Peter Afrasiabi’s Burning Bridges could not have come at a better time. Drawing on newly available first-hand sources, Afrasiabi documents how the government relentlessly pursued Harry Bridges for decades simply for the offense of being a successful labor leader who held radical views. This seemingly unending zeal for persecuting Bridges stemmed from the fact that during a tumultuous time many would rather use blunt repression or appeals to xenophobic scapegoating than face an underlying crisis of inequality. Reading Afrasiabi’s engaging account is absolutely chilling in today’s political climate. One cannot help, but to pause and reflect on the similarities to today’s situation when leading politicians exploit xenophobia to justify repression and scapegoat vulnerable populations in order to avoid tackling the economic malaise plaguing America. While much has changed, the underlying claim that an outsider is amongst us who has brought with them an alien ideology that threatens our nation is hauntingly familiar.
Chip Gibbons, Policy & Legislative Counsel, Defending Rights & Dissent Foundation; and journalist for Jacobin Magazine & Counterpunch Magazine