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Letters to the editor

April 23, 2004 | Page 4

Fighting for decent schools
The terrorists that the right supports

Don't be sorry for opposing this war

Dear Socialist Worker,
I am a high school senior at Northwestern High School. At my school, we televise the morning announcements. I handle the graphics for the Northwestern Broadcasting Channel Wildcat 32.

March 19, 2004, marked the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. I posted the following at the end of the broadcast on the screen: "March 19: The Republic of Iraq has been occupied for one year. When will they get their democracy?"

Near the end of the school day, I was called in by my principal. I was given the option to apologize to the entire school for what was posted, or be suspended from television production. I was really outraged at what had happened to me. Did students not have free speech in schools? Where was the line drawn?

I decided to "apologize." That evening, I went home and made up a speech. I wrote the following: "Since, I post the current events, I thought it was appropriate to post a major event within history...I was given the option to apologize to the entire school for what was posted or be suspended from television production. So, now I must apologize.

"I am sorry. I am sorry to Mr. Andre Lee, the executive producer who did not see me post it and give it an okay. I am also sorry for exercising my freedom of speech even though the comment was objective! Finally, I am sorry that I have my own mind, and for going against the establishment.

"But working with activists in the International Socialist Organization, Campus Antiwar Network and the Northwestern Activist Committee has shown me that having my own mind and thinking differently from the establishment is important...May you all be encouraged to speak your mind. The fact is that my voice was heard and thank you all for listening."

On March 22, 2004, I went up to the main office for the televised announcements. I went on to give my speech at the end of the announcements. In the middle of the speech I was cut off. Later, I was told I was not a real broadcaster or journalist, and that until I apologize, I am suspended from the television production cast.

What's wrong with wanting to be free and think differently? I need your help to get the word out. I would like others to know what happened to me.
Sheri Pegram, Hyattsville, Md.

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Fighting for decent schools

Dear Socialist Worker,
Greetings from a union teacher in Baltimore. The same struggle for public education and teacher organizing rights SW reports on in New York, Chicago and Boston is happening here.

Hundreds of Baltimore public school students went on strike on March 9. They rallied outside city hall, demanding hundreds of millions withheld by Maryland from Baltimore schools. Students expressed solidarity with teachers and connected the dots between education underfunding and funding for prisons and the Iraq war.

Baltimore schools are in a financial meltdown. Since November, we've had protest after protest. In February, teachers were forced twice within one week to "choose" pay cuts or layoffs. We shook our fists and voted "No!"

In May, our union leaders will face disgusted teachers and rank-and-file rebellion in the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) elections.

The city has rejected a state "bailout" in favor of its own plan. But layoffs and pay cuts may still come this summer or fall.

Then again, teachers, parents and students are learning the lessons of mass action. Every time we stand and fight, we win.
Alan Rebar, BTU, AFT Local 340, Baltimore, Md.

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The terrorists that the right supports

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was absolutely appalled when I read about Fred Phelps, a bigoted Baptist church leader, in the article, titled, "This united everybody," (SW, April 9). Listen, I was brought up Pentecostal, which is a denomination not known for being on the liberal wing of Christianity. But even we never said things like "Thank God For 9/11."

Incredible! When I read this article, I thought about how the white supremacists say, "Thank God for AIDS" or "Thank God for sickle cell anemia." Both of those comments are targeted at African Americans since those dreaded diseases have hit them harder than the general population.

How about John Ashcroft looking into this little Hitler (Phelps) and seeing if he has any terrorist connections? Funny how this administration does not use the word "terrorists" to describe these right wingers who shoot at abortion providers--or others like the late Timothy McVeigh.
Joseth Moore, Lincoln, Neb.

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