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Letters to the editor

June 20, 2003 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Out of the closets and into the streets
You missed the point in the Matrix

We can't take four more years of Bush

Dear Socialist Worker,

Our fragile world cannot tolerate another four years of Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Perle, Rove and Rumsfeld. While I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment that our country would benefit from less corporate greed and more attention to the average person, I have a differing view on how to fix the problem.

You need to fight for the cause in your words and your activism, bring hearts and minds over to the left, but recognize the political reality: A socialist candidate today has no chance of winning nationwide office.

Every vote that is not cast for the Democratic challenger in the 2004 election is a vote for Bush. There are times when the Democrats and Republicans offer too similar a choice. Now is not one of those times.

Elect a moderate or elect a right-wing extremist: the choice may be yours. Or do you not remember Florida?

Donald Williams, M.D., Austin, Texas

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Out of the closets and into the streets

Dear Socialist Worker,

Jessica (legally known as Hector Mercado), a 24-year-old transvestite, was found stabbed to death in her New Haven, Conn., apartment on May 9. Her body had been set on fire in an apparent attempt to disguise the cause of her death.

Jessica worked as a prostitute; it is likely that her assailant was surprised by her gender and murdered her for that reason. Yet police have refused to investigate the murder as a potential hate crime.

Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered (GLBT) people is, of course, nothing new. Thirty-four years ago this month, GLBT people and their allies famously held off a New York City Police riot squad for three days following cop assaults on lesbians and transvestites at the Stonewall Inn.

In the months to come, hundreds emerged from the closet and into the streets, fighting back in the newly organized Gay Liberation Front and other organizations. Black radical Huey Newton sent letters of support from prison, also calling for an end to homophobia within the Black Panthers. The Young Lords, a group of Puerto Rican radicals, planned joint actions in the streets of New York City.

In these times of physical assault against GLBTs and Arabs, and murders of unarmed African Americans by the NYPD, we must fight back in local struggles. As the Bush administration takes away affirmative action and women's right to abortion and ensures that GLBT people do not enjoy full civil rights, more than ever, we have to fight for the liberation of all working-class people.

Phil Haskell, New Haven, Conn.

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You missed the point in the Matrix

Dear Socialist Worker,

Your review of The Matrix: Reloaded (May 6) was disappointing. For one thing, it fails to acknowledge that this is the second film in a trilogy. Squeezed between the opening film and a third part that will presumably conclude the tale, Reloaded necessarily raises more questions than it answers. Hadas and Laura suggest that Reloaded falls short because it "misses the opportunity to explore resistance and collective struggle among the free human population of Zion."

The review quotes a character from the first Matrix who says that when the revolution comes, "Zion's where the party would be." Taking this as their cue, Hadas and Laura are disappointed that Reloaded doesn't offer up the promised revolutionary party (pun intended). But perhaps they were as misled as Tank, the character they quote.

The defining moment in that film was not captured in Tank's fantasy, but in the training program where Morpheus tells Neo that "if you are not one of us, you are one of them." The film uses this as its starting point--the idea that the masses of ordinary people are duped by the system they live in. It's an approach to reality that comes straight out of academically fashionable theories of "postmodernism."

In this sense, the Matrix films are actually based on a much more elitist concept of the world than the reviewers acknowledge. To take literally the promise of collective resistance and to search for it in Reloaded--then fault the film for not providing it--is to miss the point of the film.

I was also surprised that the review failed to mention the primitivist, racist way in which the residents of Zion are represented. At one point, Neo opens a door to find a crowd of people begging him to save them. They are all, predictably, "third-world" characters, who then leave offerings outside his room--it's the white messiah acting as the savior of desperate third-world masses. How does this sit with a film that employed well-known leftist cultural critic Cornell West as one of its advisors and actors?

Reloaded raises questions about free will, fate, the role of technology, the relationship between religion and resistance, and a whole lot more. But the review glosses over all of this to focus on what the reviewers are interested in: revolution.

Will the third installment meet our reviewers' criteria? Maybe. After all, it is titled Revolutions. But don't count on it.

Ganesh Lal, Greensboro, N.C.

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