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Letters to the editor

August 6, 2004 | Page 6

Nader gave up on the Greens
Inadequate on women's rights
Feeble end to a brilliant exposé
Arrogance of the Bush gang

Kerry isn't for equal rights

Dear Socialist Worker,
SW was right on in showing how the fight for women's rights moved backwards by maintaining support for Bill Clinton as he did nothing to stop anti-choice attacks ("What's at stake in Election 2004?" July 9). The same can be said of the gay-rights movement during this time--but worse is the fact that the mainstream gay leadership apologized not only as Clinton failed to stop antigay attacks, but facilitated their passage.

Clinton used campaign rhetoric to win the votes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but once in office, he approved the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for the military, which led to a witch hunt of gays and lesbians. He also signed the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, which set up the main block to same-sex marriage today, and failed to push for a vote in Congress on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

This election year, Kerry isn't even using campaign rhetoric to attract LGBT voters--but this hasn't stopped mainstream gay organizations from showering him with compliments. Matt Foreman, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called the Kerry-Edwards campaign "the most gay-supportive national ticket in American history."

Dave Noble, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats, says Kerry and Edwards are the most pro-gay, pro-family ticket in the history of presidential politics." These two are willing to overlook the glaring fact that Kerry is against gay marriage and supported amending the Massachusetts state constitution to ban gay marriage earlier this year.

The weakness of justifying support of Kerry-Edwards is revealed by David Mixner, a former Clinton advisor: "But [Edwards is] good looking, young, exciting and most importantly--he's not Dick Cheney." This thinking is based on the idea that Kerry will at least be better than Bush in regards to LGBT policy.

But Clinton's record gives us no reason to believe this at all. The upcoming election won't change LGBT discrimination in the U.S. Lasting change will only come from building a movement to fight for our rights, and putting energy into electing Democratic politicians that use us time and again will only hold us back.
Mitch Day, New York City

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Nader gave up on the Greens

Dear Socialist Worker,
I believe that your support of Ralph Nader for president and your attack on Norman Solomon for not supporting Nader ("A lesser evil is still an evil," July 23) is wrongheaded and inconsistent with your long-held principles. I voted for Nader in 2000, but this year, I will not. I have problems with Nader's accepting support from the party of Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani, but that isn't the heart of my problem with him.

In 2000, Nader represented the Green Party, which had at least a hope of developing a left alternative to the Democratic Party. Given even the slim chance of building a movement, I was willing to take the short-term risk of a Bush presidency for the long-term possibility of a real alternative, and I voted for Nader.

Four years later, we discover the Bush regime is even worse than we expected. But what will voting for Nader accomplish? He has abandoned the Green Party. He is neither building nor representing any kind of progressive movement.

Voting for the lesser evil is shortsighted when there is a chance of building a progressive movement. When there is no such alternative, I will, with heavy heart, vote for the (slightly) lesser evil, because it is the lesser evil.
Joe Grossman, Suffern, N.Y.

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Inadequate on women's rights

Dear Socialist Worker,
In an editorial titled "Why isn't Bush on the run?" (July 2), SW responded to reasons why some who originally opposed the war on Iraq now hesitate to say that we should bring the troops home now. One reason it stated is that some "fear that an Islamist government could come to power and restrict the rights of women."

SW said, "As for the possibility of an Islamist government taking over, the U.S. has no right to choose for the Iraqi people how they will be governed. Iraqis have the right to determine their own government."

True enough. However, I think that simply stating this is an inadequate response to the concern for women's rights, especially when basic human rights issues are at stake, such as whether or not women will receive protection from rape, domestic violence, honor killings, genital mutilation, etc. It also blurs the distinction between an Islamic government freely chosen by the whole of the people and an Islamic government that represents a brutal dictatorship.

Instead, two things should have been pointed out. Number one, dropping bombs on women's heads does nothing to liberate them unless what we are trying to liberate them from is life itself. And number two, the U.S. government has a history of backing oppressive regimes that do their bidding for them.

When the iron fist of U.S. military might is removed, humanity and equality are allowed to flourish more easily because any society will naturally move in that direction when nothing is standing in its way. Organizations like the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan exist with or without Western influence, don't need us telling them what to do, and deserve our wholehearted support.

