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Letters to the editor

August 3, 2001 | Page 4

The real legacy of Katherine Graham
G8 pays lip service to the fight against AIDS
We need to pick up the fight to stop the Nazis
May Day protester deported

Millionaire Cheney gets a government handout

Dear Socialist Worker,

Vice President Dick Cheney's office, citing higher electricity and gas prices, asked that the Navy pick up his electricity bill. Though unwilling to reduce the costs to working-class ratepayers being gouged by energy generators, Cheney is apparently not ready to pay his own sky-high bill.

Although more than $40,000 was budgeted to pay for the electricity, gas and water at the veep's mansion, the actual bill is expected to come to about $186,000. A Cheney spokeswoman blamed Al Gore.

Under the Clinton administration, a meter was installed on the mansion, thus requiring the occupant to pay for actual gas and electricity usage--somewhat akin to what everyone else in America is forced to do. Of course, Dick Cheney himself couldn't be asked to pay for his energy costs out of his own pocket--after all, he's only a millionaire.

But forcing his office to pay for his enormous bills--with taxpayer money--is also out of the question. So the Republican-dominated House Appropriations Committee directed the Navy to pay for Cheney's monthly energy bills. Good work if you can get it!

John Green, Hayward, Calif.

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The real legacy of Katherine Graham

Dear Socialist Worker,

When Katherine Graham passed away last month, every major newspaper paid homage to the former Washington Post boss. During Graham's tenure, the Post ran excerpts from the "Pentagon Papers"--documents that revealed U.S. aggression in Vietnam--and then exposed Nixon's Watergate scandal in a series of famous articles by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Graham's admirers portray her as a champion of free speech whose unflagging principles brought down a corrupt president. But the glowing eulogies conveniently ignore one ugly detail--the silver-spooned Graham was a shameless union buster.

In 1971, following nearly a decade of contract gains by the Post's powerful print workers locals, Graham hired a new general manager, John Prescott, and ordered him to turn the situation around.

During contract negotiations in 1973, typographers staged a work slowdown. The bosses fired one worker in retaliation--prompting an occupation of the print room by press operators. The fired worker was reinstated, but Graham and Prescott swore revenge.

They would get it in 1975, when the Post provoked a strike by web press operators. Graham and Prescott had by now developed an elaborate network of offices across the country with a huge staff of scabs ready to put out the paper. Within barely a week of the start of the strike, 100,000 copies of the Post were being distributed, and within just a few weeks, circulation was almost back to normal.

To sow divisions amongst workers, management played the race card by offering the jobs to members of the predominantly Black paper handlers union.

The press operators were defeated, and their union was eventually decertified. Graham would later remember her battles with the workers as "my internal Watergate." No wonder the media bosses think so fondly of her!

Matt Nichter, Chicago

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G8 pays lip service to the fight against AIDS

Dear Socialist Worker,

One billion dollars is barely enough to fund treatment for AIDS victims in the single country of Zambia, in sub-Saharan Africa. One billion dollars is nowhere close to the $7 to $10 billion that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says will be needed annually to begin to control the AIDS epidemic.

And yet $1 billion is all that the richest countries in the world could come up with as their contribution to the new global AIDS fund. They made their announcement with a great deal of fanfare at the recent G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy.

This is pathetic! This public relations maneuver has only happened because of the mounting pressure on these governments to do something about the AIDS crisis. We need to keep the pressure on government officials, and on the pharmaceutical companies that they work for, until the epidemic of AIDS is a thing of the past and accessible health care is a right for all.

Ellie Fingerman, Washington, D.C.

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We need to pick up the fight to stop the Nazis

Dear Socialist Worker,

On Saturday, July 7, the Aryan Nations held their fourth annual march in the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The good news is that the Nazi contingent was smaller than ever--less than 30 showed up. The bad news is that the demonstration against the bigots was almost non-existent.

In previous years, literally hundreds of angry demonstrators vocally shouted down any attempt the Nazis made to be heard. This year, barely 100 people watched the parade, and only a handful vocally attacked the Nazis.

One probable reason is that the Aryan Nations were hit with a $6.3 million judgement stemming from a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The judgement was in favor of Victoria and Jason Keenan, who were assaulted by Aryan Nations thugs after their car backfired in front of the Nazi compound in nearby Hayden Lake, Idaho.

With few other assets, the Aryan Nations had to forfeit title to the compound. Because of this, many activists no doubt thought that the Aryan Nations was a dead organization.

This is a mistake. Fascists have never depended on money, only on the warped quest for power. We need to better organize to stop any fascist organization in its tracks before it has the opportunity to grow.

Brian Huseby, Tumwater, Wash.

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May Day protester deported

Dear Socialist Worker,

Javier Perez took part in this year's May Day demonstration in Long Beach, Calif. During the ensuing police riot, he was arrested and has since been deported to Mexico.

"It was as if I was given the death penalty," says Perez in a recent statement. "I came to the U.S. when I was three months old. I am 22 now, and I don't have any family here in Mexico. How do they expect me to survive? I was raised in the U.S. I am proud of my culture, but realistically, I don't know Mexico. I don't understand how the U.S. can do this to me."

Demonstrators were attacked by police officers with tear gas and rubber bullets, even though the protest was nonviolent. Perez was part of a group, huddled against a wall, in a vain attempt to shield himself.

Some police officers told them that if they gave up peacefully, they would only be charged with "unlawful assembly." The demonstrators agreed--only to be violently dragged away by the cops and charged with a variety of crimes.

When Perez was in jail, the authorities offered him a plea bargain. If he pled guilty to two charges, he would be sentenced to 30 days and then be released on bail. Perez agreed.

A week after he was released, however, he was picked up by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Perez's INS lawyer told him that an investigator would interview him, then they would set bail him for him so he could fight his case in court.

Perez waited a week in detention without seeing any investigator. Then he was deported.

Evan Kornfeld, Los Angeles

To support Perez's legal defense, write for information to Alternative Gathering Collective, P.O. Box 17546, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Or write to Don White, c/o May Day Support, P.O. Box 27061, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

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