The real State of the Union

Hospital workers rally in Brooklyn to demand “ICE out of hospitals” after the shooting of Eric Díaz, Feb. 7. Photo: 1199SEIU

Let’s talk about the State of the Union.

No, not Trump’s speech. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that shortly.

I’m talking about the real deal: the political reality facing poor and working people living in the United States.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cops attempted to grab Gaspar Avendano-Hernández, a construction worker from Mexico, as he was leaving his home.

They weren’t wearing uniforms or badges. They didn’t have a warrant. And they attacked Gaspar with a taser.

So Eric Díaz, a son of Gaspar’s partner Carmen Cruz, intervened to stop the kidnapping. He was unarmed.

And one of Donald Trump’s ICE goons shot Díaz in the face.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio likes to portray himself as a progressive. He says New York is a sanctuary city and that he’s standing up to Trump. That was the basis for the mayor’s short-lived presidential bid last year.

But what happened when the New York Police Department showed up at the scene of the crime? Did they arrest the ICE agent who shot Eric Díaz? Did they free Gaspar and send the ICE gangsters packing?

Of course not. Instead, they helped ICE make a clean getaway.

The NYPD militarized Maimonides Hospital, where Díaz was taken and where his family gathered. Activists who came to support the family, including health-care union members, clergy and local officials, were kept out. Many stayed outside around the clock anyway.

Police roughed up protesters as ICE dragged Gaspar off to the Hudson County Correctional Center in New Jersey, where he is now awaiting deportation.

This happened just two days after Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 4 — a racist, anti-worker rant that demonized migrants and refugees like Gaspar, including thousands of children who’ve been separated from their families and kept in conditions that constitute torture.

Four days after Trump’s campaign rally on Capitol Hill, and two days after Eric Díaz was shot in Brooklyn, 150 masked white supremacists marched through the streets of Washington, D.C.

Apparently D.C. police only oppose people wearing masks when they are Black and Brown and anti-fascists. Because, according to reporters and counterprotesters on the scene, the various Washington police agencies assigned to the march pampered the fascists and gave them first-class protection.

The cops even closed off the lawn in front of the Capitol for the fascist rally. Commenting on this, Zach Roberts of Visu News said, “I’ve covered rallies in Washington, D.C., for nearly 20 years now. I’ve never seen a group allowed to have a private space protected by the police department and no one else was allowed in.”

These weren’t just any bigots, either. This was Patriot Front, formerly known as Vanguard America — one of the main groups behind the “Unite the Right” invasion of Charlottesville in 2017. The fascist who killed Heather Heyer was one of them.

You may remember that Trump referred to the white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville at that time as “very fine people.”

But not just that. At the State of the Union, Trump awarded bigoted radio “personality” Rush Limbaugh, a hero of the Charlottesville set who is dying of lung cancer, with the Congressional Medal of Freedom.

Is it any wonder that the racist filth are emboldened to march through the streets of Washington — a city that is still nearly half Black, despite advancing gentrification?

Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump applaud Juan Guaidó at the State of the Union, Feb. 4.

Pelosi’s rip and Guaidó’s ovation

Contrast this kid gloves treatment with the four Embassy Protectors, who were illegally dragged out of the Embassy of Bolivarian Venezuela in May 2019 and today are on trial in Washington, despite having express permission to be in the embassy from the legitimate government of Venezuela.

Which brings us to another feature of the State of the Union.

Everyone saw the clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up a copy of Trump’s speech. This was supposed to show her (and the Democratic Party leadership’s) intransigent “resistance” to Trump. Pelosi did it knowing that the Senate was poised to reject Trump’s impeachment the next day.

But something else that Pelosi did that night–and that most other congressional Democrats in attendance did too–spoke much more eloquently about where they really stand.

Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues joined Trump and the Republicans in giving a standing ovation to Juan Guaidó, the self-appointed, U.S.-approved, would-be “president” of Venezuela.

Guaidó was supposed to be installed last year by a U.S.-backed coup that would finally end Wall Street and Big Oil’s long nightmare of a Bolivarian Venezuela moving toward socialism.

But the workers and peasants, the women and Indigenous of Venezuela rejected the Empire’s scenario.  A year after Guaidó’s first coup attempt, he is farther than ever from his goal.

But Trump and Pelosi, Republicans and Democrats, are united in their hostility to Venezuela, its combative people and their democratically elected President Nicholás Maduro.

After the State of the Union, Guaidó met for photo-ops with Pelosi and other officials, who reiterated their commitment to bringing his brand of “democracy”–currently on display by the far-right coup regime in Bolivia–to Venezuela. Trump brandished new sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned airline CONVIASA.

As the perfectly engineered meme of Pelosi ripping Trump’s speech made the rounds of the corporate media, many progressives were asking: Wouldn’t it have been better if she and the Democrats had ripped up the $738 billion war budget that they handed Trump in December?

Of course. But while they may differ on details of how to administer the capitalist state, Republicans and Democrats, Trumps and Pelosis, are all united in the main cause of the bosses they serve: to wage a war for exploitation against the workers and oppressed, both here and abroad.