Views in brief

December 7, 2016

Solidarity can win

THE HALTING of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a victory for every human on earth and for life on earth in general. It is a clear message to corporations who want to roll over communities and destroy their resources in the quest for profit. It says that the plans of the 1 Percent to further enrich themselves at our expense will be met with heroic resistance.

Even if Energy Transfer Partners (the main company behind DAPL) seeks to force their original plan through in the future--and CEO Kelcy Warren is "100 percent confident" this can be done under a Trump presidency--the recent call from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt work on DAPL will severely limit that project's ability to succeed at later dates, especially given the newfound confidence given to water protectors.

After months of facing a militarized police force and their violent use of rubber bullets, slugs, tear gas, ear-shattering sound cannons and high-pressure water hoses in sub-zero temperatures, the water protectors not only carried on their struggle, but grew in strength, numbers and support from across the globe.

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This victory is especially important in the U.S.--the belly of the beast and center of global capital. Trump's plan to lower American working conditions and drive up manufacturing at home will require a continuation and intensifying of Obama's energy plan, which has been to increase access of cheap fossil fuels to corporations in the U.S. looking to onshore production.

Standing Rock confirms that mass struggle and multiracial solidarity are the key to winning victories for our side. Even as one water protector might lose her arm to a concussion grenade and another may be blinded as the result of a tear gas canister, some on the left made arguments echoed by the police that Standing Rock was too full of white "Burning Man"-type hippies, and discouraged people from going there.

The recent announcement proved, however--a couple days after 2,000 veterans arrived in Standing Rock in support--that it was precisely more people throwing themselves into struggle that produced the historic victory.

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.

We should remember that Standing Rock happened under the watch of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. It was against and despite them that this victory was won.

During the presidential race, Hillary Clinton's electoral campaign stated "all of the parties involved--including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes--need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest." Considering all the parties mentioned in that statement, minus the tribes, were on the side of the pipeline company, it's clear whose side Clinton was on.

The December 4 victory is ours. It was won not by standing with or following the "lesser evil," but by forging struggle independent of the Democratic Party and fighting for the greater good. It was mass protest and multiracial solidarity that stood down the "black snake" at Standing Rock.

It was because of everyone at Standing Rock--and those everywhere who marched, raised money, "checked in" on Facebook to confuse the police, and had meetings for the cause--that we can now look to hope in a world of darkness.
David Wood, Amherst, Massachusetts

Taking on the state at Standing Rock

THE IMPORTANCE of collective, direct action in contributing to the victory in Standing Rock cannot be understated. If the people of Standing Rock and their allies from around the world had relied solely on the "proper channels" of electoralism, petitions and writing letters to the editor, or their senators and the president, the Dakota Access pipeline would have been completed months ago.

Instead, they faced down the brutality of the state, with all of its weaponry: long-range acoustical devices, concussion grenades, water cannons in freezing weather, tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, constant aerial surveillance and more. The many sacrifices of the last year must never be forgotten.

The water protectors not only stood tall, they grew. And the state, for the moment, has backed down.

Mass struggle gets the goods, folks.
Ben Taylor, from the Internet

Trump's misogyny is common

IN RESPONSE to "How did we get the misogynist in chief?": I got my dream job at the Lynchburg Fire Department in 2013. For the next two and a half years, I was harassed, bullied and retaliated against. At one point, I was physically assaulted.

I filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint--and then another for a hostile work environment based on my age and gender. The hostility directed against me when I spoke up about racism, misogyny and bigotry increased tenfold, and I began to fear for my life should something happen in a fire-ground situation. Eventually, I had to leave.

In order to file a complaint, you need an attorney. Unfortunately, most civil rights attorneys do not accept cases on contingency or pro bono basis. I was told I would need at least $20,000 to continue my pursuit of justice. I do not have money, and I am unemployed.

The other option is to file pro se (representing yourself). Forbes indicates a 0 percent chance of winning a civil rights case pro se. The pro se handbook provided by the Western Division of the Federal Court in Virginia provides numbers to free legal aid services--but they do not handle civil rights cases. They also suggest the American Civil Liberties Union or other low-cost options. All of those services take months to simply get a return phone call.

My case will probably be dismissed. I am depressed and suicidal. Justice is for the rich.

How did we get the misogynist-in-chief? That's easy. He really does say what the "rest of us are thinking." To think otherwise is a lie. Can we win? No. Human nature is base, and we are all animals at heart. To think otherwise is a dream that will never be realized. Articles like this give false hope.
Ruth Anne Phillips, Mammoth Spring, Arkansas

Hitting Energy Transfer Partners in the wallet

IN RESPONSE to "Obama's cowardly silence on Standing Rock": I agree that Obama has been a silent coward on Standing Rock.

I have not. I am an old retired guy who owned Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) stock for about a year. A couple month ago, when I saw how the Native Americans were being plundered and abused, I sold all the shares of ETP that I owned, and posted messages online advising other investors to do the same.

If we are to have a country with any respect for human rights, investors must be activists. ETP is now screwing their investors by lowering their dividend payout. That decision was made after I sold my shares. Those who still hold ETP shares should do the right thing, and sell those shares.

ETP is a company operated for the benefit of its management. Shareholders, Native Americans and landholders are just people to be plundered to serve ETP management.

Everyone needs to learn this lesson, and act upon it. Companies like ETP do not deserve the privilege of operating.
Mike Juha, Murrieta, California