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I'm for making sure racists can't attack people

November 9, 2001 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

A few days after the September 11 attacks, a cartoon ran in the Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California-Berkeley, that showed two turbaned Arab men carrying flight manuals in hell.

Antiwar and antiracist students demanded an apology from the editors of the newspaper, but the editor-in-chief refused, calling it "freedom of speech." Recently, an article appeared in the Oakland Tribune that praised the Daily Cal's "strong stand" and denounced the antiracist protesters as "neo-fascists."

Fascism is about censorship of the most brutal kind, since it consists of physically eliminating political opponents. But it's also about the promotion of ideas about racial and cultural superiority.

It's dishonest to portray students who are fighting against racism and war as "fascists." The Oakland Tribune should pay more attention to its own columnists. On the paper's opinion pages, Kathleen Parker recently wrote, "There is such a thing as moral and cultural superiority, and we [the Western world] are it."

This war and the justification for it are racist to the core. Racist cartoons like the one in the Daily Cal give courage and justification for anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racists who attack--and even murder--people.

I'm for making sure that doesn't happen, and so are Berkeley students. They haven't waited to get a confirmation that this cartoon has indirectly promoted racism. They've acted.

In France, where I come from, a large number of people have recognized that freedom of speech and hatred don't mix.

Frank Laporte, Oakland, Calif.

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