Monday, June 23, 2008

The Socialist International and U.S. elections

Barack Obama represents a fascinating change in U.S. politics, not only because of his color but also and above all because of his personal world experience, having lived in Hawaii and Indonesia. That is why the most extreme “know-nothing” right-wingers want to stop him whatever the cost and the methods: his victory would mean much more than an electoral defeat for ultra-conservative Americans. It would signal the emergence of a different country, more inclusive, more attuned to the world, in fact a more realistic America than the bigoted and autistic “model” that has harmed the U.S. so much under the current Bush administration.

Right wing columnists therefore will use all means to taint Barack Obama, manipulate the race factor (according to a recent survey 3 Americans out of 10 admit a race bias) and accuse him of being “unpatriotic” or the tool of anti-American “world bodies”.

While surfing on the Internet over the week end I have discovered an example of this game. on the site of AIM (Accuracy in media). This conservative media monitoring attack dog attempts to bash Barack Obama and the whole Democratic Party by linking them to DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), the U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, as if these two organization were dangerous and unsavoury.

The DSA is a “current” within the Democratic party and was founded by leading intellectual Michael Harrington whose book on poverty “The Other America” had a great impact in the early Sixties and who was considered as a key and inspiring interlocutor by the European democratic Left as well as by socially concerned Christians.

The S.I. which has its headquarters in London includes one hundred different parties as full members, a very diverse and sometimes contradictory group that does not automatically lead to common positions. It counts for instance among its most important members Britain’s Labour Party which under Tony Blair supported the Iraqi war and Germany’s Social Democratic Party which under Gerhard Schroeder opposed president Bush’s adventure.

However the SI has in fact been dominated by moderate and often pro-American European social-democratic parties. These supposedly “subversive” parties have given quite a few general secretaries to NATO (Belgian socialist Paul-Henri Spaak, Spanish socialist Javier Solana) and during the Cold War these parties have regularly been accused by Communist governments or hard left organizations of being “puppets of Washington”.
Who stood next to John F. Kennedy at the Berlin wall when he said “I am a Berliner” at the height of the Cold War? A socialist mayor, Willy Brandt.
Who took the lead during the Portuguese revolution to stave off, with the endorsement of Henry Kissinger, a far left experiment ? The leader of the Socialist Party and future President of Portugal: Mario Soares.

AIM might check the SI website…and its own mission statement “for fairness, balance and accuracy in news reporting”.

PS. I discover that Joel Bleifuss, editor in chief of In These Times, has also indexed this "redbaiting" tactic (See Red-Boating Obama, March 12, 2008)

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