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Letters to the editor

December 7, 2001 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW
Bush widens Colombia war
A double standard of grief
War for dominance, not for democracy

Why I refuse to pledge allegiance

Dear Socialist Worker,

I teach at an elementary school in Harlem, and every morning, the teachers and children stand up to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I refuse to do this.

I was working with another teacher one day, and she asked me why I don't salute the flag. I told her that the same flag we salute is on the bombs that are killing innocent people in Afghanistan.

She applauded me for my courage and told me that our students don't even know why they salute the flag. Then, she expressed her outrage about the war and told me that she knows that the U.S. is bombing Afghanistan not to find terrorists, but for some other reason which she wasn't sure of.

At that moment, I took out SW and sold her my paper. Now she wants me to bring her a new issue of SW every week!

To all the antiwar activists out there, remember: There are tons of people out there who are with us, but it is going to take acts of courage for them to join us in our movement.

Paul B., New York City

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Bush widens Colombia war

Dear Socialist Worker,

The war against the people of Afghanistan isn't enough for George W. Bush. Colombia has now become another target of this "first war of the 21st century."

Under Bill Clinton, "Plan Colombia" deepened U.S. involvement in the 37-year Colombian civil war with a $1.3 billion military aid package.

While the Clinton administration was able to win congressional approval of Plan Colombia, it was forced to disguise the package as part of the "war on drugs" to deflect comparisons to previous U.S. interventions in Latin America. The equipment and weapons given by the U.S. were only supposed to be used against drug traffickers--not against the left-wing guerrilla movements.

But the Bush administration now sees an opportunity to dramatically increase U.S. intervention in Colombia by portraying it as part of a global "war against terrorism." The U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Anne Patterson, recently compared the country's rebel groups to Osama bin Laden and announced that the U.S. will assist the Colombian government's "antiterrorist" forces and help guard its strategically vital oil pipelines.

The U.S. government has more at stake in Colombia than that country's oil reserves, however. Colombia's strategic location is seen as the key to much of South America.

It seems clear that the most recent moves by the Bush administration to escalate the war will only deepen the crisis and bring more suffering to the people of Colombia.

John Buttell, Amherst, Mass.

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A double standard of grief

Dear Socialist Worker,

The crash of Dominican Republic-bound Flight 587 on November 12 was a shock to an already mourning New York City, especially to New York's large Dominican community. What shocked me and fellow students here at Columbia and Barnard Colleges even more, however, was that our university did not even notice.

After the September 11 tragedies, we received a number of carefully crafted e-mails with condolences from the university. But even though there are many Dominican students at Columbia and Barnard, and a sizable part of the workforce is from the Dominican community, Barnard's president Judith Shapiro remarked, "We want to reserve blanket e-mails for special occasions when a truly urgent message is needed."

Students here did not sit still, however. A group of Latino students organized a petitioning drive for recognition of the tragedy on campus. The university finally sent out a campus-wide e-mail--a week later!

As my classmate Diana Gil said, "It took a week of organizing and a week out of our lives to get an e-mail that should have been sent out in a day."

Peter Lamphere, New York City

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War for dominance, not for democracy

Dear Socialist Worker,

Throughout its history the U.S. government has tried to mislead people by saying that the U.S. defends democracy, defends the free world and protects human rights. These words are used to conceal the real war aims of the U.S.--controlling the world's natural resources and reinforcing U.S. dominance all over the world.

Bush recently said, "Either you are with us or against us." This shows how arrogant and violent the U.S. government is when they need to get diplomatic support from a nation for waging a war against humanity.

The U.S. government gets support for its wars by browbeating governments and ignoring popular opposition. In fact, they do not believe in democracy; they believe in dictating to other nations.

Hasan, New York City

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