Views in brief

January 26, 2017

Joining the resistance

I WAS riding the Blue Line train to the Women's March Against Trump in downtown Chicago, and there was an older woman seated in front of me. As the train started to fill, her eyes widened, and she asked me, "Are you going to march today?"

I looked around at the car filled with people holding handmade signs, and I told her, "I think we're all going to march today."

She beamed.

All around, she pointed to strangers' signs and asked if she could read them. One read, "Not this pussy!" and she borrowed it and posed for a photo for her adult son. ("He's putting it on his Facebook. There are people on there who know me! What will they think?" We both agreed that it needed to happen.)

I asked, "Is this where you thought you'd be in late January?"

"In decades, I wouldn't have ever thought this is where I'd be," she replied.

"Is this the first march you've gone on?" "It is," she said.

But like so many, she said the moment and the urgency of the time compelled her, and she told her son and his wife that this was something she needed to do.

Image from

In the coming weeks, we'll have plenty of conversations and strategy discussions and substantive disagreements about the best way forward. Not everyone will bring in ideas that have reached the planes of political perfection. But we shouldn't even momentarily neglect the magic of the circumstances that we're in, where ordinary people across our cities and states see the approaching darkness and nonetheless feel called to act on hope and possibility.

For they--like many of the half a million in D.C., and the quarter million in Chicago, or the older woman on the train--have decided it is time to join the Resistance.
Nick Burt, Chicago

Don't shame those who speak out

IN RESPONSE to "When celebrities take on Trump": Thank you for this article. Myself and my journalist husband, who is disabled, are still reeling from Trump's loathsome attack on Serge Kovalesky, a reporter who is disabled.

Worse than the attack was the silence--from the media, the public, the left. So we were grateful for Meryl Streep's brave statement.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

Right-wing populists find easy targets by picking on the weakest groups in society. We see that with Trump's attacks on the disabled, minorities and immigrants. We saw that in the 1930s when the fascists first tried out their gas execution methods on people who were disabled.

Staying silent or trying to silence celebrities only tells the Trumpers that it is okay. And if it is okay to attack the disabled, then as history shows, they know we will not fight back when they assault women, deport immigrants, or take away Medicare. Socialists have to send a different message, as you have done in this article.
Joan McKiernan, New York City

Protest is only the start

I BELIEVE that demonstrations rock--unlike some speakers who, from the front of the recent protests, scolded people for not doing more, or who actually told thousands and thousands that demonstrations do nothing.

What destructive nonsense that rhetoric is. Demonstrations are critical for too many reasons to list here, but let's leave it at the fact that, to begin with, they engender confidence and solidarity in the masses who participate--not to mention that they put those who are being protested on notice.

You could feel that in the marches against Trump. Among the huge crowds of beautiful, heartfelt, loving people who came out, the question was palpable: "What do we do next?"

Millions of protesters is a spectacular start to stopping Trump, but how? And what about the Democratic Party? None of us have become better off in the last eight years, except the richest 10 or 15 percent in the U.S., including the six men based in the U.S. out of the eight globally who now own as much as the poorest half--yes, half--of the world. (And they aren't going to give that up.) Neither did things become better for most of us under eight years of Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or Lyndon Johnson, and so on.

Calling Democrats or Republicans until you're blue in the face and giving every last dime you have (and, honestly, how many dimes do you have?) to Planned Parenthood, isn't going to stop the enormity of these attacks.

The Democrats don't even care to fight: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, for God's sake! Obama facilitated the smooth transition of power and attended the inauguration--and cut food stamps and bombed eight countries and blamed African Americans for their painful circumstances (which were intensified by the Clintons). We have to look reality in the face.

No one else is going to fix this for us--we are responsible for fixing our own and each other's lives. But we can only do that collectively. You can't demonstrate alone. You can't get a raise alone. Can't keep an abortion clinic open by yourself. Or protect your African American children from being shot by the police. Or stop global warming. Or stop the bombing our presidents all do.

We can only do it through organized collective action. Then, we have to take that second scary step and join something bigger than ourselves, something real: a coalition with a winning strategy; a women's group; Black Lives Matter; Socialist Alternative; the International Socialist Organization (my organization); any organization that is not now nor ever intends to become beholden to the Democrats.

