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Letters to the editor

November 21, 2003 | Page 12

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
The millions who die because of profit
SW misrepresented Gonzalez's position
Taking to the aisles to build solidarity
SW shouldn't use the term "moron"

Why the Greens should run

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was recently lucky to be part of discussions with more than 60 Green Party activists from around the country who gathered in New York City to discuss whether the Greens should run a national presidential candidate. The activists were members of the Green Party USA--the left "anti-capitalist" wing of the Green Party.

Panelists spoke at the event from a number of different perspectives. There was a representative of the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich; an activist who argued that Greens should not run a candidate and instead focus on local campaigns; and others who argued strongly for a green presidential campaign.

About half of the audience, as well as some of the panelists, felt that Kucinich was worth supporting, at least until the Democratic primaries are over. Some felt that it was a "question of survival for the planet" to defeat Bush's re-election, and others said that Bush represented a fascist cabal that had begun to take power.

Other panelists, including myself, argued that it was crucial for an activist movement to have a candidate independent of the Democrats and Republicans. Don Fitz, from the magazine Synthesis/Regeneration, reminded the audience that "Nixon was the most progressive president in the last 30 years"--because pressure from below pushed Nixon to enact reforms.

Green Party activists around the country have a crucial decision to make over the next couple of months. People are looking to them on this question. To wait to put forward a candidate, and instead put energy into the Kucinich or Dean campaigns, will actually weaken the movement nationally for an alternative independent of both parties--the only thing that will ever force the politicians to do what we want.

Peter Lamphere, New York City

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The millions who die because of profit

Dear Socialist Worker,
On the weekend of October 3, I attended the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) Leadership Retreat at Wellesley College outside of Boston. SGAC is a national student-led organization comprised of over 40 campus chapters and almost 100 affiliates. We are dedicated to fighting AIDS throughout the world through advocacy work.

As of this year, 25 million people have died of AIDS, and 100 million are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Every day, nearly 8,500 people die of AIDS, and 15,000 people become infected. There is no reason these statistics should be so high.

Treatment can be made available for less than $1 a day, yet 95 percent of infected people worldwide do not have access to treatment. Instead of stopping the world's greatest medical crisis, pharmaceutical companies apply for 20-year patents, halting the possibility of inexpensive generic drugs for millions. And governments force Third World nations to repay substantial debt, while their people die and tens of millions of young children are orphaned.

AIDS is most certainly a disease driven by capitalist greed. America, always at the forefront of capitalism, has done almost nothing to help the millions affected by AIDS.

In his State of the Union speech, President Bush promised to spend $15 billion over the next five years to fight the pandemic. To date, he has given $2 billion, and refuses to pay any more. The U.S. is more than willing to spend $87 billion to set up an oil empire in the Middle East, but it cannot give a small $15 billion to help stop global AIDS.

The SGAC is working to save millions of lives, but anyone who despises the greed that fuels AIDS must join the fight. It is possible to stop AIDS, even as the pandemic is getting worse. We must demand aid for all infected people, and we must save millions of lives.

Kristina Elliott, from the Internet

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SW misrepresented Gonzalez's position

Dear Socialist Worker,
It was not a mistake, as SW reported, for San Francisco Green Party mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez to support the salary raise for members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SW, November 14). The voters of San Francisco passed a ballot measure in favor of making being on the board a full-time position, with salary set by the civil service board.

Before this happened, supervisors either were rich, worked a second job that often brought up conflicts of interest (and their time), or both. Gonzalez's wealthy opponent Gavin Newsom has cynically used this issue. I'm sorry Socialist Worker fell for his line.

Steve Rhodes, from the Internet

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Taking to the aisles to build solidarity

Dear Socialist Worker,
In the heat of the Southern California grocery strike, supporters of the grocery workers have begun to use a new tactic to make "business as usual" more difficult for scabs and the grocery bosses. Members of the International Socialist Organization and other labor supporters engaged in what has come to be called "disruptive shopping."

After informing the picketers that we were entering the store, about a dozen or so activists filled up shopping baskets to the brim and then simultaneously occupied each checkout stand. After the goods were rung up, activists began to inform shoppers that the company was robbing workers of their health benefits while making millions in profit.

After several minutes, we all began to chant "Health care for all" and walked out of the store, where we were joined by the picketers. In unison, we continued to chant. We then walked the picket lines and engaged workers in various discussions using Socialist Worker, from the tactics of the strike to the occupation of Iraq and the alternatives to the capitalist system.

The sidewalk in front of the store was turned into an impromptu political forum. As one sign read, "This strike is for all of us." We should find ways to build solidarity with the strikers, as well as engage them in discussions about the fight for a better world.

Justin Akers, San Diego

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SW shouldn't use the term "moron"

Dear Socialist Worker,
In the article "The Democrats Duck Another Fight" (SW, November 7), Bush was referred to as "President Moron." While I certainly agree with the sentiment, as socialists interested in fighting for the liberation of all oppressed groups, we should refrain from the use of this word.

People with disabilities in America unnecessarily face an uphill battle. Often excluded from mainstream classrooms, youngsters with disabilities are often never even given a chance to learn at the same level as their peers. They fall behind peers and often never learn to develop normal relationships or become self-sufficient.

Students from poorer or largely minority school districts are even less likely to have good inclusive education programs. Because of their exclusion from society, people with disabilities are branded as substandard humans. They are labeled "morons", "retards" or "disabled."

As socialists we should see people with disabilities for who they are: people who happen to have a disability and have been stigmatized for it and whose degree of inclusion into society depends on his or her socioeconomic status and race. The use of the word "moron" in any context further stigmatizes and stereotypes people with disabilities.

We should refrain from using this derogatory term as an insult, and we should fight for the full inclusion (with adequate assistance) of people with disabilities into general classrooms and their inclusion into broader society.

Bill Linville, Madison, Wis.

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