NOTE:
You've come to an old part of SW Online. We're still moving this and other older stories into our new format. In the meanwhile, click here to go to the current home page.








Letters to the editor

May 10, 2002 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS
They want to divide and conquer
Don't blame Jospin for Le Pen
The uprising in LA wasn't progressive

Challenging Israel's lies here at home

Dear Socialist Worker,

I'm a student at the University of Iowa and a member of the International Socialist Organization. Recently, we heard that there was to be a pro-Israel rally in Iowa City. We sent out e-mails and made phone calls, organizing a counterdemonstration.

The following day, about 60 people showed up for the pro-Israel rally--and about 60 people showed up for our counterdemonstration!

The speakers at the rally were saying that Israel has constantly shown "restraint." We were there to tell people that Israel has shown anything but restraint. From the occupation of Ramallah to the massacre in Jenin, Israel has proven itself an apartheid state. One cannot equate the missiles and machine guns of the Israeli war machine to the desperate measures of Palestinian suicide bombers.

We were encouraged that so many people showed up on such short notice. We can't let Palestinians fight this battle alone. It is important that we fight back here in the U.S., where much of our money goes to fund the Israeli military.

Mitch Day, Iowa City, Iowa

Back to the top

They want to divide and conquer

Dear Socialist Worker,

Your article on the Institute of Medicine's health care study (SW, April 5) let me down. Finally, a report came out that highlights "class" as a far more determinative factor than "race." The class-conscious among us should immediately pick this up and run with it.

The idea of the "minority struggle" is a trick. Poor whites start thinking that they're "middle class"--in spite of going deeper in debt every year and never making ends meet.

Racial identities in a class struggle will always be watered down by the wealthiest of each group. After all, everyone could name a host of minority millionaires who have access to the big microphones.

There can be no realistic oppressed minority struggle (we must be specific lest we accidentally claim Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice) without the strength of the oppressed majority.

So please, be genuine socialists and resist the Good Cop/Bad Cop mind game of racial division in America. The best and most useful triumph over racism would be a unity of everyone who is committed to the ideals of justice and equality.

Bruce Reilly, Cranston, R.I.

Back to the top

Don't blame Jospin for Le Pen

Dear Socialist Worker,

Your analysis of the recent first round of French elections (SW, April 26) oversimplifies the record of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

With 20/20 hindsight, you look at the results of the election and cite disaffection with the mainstream parties to explain the success of the far right and far left at the polls. In explaining this disaffection, you say, "Jospin mainly pursued the same agenda as his conservative predecessors, privatizing more than the previous five governments combined."

This paints a one-sided picture, making Jospin look like a Bill Clinton figure who sold out the constituency of the party as "the lesser of two evils." While Jospin did carry out privatizations, he passed progressive legislation as well. Laws mandating a 35-hour workweek, granting gays and lesbians domestic partnership rights and guaranteeing social security for all are examples of this. Moreover, while the unemployment rate in France remains high, it has decreased in Jospin's five years.

If disaffection with mainstream French politics explains the success of French fascist candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen, then this disaffection goes much farther back in time than the Jospin government. While Le Pen received 17 percent of the vote in this year's election, he also received 15 percent of the vote in 1995 and 14 percent in 1988. In addition, the lower voter turnout this year means Le Pen got about as many votes in past elections as in this one.

Your sole emphasis on the policies of the current government de-emphasizes the intractable nature of Le Pen's popularity. In doing so, you unwittingly underplay the threat his candidacy poses to the future of French politics.

Julien Ball, Chicago

Back to the top

The uprising in LA wasn't progressive

Dear Socialist Worker,

Your recent article on the Los Angeles uprising in 1992 (SW, April 26) defies logic. To classify it as an inspiring example of a progressive, workers rebellion is to close one's eyes to the reality of the events.

While it is true the left was on hand to organize a few small protests, the riots represent an overall failure of the left to direct the mass anger towards the real enemy.

You mentioned the "immaturity" of some aspects of the rebellion, but the brutal assaults on innocent people displayed more of a reactionary character. And Korean shop owners weren't the only ones to suffer from reactionary, racist violence. There were dozens of attacks on non-Black working class people in Los Angeles alone. These types of atrocities were repeated in cities across the nation.

While you may have been inspired by these events, revolutionary workers were horrified at the lack of class consciousness and basic decency of so many. This insipid paean to blind rage fools no one.

Jim Tapscott, Albany, Ga.

Home page | Current storylist | Back to the top