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Letters to the editor

April 2, 2004 | Page 4

Deryk Alphonso's family needs him
Sexist slogans aren't "empowering"

Iraqis tell the world: "We want a free Iraq"

Dear Socialist Worker,
Your coverage of the March 20 international protests against the occupation of Iraq and Palestine was fantastic, particularly the on-the-ground report from Fayetteville, N.C., where military families and vets marched. There was one important demonstration that your roundup missed.

On March 19, 5,000 Iraqis in Baghdad took to the streets to demand an end to the occupation of their country. The demonstration was called by a coalition of secular and religious organizations, including both Shia and Sunni Islamic groups and labor unions.

According to the organization Occupation Watch, one bloc of protesters started from a Shia mosque, passed by a U.S. base and then converged with the other bloc, which came from a Sunni mosque. Among their banners were "No to Occupation" and "No to American Terrorism!"

In a statement by the coalition that organized the march, addressed to the international community, they explain, "The troops that occupy our country have brought neither the security nor the freedom and prosperity that were allegedly their objectives...American troops have brought only destruction and terrorism to Iraq. They have initiated chaos, and the division and disintegration of the country."

They continue, "The demonstrations that will take place internationally on March 20 aim to support our right to freedom and to independence. They will follow demonstrations in Iraq that will be held on March 19, during which Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicities will walk together to express their will to be rid of the occupation and to live together, with the same rights.

"And in spite of the catastrophe that Iraqi people are living, we will also walk for our Palestinian and Chechnyan brothers and for all oppressed peoples. We want a free Iraq in a world of justice, delivered from the demons of imperialism, colonialism and racism."

The courage and solidarity of these Iraqi demonstrators inspire me to keep struggling for a world where "freedom" and "democracy" are no longer meaningless phrases used by conquerors to cover up the crimes of their conquest. Hope your readers feel the same.
Kirstin Roberts, Chicago

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Deryk Alphonso's family needs him

Dear Socialist Worker,
Deryk Alphonso served a jail sentence for drug charges in 1989 due to misrepresentation. He now faces deportation because of the 1996 immigration law. Deryk has lived in the U.S. since the age of 5, when his parents legally emigrated to the U.S. from Guyana.

He is now 42 years old and a father of four kids, all of whom are U.S. citizens. He also served in the U.S. military for six years, after which he received an honorable discharge. Even though he is not a U.S. citizen, his service to this country should be enough for him to remain in the United States.

But because the 1996 law is retroactive, the fact that he has lived a clean, moral life since the mistake of 1989 doesn't matter--and Deryk is now facing deportation. In 2001, after visiting the immigration office in Baltimore to renew his green card, he was detained and told that he was facing deportation charges.

He was sent to a detention center in Oakdale, La., and was held in prison for six months. After several court hearings, an immigration judge ordered his release and advised him to file for citizenship.

He returned home back to his family and children. After revisiting the immigration offices, Deryk checked in with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office regularly and filed the form to become a U.S. citizen, as ordered by the INS judge.

In January 2004, he was again detained by immigration authorities. He later learned that the application he submitted was denied and that the state has reinstated deportation proceedings. He is now awaiting deportation at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup, Md.

Deryk was good enough to serve and defend this country, but apparently is not good enough to remain in the country. His family and children need him home.
The Alphonso Family, from the Internet

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Sexist slogans aren't "empowering"

Dear Socialist Worker,
Last week, I was witness to a particularly disheartening spectacle that showed just how far the women's liberation movement has come from the militant days when we won the Roe v. Wade decision granting women the right to abortion. We were having our Socialist Worker paper sale inside the student center at Columbia University, next to activists from the chapter of Students For Choice (SFC).

SFC was selling bus tickets to the April 25 March For Women's Lives in Washington, D.C. But instead of having political slogans to emphasize how important it is to stand up to the recent attacks on a woman's right to choose, the (all female) students attempted to get people to the march with the slogans "Left-wing chicks are hot" and "Feminists put out."

It is disgusting that women who consider themselves feminists think that sexist phrases like these are empowering. This sort of tactic only serves to mirror the objectification of women in broader society and show the demoralized nature of the women's movement.

The SFC activists are absolutely right to table and build broad support for the abortion rights movement, but it's not enough to simply set out a table or fill buses (although that's an important first step). We need to be discussing with people politically about why we need to rebuild the women's movement and how we won abortion rights in the first place--in the context of a large, militant grassroots movement that called for "free abortion on demand."

What will make our side stronger is not being apolitical or mirroring sexism in society in an attempt to "make the march appealing to everyone," but to begin a discussion about what will take the movement forward--and how to make sure that the fight for abortion rights does not end on April 25, but accelerates beyond it.
Jessie Kindig, New York City

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