Views in brief
Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism
IN AN otherwise politically sharp report about boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) organizing in Portland and the hypocrisy of anti-semitic Zionists ("Israel's anti-Semitic defenders"), Wael Elasady writes, "While one may disagree with the use of a swastika to send a political message, the intent of the person who wrote the comment was clearly not to harass and intimidate Jewish students, as CUFI suggested."
Elasady admits that he does not know who graffitied the flyer with a swastika, so it's unclear how he can claim to understand the intent. The swastika may have benign origins in antiquity, but after nearly 100 years as a symbol of the Nazis in terrorizing Jews, it's a racist symbol, regardless of any intent.
Surely, anti-Semitism within the anti-Zionist movement is in large part a result of Zionism's mantra that any criticism of Israel is an attack on Jews as a whole, but this understanding is no reason to excuse anti-Semitism of any kind. Socialists need to stand up against anti-Semitism, no matter the source, and this does not contradict our goal of arguing that anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic.
Stephanie Schwartz, New York City
Unfair to Obama on LGBT rights
IN RESPONSE to "What took him so long?": I consider myself a socialist, and I wouldn't count myself as one were it not for my insistence on listening to the facts. Usually, I apply that in debates with my peers and family, but I've come to this website for the first time and, in the first article that I read, found unfounded claims.
Although I mostly agree that Obama was a follower, rather than a leader, when it came to LGBT rights, my factual contentions lie in some of the details. As I also hold journalistic integrity in high esteem, I hope that you'll be informed by my statements.
1) It would not be true to say that the president was silent on the matter of the North Carolina constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (he actively opposed it as early as March), though it would be true to say that he did not oppose it on the grounds that it is a human and civil rights issue, and you could certainly make the case that he did not do enough.
2) The reason that the Justice Department defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, then suddenly stopped, is because the executive branch is required by the Constitution and by federal law to defend federal laws to a point. Once that point was reached, they ceased defending it.
As Politico.com noted:
Since Obama came into office, his administration has said it was obligated by tradition to defend several statutes that discriminate against gays and lesbians, including DOMA and the recently repealed "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays openly serving in the military. The Justice Department has fought court challenges to those statutes, even though Obama has said he's opposed to the laws and would seek their repeal.
3) The matter of not simply using an executive order to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" was actually specifically addressed by the president. It makes sense at first, since that is what then-President Truman did decades ago with racial segregation in the military. But the Constitution states that "[the president] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," which is rather hard to do when you try to issue an executive order that directly opposes an existing law.
As a constitutional scholar himself, Obama knew that the order would be struck down, and probably suspected that the right would harness the defeat for political capital, calling it an "overreach" and actually setting the cause back. As Obama stated, "The difference between my position right now and Harry Truman's is that Congress explicitly passed a law that took away the power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally. So this is not a situation in which, with the stroke of a pen, I can simply end the policy."
I hope that this is not the track record for SocialistWorker.org as a whole. In the future, please do a better job of fact-checking, lest I move onto another source for leftist news.
Jay D. Stephens, Clarkesville, Ga.
Standing in defense of the USPS
IN RESPONSE to "Arrested in Portland for occupying the USPS": Bravo protesters! Hold Congress accountable for its actions!
In addition to Congress passing the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, mandating the funding of pensions for 75 years, the pension money does not go in a separate pension account. It goes straight to the U.S. Treasury, and then Congress spends it. The pensions become yet another unfunded liability. Furthermore, Congress has taken over $134 billion in profits from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) since the 1970's, when they passed a bill to take all profit from the agency.
The USPS isn't asking for a "bailout". All Congress needs to do is give the USPS its money back.
John H., Memphis, Tenn.
Don't support Assad’s overthrow
IN RESPONSE to "Will Syria's regime crush the revolution?": I find it astounding that the International Socialist Organization and SocialistWorker.org would go from one mistake in supporting the violent NATO overthrow of the Libyan government to supporting an identical destabilization campaign in Syria.
How can you call the divided, CIA-armed terrorist thugs, the same ones who just massacred up to 100 civilians in Houla to provide a pretext for invasion, revolutionaries? These are just as bad as the ones who are killing and torturing people in Libya to make the country safe for transnational oil companies.
Al-Jazeera ceased to be a reliable source since before the Libya operation, when the Qatari royal family put their network at the disposal of Western imperialists to smooth the way to gas sales in Western Europe.
Diana Barahona, Los Angeles
Making socialist ideas connect
IN RESPONSE to "Is living simply the answer": This is a good example of the way socialist ideas need to be put across in simple, non-technical language. This is the way to make these ideas make sense to the proverbial "man on the street," and such writings are the need of the hour.
Asim Jaan, Karachi, Pakistan