From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters
THIS SOCIETY’S INGRAINED VIOLENCE
Ingrained violence, unseparated from ingrained racial and class disparities, stood out starkly on the recent local news. It opened with seven minutes of reports on the wonderful community support for the Michigan State University students after the recent mass shooting there. The support included adjustments to academic requirements, the closing of Berkey Hall for the semester, over 200 counselors and several therapy dogs coming to campus. Following that report came two more of shootings in Detroit which injured one seven-year old and two teenaged boys, in about 30 seconds. Where are the counselors and therapy dogs for these Black children? Who is looking out for their mental health and that of their families? Will their aggressors even be caught or prosecuted?
Susan Van Gelder
I drove to MSU several days after the shootings there and talked to several students. Then I headed to the state capitol. At least 2,000 people were there. It was very emotional, listening to the students who were speaking into the microphone set up on the capitol building steps, telling how they felt they were going to die. One of the themes seemed to be how the youth have been abandoned by their elders and that if anything is going to change, it is they, the youth, who will have to do it. I remember reading a column in the Battle Creek Enquirer several years ago. The writer said that her youngest child had just graduated from high school and that she had gone through “active shooter” training since kindergarten. These people are in college now. They have been groomed by the corrupt, obsolete capitalist system of political economy to be victims. “A long train of abuses, long ignored”: these are the preconditions of revolution, as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson. The students today are the true subjects of revolution.
Battle Creek, Mich.
AFTER THE MURDER OF TYRE NICHOLS
Cops in Los Angeles beat a man after a traffic stop. In Memphis, they beat a Black man to death after a traffic stop. When are the sheeple going to realize that Amerikkkan cops are exactly like the Nazi storm troopers? Their “job” is to intimidate people of color, arrest kids for drug possession and write traffic tickets, the big source of money for cities around the U.$. And if you need help, don’t call a cop, especially if it is a mental health crisis. Someone could easily wind up dead and it won’t be the cop.
Cañon City, Colo.
After the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, I saw at least two more videos on TV showing a Black man being murdered by police. Then just before I wrote this there was another one. In such an environment, one might justifiably conclude that Black men will never receive justice and that we are going to be watching these atrocities forever. We have already been watching them for over 30 years, since the Rodney King incident in L.A. As a society we should be able to solve this problem of extrajudicial murder, but the murderous, genocidal logic of the system of political economy that we live under dictates otherwise. It leaves the solution up to each individual, willy-nilly. There is no solution under capitalism. We must kill it before it kills us.
WOMEN AND GIRLS FACE OPPRESSION
When I read the studies about how girls were in such terrible trouble even before the pandemic, with rates of suicide and suicidal thoughts skyrocketing and so many high school girls experiencing forced sex, I got so angry. None of the articles mentioned that girls and women are oppressed because they are girls and women. Clearly, women are despised, not seen as human, at least not the way men are. That is seen most recently in how cruel the new abortion restrictions are and how gleeful about it are those who created these inhuman laws. No real solution was offered, only that girls should learn to deal with the world the way it is, when what is needed is to transform it completely. Girls would be crazy not to be depressed as they approach puberty and see what this society has in store for them.
CHURCH SEXISM AND HYPOCRISY
Re: “Church survives on sexism & hypocrisy“ (Jan.-Feb. 2023 N&L), Catholic hospital networks certainly do create “dangerous conditions in their drive for profits,” which they extract through their supposedly non-profit hospitals. This just happened where I live, in Hammond, Ind., where Franciscan Health Alliance took over St. Margaret’s hospital and soon started selling off medical equipment and demolishing various buildings. I usually avoid going there but was referred by my regular clinician about a year ago. I walked to my appointment through a campus of eerily silent and darkened hallways. According to Mayor McDermott, in 2021, the Franciscan administration summoned him to a meeting which they opened with a prayer. Then they said they were closing all of the hospital except the ER, which they pledged to keep open as the only ER remaining in Hammond. In November 2022, they reneged, announcing they would stop accepting ambulances effective Dec. 23. A court injunction was necessary to hold Franciscan to their stated mission, which is to serve the poor with an ER, for the next nine months, which gives the city some time to find a new provider.
Ms. Moon wrote a great article about the Catholic Church. Everything she wrote is true. The Catholic Church controlled the show for 1,000 years. But once Martin Luther squalled, the Protestants were created, which resulted in things like the Thirty Years War as both groups battled for control of everything. Today when there is a march against women’s reproductive freedom, the Christian Fascist Religious Right Protestants are standing next to the Catholics. In some ways, the Protestant big wigs like Texas Gov. Abbott and Florida Gov. DeSantis may be more dangerous than the Pope.
Cañon City, Colo.
