From the November-December 2022 issue of News & Letters
IRAN: WOMAN, LIFE, FREEDOM
Iranian-Canadian immigrants and other supporters of the millions defying bullets of the Iranian regime under the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom” gathered at the Halifax Waterfront on Oct. 29 and stretched their banners all along it. Halifax was one of at least 80 cities where Iranians outside of Iran met to swell international support for the movement led by women demanding genuine revolution.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
In Los Angeles, over 10,000 people came out to a series of demonstrations demanding an end to the Islamic regime. The message of the protesters in Iran is: No to a Shah, No to Khamenei; government by the people. Alarming in Los Angeles is a massive contingent carrying the Pahlavi regime’s flag as if the Shah, overthrown in 1979, was an angel. They are forgetting the atrocities by the Pahlavi regime and its Savak agents trained by the CIA. This was after the U.S. and Britain engineered the overthrow of the legitimate national government led by Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh. Some protesters in L.A. carried the Pahlavi flag and pictures of the Shah’s son. The rights of workers are violated now by the Ayatollahs as they were under the Shah. What is the philosophical ground of those in L.A. who support the Shah? Two participants told me that we should not let thinking about the alternative to the current regime stop us from demanding regime change. In contrast, the demonstrators in Iran want a new way out of the web of ignorance and violence brought about by both the present regime and the Shah. They want the people to decide.
Iranian L.A. Activist
ELECTION THREATS AND BATTLES
The good news from Arizona is that, since early voting began, some MAGA anti-vaxxers are finally wearing masks in public. The bad news is, it’s the Darth Vader-like masks that are a part of their full body armor, along with their open carry assault weapons, when intimidating voters at ballot drop boxes. If filming and threatening voters is met only with hand-wringing, then I guess it’s also good news for mobsters keeping track of their target for a hit, or for guys who don’t want to be arrested while stalking their ex-girlfriends.
“Joe Biden and his left-wing allies are INDOCTRINATING YOUR CHILDREN into believing biological sex is not real…GENDER EXPERIMENTS ON CHILDREN…” screams a flyer paid for by America First Legal Foundation mailed to my household. Lies lumping the use of non-binary pronouns with “cutting off breasts and genitalia” aren’t enough; explicit descriptions of trans surgery (in large type) are visible to everyone from the letter carrier to any young children in the home. If they really care about children, these hypocrites need to stop terrifying them with disinformation now!
Many of the election ads throw all the hate at people, trying to make everything a clear black and white choice. Busloads are being sent to Illinois with immigrants and women coming for abortions, but November could change that. Five mobile clinics are preparing to drive up to the state line. I fear they will be subjected to violence. In the Governor’s race incumbent J.B. Pritzker’s opponent is Darren Bailey, who has created a school with a new curriculum saying white slaveholders were good and kind and LGBTQ+ people should be treated like convicted murderers. The majority support women’s right to choose, but the rabid minority doesn’t care.
WOMEN’S MARCHES AND ENEMIES
The Women’s Marches Oct. 8 were all over the country and large, especially in D.C. I am upset because although I’ve been to several Women’s Marches in Detroit I received no notice of Detroit’s march, which was downtown and numbered about 300 from what I saw on local news. On the Michigan Supreme Court, Bernstein and Kyra Harris Bolden voted to keep Prop. 3, “Reproductive Freedom for All,” on the ballot when the state canvassers board deadlocked because both Republican canvassers voted “no” even though they are charged to accept or deny a proposal based only on technical criteria, not its content. In my neighborhood we are informing voters of this, and also of the justice who is up for re-election who voted “No.” Tudor Dixon, Republican candidate for governor, has escalated her attack ads, screaming: “The Democrats want a drag queen in every school!” Suddenly Lindsey Graham proposed a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
Susan Van Gelder
SEXIST SUPREME COURT
The U.S. Supreme Court—you know, the court that has lost all its legitimacy—has been hearing a case on affirmative action which I’m pretty sure the court’s reactionary wing, especially Justice Clarence Thomas, will want to gut. First of all is their hostility to anything that might help people of color overcome centuries of racism that has made America-never-so-great. But second of all is their hostility to women—and especially poor women and women of color. Because affirmative action has helped women, especially white women, in the quest for equality and fair treatment. I guess the war on women will not stop with the gutting of abortion rights. When trying to make people second-class citizens, this court isn’t going to let anything stop them.
