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Letters to the editor

June 11, 2004 | Page 4

Nader has to build a left-wing fight
Socialist Worker is my voice

We told Romney: "Separate is never equal"

Dear Socialist Worker,
A few months ago, students of Suffolk University, a school that prides itself on its "commitment to diversity," learned that the notorious Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney--who is committed to oppression--was to speak at Suffolk's commencement ceremony.

One graduate explained that the university president eluded virtually all of the democratic rights of the students in the decision. We would not let our voices go unheard. Students for Peace and Justice and the Rainbow Alliance organized an alternative ceremony the day before, celebrating, instead of undermining, diversity--and at the commencement itself passed out armbands of the Human Rights Campaign's "equals" sign.

A few of us needed to take further action against Romney, who has consistently attacked workers, wants to reinstate legal lynching in Massachusetts and was quoted in the Boston Globe as describing homosexuality as "perverse" and "reprehensible." We were allowed into the commencement with International Socialist Organization placards saying "Separate is not equal--Gay marriage is a civil right," but the police then forced us to leave the signs outside without any explanation.

But when the "honorable" bigot took the stand, three of us did whatever we could to have our boos heard, and joined a few grads in standing and turning our backs on him. Despite cooperation with the ushers, the boo-ers were manhandled and removed by the police (who wouldn't identify themselves).

When we exited, we found our placards had been stolen, and we were threatened with arrest for merely requesting their return. We thought we had failed to make an ample statement, but later found that the grads who protested were joined by others and later were overwhelmed with statements of solidarity.

Although we were repressed, the action was polarizing and politicizing to those present, and fostered the confidence of our side to fight--especially since it was covered by the Globe, the Herald, and even by NBC news. It shows that just a few people can be effective in meeting the need to challenge the right.
Tom Arabia and Derek Medley, Boston

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Nader has to build a left-wing fight

Dear Socialist Worker,
Ralph Nader recently was awarded the endorsement of the Reform Party USA, the anti-immigrant, anti-working-class group that ran über-bigot Pat Buchanan as their presidential candidate in 2004. Unfortunately, instead of rejecting the support of a party that scapegoats immigrants, Nader accepted the endorsement, saying, "This endorsement shows that our independent campaign is receiving support from across the political spectrum."

As if being backed by racists and xenophobes were something to be proud of! All of this comes without a peep of protest from Nader or his campaign over the Reform Party's blatant bigotry.

In one of the longest sections of the party's platform, these bigots lay bare their plans on how to "deal" with immigration: a freeze on all immigration, use of the military to secure borders, a national campaign of assimilation and forced learning of English, a Constitutional amendment to take away citizenship of children born in the U.S. to non-citizens, and more.

Those on the left need to argue, both within his campaign and to potential supporters, that Nader must not pander to the Reform Party constituency in any way. In addition, given the record of the Reform Party, it is imperative that Nader make clear his opposition to their racist immigrant-bashing and that he include immigrant rights as a prominent issue in his campaign.

Nader has an excellent opportunity to tap into and solidify growing antiwar sentiment, plus the frustration felt by millions of Americans over the lack of any real alternative to imperialism abroad and giant corporate tax breaks at home--but not if he kowtows to the right in an effort to appeal to a "wide spectrum" of potential supporters. A campaign that consciously tries to break the hold of the Democratic Party on the left is worth supporting. The question is: will Nader seize the opportunity or squander it?
Michael Smith, Berkeley, Calif.

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Socialist Worker is my voice

Dear Socialist Worker,
"According to NBC, there are allegations that boys were raped by Iraqi guards at Abu Ghraib. British newspapers reported that some children might have been tortured." Those are the horrifying final two sentences at the end of a May 12 article in our local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman.

It had been building up inside me since the photos of torture were first revealed, but it was when I read these lines that I really felt I might go crazy. That's because the news from today was dominated by the quotes from senators, who just today viewed the full extent of the numerous photos and videos of torture.

What did they have to say? Did they--Republican or Democrat--speak to the horror and outrage that I and hundreds of millions across the world are feeling? No. The senators were worried that releasing the photos and videos to the public might "jeopardize more lives" of Americans in Iraq.

It was only when I picked up my weekly copy of Socialist Worker at an anti-death penalty meeting that I was reminded who does speak for me. The paper's cover--with a photo of the torture and the headline "This is what occupation looks like"--reminded me that amid the loads of corporate media lies there is a newspaper that is my voice. Not just because it reports the truth, but even more because it points a way forward.

That's why I'm taking extra copies of the SW to school to sell to the people I work with. And that's why we're working hard in Austin to bring as many people as possible to the Socialism 2004 conference in Chicago June 17-20. See you there!
Quent Reese, Austin, Texas

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