It's also very important to keep in mind that in an oppressive society, women are often afraid to say what they really think because they know they will be severely punished if they do. Furthermore, in a patriarchal society, when the "people" make a decision, the "people" are often primarily or exclusively men, with maybe a few token women who dare not challenge the men.

In conclusion, the reason why I think SW's response to the question at hand was a poor response is because it insinuates that certain women, namely Muslim and Arab women, may "want" or "choose" sexist oppression, perhaps because it is part of their "culture," a ridiculously absurd but all-too-common idea. As a member of the International Socialist Organization, I know that SW is committed to fighting sexist oppression, and therefore, I urge it to be more careful with its words next time.
Lisa Baker, Los Angeles

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Feeble end to a brilliant exposé

Dear Socialist Worker,
Bravo, Michael Moore for making Fahrenheit 9/11. It is tapping into a mass sentiment that Bush lied his way into a war for oil profits, and now both Iraqis and Americans are suffering the consequences in a way we couldn't have imagined.

But Moore's solution--voting for the other pro-war candidate--seems a feeble end to such a brilliant exposé. Indeed, the film itself provides one of the most devastating indictments of the Democratic Party.

I'm referring to the footage of Al Gore shutting down the Black congressional Democrats as they stood up to denounce racist voter fraud in Florida in the 2000 election. Here, we see Gore clearly more interested in re-establishing order than challenging the fraud that denied him the presidency.

The top leaders of both parties always close ranks when the political and economic system is called into question, whether it's an election crisis or an invasion of another country.
Paul D'Amato, Chicago

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Arrogance of the Bush gang

Dear Socialist Worker,
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and five other U.S. officials at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, performed the Village People's 1978 disco hit "YMCA" on July 2 at a gala dinner concluding the meeting.

The spectacle of Powell and his colleagues' song-and-dance routine, in which they dressed up in costumes reminiscent of the Village People, is particularly obscene when placed in the context of current economic conditions, particularly in Southeast Asia, and the Bush administration's continuing assault on the working class. The region remains deeply unstable, both politically and economically, following the 1997-1998 financial collapse.

The "YMCA" in this context--where "they have everything for you men to enjoy" and "you can hang out with all the boys"--is an obvious euphemism for the old boy's network that Powell has been admitted to. Indeed, Powell altered some of the lyrics during his performance, making it clear that the "YMCA" is in fact the ruling class and its stooges (which include Powell).

"President Bush," he sang, "he said to me, 'Colin, I need you to run the Department of State/We are between a rock and a hard place.'" The antics of Bush and Powell are in no way isolated incidents, and there are numerous examples one can cite.

In October 2000, CBS News reported that George W. Bush, attending a memorial dinner with New York City's political elite, "gazed around the diamond-studded $800-a-plate crowd and commented on the wealth on display. 'This is an impressive crowd --the haves and the have-mores,' quipped the GOP standard-bearer. 'Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.'" In 1997, Powell's predecessor, Madeleine Albright, performed a musical number dressed as Evita Perón at the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The arrogance of the Bush regime is breathtaking to behold considering the worldwide opposition to their policies and the capitalist system of plunder and exploitation. The chasm growing between the declining living standards of the world's masses and the profits being amassed by the ruling class is bound to erupt into huge conflicts.

Powell's performance has all the doomed markings of a waltz on the deck of the Titanic and is reminiscent of Marie Antoinette's "Let-them-eat-cake" response to the masses. It is apt to consider that immediately prior to the high-level ASEAN Regional Forum, another high-level conference was taking place on the other side of Asia.

While Powell and his fellow sycophants were lampooning the working class, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had recently concluded its summit in Istanbul, Turkey. The Associated Press described the event: "Turkey dramatically boosted security before Bush's arrival and in preparation for the NATO summit...F-16 warplanes patrolled the skies of Istanbul...[and] AWACS early warning planes dispatched by NATO will help monitor a no-fly zone over the city.

"More than 23,000 police will be on duty during the summit. Turkish commandos are patrolling the Bosporus in rubber boats with mounted machine guns." On the other side of this militarized cordon, more than 40,000 people gathered to protest. The only way to combat this war being waged against the workers is to work towards the international unity and political independence of the working class to build a socialist alternative.
Michael de Socio, Cincinnati

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