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Letters to the editor

April 25, 2003 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
The power of solidarity
Spies at the UN
Is affirmative action fair?
Australia is against this war
The real dictator
A cheap laugh

Treated like dirt after the war

Dear Socialist Worker,

A few days ago, I was at one of the bigger subway stops in New York City when I noticed a homeless man surrounded by a cop and a Marine. The cop repeatedly taunted the homeless man, saying, "Get up! Get up! You have to get up! He [the Marine] wants to sign you up in the army. You'll get food, clothes and shelter if you let him sign you up!"

The man looked up to them with a cold, dark stare and said, "I'm a Vietnam vet, and I signed up and served my country. Look at where it got me!"

This is an outrage! How can the pro-war camp say we need to "support our troops" when it's obvious that they do not get any support at home? Let's build the strongest movement possible to stop our troops from being used as cannon fodder, only to be treated like dirt when they come home.

Paul B., New York City

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The power of solidarity

Dear Socialist Worker,

On January 16, retired American Postal Workers Union (APWU) members Alice Lindstrom and Bob Damron were handing flyers to fellow union members at the Evans Street main hub of the San Francisco postal office when federal postal office police appeared and ordered them to leave the premises or be cited for violating federal law.

Alice and Bob complied, even though they had been leafleting in that location for years. As they walked along the outside of the building toward the public sidewalks, they handed more flyers to some postal workers whom they knew personally. At that point, the post office cop cited them.

Alice and Bob continued to be harassed in various locations on public property where they tried to hand out flyers to fellow union members. Alice said at the time of harassment that she was told she was "interfering with the delivery of mail," despite the fact that she was handing flyers to employees on their way in to work--before they started their shift, or as they were leaving to go home.

Could this new "no flyering zone" at the post office have had something to do with the content of the flyers, which read, "Postal Solidarity Now, No War on Iraq"? Or the fact that the flyers urged members of the APWU and National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) to march together behind their union banners in the January 18 San Francisco antiwar demonstration? Both unions had voted to march as a contingent in the antiwar demonstrations of October 26, January 18 and February 16.

Although the "infraction" committed by Bob and Alice was not clear, the fine was clearly stated: "$100 or 30 days in jail." Both the San Francisco APWU local and NALC branch offered to sponsor a collection to pay their fines, but the grave precedent that this case would have set alarmed the entire Bay Area labor community.

For this reason, a contingent of 12 union activists took the morning of February 27 off work to accompany Alice and Bob to their appearance in federal court. Present along with rank-and-file activists in the courtroom were APWU S.F. local president Bob Williamson, president of the web press union GCIU Local 4-N Eddie Rosario, Peter Ullman of the University of California Institute for Labor and Employment and Steve Zeltzer of the Labor Video Project.

The "buzz" in the courtroom sent a message to the prosecutor and the officer who had given the citation to Alice and Bob. The charges were dismissed--though Bob and Alice were warned that they would be cited again and prosecuted if they engaged in this activity again.

Clearly the power of solidarity was shown in the courtroom that day.

Marcia Thorndike, San Francisco

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Spies at the UN

Dear Socialist Worker,

From a top-secret memo, dated January 31, 2003, the world has learned what the Bush administration really thinks about democracy--in case we didn't already know.

The memo detailed surveillance tactics (including taps on office/home phones and the interception of personal e-mails) being employed against non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). All of this was being done in order to gain leverage in the debates at the UNSC about a possible resolution authorizing a war on Iraq.

Trying to influence the votes of UNSC members by spying on them doesn't sound very democratic to me, but then it's not surprising coming from Bush--if you remember how he got into office in the first place.

Bush doesn't believe in democracy unless he can control the results, as he did in the 2000 elections. With his consistent contempt for any sort of democratic principles one can only imagine what sort of horrors lay in store for the people of Iraq after he has his war.

Russell Pryor, Columbus, Ga.

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Is affirmative action fair?

Dear Socialist Worker,

Under "myth" in a recent article on affirmative action ("Affirmative Action: Myth and Reality," February 28) Elizabeth Schulte wrote: "What we really need is affirmative action policies based on class, not race." But the article failed to mention that there are poor white people and rich black people.

It would not be fair for a young white male, who grew up in a trailer with a single mother and went to the same impoverished schools as most Black and Latino students, to not get into school just because a young man with worse grades happened to be Black--even if this young Black man was far wealthier than the young white man. It may not be as common, but it is still an event that was not mentioned in the article.

If we are to view the world as Marxists, we must view it as a division of social classes and not races. This is a problem that keeps the proletariat from uniting. I mostly agree with the article--I just think that the issue can be further explored.

Eduardo Nera, London, Ontario

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Australia is against this war

Dear Socialist Worker,

There is overwhelming anti war sentiment in Australia, despite what many Americans have been led to believe. The latest poll shows 90 percent of Australians against war without United Nations approval, 80 percent against war under any circumstances and 73 percent who want a referendum on the issue.

Antiwar sentiment is big not just in the cities. For example, Esperence, Western Australia, (population 13,500) recently had an antiwar demo of 660 people. All political parties were represented, including Liberals (Prime Minister John Howard's party). Even in a lot of "country towns," there have been sizable antiwar demonstrations. Small towns like Esperence don't get counted, but they mean a lot. Unions here have threatened industrial action should Iraq be invaded.

I realize Australia doesn't count a great deal population-wise, but the vast majority of us oppose war. The idea of democracy is being seriously questioned under the circumstances of our pigheaded government going along with Bush--despite overwhelming popular opposition.

Sandy Zawadski, Fremantle, Western Australia

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The real dictator

Dear Socialist Worker,

How come the U.S. is reminding Iraqis of the Geneva convention when we are violating international laws--including the United Nations--by invading a sovereign nation? If the U.S. can threaten others as war criminals, then why can't the same justice be applied to us?

The Bush administration claims that we are the "champion" of democracy--yet the U.S. hasn't been democratically elected by other nations to work as world leader or chief justice. What the U.S. is doing now is ignoring world opinion and acting like a brutal dictator in order to impose its bloody will.

Whats the difference between our administration and Saddam Hussain? Bush claims that we are going to create democracy in Iraq but democracy is not something that is imposed by outsiders. It's what is carried out by ordinary people from below. Moreover, the undemocratic, oppressive rulers in the Gulf are some of the United States' closest allies. Our government really shares a lot in common with them.

Hasan, New York City

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A cheap laugh

Dear Socialist Worker,

Thanks for the story on affirmative action (SW, February 28), which I found particularly important in view of the fight against racism and winning white workers to an active anti-racist stance. When white workers defend affirmative action, they undermine the interracial distrust that cripples our class.

But while it certainly made me laugh when you referred to Trent Lott as a "cracker", it was a cheap laugh. SW's use of that derogatory term makes it harder to overcome the defenses of whites who are not yet actively anti-racist.

There are no shortage of abusive terms for Trent Lott: bigot, racist, segregationist, Confederate, reactionary, chauvinist. Why not stick to those? Using "cracker" not only divides the races, it also contains a strong connotation of class bigotry (as when rich whites refer to poor whites as "crackers").

"Cracker" is nowhere near as serious and dangerous a term as the awful epithets invented by whites for Blacks and other oppressed races. Those words are really verbal terrorism. "Cracker" just puts distance between us. But distancing ourselves sabotages our interracial working class fight against the bosses.

Avery Wear, San Diego

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