Appleton, WI – On Sunday, October 29, the Lawrence University Democrats, the student organization of the Democratic Party, hosted a visit by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, with State Representative Lee Snodgrass also in attendance. This event came only days after the October 26 unanimous passing of Senate resolution 418 which condemned the nationally organized student protests in support of Palestinian resistance.
The event, in large part organized by the Baldwin campaign, advertised a public question-and-answer section, with a focus on Senator Baldwin’s work on abortion rights. Members of Appleton Students for a Democratic Society sought to question why Baldwin would condemn student protests, why she has called on President Biden to replenish the Israeli Iron Dome and provide the Israeli Occupation Forces with additional weapons. Anticipating this, at the request of the Baldwin campaign team, the location of this event was changed, and the Q & A portion was changed to flashcards attendees could write on in attendance. The questions were to be chosen based at the discretion of the moderator.
Despite this, members of Appleton SDS still attended this event in good faith. Members wrote over a dozen questions, ranging from Baldwin’s continued support for the settler-colonial state of Israel, the ongoing genocide, refusal to condemn the occupation, her condemnation of student protests, and her support for racist US-Mexico border policy.
Naturally, the event was a grotesque display of political theater. Senator Baldwin and Representative Snodgrass cracked erratic jokes when discussing the reactionary right’s attacks on human rights on all fronts. When a question was read on the inefficiency of the exploitative U.S. healthcare system, Baldwin declared “I am a capitalist” and promoted her efforts to “reach across the aisle” to work with reactionaries.
Baldwin, as do most Democrats, applauded herself for her bi-partisanship. However, bi-partisanship for Baldwin and the larger Democrat establishment means they agree with the reactionary party on matters of imperialism, on matters of war, and on matters of exploitation. After nearly taking up over 40 minutes of a one-hour event echoing liberal tropes such as “vote blue no matter who,” “the next election is always the most important” and so on, none of the questions written by SDS members were acknowledged. They were actively skipped over, thus impeding constituents from interacting with an elected officials – an all too common undemocratic move by the Democratic Party.
Because of the outright refusal of the Baldwin campaign to acknowledge questions directed at Baldwin’s complicity in occupation and now genocide, Appleton SDS member Patrick Sweeney stood up, defying the Baldwin campaign’s suppression and called Baldwin out near the end of the event.
Calling out her support for the Israeli occupation, Sweeney had this to say: “The actions of the IDF – bombing 25 hospitals full of civilians and first responders, dropping internationally illegal white phosphorus on both Palestinian citizens and in southern occupied Lebanon, all while blockading virtually all humanitarian aid entering Gaza while targeting large industrial bakeries and food producers – are inconceivable, inhumane and against international law.”
Sweeney concluded, “How can you sit here and talk to us about freedoms? How can you talk to us about caring about children while you have asked President Biden to send the occupation forces more money, and more arms? And while you condemn our freedom of speech to protest in support of the Palestinian people? I declare you a hypocrite.”
To this, Baldwin had nothing to say other than “I’ve been briefed by the UN head of relief in Gaza about what needs to happen in order to get aid in,” to which Sweeney and other Appleton SDS members quickly interjected “Then end the blockade,” pointing to her utter ignorance of the fact that Israel is keeping Gazans in a concentration camp and is the inhibitor for getting aid into Gaza.
Baldwin refused to condemn the genocidal rhetoric of the Israeli occupation forces, refused to condemn the use of internationally illegal white phosphorus, and refused to condemn the murder of thousands of Palestinians. Once the Baldwin campaign realized their candidate was exposed for the genocide abettor they are, they were quickly ushered out.
“She is a hypocrite. Appleton SDS stands unequivocally with the Palestinian people and opposes any politician that supports the zionist, apartheid, settler-colonial, and genocidal state of Israel. Free Palestine! End U.S. aid to Israel!” said Audari Tamayo of SDS.