I'm always open to discussion and debate, but let's do this! We are many, they are few. Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide.
Kim Gasper-Rabuck, Madison, Wisconsin

Wrong chant for the inauguration

I AM writing in response to "He made America protest again" by Eric Ruder and Danny Katch. In an article that is filled with much inspiration and hope, I didn't expect to also be offended and angered, at least not by socialists. Unfortunately, that moment came when I read the end of this paragraph:

The International Socialist Organization contingent swelled to hundreds of people, attracting large crowds with energetic and left-wing chants. Favorites included "Black, Latino, Arab, Asian and white! Unite, unite, unite to fight the right!" "Trump, escucha, estámos en la lucha" ("Hey Trump, we will fight you!") "We do not consent, Trump is not our president!" "Trump says build a wall, we say amnesty for all!" and "We don't really want your borders, taco trucks on every corner!"

No doubt said with good intentions in the fight for amnesty for all, the chant "We don't really want your borders, taco trucks on every corner!" is offensive to me and reinforces stereotypes that are roadblocks to establishing true solidarity between sections of the working class.

This chant minimizes the contributions of Mexican immigrants to American culture and the domestic class struggle. It reinforces the ideas of white Americans that Latinos, and specifically Mexicans, should come to America to "serve" them (in this case delicious tacos).

Mexican immigrants in America are much more than taco truck workers. They work in a variety of jobs with immense skill sets and ideas for struggle and progress. Reducing them to the image of taco truck workers is offensive in ways similar to the stereotype of Indian Americans as 7-11 workers.

Plus, we all know the lengths racial stereotypes can go in regards to food. Black people in America have struggled heroically to overcome the racist images and ideas of their intelligence associated with them eating fried chicken and watermelon.

Of course, I am not accusing the ISO of racial hatred. I believe that the organization is adamantly anti-racist and is a strong fighter in the battle for amnesty for all immigrants. However, in this fight, I do believe a mistake was made by the ISO with leading this chant.

The negative effects of the stereotype of Mexicans as food truck workers reduces the Mexican experience and distorts the picture of their humanity. This rhetoric goes along with the liberal base of the pro-immigration front who, in response to Donald Trump's racist attacks on Mexicans, said "Who doesn't like tacos?"

I know Mexicans who don't like tacos. And I know even more who can't cook tacos. Under the illusion of inclusion or uniting the working class, this chant in my view actually puts a wedge between huge sections of our class; because that's what stereotypes do.

In order for socialists to gain the confidence of the working class in the quest for power, we need to be on the front lines of the fights against the oppression that divides us; but we also need to get it right. In my view, regardless of good intentions, the ISO got it wrong when they led this chant.

Hopefully, from here on out the ISO will rethink its decision to use such a chant and use such opportunities to more accurately paint a picture of the Mexican people and their contributions to the world.
Andy Winger, Chicago

Uses of the hacking scandal

IN RESPONSE to "Cynical uses of the hacking allegations": Adam Marletta wrote in a Readers' View published by Socialist Worker:

Given the complete lack of tangible evidence in this "scandal," the accusations of Russian hacking come off as yet another desperate, pathetic attempt by the Democratic Party to blame anyone and everyone for its electoral loss--anyone, that is, except know, the party itself. The Democrats are basically flailing around searching for anyone--anyone!--to use as a scapegoat for their epic failure. This is what the Democrats do after every major loss.

I think it is dangerous to think that there isn't some rationale behind why we are being potentially misled by the Democratic establishment. There is a larger potential strategy to all this, and if we are going to get serious about suggesting that this is puffed-up propaganda, we need to do better than saying they are seeking out a scapegoat.

Russia was softly mentioned after the leak, but as the Democratic Party was still feeling confident about the outcome of the election. It wasn't given too much concern. After the election, it became clear that the Electoral College secured the win for Trump. There was a good deal of outrage by the public over this.

The most disconcerting element of the Russian allegations and their timing is that it effectively drowned out all criticism and outrage over the Electoral College. It also appears to be paving the way for a bipartisan witch hunt over Internet freedom and freedom of the press.

It seems plausible that the most likely end goal of all this is to rein in control on both sides of the political spectrum and throw the public into a very vulnerably confused state. Both Trump and Bernie Sanders were able to elevate themselves via social media and independent journalism. The political establishment, both Democratic and Republican, recognizes this and sees it as a serious liability.

Posing the idea that Trump was propped up via fake news and leaks is a great way to sway the public's trust away from whistleblowers and independent journalists.
Bridgette O'Brien, Madison, Wisconsin

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