Where is Charity?

The Japanese have an old saying that “the dog farthest away will bark the loudest”. In these first few weeks, I have heard too much barking in the entrance to the Bailey-Howe Library. This distant, but persistent barking comes from the ISO. For you who happen to be unfamiliar with this outstanding organization, the ISO stands from the International Socialist Organization. This groups claims to stand for the ideals of “revolutionary tradition of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky” to “mobilize opposition to all forms of oppression and exploitation. The ISO believes that capitalism produces poverty, racism, famine, environmental catastrophe and war.”

Yet of late I have been confused. I have been told that I can sign up for any number of bus trips to protest the Iraq War. However, while these students spend time on protests that for over 10 years (notably the effect of the WTO protests of 1999 even with press coverage and graphic pictures: Nothing) have proven to be an outdated means to an end. Yet you could all get on a bus go to New Orleans, where the proclaimed manufacturing of poverty, racism, famine and environmental catastrophe all seem to be in full swing and even just swing hammers to help some of the most impoverished in the whole nation. Why don’t you help those that you proclaim to be working in the interest of?

Frankly, to me this is only the latest of many examples. Where are you volunteering at COTS and food shelves here in our own community? Where are you helping the various refugees and immigrants in Burlington? But I suppose that the building of trust between the between the oppressed and the ISO should take second place to slandering those in the positions that you wish sympathizers to your own organization claimed as their own. I personally don’t care for President Bush, but it seems that wasting the energy on trying to propagate the now-defunct concept of mass revolt instead of making a difference in your own community.

I’m sure this sounds cruel and reactions to this article will label me apologist and fascist (cut it out and see), but honestly, I have seen your organizations flaws. I have seen the freshmen brought in and then their quick abandon after senior year on the east and west coast. I have seen a million wasted words that could have been applied to helping the homeless within the city of Burlington. The paper waving that could have been used to help in a soup kitchen.

Why do I proclaim such holiness? I do not proclaim it for myself, for I only claim to be the gadfly, being a cynic and critic. However, I see papers and websites and posters proclaiming the ISO to be the patron saint of charity and mercy though there is little thought of helping those around you, spending the money used on ‘recreational’ habits for food for the poor and using all the pride for anything useful. I just pose the question: What provides more opposition to oppression than helping the oppressed? But please, continue your barking.

“Charity begins at home.”