Readers’ Views, March-April 2018, Part 1

From the March-April 2018 issue of News & Letters

WOMEN’S MARCHES

The voices of women calling for a new social order were loud and clear throughout the streets of Los Angeles at the Women’s March on Jan. 20. Hundreds of thousands of women and men gathered at Pershing Square and walked to Grant Park, chanting and raising our voices. The movement of women shows that the current social relations are not working for a majority of people. We need to focus on the voices of women, who may well determine the outcome of the next election and more.

Mannel
Los Angeles

***

At the very beginning of the Women’s March in Los Angeles, I got to see a pro-DACA feeder march. The march happened while the government mini-shutdown was in effect. An interesting sign read, “Keep DACA, throw out CACA,” with a pile of excrement that resembles Trump’s head. One of the ubiquitous slogans was “Women are the Wall and Trump will pay for it.” That slogan articulates intersection.

Marcher
Los Angeles

***

The women’s marches in San Francisco and around the world show the potential for an emotional transformation and spiritual rebirth of the human race. After centuries of remaining stuck in needless and ugly wars, growing poverty and sexual and racial divisions, the human family needs to take a leap in consciousness. The danger of nuclear war and global warming are signs that we human beings must begin a new chapter in our history as a species.

Rama Kumar
Fairfax, Calif.

***

I enjoyed Terry Moon’s “The Humanism of #MeToo” (Jan.-Feb. N&L). Her warning about attempts to narrow the movement is on point. Whenever the powerful cannot ignore our issues, they seek to narrow or twist and co-opt them. It is important for us to study feminism, especially radical Black feminism. There is a great deal of misogyny behind these prison walls.

Prisoner
Huntingdon, Penn.

IRAN IN REVOLT

Part of the women’s march in Tehran, Iran, on International Women’s Day, March 8, 1979.

Iranian women in the strikes are chanting against fraud and money laundering. Their savings and retirement money disappeared. One brave woman, seen on YouTube, was screaming because she was fired and is owed months for unpaid labor. The ministry of labor told her it is not their problem. Many workers, especially women, are not employed permanently. They are “contract” workers with no rights. Women are everywhere: protesting at prisons, demanding their sons, daughters and husbands be released, providing refuge for people being chased by security forces. Most believe they are the best at social media and in organizing protests. They do the “traditional” tasks of nursing the wounded and also lead. Women are the link of continuity with 2009 and 1978-79. We often hear that “The next Iranian revolution will be a women’s revolution.” If this movement is suppressed, another movement will be born of it. Nobody knows in advance—just as no one knew that Vida Movahed’s protest would be repeated by so many.

Raha
Bay Area, Calif.

***

Bosnia is a warning brought up several times in “Iranian Workers, Youth Reach for New Radical Beginnings” (Jan.-Feb. N&L). The existence of a multicultural, non-chauvinist force in Sarajevo and throughout Bosnia was never really communicated by mass media, who had an interest in projecting the tired argument that these age-old religious and ethnic conflicts will just be smoldering forever. We cannot allow the Iranian ruling class, in its two-headed religious and secular factions, to fool the Left again, like Milosevic, Assad, Maduro, et al. We’ve got to listen lower and deeper.

Buddy
Los Angeles

AROUND THE GLOBE

We in Yemen aren’t in need of food. We are in need of freedom. If we had it, we wouldn’t be in need of food.

Correspondent
Yemen

***

Australia’s main political parties—both the Federal Government Coalition of Liberal and National Parties, and the opposition Labor Party—support the continuation of Australia’s inhumane policy on asylum-seekers arriving by boat. (See “Australia’s Castaways,” Jan.-Feb. N&L.) The main reason the major parties are reluctant to soften their asylum-seeker policies is the fear of a racist backlash from voters at election time. The only party that maintains a consistent opposition to the detention of asylum-seekers in camps on Nauru and Manus, are the Greens. Unfortunately, the Greens hold only a few seats in Parliament, although their voice is important in exposing these barbaric practices. Senator Nick McKim, mentioned in your report, is a Greens Party senator who visited the detention camp on Manus Island last year, and witnessed the inhumane treatment and dire conditions of the detainees there.

Paul Rubner
Sydney, Australia

***

I found South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address strange. It’s good that President Jacob Zuma is gone and that perhaps some of the power of the Gupta brothers has waned, but Ramaphosa is not promising. He is a good talker, but I can’t forget the 2012 massacre of miners at the Lonmin mine at Marikana, which recalls the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. Ramaphosa, as a director of the company, called for the police to intervene. He is a vastly wealthy man, even by U.S. standards. It is hard to imagine that he will bring much improvement to the lives of most South Africans.

D. Chêneville
Bay Area

RACE AND FREEDOM

Black Panther broke box office records and generated excitement. In the form of a superhero action film, it is a multi-layered allegory of philosophical and cultural trends in Black USA. A Detroit viewer told me:

“This fantasy shows the flip side of the Black American experience, not just rooting us in the oppression beginning with slavery. Men and women struggle together and with each other without sexploitation. Women are respected—they are warriors, generals who are loyal to the crown but who think about the meaning of their battles and are willing to change their loyalty. There are no ‘bitches,’ ‘hoes’ or pole dancers. The movie is beautifully executed and rooted in Afrocentric philosophy. Wakanda portrays a positive Africa. It felt like going home. It sends universal messages; pride in yourself and your culture is not anti-anyone else.”

