Views in brief

August 21, 2017

Students lead the way in Vermont

IN RESPONSE to "Students dump a racist symbol": I am the principal of South Burlington High School (SBHS). Please share my appreciation with Matthew Gordon for his article recounting our recent experience with changing our mascot.

As Matthew states, student voice played a very large role in the change...and it has been a difficult time for our school and community.

I'm entering my 20th year at SBHS. I'm grateful every day that there are still times when the students "become the teachers"--certainly this was one of those times. Matthew was correct to identify the students as the catalyst for this change.

As we start school, we're hoping to reunite our school and community--certainly all our students deserve our best efforts to that end.
Patrick Burke, from the Internet

Demolishing Israeli myths

IN RESPONSE to "Deconstructing Israeli mythology": I want to thank for reviewing Ilan Pappé's new book. This book is a welcome addition to an increasing repertoire of literature in the struggle for Palestinian rights as we watch the Occupied Territories take steps into a new phase of resistance.

Image from

The idea that Palestine was "a land without a people" is still taken as common sense over 70 years later, even among people who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Levant was divided into four distinct states by both Britain and France following the First World War, only one of which was Palestine, under the secret Sykes-Picot agreement. In order to maintain both empires' domination over the coveted Suez Canal and easy access to the riches of India and Southeast Asia, the French and British empires used ethnic and religious tensions to their advantage--playing them against each other in the creation of these states.

The displacement of Palestinian Arabs and the creation of Israel in 1948 were largely a part of Britain's decision to upset the fragile balance and to have a state in line with European interests in the Middle East.

The U.S. took over that precious mantle during the Cold War, where Arab states had been pitted against each other through the pro-West monarchies of the Gulf and the Arab nationalists courted by the USSR of North Africa and the Levant. In a tragic finale, the Cold War found its last battleground in the streets of Beirut--a brutal civil war that has only waited to resurface in the streets of Aleppo, Kobane, Raqqa and Mosul.

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.

Pappé's new book is an invaluable resource for revolutionary socialists trying to come to grips with the history of anti-Semitism, Zionist colonial occupation, and the long 20th and 21st century history of oppression.
Tom Gagné, Atlanta

ICE lies about Frank Fuentes

IN RESPONSE to "ICE is guilty of the murder of Frank Fuentes": I knew Frank Fuentes. It seems very surreal that his picture is everywhere in the media. And yes, it is very political.

He was a very Americanized Latino who struggled when deported to Guatemala, a place he didn't even remember. He would be turning in his grave if he could see that the media was trying to paint him as a gang member and an MS-13 gang member, something he hated! (And, while he was alive, something all of his friends hated.)

So you can imagine that seeing the media trying to paint him as an MS-13 member had me speechless. We see how ICE is using this to their advantage. They are trying to paint people as gang members to get them deported.
Wilbert, Falls Church, Virginia

A question not asked

IN RESPONSE to "How will Brazil's left react to the Lula verdict?": I am glad SW published this article. Both parts of the article and the introduction ask the question "how will the left react" to Lulu's verdict. I think, given the influence (though relative weakness to the Workers Party [PT] itself) that this is a legitimate question to pose, but actually it is the secondary question.

The primary question is not where the left falls in this, though it is, of course, of interest to the readers of this paper, but where will the working class fall on this issue? That is not posed at all in the article. Given the huge role of the unions in particular, which group together the most class-conscious workers in Brazil, not posing this question is a disservice to the readers.

The largest union in Brazil and the union that groups together the majority of manufacturing workers in this country, the CUT is the largest union in the Western Hemisphere. There are other militant unions as well.

The CUT has not, generally, distinguished itself independently of the Lula leadership, and this has hurt them. Yet workers continue to look to this organization as the highest expression of their class interests. This needs to be discussed.
David Walters, San Francisco

Hands off Venezuela

IN RESPONSE to "Being honest about Venezuela": While I agree with your analysis of the mistakes made by Nicolás Maduro and the growing bureaucracy behind him. I find your lack of advocacy of a fight back against the right-wing opposition dangerous to the extent that, without support of the government at least to defend what has been achieved, you are helping to promote a Chilean-type coup.

I am a member of the UK Socialist Workers Party and remember that when Cuba was under attack we supported "Hands off Cuba" demonstrations. Why are you not promoting "Hands off Venezuela" demonstrations to defend what gains have been made and protest the destabilization policies that all left-wing governments--whether top down or bottom up--would be subjected to?
Jim Hutchinson, Gateshead, UK