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Letters to the editor

March 28, 2003 | Page 4

Harassed for speaking out
Where "peace" is a dangerous word

Democrats share the blame for war

Dear Socialist Worker,

Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin recently declared that he was "fooled" into voting for the congressional resolution authorizing war on Iraq, and that if he had it to do over again, he would vote against it. Harkin claims that he thought Bush would seek a peaceful solution in Iraq, not behave "like the cowboy who rode out of Texas, all guns blazing."

Maybe Bush is a lot smarter than most of us give him credit for. He must be in order to have fooled not only Harkin, but Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, Hillary Rodham Clinton and the half of congressional Democrats whose votes gave Bush's war resolution the margin of victory.

But the Democrats were happy enough to share credit for the resolution when it was passed last October. Gephardt helped draft the language authorizing military action, and Daschle declared that "it is neither a Democratic resolution nor a Republican resolution."

So it's only fair that Democrats should share the guilt for a U.S. invasion that will kill and maim hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and turn millions into refugees.

Still, I'm glad to see Harkin flip-flop. At least until the war started, Democrats who voted for war on Iraq were backpedaling--which shows how much has changed in the little more than four months since the war resolution was passed.

Harkin and the rest of his party are like weather vanes that indicate which way the political wind is blowing. But ordinary people in the streets are that wind--and we're getting stronger.

Doug Anderson, Iowa City, Iowa

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Harassed for speaking out

Dear Socialist Worker,

In the November 17 New York Times, I wrote a letter to the editor in which I said that supporters of Israel are "in the position of having to justify a racist system." This quote earned me a phone call from the FBI.

The agent, who works for the Joint Terrorism Task Force of New Haven, left me two voice mails saying that he wanted to "ask me a few questions." As I had done nothing more than exercise my right to express my political opinions, I figured this had to be a "fishing expedition"--in which the FBI was hoping to find out information regarding activists, Muslims or political groups that I may have contact with.

I ignored the calls for three days, but after returning to my dorm room from the library one day, my frantic suitemate informed me that a "police officer" had stopped by to ask me a few questions. Before I could contact a lawyer, the agent called again.

He said that he wished to meet with me and ask me some questions. I declined, in an effort to protect my rights. Afterwards, I reached a local lawyer through the National Lawyers Guild, and he agreed to represent me pro bono. After an unreturned phone call and a letter from my lawyer to the agent, the FBI ceased its investigation.

As the FBI is given increasing powers to spy and intimidate minorities, activists or anyone else who does not "stand united," this incident further highlights the intrusion of Big Brother into our daily lives.

Apparently my desire to have my tax money allocated toward social services, such as education, jobs and health care, rather than Israel's brutal oppression of the Palestinian people or America's ongoing devastation of Iraq, is tantamount to accusations and investigations of "terrorism."

However, as I learned through this experience, the only effective means to counter these injustices is through people standing behind each other against the government's barrage. We must stand in solidarity with all who are victims of government repression. Unite and fight!

Sam Bernstein, New Haven, Conn.

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Where "peace" is a dangerous word

Dear Socialist Worker,

When the security guards arrested Stephen Downs at the Crossgates Mall, in the Capital Region of New York, he was wearing a T-shirt advocating peace. Now, after a region-wide call to boycott the mall and demonstrations to test the regulation, the mall management has asked town police to drop the charges--and fired the security guard, a nine-year employee, for following mall regulations by calling the police.

Capitalism is crushing freedom of expression. The Downs family knows well about suppression of expression and censorship--from Vietnamese and Iranian refugees that they welcomed into their home upon arrival in the U.S.

Helene T. Smith, Burnt Hills, N.Y.

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