Susan Van Gelder
Detroit

***

To this day they are saying that incarceration creates a lot of profit, so why not incarcerate Black and Brown? The U.S. has 25% of the population of prisoners in the world, an incredible amount. I heard that there are 90 million people with a criminal record. Something is wrong with this society where either the police are cornering people or we are living in a jungle that the capitalists rule. The violence towards women, Blacks, Muslims, is because we are continuously at war and police are killing people in the streets. The problem of racism has historical roots.

Immigrant
Los Angeles

***

Photo by Lorie Shaull.
flickr.com/photos/number7cloud/40339223852

I hope N&L will address how some people are pitting the lack of response to Black students fighting gun violence and killings, against the attention given to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Of course it’s different because the school is predominantly white, but don’t they realize that everyone is cannon fodder if you are not part of the ruling class?

Black socialist grandmother
Detroit

***

About the discussion of the 13th Amendment in the last issue: many people fail to realize that this Amendment actually wrote slavery into the U.S. Constitution. I wish more prisoners would study the economic rationalizations of marginalizing and confining people. Who is being confined, where and why? I’m Black and understand the role race plays in our society, but there are other factors that “otherize” people. If we don’t realize this, we will miss opportunities to build strong coalitions, to be allies to others who are attempting to cast off the chains of oppression. Moreover, we might be oppressing others. Prisoners tend to see race but not the other qualities that get people targeted for incarceration or the combination of factors that consign many of us to civil and social death.

Stephen Wilson
Huntingdon, Penn.

QUEER OPPRESSION

The situation for the Queer community has worsened under President Trump. The Education Department will no longer pursue civil rights investigations for Transgender students denied access to bathrooms and locker rooms according to their identified sex. Health and Human Services will now grant healthcare workers the right to deny services if the workers have a “moral” objection to a service such as abortion or to a person such as a Lesbian. They call it “religious liberty.” Trump still wants to ban Transgender people from the military supposedly because their healthcare is too expensive—while at the same time insisting on an expensive military parade. The year 2017 was the most violent in 20 years of attacks against LGBTQ people. We Queer people must continue to work for our freedom.

Queer girl
Midwest

***

I have been receiving N&L for 15 years, in which I spent 11 at the state’s sole Supermax. Though I’m a historian when it comes to Africa and the struggle of all oppressed nationals, women, etc., I always learn something. In addition, N&L challenges me. I used to be homophobic, but N&L, through “Queer Notes” etc., opened my eyes to the fact that oppression is oppression, and we can’t call ourselves Revolutionaries and Freedom Fighters unless we are against the oppression of all people and for helping oppressed people everywhere regardless of race, class, gender, sexual preference and so on.

Black Moses
Portage, Wis.

WHY READ N&L?

N&L is more balanced and reality-based than many other publications. Most of the articles are well written without making things overly separatist. Some other publications either only use terms that need glossaries explaining them, or over half the articles are poorly written. I’ve encountered very few of these problems with N&L. That allows me to focus on the issues and share the articles with others who may have opposing viewpoints without them ignoring what is presented and just attacking the poor presentation. I wish more publications would take your approach instead of preaching and trying to gain as much acceptance as possible from the people and groups who already share their views.

Prisoner
San Pedro, Calif.

***

The articles are too opinionated. When I read a newspaper, I like to be given a chance to form my own opinions. With your paper I have a hard time understanding the facts of the situation because of all the propaganda. There’s no reason to make things look any worse than they truly are.

Dennis Thomas
Homer, La.

***

There is a tremendous anti-capitalist socialist political vacuum in the “Left.” While I have read many good anti-capitalist articles, I do not support the Trotskyist worldview in support of a vanguard party to promote the creation of a socialist economy. Any long-term viable socialist revolution must minimally be from the “bottom up” that involves the promotion of workers’ management of their local enterprise. Thanks for sending N&L.

Subscriber
Los Angeles

***

Please find a donor as I would like very much to continue to receive your paper. I like the different insights into problems and struggles that the news media does not cover. Thank you for bringing these topics to me and countless others and giving the people a voice.

Prisoner
Corcoran, Calif.

***

Presently I am doing 25 to life and find that N&L offers profound insights that I often hear others and myself exchanging conversation on as a result. As I am doing a SHU term in the hole, I cannot offer financial assistance as I surely would like to do.

Prisoner
Corcoran, Calif.

One thought on “Readers’ Views, March-April 2018, Part 1

  1. Es muy bueno leer los comentarios de gente que vive en Estados Unidos, sobre la situación política y social que se vive en ese país. Estas voces son importantes para entender la realidad de lo que está sucediendo, porque en la prensa común no hay espacio para estas voces.
    [Translation: It is very good to read the commentaries of people who live in the U.S. about the political and social situation that people live in that country. These voices are important for understanding the reality of what is happening, because in the common press there is no space for these voices.]

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