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Views in brief

November 3, 2006 | Page 12

Right to reach out to Dobbs
Rallying for immigrant rights

Not a question of free speech

LET'S PRETEND for a moment that Jim Gilchrist and his Minutemen were left-wingers instead of right-wingers ("No time to be silent," October 20). Let's pretend they had formed an armed militia to, say, prevent Border Patrol agents from violating the civil rights of undocumented workers and other Latinos along the U.S.-Mexico divide.

If this had happened, there would have been no dust-up at Columbia University--because Gilchrist and his cronies would already be in jail!

I marvel at a political culture in which the Minutemen can patrol the border with guns, threaten, beat and unlawfully detain anyone who looks Latino, and get praised for the "great job" they are doing by the governor of California. Meanwhile, those who stand up against this terrorism are denounced--even by most liberals--as "thugs" out to rob people of their free speech.

The question is not one of free speech. The question is whether immigrants and their supporters going to sit quietly and "debate" Gilchrist while he organizes an armed, fascist militia in the United Sates. The answer, clearly, is no.

I have as much sympathy for Gilchrist and his goons as I have for the schoolyard bully who finally messes with the wrong kid and gets his butt kicked.
Dennis Fritz, Chicago

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Right to reach out to Dobbs

BEN DALBEY writes "I was truly surprised and deeply troubled to receive an e-mail from the Green Party of the United States on October 11 urging Greens to 'ask Lou Dobbs to cover the Green Party'" ("Lou Dobbs isn't our ally," October 20). He goes on to list the reasons why Dobbs shouldn't be given the time of day by Greens, especially Dobbs' awful position on immigration.

Should the Green Party (GP) seek coverage by someone like Lou Dobbs? Absolutely. I called CNN yesterday and talked at length to one of Dobbs' producers.

Here's a little secret: The GP seeks and welcomes coverage by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Clear Channel, the Moonie-owned Washington Times, and a lot of other right-wing corporate media, along with less radical-right corporate media like the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and major news networks.

If we only "courted" the progressive and leftist press, we'd never achieve the kind of popular support and votes we need to become a major party, since only a very tiny percentage of Americans reads such media.

In 2004, Fox News gave us our best coverage of the national GP convention in Milwaukee. Fox reporters seemed to have done a lot of research on the GP and its candidates, knew what the party's burning issues were and asked a lot of the right questions.

The Washington Post, on the other hand, covered the Milwaukee convention in its Style section and treated the convention as if it were a fashion show, devoid of political substance. (We also got better cover from Fox than from the Nation and the Progressive.) The Washington Times has sometimes covered the local D.C. Statehood Green Party better than the Post has, which is consistent with the Washington Times' better coverage of local news in general.

One theory is that right-wing media like Fox see the GP as a useful club for beating Democrats over the head. That's only part of the reason. Not all Fox reporters share Rupert Murdoch's politics, and some of them are good reporters who are genuinely interested in the GP. A Fox reporter once told me that he thought there were some newsworthy stories in the GP that other news organizations were missing.

The Green Party and its candidates try to get coverage from all news media, because we're trying to reach as many voters (and nonvoters, too) as possible. We want the public to know about the party and our candidates, and to visit our Web site. We want to persuade people to agree with the GP and its platform, and to join us.

Dalbey asks, "[I]f the Green Party is so desperate for votes as to reach out--at the national level--to the likes of Lou Dobbs, what would prevent local Greens from reaching out to the 'disaffected middle-class Americans' building the Minutemen?"

We're appealing to Dobbs because we want to get Greens, especially Green candidates, on his show--just as Bill O'Reilly has had Greens on his own show, most recently Todd Chretien, who's running in California for the U.S. Senate. None of us believes that, after Todd's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly fans are going to register Green en masse and change the GP platform to conform with O'Reilly's politics.

Ben Dalbey can rest easy that the GP isn't looking for votes from the kind of people who would join the Minutemen, any more than we're seeking votes from Goldman Sachs brokers when we show up in the Wall Street Journal, or from diehard pro-war anti-choice Bush Republicans when we're on Fox. A lot more people watch CNN and Fox and read the Wall Street Journal than just neo-cons and Minutemen.

These people would never vote for us anyway. If for some reason they did decide to vote Green, they'd be voting against their own ideals and helping to elect Green candidates who'd be pursuing Green agenda while in office. We can live with that.
Scott McLarty, Media Committee, Green Party of the United States

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Rallying for immigrant rights

TODAY I went to Times Square in New York City to hang around for a while, and while I was crossing 6th Avenue, I heard a lot of people yelling several blocks down. Figuring that it was a demonstration, I walked over to see what it was about.

What I encountered was an immigrant rights rally of about 1,500-2,000 people who had marched from Union Square to Times Square. They had speakers, rappers, etc., and the energy level was very high. The speakers and rally participants were also militantly against the war in Iraq.

As I walked through the crowd, I ran into two people I knew, a young woman leader of DRUM--a South Asian group--and a Puerto Rican labor activist I had worked with during the Vieques struggle. Other than that, I didn't know anyone, and the overwhelming majority of demonstrators were Asian and Latino youth under 30. Many flags of the Philippines, Palestine, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Korea and other third-world nations fluttered in the breeze.

Across the street, about a dozen counterdemonstrators gathered with "Remember the Alamo" signs, Texas and California republic flags and anti-illegal immigrant signs and banners. Interestingly, they had no American flag other than one with 13 stars and "76" written in the circle.

When I was leaving, I walked over to where these jokers were to hear what they were saying. One fat white boy was yelling, "Why don't you have any American flags"? When I heard that, I went off and yelled at him: "You don't have any either." He was actually stunned when he realized that was true and shut his mouth until I left.

I am telling this story because what I saw today was not the mainly white middle-aged (and largely middle-class) peace movement in the streets, but youth of color standing up for their rights. The revolution is alive and growing in the ghettos, barrios and ethnic enclaves of America. This was an inspiration to me.
Dave Cline, Jersey City, N.J.

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