A Rant From the Christian Left

In 1968 my UAW local (Local 122, Chrysler Stamping Plant, Twinsburg, OH) broke ranks with the national union and voted to endorse Robert Kennedy instead of Hubert Humphrey. Walter Reuther himself came to Twinsburg to try to talk us out of our decision but we would not budge. The issue for the older guys was the war. Their sons were being drafted and sent to Vietnam as cannon fodder and way too many of them were coming back in body bags. The bosses' sons all had student exemptions and avoided the draft. Kennedy was the only candidate who promised to do away with the student deferment so he got our endorsement. But when Kennedy was assassinated, George Wallace immediately announced that he would end the student deferment if elected and our local then endorsed Wallace. It made big news in the Cleveland papers at the time.

Of course, it caused a major rift between the black and white UAW members at our plant. A lot of KKK literature was being distributed around the plant and I, for the first time ever, began to realize how vulnerable labor was to fascist manipulation. Up to that time our local led the nation in wildcat strikes or walkouts. Afterward, the racially divided local could no longer support such actions.

As hopeful as I am about all that has been happening in America since the protests in Wisconsin began, I am also very frightened. Just yesterday at the AFSCME/We Are One rally in Memphis I met a black union member who supports the Tea Party's attack on the Latino community. He is convinced his job is threatened by the growing Latino population in Memphis. The Right is still being successful in dividing the working class. We've got to do a better job at educating our working class brothers and sisters that racial division of any kind plays into the hands of the bosses. And it is not easy. Marxism and Communism have been so thoroughly demonized in our public schools that I find it difficult to talk to folks without them saying, "You sound like a Marxist." If I admit that I am the discussion ends because they have written me off as a fanatic.

The Christian Right (which is neither Christian nor right) has created thousands of private schools and home school curriculum that turn out millions of graduates every year who have been taught to believe Marxism is satanic. The public schools are not much better. They too leave out much of labor history and glorify Capitalism. It's an uphill battle and it scares me.

The Republicans have done everything they can to support conservative Christian Schools and Christian home schoolers. But if labor ever developed their own home school movement, you better believe the Capitalists would move quickly to put a stop to it.

OK, enough of my ranting. Hope I didn't ruin your day.

Rev. Paul White

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  • The usual "Marxist" analysis, as reflected in art and in journalism, tends to end on more of an upbeat than this article does, with at least a glimmer of hope or a small victory for the people.

    The "Christian Right" is definitely a formidable movement, but it might be appropriate to remind readers than at least in gross numbers, the mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches are nowhere near so backward in their views, in fact on a lot of issues are pretty progressive. Just maybe not so passionate and activist about it. So while we do need to oppose the Christo-fascist right, we also need to do more, much more, to encourage those Christian (and other) denominations that are doing a lot of good in our country and in the world. And in that I think we can see much hope.

    Posted by , 04/08/2011 2:02am (7 years ago)

  • White makes good points. His long term observations are valuable.
    --jim lane in Dallas

    Posted by jim lane, 04/05/2011 6:02pm (7 years ago)

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