to recruit among minority youth while in the unions they push “colorblind” economism reflecting their obsession with tailing after the AFL-CIO bureaucracy. In Local 100, when the class-struggle militants of the Committee for a Fighting TWU mobilized support for union action in defense of token clerk James Grimes, framed by the company and the D.A. for defending himself against muggers, the Bulletin fingered Grimes for not following “required” procedure.
Currently, WL supporter Allen Cherry is once again running for office in the motormen’s division, on a program which says not one word about racism. And this is in Ed Koch’s New York City, where TA cops killed black artist Michael Stewart, son of a retired transit worker, where a police “decoy” unit set up hundreds of black and Hispanic men, where transit police frequently shoot black youth as “farebeaters,” where black transit worker Willie Turks was beaten to death by a racist mob near the Coney Island yards. About all this the Workers League has nothing to say.
In the pursuit of their outrageous years-long vendetta against the reformist Socialist Workers Party, the Northites have suddenly and cynically discovered the issue of black oppression in order to get a white SWPer in Iowa sent to prison for 25 years on a dubious rape charge. Beware of those who peddle conspiracy theories like the WL’s claim that the SWP is “FBI-controlled”; such cop-baiters are not only frequently deranged, but are thoroughly divorced from any working-class principles or elementary morality. For their despicable purposes they will do or say just about anything.
The class line is like a revolving door for the Northites, who more often than not find themselves on the wrong side of it. In their rabid opposition to the anti-Klan protest, the Workers League which yesterday hailed the murder of Iraqi Communists by the Ba’athist colonels now find themselves in the company of the Zionists, the racist cops and their bourgeois masters. But when a TWUer reported back at a union meeting on the successful November 5 mobe that stopped the fascists in Philly, transit workers applauded their victory. They know where the class line is.