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Letters to the editor

January 17, 2003 | Page 12

OTHER LETTERS BELOW
Why the Democrats won't put up a fight
Killed because of the cops' car chase
How the war abroad hits here at home

We don't need to "rethink" tactics

Dear Socialist Worker,

Within the antiwar movement, some activists are critical of traditional protests and teach-ins. They argue that these are outdated forms of resistance, and that newer, more current means are necessary--like fasting for peace, anti-corporate knitting circles and building shantytowns.

Take, for example, this statement circulated on an antiwar listserv in the Bay Area: "In order to change the gross unconsciousness existing in our society, we must drop it and replace it with our own consciousness...[T]ake the dreams you have and bring them into reality, even if it is in writing on canvas, through voice, sound, dance and song."

Unfortunately, such arguments often underscore elitist and exclusionary tactics. And the arguments to "rethink protests" forget the power of protests of the past. It was a powerful civil rights movement of boycotts, marches and sit-ins that defeated racist Jim Crow laws in the South. It was a powerful rebellion in New York City in 1969 at Stonewall that gave birth to the modern gay rights movement.

And it was a powerful antiwar movement of mass protests that defeated U.S. imperialism in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. During the Vietnam War, what started as a handful of activists in a few cities--through hard work and lessons learned--turned into a mass movement.

By organizing teach-ins and protests, speaking out, circulating petitions and distributing leaflets, the Vietnam antiwar movement helped turn the tide against the war among the mainstream. Today, let's not forget the tools of the left that we can still use effectively to win broad layers of people from every community to oppose Bush's war drive.

Martin Smith, Santa Cruz, Calif.

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Why the Democrats won't put up a fight

Dear Socialist Worker,

Robert DeCicco's letter (SW, January 3) makes the good point that progressives need to join forces in the antiwar movement and that we should use the opportunity to build the left. As revolutionary socialists, we agree.

We also think, however, that the antiwar movement should be built on an anti-imperialist basis and that the connection needs to be made between the war abroad and the attacks on workers here at home.

Everyone should welcome Democrats who criticize Bush's insane drive to war. But the Democrats can hardly be seen as sincere.

DeCicco says that the November election was a "Republican landslide" and that the Democrats "will be powerless" to stop the Republican-controlled government. The reality is that the Republicans actually gained a small number of seats to capture Congress. That's hardly a Republican mandate.

Moreover, the Democrats lost control of Congress because they failed to distinguish themselves from the Republicans. The Democrats are failing to stand up to Bush, not because they lack an "electoral strategy," but because they are a party of big business and war.

Mike Estrada, San Francisco

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Killed because of the cops' car chase

Dear Socialist Worker,

Last Friday, I found out that a coworker of mine was dead. I first met Qing almost three years ago at work. Everyone liked working with her--she was smart, shy and a nice person. She was getting ready to move to London in two days.

In downtown Chicago, someone stole a wallet from a restaurant and hopped into a car. Police responded and during the chase, Qing was struck and killed. Newspaper reports say that the chase was either 30 miles per hour or 80 miles per hour, so I don't know what to believe.

There are more police out there on the streets than ever before, and high-speed chases are known to be very dangerous, with innocent people the casualties.

I have no idea if the truth will ever come out--given the history of Chicago police cover-ups and lies. I may never know why she had to die for a damn wallet.

Bill Kimmel, London

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How the war abroad hits here at home

Dear Socialist Worker,

I recently read in the newspaper that almost half of the youth in my hometown of Hayward, Calif., qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Last month's official unemployment figures rose to an even 6 percent across the nation, and 750,000 jobless workers lost their unemployment benefits at the start of the New Year--with tens of thousands to come in the upcoming months.

In spite of all these signs, the Bush administration is pressing ahead with its murderous war on Iraq. It is estimated that the war will cost between $20 billion and $200 billion. A 10-year occupation of Iraq would cost the U.S. economy some $1.9 trillion.

This is a slap in the face to U.S. workers. The government is willing to spend billions to extend the American empire and line the pocketbooks of ExxonMobil and Boeing stockholders, but won't extend benefits to unemployed workers. Clearly, this is a government by the bosses, for the bosses.

Already, hundreds of thousands disgusted by Bush's war have taken to the streets of America in protest. We need to convince even more of our friends, family and coworkers to oppose the war on Iraq, and we need to convince these people that not just this war, but the entire system, is rotten. This new war for oil makes it painfully obvious that the socialist alternative is needed now more than ever.

John Green, Davis, Calif.

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