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Views in brief

September 15, 2006 | Page 8

Taliban isn't a force for liberation
Fighting for our rights together

Burge's legacy of torture

MY NAME is brother Eric Smith. I am writing to you concerning an article that I read in your paper, Socialist Worker, which I loved. The article was concerning the police torture that was done out of the Area 2 Violent Crimes division in Chicago.

The reason I was concerned about it is because I was also one of the many of the brothers who was beaten and tortured by detectives under former Commander Jon Burge's command. These detectives were Detective Binkowski, Detective Dignan and Detective Kirschner. My incident occurred in 1982, on December 31.

So I feel where those others are coming from. I was beaten into signing a confession, and after that, I no longer trusted anyone. I thought everyone was working with the state's attorney or the police. That's why I never told my story until last year. I told it to the attorney for Aaron Patterson, Flint Taylor, of the People's Law Office.

I know most of the Death Row 10. I used to work on death row when I was an inmate at Menard prison. That's where Aaron Patterson was. I'm glad those brothers are off death row, and I pray to Allah that those brothers get released and get paid for all the pain and suffering they went through. I did close to 17 years for nothing, so I feel for them.

I know they are strong brothers. They must keep fighting and never give up. I would love to join your organization. I love the articles I read in Socialist Worker. Hopefully I will be able to receive the paper regularly. I leave as I came, in peace.
Brother Eric Smith, Raiford, Fla.

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Taliban isn't a force for liberation

PHAM BINH argues that "Victory for the Taliban would not only be a blow to U.S. imperialism, but also a victory for the oppressed around the world" ("Imperialism is the main enemy," September 8).

I strongly disagree. While the Taliban are engaged in a military conflict with the U.S. for control of Afghanistan, the Taliban and its allies are not fighting for the liberation of ordinary Afghans, let alone that of "the oppressed around the world."

Binh takes John Green to task for suggesting that "most Afghans don't support the Taliban," because Green "provides no evidence about what most Afghans support." He then promptly makes his own unsubstantiated claim that "the popularity of the Taliban has grown enormously since they were toppled from power almost five years ago."

There is no doubt that the devastation in Afghanistan is stoking discontent among ordinary Afghans. There is also no doubt that the Taliban, as a fighting force, has not been defeated by the U.S.-led invasion. But it is a mistake to equate, willy-nilly, the Taliban with Hezbollah.

There is plenty of evidence that Hezbollah was, from its inception, a movement against Israeli and U.S. imperialism, and that it represents a fairly well-developed grassroots resistance movement today. Nor is its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, proclaiming the inevitability of an Islamic state in Lebanon (see "Which Side Are You On?" August 25). Nasrallah, in other words, is open to the idea of a secular state.

On the other hand, the Taliban traces its origins to the mujahadeen, which was recruited by the CIA and the Pakistani ISI to take on the Soviets. Once in power, the Taliban put in place a hideously oppressive system, based on a perverse and dogmatic application of Sharia law.

The Taliban has never been a genuine liberation movement, and it isn't going to become one today. The Taliban's apocalyptic vision of a theocratic state is not simply Bush-inspired fiction, as Binh implies, but a matter of historical record. One need only look at its brutally misogynistic policies to understand why Afghan women's organizations, for instance, have bitterly resisted them.

As socialists, we must stand in solidarity with ordinary Afghan men and women in their struggle not only against U.S. imperialism, but also against the reactionary fundamentalism that the Taliban represents.
Nagesh Rao, New Brunswick, N.J.

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Fighting for our rights together

I WAS one of the more than 350 people who attended the National Conference for Immigrant Rights in Chicago during the weekend of August 11-13. It was a conference that brought together people from all over the country to meet and strategize about the next steps for the immigrant rights movement.

The attendants were majority Latino, but included African Americans, whites and Asians who were all eager to take part in the struggle. Throughout the course of the weekend, workshops and sessions were held to address how we can move forward as a movement. The sessions included ones on the media, strategy and tactics, and labor unions. The spirit of everyone there was of militant struggle and unity among working-class people.

As a Puerto Rican woman, one of the highlights of the weekend for me was when, in the middle of the conference, a women's caucus was spontaneously formed to address sexism and machismo.

Women were frustrated about the fact that during the conference women were being assigned roles such as office duties, housekeeping and paperwork, while men were at the head of the panels delivering grandiose political speeches. We also felt that whenever women made suggestions or shared ideas, they were not being respected by the men, and those men were not letting woman have their voices heard.

About 60 women met in a room to discuss these issues, and came up with a set of demands that included equal representation of men and women on the panels and in the workshops, and equal distribution of duties. We also demanded respect and acknowledgement as leaders in this struggle.

We stated that we would not move forward with the conference unless these demands were met. We elected some women from the group to address the conference and share the list of demands. The demands were met with support and applause--from women, as well as men who defend women's rights.

I left the conference feeling inspired and empowered. This really is the new civil rights movement!
Jessica Carmona-Baez, Rochester, N.Y.

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