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Letters to the editor

June 4, 2004 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
U.S. saw nothing to gain in Rwanda
Kerry and Bush share an agenda
A new draft won't bring equality
Empty rhetoric from the CWA

We will fight for free speech

Dear Socialist Worker,
The crackdown on free speech in this country--and my town--is reaching an all-time low.

This past Saturday, I attended an antiwar march and protest through downtown Burlington, Vt., to express my disgust with the recent revelations that the U.S. has been torturing Iraqis, just like Saddam did. While marching down the street, I was selling copies of Socialist Worker and talking to bystanders about the torture debacle and what it means to President Bush's claims that the U.S. has "liberated" Iraqis from brutality.

At one point during the march, I had stopped to talk to a couple of people about Iraq and sold them a Socialist Worker. Immediately after this exchange, a Burlington police officer stepped directly in between us, asked me for identification and stated that he was issuing me a $50 ticket for "aggressive solicitation." To my bewilderment, he explained that I violated a city ordinance by receiving money from someone within 15 feet of a storefront.

How ridiculous! The police and the city have essentially made it illegal to stop and talk to strangers about political matters within 15 feet of businesses if any money is exchanged during the course of that conversation!

It is frivolous laws like these that are used to divide and silence people. John Ashcroft (or Joseph Stalin) would be proud. We can't be intimated by such thuggery. We have to fight back in numbers to change such laws and establish our right to free speech!
Keith Rosenthal, Burlington, Vt.

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U.S. saw nothing to gain in Rwanda

Dear Socialist Worker,
Phil Gasper's article "Genocide in Rwanda" (SW, May 7) did an excellent job of laying out the roots of the horrible events in Rwanda 10 years ago. But the article leaves an open-ended question that I think needs to be addressed.

Gasper rightly points out the "cynical indifference of Western ruling classes." But that sets up the question, "What should those ruling classes have done?"

The U.S. and other imperialist powers have always justified their wars and interventions in the name of freedom, democracy and humanitarian aims. The very same cover was used by Europe and the U.S. to grab all of Africa in the first place, and it is still used today. As for Rwanda, the U.S. was cynical and indifferent, but any action they would have taken would have been just as cynical.

History shows that ruling classes don't send troops abroad for anyone's benefit but their own. Seeing nothing to gain in Rwanda, the U.S. didn't act. Had they acted, it would not have been from some big-hearted urge to do good, but only because they did see something to gain, whether that's oil or cheap labor or a better position relative to the other big powers (who act out of their own interests).

Driving all of this is the logic of the capitalist system, with its never-ending pursuit of power and profit. So as to the question, "What should they have done?" As socialists, we have to point out that capitalism can't cure the ills of capitalism. Only a system based on the collective, democratic control of the world's riches and the production and distribution of those riches can do that. We call that society socialism.

That can't be given to us, it has to be won through struggle. A struggle by the billions of people who make all of the world's tremendous wealth, the international working class. A struggle against the few at the top who take that wealth from us and even use it against us.
Roger Dyer, San Francisco

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Kerry and Bush share an agenda

Dear Socialist Worker,
Yesterday, in the small village of Roquefort, France, a man noticed my button which said, "End the occupation. Bring them home now." He pointed to the button and said to his wife, "Anti-Bush! Anti-Bush!" Then he said to me, "Very good! Carry on!"

Many of the people I meet here are heartened to learn that so many Americans oppose the Bush agenda. Very few are aware, however, that the Bush agenda is John Kerry's agenda, too. It's very important that we explain, beyond U.S. borders, that being "anti-Bush" is not enough; we must be anti-Kerry, too.

Though I don't speak French very well, it is easy for me to explain to the people I meet how much Kerry and Bush are "meme-chose"--the same thing. After all, the French gave us the word "imperialism."
Nancy Welch, Gaillac, France

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A new draft won't bring equality

Dear Socialist Worker,
In recent weeks, there has been much talk about how a draft would bring equality to the military and also possibly stop the war--the idea being that if the children of the rich were eligible to be drafted the ruling class wouldn't be so gung-ho for riches and empire.

This idea is totally false. No draft in American history has ever brought equality to the armed services. During the Civil War, the wealthy could pay $300 to avoid service. In Vietnam, the rich could get cushy spots in the National Guard or go to graduate school.

The sponsors of the current bills, Republicans and Democrats, say that they have eliminated these loopholes. What they forget is that even if the children of the ruling class were to serve, they wouldn't be grunts in the trenches, they would be officers with comfy desk jobs, adding more wasteful bureaucracy to a bloated system and drain more money from the things working people actually need, like healthcare and schools.

What we need to end this war is not some bureaucratic maneuvering in the corridors of power, but a movement in the streets that will see to ending all wars of conquest and profit.
Joshua Karpoff, Rochester, N.Y.

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Empty rhetoric from the CWA

Dear Socialist Worker,
On behalf of dozens of rank-and-file workers at the SBC, I thank you for your accurate assessment of the empty rhetoric our current Communication Workers of America leadership is spouting concerning "deadlines" and strikes. We are fed slogans in dribbles as substitutes for feedback and progress.

Over 90 percent of the membership authorized a strike, and meanwhile, the union bureaucrats are enamored with their own agendas. While they continue their endless meetings, the members are collectively shaking their heads.
Name withheld, from the Internet

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