FUNDAMENTALISM VS. WOMEN
Men, under the guise of any fundamentalist religion you want to name, certainly are obsessed with what women wear. While we all know about the Taliban—who invented a fanatical form of Islam, it seems, just to terrorize and enslave women—we’re just learning about Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party and its chair, Aryeh Deri. Their proposed new law forbids the playing of any musical instruments and imposes a strict dress code—mostly on women—at the Western Wall Plaza. Dare to show your shoulders? You’ll go to prison for six months and pay a $2,840 fine. This bill is all about controlling women. While at this moment the bill stands no chance of passage, it reveals not only that the goal of the Shas party is women’s oppression, but that they also are testing the waters to see just how far they can go and how fast.
CALL TO ACTION
We encourage every inmate from every state to join us in solidarity to combat our nation’s judicial iniquities and oppressions upon the lower class. Our nation’s elite has been profiting from the incarceration of its own people. The state of Pennsylvania is no stranger to injustice, and recently it has been getting worse because we have been allowing it. Philadelphia officers have been circumventing the laws in order to arrest and convict our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and children. We have had enough, watching, as teachers in this country struggle to get children the proper supplies to learn, as prisons flush money and supplies down the drain. We are sick of having to beg our families to help support us so we are no longer hungry because we can’t afford the outrageous prices for [commissary items]. Our jobs only pay us 19 to 42 cents an hour. Our state pays millions to contractors in monetary incentives. A company in Florida scans inmate mail which the local prison staff could easily do. Private phone and email companies charge our families ridiculous amounts to use their service. The prisons and this state need us to do the work in prison in order for these facilities to run. I’m asking that we all stand together, and refuse to work, beginning Saturday, June 3, 2023. The inmates in Alabama did it because they finally had enough, and they succeeded. It’s our turn. We need to do this for our families.
CENSORSHIP HERE AND NOW
I’m writing to tell you about how you are being censored. As you can see by the photocopy, the mailing label was cut from the envelope your paper came in and then taped over a swath of the text, completely avoiding the large area at the top where the paper’s banner resides. This is just one of many tactics being used. Please keep sending me the paper and fighting the good fight.
I’m writing to notify you of an ongoing repeated violation of Offender Mail Procedure at Jefferson City Correctional Center, by the mail and property room personnel. They violate Constitutionally protected rights to due process and freedom of press. “Religious organization” and “community resource organizations/agencies”—such as prisoner literary organizations that promote literacy by distributing books or educational and recreational reading—are defined as “special mail” under “IS 13-1.1 offender mail procedures/2 definitions.” Furthermore, the same document states: “envelopes containing special mail shall be opened by the mail room and forwarded to the assigned corrections case manager (CCM) who shall distribute the contents to the offender.” This is not being followed. In addition, I’ve been informed that many of these packages sent to me have been sent back: “Return to sender” by property room staff before I’m informed of their arrival. Their actions are a violation of my due process rights twice over, and freedom of the press. Cease this illegal activity motivated by a sick agenda of depriving prisoners of reading material.
Jefferson City, Mo.
Brexit was sold as a racist nationalist solution to all of Britain’s problems. It failed catastrophically. The British working class needs to reject nationalism, racism, isolationism and push for a socialist agenda.
CHINA’S WORKERS AND U.S.
“China’s white paper revolution scares Xi Jinping” (Jan.-Feb. 2023 N&L) takes up the question: What is the global context of the very important revolt in China; why now? American workers must relate to Chinese workers.
IRAN REVOLT CONTINUES
In January, three new Iranian demonstrators were condemned to death. Khamenei, the murderer, finally came to talk to his followers. I think the only way the people of Iran can get rid of the government is if they are forced to change. Almost every Iranian would have to go on strike, which many will not do because they are tied to the regime. A strike in the bazaar helped bring down the Shah’s regime. Forty years ago, when the current government came to power, they said: “Iran is not important for us. Islam is important for us.” They still follow the same line. A friend told me many times that the guardians of Islam, these murderers, have a direct hand in the economy of Iran. They are the Bazaar. They’re the ones sending sons and daughters abroad, buying property and living there, the same crap. Nothing changed about these leaders. Only the title has changed. They should not be driving motorcycles and shooting people. A demonstrator said, “We are scared that the government will drop an atomic bomb on us.” The regime has no shame.
Iranian in exile
AZADKAR, IN MEMORIAM
I’m sending this donation in memory of Azadkar. (“Azadkar (Tooraj Haji Moradi), 1952-2022,” Jan.-Feb. 2023 N&L.) My heart goes out to all who experienced the enormity of his contributions and his loss. The magnificent mosaic of voices that is built on Raya Dunayevskaya’s philosophy is irreplaceable.