May Day 2024: Resist the witch-hunts!

Attack on Gaza Solidarity Encampment: NYPD riot police raid Columbia University to mass arrest students on the night of April 30.

On International Workers’ Day 2024, workers in the U.S. could swear that Senator Joe McCarthy and Minister Cotton Mather had returned from the dead.

More than 35,000 Palestinians, including 14,000 children, have died in just over 200 days of Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza – funded, armed and given political cover by Washington. Yet any expression of opposition to the mass slaughter of Palestinians is labeled “antisemitism” by politicians of both capitalist parties and the corporate media. 

Congressional hearings reminiscent of the Red Scare anti-communist spectacles of the 1950s target university officials. Depending on how pliable they are, they are driven from office – like former Harvard President Claudine Gay, the first Black person to serve in that post – or they are given marching orders to crack down on student protesters, like Columbia University President Minouche Shafik.

After two weeks of violent police raids against campus Gaza Solidarity Encampments coast-to-coast, Columbia and other schools are now carrying out mass suspensions, threatening to prevent student activists from graduating. Right-wing politicians have called for students who participate in the encampments to be blacklisted from future employment.

Nor is it just Republicans. On April 29, 23 House Democrats called on Columbia President Shafik to “end” the encampment that sparked a nationwide student uprising, or resign. And of course, Genocide Joe Biden himself joined fascist House Speaker Mike Johnson in threatening the heroic students and faculty resisting at Columbia.

This comes after months of police attacks, targeted arrests of organizers, and slander campaigns against pro-Palestine protesters.

Yet the student encampments continue to grow and spread day by day.

Trans youth and supporters rally against anti-trans legislation at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Feb. 8.

Whipping up anti-trans hate

At the same time, another witch-hunt is unfolding across the U.S. targeting transgender people. 

In many ways, this hate campaign – now underway for three years and growing ever-more dangerous – set the stage for how opponents of genocide in Gaza are being treated.

So far this year, 550 anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 42 states, along with 47 national bills. This includes some of the most drastic measures yet – cutting off all access to gender-affirming health care regardless of age, banning all restroom access, threatening the livelihoods of teachers, librarians and other workers if they are queer or respect the rights of trans students, and generally attempting to force trans lives out of existence.

State hearings on trans issues have the same tenor as the Congressional anti-Palestine hearings, driven by fascist politicians who repeat long-discredited theories or bigoted political and religious ideology as fact. When trans people and supporters show up and try to be heard, they are often silenced, driven out, or arrested.

Typical of this approach is the Cass Review commissioned by the British government, where anti-trans attacks are also at a fever pitch. This so-called review to advise the National Health Service policy on treatment of trans youth dismissed over 100 scientific studies to cherry-pick a handful that reached anti-trans conclusions. 

The supposedly impartial review was carried out by a team that excluded trans people, but included known transphobes who collaborated with Florida’s DeSantis administration.

And yet the Cass Review is already being used by the British government to cut off access to care, not only for trans youth, but also trans adults. It is being favorably cited by U.S. far-right politicians and “liberal” media like the New York Times and The Guardian to manufacture consent for anti-trans genocide.

Like the opponents of genocide in Gaza who are unjustly accused of antisemitism, no amount of evidence will suffice to refute the witch-hunters’ charges of “grooming” and “social contagion.” Like those accused of witchcraft in 17th century New England, the only way trans people can prove their innocence is to stop existing – death.

State troopers in riot gear attack pro-Palestinian students at the University of Texas in Austin.

No more Odessa massacres!

The witch-hunt rhetoric directed at pro-Palestine students and faculty and at trans people escalates the danger of fascist violence, whether from “official” repressive bodies of the state (police and national guard) or “unofficial” neo-Nazi aligned movements. It’s an attack on the rights of the whole working class and all oppressed people, and must be fought with unity and urgency.

Ten years ago, on May 2, 2014, fascist gangs were given the green light by the U.S.-backed coup government in Ukraine to carry out a bloody massacre of nearly 50 activists and workers at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa. The working class movement in Ukraine was smashed and thousands of organizers driven into exile in its wake.

Anti-fascists from Ukraine to the U.S. warned then that Washington’s support for neo-Nazi terror abroad would boomerang here. Now this is visible for all to see.

The working class is making important gains in organizing, from Starbucks to Amazon to the United Auto Workers victory at Volkswagen in Tennessee. But this progress is threatened by the attacks on the political and civil rights of students, teachers, and LGBTQIA+ people. 

The bigoted politicians, the neo-Nazis and the big capitalists behind them will not stop with demonizing the Gaza solidarity movement and trans community. The purpose of the witch-hunts is to shatter the ability of the working class and oppressed to resist.

Don’t wait for an Odessa massacre to happen here! Mobilize to resist the bosses’ witch-hunts!

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