News that 16-year-old Seattle Central College student Hamza Warsame fell to his death from a 6-story building in Capitol Hill Saturday afternoon has shaken the Seattle community. We are saddened by this news, and our sympathies are with his family and friends.
The Seattle Police Department must urgently and thoroughly investigate Hamza’s death. Some reports suggest he was beaten and thrown from the building in an Islamophobic attack by a fellow student. If they are proven true, the killers should immediately be brought to justice.
We must come together as a community, united and clear that we will not stand for any threats or hate violence towards our Muslim brothers and sisters.
Why is the Muslim community being targeted? What strategy is needed to effectively end Islamophobia within working class communities?
Right-wing racist rhetoric against Muslims has spiked since the Paris and San Bernandino terrorist attacks, in which many innocent lives were lost. Demonizing and hate-filled rhetoric of Muslims is not new. From 9/11 to this day, ordinary Muslims have been ruthlessly targeted by the corporate media and right-wing politicians.
Politicians are exploiting the fear that people have in the wake of terror attacks with an onslaught of racist and Islamophobic proposals. Donald Trump’s proposals to ban all Muslims from entering the country and to require Muslims to register with the government are the most extreme examples. Working class communities, faced with low-wage jobs, no benefits, slashed social services, underfunded schools, and rampant poverty are looking for answers in the wake of terrorist attacks. Donald Trump and others offer only racism and never-ending war.
It’s also clear that politicians and the media react very differently to terrorist attacks and hate crimes by white attackers. One need only examine the reporting of the killing of nine African Americans in a Charleston church by white Dylann Roof, largely portrayed as a mentally troubled individual, earlier this year. This night and day difference serves the interests of the ruling elite to keep working people of different religions and races divided and in fear of one another.
We need to stop the racism Donald Trump and other cynical politicians and media pundits are spreading. We need to build a united movement of Black Lives Matter activists, the labor movement, and community members. We need to come together against racism to stop hate crimes, police killings, the school-to-prison-pipeline, and the systemic racism of poverty. Our movement should link anti-racism to demands to improve people’s lives: living wage jobs, fully funded high-quality education, free tuition at public colleges, and more.
That’s why Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative argue for a party based on ordinary working-class communities that fights for and defends the rights of all workers, regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or country of origin. People of all backgrounds who are looking for answers will be drawn to the idea that solidarity with other working-class people is the answer to racism, sexism, and poverty.
A new party based on the solidarity and cooperation of working people could challenge the so-called moderate, but still racist, Republicans and the corporate leadership of the Democratic party, both of which are fueled by big business money and ultimately serve the interests of the 1%, not us. Both Republicans and Democrats would bomb ordinary working people in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq to stop ISIS. Yet the past 15 years of bombing campaigns have created the extreme suffering which leads to the rise of extremist Islamic groups like ISIS in the first place. U.S. bombs cannot destroy ISIS.
As the Black Panther Fred Hampton said 50 years ago, “You don’t fight fire with fire, you fight fire with water. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We’re gonna fight capitalism with socialism. Socialism is the people.”
Our economic system is controlled by the 1%, who own and use society’s vast wealth to enrich themselves at the expense of the 99% and our environment. The capitalist system is maintained by exploiting the differences between us (race, gender, religion, and so on) to keep us divided and unable to fight back.
We are struggling for democratic socialist change, where working people have the control, not the corporations, and where we can finally end the exploitation and oppression that drives Islamophobia, racism, and sexism within our communities.