The campaign of slander against those of us who protested the Left Forum’s honoring of Ajamu Baraka continues. The latest attack, “The Fake Left at the Left Forum,” was authored by Danny Haiphong and published by the Black Agenda Report (BAR).
BAR has some nerve in claiming to judge who are real leftists, given its take on the deadly clashes between fascists and anti-fascists in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer. After anti-fascist protesters heroically confronted Trump-supporting fascists and white supremacists, and a neo-Nazi used his car to murder Heather Heyer, a young working-class activist, while other fascists attempted to beat to death DeAndre Harris, a young Black man who participated in the anti-fascist protests, BAR published an article by Ajamu Baraka that denounced the anti-fascist protest as a “distraction” by “white supremacist liberals and leftists.” People who can't choose sides at Charlottesville have no standing to label others fake leftists.
We take up here a few of the many false and ignorant claims in BAR’s latest article. But first we identify the political milieu from which this article, on a supposedly left-wing website, originates.
Danny Haiphong has previously written for Workers World, the organ of the Stalinist Workers World Party. The WWP has a long and infamous record of supporting brutal repression as long as it is committed in the name of anti-imperialism: from the Soviet Stalinists’ crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and their invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, to the Chinese Stalinists’ Tiananmen massacre in 1989 and Saddam Hussein’s chemical massacre in the Kurdish city of Halabja in 1988 – a slaughter supported by the U.S. Their current ongoing support for Assad’s butchery is fully consistent with their history, as is accusing opponents of the regimes they endorse of aligning with imperialism.
More recently one of Haiphong’s articles defending the Syrian regime was republished “with permission” by the Ron Paul Institute, a think-tank founded by the right-wing ex-Congressman. It was also republished on the site of Russia Insider, which regularly issues anti-semitic articles like its feature article this year, “It's Time to Drop the Jew Taboo.” This gem, credited to the site’s editor-in-chief, Charles Bausman, claims among other things that the Russian revolution of October 1917 was “mostly a Jewish coup d’etat,” carried out by Jewish Bolsheviks and “financed by wealthy bankers in New York and London who were sworn enemies of Christian Tsarism.”.
The far-right in the U.S. and Europe admires Assad – with good reason, given his bloody suppression of the Syrian popular uprising. At their mobilization in Charlottesville a number of fascists and white supremacists wore pro-Assad T-shirts and spoke out in favor of his bombing campaigns against the Syrian people – Heather Heyer’s murderer, James Alex Fields, was found to have promoted Assad. That’s the company that “leftists” like Haiphong and WWP find themselves in bed with. It is shameful that the BAR is hooked up with them.
Haiphong’s article claims that we slandered Baraka. Not at all. Everything we said about him was taken from his own words. (All our accusations are clearly referenced so that readers can check them. None of Haiphong’s are, again for good reason – they’re full of “alternative facts,” i.e., lies.) Baraka indeed apologized for Assad's atrocities, praised the “dignity” of Assad’s fraudulent election, copied an absurd conspiracy theory from Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn alleging that the Obama White House aimed to established a “Salafist principality” in Syria, labeled Obama a neo-fascist, and asserted that people of color had nothing to fear from Donald Trump. This is a shameful and politically foolish record.
As an indication of Haiphong’s indifference to easily checkable facts, while saying “I don’t pretend to know” which organizations took part, he nevertheless names the LRP, the ISO and the DSA – and ignores the main sponsoring organization, Syria Solidarity NYC. Of those he names, the ISO to its discredit was not to be seen, probably because it was torn between its righteous hatred for Assad and its support for the Green Party, including for Baraka’s candidacy in 2016. There were a couple of DSA members active in the protest but no organized DSA presence. The LRP did take part, and we issued a leaflet distributed to all attendees at the plenary session. Haiphong of course does not trouble to actually cite anything in it, or in the leaflet put out by Syria Solidarity NYC.
The “Fake Left” article sums up:
“Social imperialists call Assad a war criminal yet have nothing to say when presented with the well-documented evidence of atrocities committed by proxies backed by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and a host of imperialist countries. In fact, social imperialists deny the very existence of these forces, thus negating over four decades of marriage between US imperialism and jihadist mercenaries.”
The truth is that we in the LRP have always and repeatedly denounced the role of U.S. imperialism and jihadists in Syria. For example, the headline of our August 31, 2013 statement was “Defend the Syrian Revolution Against All its Enemies – Imperialism, Assad and Reactionary Islamists!” Unlike pro-Assad liars like Haiphong, Baraka, the WWP and BAR, we have exposed not only the role of the U.S. and its erstwhile allies in Turkey and the Gulf States for assisting jihadists, but also exposed the role of the Assad regime in supporting the jihadists’ war against democratic and secular revolutionaries, as well as its importation of Shi’ia jihadists from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon to join its counterrevolutionary war on the ground.
As for having “nothing to say” about U.S. atrocities, the anti-war organization that WWP dominates and which works with Baraka, UNAC, proclaims “US Hands Off Syria” – but despite its resources it has organized protests only when Trump pinprick-bombed an Assad military base or two. It mounted no protest when the U.S. carpet-bombed Raqqa and other civilian areas in the name of fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda, killing thousands of civilians. That shows that their real concern is not the Syrian people; the real meaning of their fake anti-imperialist slogan is “US Hands Off Assad.” We say to them: just because you support one counterrevolution doesn’t give you the right to assume that we support the other.
2. Ajamu Baraka, The Story of Charlottesville was Written in Blood in the Ukraine, Black Agenda Report, August 16, 2017.
4. www.russia-insider.com/en/cruise-missile-left-complicit-american-escalation-toward-world-war-iii/ri23310; russia-insider.com/en/politics/its-time-drop-jew-taboo/ri22186. Ajamu Baraka is also a contributor to this foul site, which has a section of ongoing coverage of “The Jewish Question”: russia-insider.com/en/jewish-question.
5. Liz Sly and Rick Noack, Syria’s Assad has become an icon of the far right in America, Washington Post, August 14, 2017; Claudia Koetner and Cora Lewis, Here’s What We Know About The Man Accused Of Killing A Woman At A White Supremacist Rally, Buzzfeed, August 14, 2017.
6. Ajamu Baraka, Human rights and humanitarian imperialism in Syria, Pambazuka News, September 27, 2012.
7. Ajamu Baraka, The Syrian Elections, Counterpunch, June 4, 2014.
8. Ajamu Baraka, Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence, Common Dreams, July 1, 2016; Brad Hoff, Rise of Islamic State was ‘a willful decision’: Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn, Foreign Policy Journal, August 7, 2015.
9. Ajamu Baraka, “Don't mention Trump to me. If left in U.S was really serious about fascism it would have been opposed to smiling neo-fascism of Barack Obama,” Twitter, January 8, 2017, https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/818241920690520064?lang=en
10. Ajamu Baraka, “Expecting people of color to fear Donald Trump after all we've been through the last 200 years, is absurd.” Twitter, October 16, 2016, https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/787659341193220096?lang=en.
11. No to Left Forum’s Normalization and Promotion of Ajamu Baraka, Apologist for Assad’s Genocidal Regime in Syria.
12. Defend the Syrian Revolution Against All its Enemies – Imperialism, Assad and Reactionary Islamists!, August 31, 2013. See also Middle East Revolutions at a Crossroads – For Solidarity and the Strategy of Permanent Revolution, November 17, 2013; and Behind the New U.S. War in Iraq and Syria, September 25, 2014.