Views in brief

June 13, 2018

A world that drives people into crisis

IN RESPONSE to “Eating with the underdogs”: Anthony Bourdain was more than a celebrity chef and television personality. From his episodes in places like Beirut and Jerusalem, to covering the opioid epidemic and shining a light on the crimes of the United States and Henry Kissinger, Bourdain increasingly used his show to do what no one else on any of the cable news networks seems willing or able to do — real journalism.

Joe Richard says in his tribute that Bourdain “had the best job in the world.” I think reckoning with that statement is important. What does it say about how we live that having the greatest job on the planet isn’t enough to escape the pain and alienation imposed on us by capitalism?

Bourdain’s death is one more reason on a very long list to fight for a more humane and compassionate world.
Christopher Zimmerly-Beck, Portland, Oregon

Teachers need independent unions

IN RESPONSE to “#RedForEd versus the UFT-Cuomo Blues”: This is a thoughtful analysis.

Image from SocialistWorker.org

As a now-retired teacher active for many years in United Teachers Los Angeles, I have attended many American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conventions. Though formally democratic, the AFT is organized to maintain all-important positions in one leadership group. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), as the largest local in AFT, is the linchpin of that process.

Sometimes, the AFT takes progressive positions, but the usual strategy is to maintain a “seat at the table,” rather than challenge the powerful. The irony is that there are a number of self-identified socialists (or social democrats) among the leadership, but inevitably, both the AFT and UFT end up promoting “liberals” like Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, rather than more progressive challengers. It’s very disappointing.

Only an unprecedented uprising from below will bring the change that is needed, not unlike the progressive challenge in dealing with the Democratic Party and U.S. politics overall. We have a long road ahead of us.
Brad Jones, Los Angeles

Who is guilty of Mawda’s death?

THERE IS a statue on Ellis Island that reminds every American citizen of the fact that their nation was founded by refugees. There is a huge difference between the spirit of freedom on which the U.S. was built and the spirit with which refugees are welcomed in Europe today.

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There are governments that fell over a lot less than the death of a 2-year-old. After a Belgian policeman recently killed a 2-year-old when he aimed at a van full of Kurdish refugees, politicians now bicker about whether young Mawda’s parents should get a temporary residence permit or not!

And then they try and cover up who is guilty by investigating whether it was an “accident” or not.

If the police officer would not have shot, if the police would not have been armed, if the refugees would have been welcome and not hunted down like criminals, if there had not been a war in the Middle East so that people could have stayed home safely — then perhaps it might have been an “accident.”

It is not an accident. The guilty party is the system that needs a war for oil. The guilty parties are the multinational oil companies that lobby for war. The guilty party is Bashar al-Assad and all the factions involved in their war.

The guilty parties are the European Parliament and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees for not opening Europe’s borders for the needy. The guilty parties are Belgian President Charles Michel and his government, who wage war against refugees in Belgium.

The guilty parties are the racist far-right politicians who make racism against refugees acceptable in Belgium. The guilty party is the Belgian police force, which has been extra cynical and racist for decades. The guilty party is the policeman who says “Befehl ist Befehl” (“An order is an order”) and shoots blindly, before knowing who is in the van.

It is high time that Mr. Michel admits guilt for having killed a 2-year-old girl who will never grow up as a free citizen in Europe, because she is no longer with us.

No excuse that these pathetic, self-centered, lying politicians come up with can be good enough for Mawda’s parents, because it will not bring back their daughter.

Only the resignation of the Belgian federal government can be seen as a sincere apology, because there are many, many 2-year-olds in Belgium whose parents want to be reassured that the next bullet from yet another police patrol with drawn guns will not ricochet and kill their baby.

Michel must go. No child’s life should go to waste!
Kerian Alverman, from the internet

In pain and treated like a criminal

IN RESPONSE to “Why is the FDA banning Kratom?”: I agree with Coco Smyth’s article on this subject. I am a chronic pain patient. I have had half a lung removed, open heart surgery, broken bones in several wrecks and many other issues, like degenerative joint disease, scoliosis, and spinal stenosis. My neck has issues — my C4 and C5 discs pop out on a regular basis, because there is no bone to hold them in.

I have constant pain. Pain that brings tears to my eyes and makes it almost impossible to sleep. Everything hurts.

My doctor has to make me come in once a month and test me for illegal substances. I do not do anything illegal, so it doesn’t bother me much, but lately, I have to go to the doctor a lot more, just so I can keep taking the meds I take. Otherwise, he would have to reduce my dosages, and I would be useless.

The real problem is fentanyl and heroin. I don’t understand why I have to pay for people’s actions, when I have nothing to do with any of it. I and many others are easier targets, I suppose. I and many others who will never get any better, but will actually worse, are being singled out as criminals.

This needs to stop, immediately. I am not a criminal. I am sick of the whole thing.
Steven Earl Causey, from the internet

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