Bernie Sanders, one of the top contenders in the Democratic primary, attacked Joe Biden for bringing “just a lot of baggage” into the race. But if past views are a major consideration, consider the baggage Sanders brings to the countryside.
Go back over 40 years to the beginning of Iran’s long conflict with the United States. On April 1, 1979, the Theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had returned to Iran after his exile to take command of the revolt, became the supreme leader in December of that year. Its rise was accelerated by the seizure, on November 4, of 52 diplomats and American citizens, and citizens of other countries, at the American embassy in Tehran. The hostage crisis became the means by which Ayatollah crushed political opponents in Iran. Dealing with hostage-taking has become the overwhelming political crisis for President Jimmy Carter. It lasted 444 days.
Virtually all Americans – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – have come together to support the hostages and the international call for their freedom. A prominent political figure on the 2020 scene, then almost completely unknown, stood out by joining a Marxist-Leninist party that not only pledged support for the Iranian theocracy, but also justified the hostage-taking by insisting on the fact that the hostages were all likely CIA agents. Who was this person? It was Bernie Sanders.
Sanders would like the public to believe, as one PA story puts it, that “democratic socialism [is] the economic philosophy which guided his political career. But this has not always been the case. In 1977 he left the tiny left-wing Liberty Union Party of Vermont that he had co-founded, and in 1980 he aligned instead with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the self-proclaimed Trotskyist revolutionary party, became its party. presidential voter. in Vermont, and campaigned for his candidates and his platform who defended the Iranian hostage-taking.
In fact, the SWP’s stance on Iran is part of what sets it apart from democratic socialist groups. When his presidential candidate Andrew Pulley came to speak at the University of Vermont in October 1980, Sanders chaired the meeting. Pulley only attracted 40 students to his rally, where he concentrated, according to the SWP newspaper The militant, “On the Iran-Iraq War”, and condemned “the anti-Iranian hysteria around the American hostages”. Military action against Iran was not at this theoretical stage – Pulley’s speech came six months after the failed Operation Eagle Claw hostage release attempt.
In his classic speech, Pulley condemned “Carter’s war campaign against the Iranian people” and said the United States “was on the brink of war with Iran,” which would be fought “to protect oil interests. and banking of the Rockefellers and other billionaires. Americans, he predicted, “would soon pay on the battlefields of our own lives.” Their criticism of the Ayatollah was aimed at “preparing us for war”. And, Pulley accused, the media which criticized those of us who were against “US imperialism” have been “declared insane.” As for the hostages, Pulley said, “we can be sure a lot of them are just spies … or people charged with protecting spies.”
Pulley’s words were a direct echo of what the Islamic Society of University Teachers and Students said on November 4, 1979: “We defend the capture of this imperialist embassy, which is a center of espionage.
Six months after the 1980 election, on May 21, 1981, Sanders spoke at another Pulley rally. “Over the past 40 years,” said Sanders, “the Socialist Workers Party has … been harassed, informed, robbed of their offices, saw members of their party fired from their jobs, and been treated with a cold contempt by the United States State Government. “Worse, he continued, apparently referring to the Iranian hostage crisis,” Now anyone who stands up and fights and says things is automatically a terrorist. He claimed that he himself had been the subject of an FBI investigation because “I was a voter of the Socialist Workers’ Party”, referring to his official role in the 1980 elections with the Trotskyists.
The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Asked about the SWP in 1988, Sanders, then mayor of Burlington and congressional candidate, denounced the link, saying, “I was asked to put my name on the ballot and I did, that’s true.” Today, no mention of Sanders’ association with the SWP appears in any campaign biography he has published. But Sanders remained tied to the party after 1980. He was a guest speaker at a Boston rally for the SWP Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate and party list for Congress in 1982, the year following his election. narrowly mayor of Burlington. In 1984 he again spoke on behalf of the SWP presidential candidate, this time former Black Panther Mel Mason, saying The militant that “at a time when the Democratic and Republican parties are intellectually and spiritually bankrupt, it is imperative that radical voices be heard that offer fundamental alternatives to capitalist ideology.” It is still unclear when Sanders’ affiliation with the SWP ended.
Of course, Sanders was entitled to his beliefs. But he hasn’t been completely transparent about what those beliefs, relationships, and loyalties have been over the years. Sanders says he has always been firmly committed to democratic socialism. His record, however, reveals a very different story at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis.
But Democratic voters today concerned above all about the defeat of Donald Trump and the eligibility of their future presidential candidate need to know the full story of Sanders. He was not always the democratic socialist he claims to be. Sanders could have supported the Socialist Party, the Socialist Democratic Organizing Committee, or the Social Democrats USA, the three main democratic socialist organizations existing in 1980. He rejected them. Instead, he embraced a Marxist-Leninist communist sect that proclaimed its solidarity with Iran.
The preeminent democratic socialist of the day, Michael Harrington, wrote that the hostage-taking was “terribly wrong”, and that “the original evil was compounded by the psychological and physical brutalization to which at least some of the hostages were subjected. The moral position of those who denounce such acts is clear and convincing. ”
Far from denouncing the acts, Sanders sided with those who applauded the hostage taking.
If Sanders were to become the Democratic presidential candidate, all of this would spill over into Trump’s television and social media ads. Voters will see television clips of the American hostages blindfolded and abused alongside Sanders as a Trotskyist voter supporting the Iranian kidnappers. Rest assured, Trump will absolutely make sure that it is Sanders’ past that bury him and maybe the Democratic Party.
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