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

April 4, 2003 | Page 4

Hollywood unions oppose witch-hunt
King's legacy of nonviolent struggle
Priced out of an education

Credit card sharks circle for the kill

Dear Socialist Worker,

It seems that as our debt-driven economy continues to sputter, some companies are being driven to more desperate measures to try to collect money from consumers.

The other day I came home and found the following message on my answering machine: "This message is for Evan Kornfeld. I'm calling in reference to Anton Dinckelacker [not his real name], a neighbor who lives in apartment 111. If you happen to know him, you can give him a message to call Helen at Robinsons-May [a department store chain]..."

I try to picture in my mind what would happen if I were to actually relay this message to the inhabitant of apartment 111: "Dude," I say to him. "Helen from Robinsons-May asked me to tell you to call her right away. Sounds like you owe them some money or something."

"Whoa!" he says. "I must have forgotten to make a payment on my store credit card that charges 20 percent interest. If only the phone company hadn't disconnected me for not being able to pay my bills, I'm sure Helen would have contacted me herself. Thanks, man, for relaying this important message to me."

"Aw, it's nothing," I say with unfeigned modesty. "You should thank Robinsons-May for getting total (and unpaid) strangers to nag people to pay their debts."

I must confess, however, that I failed to perform my "civic duty." Obviously, debt collectors can't rely on people like me, so I wonder what methods they may have to try in the future to hunt down delinquent debtors.

Perhaps they can recruit the Boy Scouts or the Young Republicans. Given the inventiveness and determination of these capitalists, I'm sure they won't fail to surprise us.

Evan Kornfeld, Los Angeles

Back to the top

Hollywood unions oppose witch-hunt

Dear Socialist Worker,

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) released a statement on March 3 condemning any hint of a blacklist for performers who have spoken up against Bush's war drive.

The statement also spoke about the sordid history of blacklisting in the entertainment industry, mentioning the shameful McCarthy-era witch-hunts that ruined the lives and careers of many of Hollywood's most talented artists.

The statement was also supported by IATSE, the technician's union for entertainment workers. These statements are important, since both unions have a history of collaborating with blacklists.

There is also now a disturbing trend of some pundits openly calling for a return to the days of the blacklists, suggesting that those with "inappropriate views" (opposition to Bush's war) be punished by not allowing them to work.

As the statement itself concludes: "With a painfully clear appreciation of history, we deplore the idea that those in the public eye should suffer professionally for having the courage to give voice to their views. Even a hint of the blacklist must never again be tolerated in this nation!"

Bravo SAG and IATSE!

Tim Cook, Los Angeles

Back to the top

King's legacy of nonviolent struggle

Dear Socialist Worker,

Regarding Alan Maass's article on Martin Luther King (SW, February 21), I offer a few brief observations.

First, I disagree that "King's principle of nonviolence couldn't be sustained in the face of [the South's] …violence." In practice, activists did not resort to "armed self-defense." Instead, a movement that took almost 15 years to build was crushed when it devolved into riots. The fact is that King (and ironically Malcolm X as well) recognized that a minority of people, even heavily armed, cannot "overthrow" the majority by force.

I further disagree that King "played a central role in toning down" student civil rights leader John Lewis during the 1963 march. King had a subordinate role in the march, as it was mainly organized by A. Phillip Randolph. Yes, Lewis was censored; yes, King could have voiced more opposition. But the censoring was accomplished by John F. Kennedy, not King.

I agree that socialists must "claim Martin Luther King as an inspiration." We must further embrace his concept of militant nonviolence. Violence only begets more violence. I, for one, feel socialists would make more headway by going in the direction of King's Poor People's Campaign.

David Bliven, Oceanside, N.Y.

Back to the top

Priced out of an education

Dear Socialist Worker,

Rulers in Washington continue their current assault on the home front by slashing the budget to make room for their unjust war.

At Northeastern University, the administration has seen families struggling to send their kids to college, and has agreed to increase "financial aid" for students in need. Their proposed solution? Accept fewer students--and have the ones who do make it in pay a higher tuition! The new selectivity standards are based on SAT tests, where it has been shown that the better funded your high school, the better your chance of a higher score.

When asked if he felt financially secure, one Northeastern student replied, "I don't want to take out another loan like this year. However, it looks like I'm going to have to."

Senior vice president of administration Larry Mucciolo recently justified the new changes in a way that would have made White House spokesman Ari Fleischer proud. Mucciolo said the money would help more students in financial need. In other words, charge students more--so that they can get more financial assistance.

These changes are designed to allow more kids of the ruling class in, while leaving the rest of us to beg for money from a bank where we will be trapped in debt.

Ben Larrivee, Boston

Home page | Back to the top