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Letters to the editor

August 22, 2003 | Page 13

Struggle is the way to defeat Bush
Sexism is a "real" issue for women
A step forward for gay teens?

Harrassed by LA police for being an activist

Dear Socialist Worker,
A few drops of soda can be a federal offense! Just ask Robert Middaugh, political prisoner and Chicano anti-racist activist.

Robert Middaugh (aka Ruckus), was released recently from Avenal State Prison, after serving two years for trumped-up charges stemming from his involvement in the 2001 Long Beach May Day demonstration, which resulted in over 100 arrests. The prosecutor wielded every possible charge he could at Rob.

Rob was initially looking at 16-17 years in prison if found guilty for the May Day charges, so his only viable option was to accept a plea bargain for three years. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the police harassment.

After he was released from Avenal, federal marshals came for him. He is now being charged with assaulting a government official, wearing a mask to conceal his identity and possession of a dagger. The incident in question took place July 4, 2000, when an anti-immigrant hate group rallied on the Federal Building lawn in Los Angeles.

In response to racial slurs and other taunts, a contingency of anti-racist protesters crossed the street, and conflict ensued. LAPD officers swiftly intervened on behalf of the anti-immigrant protesters (surprise). According to the prosecution's complaint, a can of soda was thrown and splashed one of the officers with the carbonated contents.

The officer, Thomas Goldsmith, proceeded to arrest Rob for "assaulting an officer." The officer alleged that he "saw Middaugh with a soda in his right hand throw the can at [him]." However, Rob is left-handed! Why would a left-handed individual hurl a projectile with his weaker hand?

Rob has protested around various issues, such as police brutality, racism, indigenous relocation, environmental destruction, animal rights issues and militarization of the Mexican border. Clearly, he was targeted for his outspokenness and his political activities. We need to protest this injustice!

Stuart Carapella and Ce Coatl, Los Angeles

For more information on the campaign to support Rob Middaugh, e-mail: [email protected]

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Struggle is the way to defeat Bush

Dear Socialist Worker,
SW (August 8) recently printed a letter by someone suggesting that SW should endorse Dennis Kucinich for president. If it is true that Kucinich has a progressive agenda, then he is in the wrong party.

From opposing gay marriage to supporting the death penalty, from supporting the right of the U.S. to wage war against smaller, weaker countries to opposing a universal, single-payer health care system--the Democrat Party is consistently on the wrong side of the issues that matter most to the majority of ordinary working people and students.

Liberals would have us believe that Bush is uniquely evil, and this is why we must vote for any Democrat on offer in the election. Let us not be so quick to forget what the 1980s were like under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.

Ronald Reagan concocted the myth of the Black "welfare queen." He and Bush were responsible for invading or attacking Grenada, Libya, Panama and, of course, Iraq--resulting in the death of 200,000 Iraqis. Reagan and Bush declared open war on the working class, firing thousands of air traffic controllers and overseeing an unprecedented transfer of wealth from poor to rich throughout their tenure.

These horrors pushed millions into voting for Bill Clinton, with the left and progressives leading the way. We remember Clinton, don't we? He ended welfare as we know it; signed the homophobic Defense of Marriage Act; maintained the deadly and cruel sanctions against Iraq; expanded federal use of the racist death penalty...the list is endless. This was not a solution.

George W. Bush's agenda is awful and must be stopped. But there are no short cuts to stopping the attacks that Republicans initiate and Democrats watch happen while failing to lift the smallest of fingers.

There is no alternative but to build a grassroots movement to fight for the things that are of importance to working people--just like the antiwar movement did last fall and spring. Mass movements are how we have gotten any of the rights we have to date, and they are really our only hope for the future.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Chicago

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Sexism is a "real" issue for women

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was a bit perplexed by David Bliven's response (SW, August 8) to Elizabeth Lalasz's article "It's called sexism" Bliven states that trying to ban sexist TV programming "stifles free speech and takes energy away from the real issues in the woman's movement."

Yet nowhere in her article does Lalasz suggest banning anything. All she does is offer a critique of sexism in popular culture. How is that a call for censorship?

Furthermore, Lalasz is clearly aware of what the "real" issues in the women's movement are, and has a clear idea of what needs to be done to effect meaningful change in women's lives. She makes direct reference to the continuing disparities between men and women with regard to wages, as well as to attacks on reproductive rights and affirmative action.

Lalasz writes: "Sexism needs to be challenged head rebuilding a new movement that takes up women's rights." In what way does Bliven feel that she is failing to apprehend the "real" issues in the women's movement?

He also states that "merely portraying women as sexy is not 'sexism'...It only becomes sexism when one sees women only in the role of their sexuality (i.e., one-dimensional)." True enough. But where, exactly, does Lalasz object to eroticism per se? She is clearly criticizing portrayals of women that reduce them to sexual objects--exactly what Bliven concedes is sexist.

I have to wonder how carefully Bliven read Lalasz's article before writing his response.

Dennis Fritz, Austin, Texas

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A step forward for gay teens?

Dear Socialist Worker,
It was recently reported that New York City will open the first high school exclusively for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students this fall. Though Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others involved in this most likely created the school with noble intentions, they have failed completely in addressing the reasons for the need for such a school.

Merely removing these students from the existing population does nothing to actually combat the problem; it becomes escapism. The prospect of having a school where one can be at ease and learn without having to worry about verbal or physical attacks is truly appealing to anyone who is or ever has been out at school.

However, this school should not be endorsed. It will only act as a temporary haven for the persons who attend it, and they will continue to face the same prejudices they already encounter outside of their learning environment. Those who remain at their regular schools will become further isolated, and homophobia will continue to thrive.

Students and teachers of any orientation need to be more concerned with working inside their schools, through gay-straight alliances, to fight this problem, so people aren't left with the feeling that they have to segregate themselves in order to feel at peace. Still, the fact that this school has actually been created with little opposition does show a tremendous step forword in the general population's attitude towards gay rights.

Matt Hanson, Washington, D.C.

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