From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters
Readers’ Views, Part 1
WOMEN FIGHT RAPE, HARASSMENT AND ABUSE
When I voted, many posters reminded folks that within 100 feet of the polling place you may not “interrupt” a person, nor “harass” nor even speak about your political views. All I could think of was the Supreme Court’s ruling on buffer zones at abortion clinics. Why can women be “interrupted” and “harassed,” forced to endure the gauntlet of assault on their personal, political, and healthcare decisions? It made me angry, this alleged, hallowed right to privacy, to make your own decisions free from “interruption” except if you’re a woman making decisions about your own body.
The importance of Terry Moon’s column “Fighting rape is in our hands” (Sept.-Oct. N&L) should not be underestimated. References to rape are everywhere; from the Tea Party to all forms of printed media. It is joked about in bars. And it is getting worse. As the war against women takes on steam, so do the implications that rape is just a part of our culture. Moon’s account of the college basketball player is one example. The terrible rapes that have taken place in Left groups are particularly troubling. It’s urgent to continue fighting back and writing about it.
What kind of justice is it that a man convicted of abusing his wife and children gets two years in prison, but his abused wife gets 30 years for “failing to protect” her children? Yet this is what happens, as illustrated recently in the case of Tondalo Hall.
My stress level from street harassment has been so high it was like every time I walk out the door I put my armor on. It causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is related to all sorts of health problems. Most enraging is the command to “smile.” This issue pushes my buttons. Just the intrusion, the demand for our attention, the demand for our response by those who believe they are entitled to our time—by virtue of having a penis.
Women have recently been shot for not giving random men their phone number after being followed and harassed. So many people say, “What’s the big deal?” This is living in constant fear and dying young from non-stop fight or flight response hormones or actually dying from being shot or punched by a stranger who feels entitled to claim any woman simply because she is in view. I swear, like the racism that is so prominently displayed these days, this is getting worse and worse.
ELECTIONS IN U.S….
I live in a subsidized apartment in New York City where HUD pays 70% of my rent. If the GOP eliminates subsidies for low-income housing, I will lose my apartment and have to leave New York or go back into a homeless shelter. If they eliminate food stamps, how will I eat? Soup kitchens run by charities? They are some of the most innutritious places in the world. Some Republicans are talking about restricting SSI to only people with physical disabilities. If I lose SSI, I also lose Medicaid. So am I worried? You better believe it! The solution is to band together and fight, militantly, like people did in the Great Depression, for shelter, food, medical care and a guaranteed income. Militantly doesn’t mean appealing to the hearts of the politicians. It means taking to the streets.
New York City
Talk about contradictions! Voters endorsed minimum wage raises, legalized marijuana, and gun control measures. Voters also assured Republican control of both the Senate and House, voting in the very party that opposes these measures. In fact, poll after poll has shown that many issues Americans are for, including reproductive choice and environmental regulation, are the same issues Republicans oppose. Why did so many vote for people who work against what they are for?
The fascists rush in when there is a vacuum. It’s nonsense that the Democrats can’t regain the House because of demographics. Kerry and Gore ignored whole sectors. There are two worlds in every rural county.
This election was important, especially for minorities. We will have to fight back even harder than before. With Rand Paul making racist speeches about “bringing back our heritage,” and new Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner going on about the need to be “competitive,” and all the other crap spewing from Republicans, we need to think from the standpoint of revolution and what we are for.
Disability rights activist
…AND IN CANADA
Since the election of Philippe Couillard as Premier in April, corruption in Québec has reached new heights. Couillard ran as a supporter of the disastrous “Plan Nord” that will turn more than half of Québec into a reserve for mineral and energy extraction. Now, the companies that will benefit are refusing to cooperate even with the minimal regulations that Couillard’s government has sought to implement. To begin new operations, mining companies are required to provide information to the government on previous release of toxic materials. To avoid doing so, they abuse Québec’s bankruptcy laws to claim that there are no funds to research or provide that information. Couillard has made a “pact with the devil” and the entire province, including his government, is suffering from it.
Celebrate Bisexuality Day observances on Sept. 23 included in D.C. a discussion of Bi youth and an open mike and burlesque event in Ohio. Internationally, there were Bi picnics in Canada and the Netherlands, and a courageous Bi meet in Russia. There are many misconceptions about Bisexuals. We are told that we do not exist, that Bisexuality is just a stage, that we don’t need a civil rights movement because many of us can “pass” as straight. But we do need a civil rights movement; we do need visibility. Bisexuals, whether adult or youth, experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, poverty, poor health and suicide, than our cis-gender (non-Transgender) Gay, Lesbian and straight peers.
DETROIT WATER SHUTOFFS
Detroit shut off water to two homes on my block in one day, including one with an 11-year-old girl, who then could be removed from her home by Child Protective Services. Another neighbor had paid on his bill, getting it down to $202 from $600, but the shutoff raised it to $300. And a friend stopped by who said her online payment was not recorded; she had to go to the customer “service” office and wait hours to resolve her bill. We need to develop a “water advocacy corps” of activists who can help citizens fight the water powers and get justice.
Last year the principal took all the toy blocks the children play with and replaced them with worksheets! When kindergartners play with blocks, they make a racetrack or a farm and they work things out with other children. In the beginning of the school year, I take a lot of pictures and by November children are asking me to take pictures of what they have created. I read them a book about Chicago and asked how many had gone to Chicago. One child asked me for the book. I snuck in ten minutes of unstructured time. That child tried to write Chicago on a piece of paper and tried to draw the skyline. Now that is literacy development.
In the Free Speech Movement, the students were rebelling against career-focused education. They said they were being molded into a cog in the system and they wanted education as self-development. Today there is more pressure to shape education around what the capitalist wants in terms of workers. Some capitalists are yelling, Stop telling us about unemployment, as I have skilled jobs looking for applicants but the schools aren’t filling my employment needs. The idea that education would be about self-development is hard to find.
WHY READ N&L?
I appreciate your honest points of views on issues facing the USA/world. It is refreshing how you advocate for real people and not big companies or the government. It’s great how your paper seeks advice from every person, even inmates like me. Nothing is sugar-coated or watered down. I’m glad you stand up for the underdogs and the unheard. Thank you.
NY STUDY GROUP
Here in New York we’re going to have a study group on “1965-2015: Fifty Years of Struggle and Revolution.” We’ll be discussing a lot from the mid-1960s including Malcolm X’s assassination, the protests against the Vietnam war, the death of Don Pedro Albizu Campos and the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. We’ll talk of what these events have in common and how they relate to our struggles today. One text will be The Free Speech Movement and the Negro Revolution. We will meet the first Saturday of the month starting Feb. 21 at the Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn, at noon. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to a lively and important series of discussions.
New York City