Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Artie Rosen, Presente!: WWP Ambassador for Socialism & Justice

Artie Rosen, ¡presente!

WWP ambassador for socialism & justice

By Edward Yudelovich
Published Nov 27, 2011 4:58 PM

Artie Rosen - active with Youth Against War &
Fascism in 1965 - helped defend Times Square
anti-war protest from rightist attack

Arthur “Artie” Rosen, a founding member of Workers World Party and a lifelong militant communist, passed away at the age of 82 from kidney failure on Oct. 3. A special memorial will be held at the Solidarity Center here on Dec. 4. Artie is survived by his daughter Rebecca.

Rosen was ahead of his time

According to WWP founding member Deirdre Griswold, Artie Rosen in the 1950s wrote a paper “Face to the Youth,” advocating the creation of a youth organization in the U.S. oriented toward the working class.

A few years later, WWP put Artie’s idea into practice with the formation of its youth group Youth Against War & Fascism. On Aug. 2, 1962, YAWF organized the first demonstration in the U.S. against the imperialist war in Vietnam. This protest was recognized and saluted by the great Vietnamese leader and revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.

In June 1967, Artie, WWP and YAWF again were not afraid to swim against the stream, organizing the only U.S. demonstration protesting the June 1967 U.S.-Israeli war of aggression against the Arab and Palestinian peoples.

Artie, along with this reporter and many anti-Zionist Jews, were proud signers of a “Jews in Solidarity with Palestine” statement following the 2009 attacks on Gaza by the U.S.-sponsored Israeli war machine. The statement declared:

“We stand in complete and unconditional support for the self-determination of the Palestinian people. This includes the right to return to Palestine, from the river to the sea, and the right to democratically determine the form and the future of the Palestinian state. Nothing less will undo the historic crime of al Nakba — the 1948 catastrophe of the establishment of the state of Israel based on the ouster of the Palestinian people from their homeland, oppression and inequality.

“That crime betrayed the whole history of the Jewish people. From helping topple the czar in Russia and build the unions in New York, to resisting pogroms and fighting to the last breath in the Warsaw Ghetto, opposition to persecution, oppression and racism was central to the Jewish heritage. We call on Jewish people around the world, including those inside Israel, to join us in reclaiming that heritage.”

Rosen walked the walk

But Artie did not just talk the talk; he walked the walk. Everywhere he went for decades he wore a cap displaying the Palestinian flag with the slogan “Free Palestine.”

Sharon Eolis, a WWP leading organizer and a retired emergency room nurse who assisted Artie and was with him when he died, says: “Artie Rosen carried out the party’s program in both theory and practice, from its inception to the present. Artie recruited to Workers World Party WWP Secretariat members Fred Goldstein and Sara Flounders, among others.”

Fred Goldstein, author of the book “Low-Wage Capitalism: Colossus with Feet of Clay,” calls Artie a “communist propaganda machine.” Wherever he went, he “enthusiastically upheld and understood the party line and relentlessly tried to recruit and propagate the ideas of the party and the revolution.”

Goldstein relates how, as a City College student in 1960 involved in supporting tenants’ rights struggles in Harlem, he had listened intently to Artie’s explanations about the party’s formulations and positions, including WWP’s unconditional defense of the right of self-determination for African-American and other oppressed peoples inside the U.S. He also introduced WWP’s global class war perspective, including its orientation to defend the Soviet Union and the rest of the socialist camp against U.S. imperialism.

International Action Center co-founder Sara Flounders says: “Artie was a political activist for nearly 70 years, from the age of 15 or 16. He had the greatest dedication to getting out Workers World newspaper everywhere and engaging people in its message. He had his own paper route, distributing our revolutionary newspaper door to door, to newsstands, bookstores, on subways and to transit and other workers.

“Even hip replacement surgery did not stop him from getting the paper out at every demonstration in all types of inclement weather. He regularly brought activists with him to party meetings.”

A role model for every comrade

Another founding WWP member, Rosemary Neidenberg, says of Artie: “So many things to remember. His wide, warm smile of greeting — the peacoat for winter, bellbottoms for winter and summer. He never was seen in public without political buttons like YAWF’s trademark “Stop the War Against Black America,” which later became available only in the archives and on Artie’s jacket. ”

His comrade and good friend Brenda Sandburg says of him: “Artie had an extraordinary way of connecting with people. He was especially well known at the post office in New York. For years, he went there every week to drop off the shipment to subscribers. He would stop and talk to each worker and give them the latest issue of the paper. They were delighted to see him.”

When this reporter visited Artie in the hospital during the last months of his life, the doctors, nurses and other hospital workers had been given their first copy of Workers World by Artie.

Che Guevara once said, “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.” If ever there was a role model for a comrade, it would be Artie. Artie Rosen, ¡presente!

The memorial for Artie Rosen will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Solidarity Center, 55 West 17th St., New York.
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