Did your heart break for poor Supreme Court “Justice” Alito shivering in his boots because he made up the idea that the leak of his draconian ruling on abortion supposedly “gave people a rational reason to think they could prevent that happening by killing one of us”? This from the creature whose ruling, as the dissent pointed out, refused “even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey.” Women are already suffering horribly from what he and four others did, and women will die from it. In the same New York Times, article this monster opined about freedom of speech: “We depend on freedom of speech.” Too bad his reactionary Heritage Foundation interviewer didn’t ask him about the freedom of speech of doctors in states with abortion bans who will go to jail if they tell patients that they need an abortion to maintain their health and where to get one.
UKRAINIANS FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
It was stunning to learn that Anton Krasovsky, a Russian TV commentator on RT, had said on air that Ukrainian children opposed to Russia should have been drowned. It may have been equally stunning that RT announced he had been fired. Who knew there was any limit at all to genocidal talk against Ukrainians that Russian media would tolerate? RT would not have responded to widespread condemnation, but must have feared a growing movement to block its access to Europeans.
People the world over are inspired by Ukrainians’ opposition to Vladimir Putin’s drive to exterminate them. Their challenge to totalitarianism has some oligarchs and even some Democrats in the U.S. trying to force “peace.” Witness Elon Musk’s proposal to “negotiate” away Ukraine’s existence via a twitter poll. Musk was doing Putin’s bidding, calling for peace talks as Putin is looking for time to regroup his forces to continue the genocide. Putin wants to buy time until Jan. 1, when Republican leader Kevin McCarthy can carry out his threat, as the likely leader of the House, to cut back U.S. support for Ukraine. On Oct. 26 Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who last year posted an animated video of himself killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sent letters to Ukrainian and Russian embassies “to initiate peace talks.” Some Democrats, too, were calling for “peace talks,” even as they claim to support Ukraine. They had to backtrack on that. As Dunayevskaya once put it, by choosing the “lesser evil” (in today’s world, wiping out Ukraine) you cannot avoid the greater evil (a nuclear war unleashed by Putin).
As a lifelong pacifist, when Russia invaded Ukraine in February I was hoping there could be negotiations to stop the war and avoid the threat of nuclear escalation by agreeing to dissolve NATO and concede some territory in the East and South where Russia claims influence. But my Ukrainian son-in-law has convinced me to rethink what a pacifist position should be when Russia is focused on killing civilians, even children. It might be that pacifists need to push for ending the massacre of civilians now, all of them Ukrainian, by helping Ukraine evict Russia from their country.
Putin sees the people of Ukraine as not deserving of demanding freedom. But it’s a genuine demand for freedom, not a sign of weakness. They don’t need Russia’s “protection.” Russia’s power is nothing great. The true power is in us.
The director of Detroit’s bus system had agreed with a coalition of disability rights organizations that Transdev’s para-transit service was so badly flawed that the city would not renew its contract. However, come to find out City Council is considering a new five-year contract—with some powers retained by the city. Groups like Warriors on Wheels and the National Federation of the Blind note that Transdev, one of the largest para-transit companies in the U.S., will still provide customer service, which riders experience as “disservice.” The coalition is now fighting to achieve a shorter contract term. Widespread government privatization of service adds bureaucracy and makes accountability much harder.
Mike Davis died in October. An environmentalist book group I was in in the 1990s read his book City of Quartz. It is a brilliant book and a great read despite being wrong about some things, like Marx’s views on peasantry, which he misconstrued and ridiculously brought into a discussion of California homeowners and Proposition 13. Around the time we were finishing the book, which is about Los Angeles, the 1992 L.A. Rebellion erupted, causing debate within the group. I brought in an article that Mike Davis wrote about the rebellion in L.A. and Las Vegas, which helped battle the “law and order” prejudice that made some people dismissive of the rebellion. He wrote a lot of stuff, much of it pretty good, some totally wrong, like his immediate dismissal of the significance of the Jan. 6, 2021, coup. He was really trying to spread the word and change the world. Interesting life too, born in Fontana, Calif., raised in El Cajon, active in the civil rights movement, working for a while as a truck driver, a meatcutter and a tour bus driver.
LABOR STRUGGLES, FROM AMAZON…
Amazon warehouse workers in Joliet, Ill., walked out on Oct. 11 to demand a workplace that is safe from violence, injury, and sexual harassment and jobs that offer a living wage of $25/hour that preserve the dignity of the workers. Workers delivered a letter of demands to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and we ask that you please sign the petition (ww4j.org) to show your solidarity with these brave workers who are standing up for their rights in the workplace, if you agree that workers are what make companies like Amazon possible, and that we ALL deserve dignity and respect in the workplace.
Warehouse Workers for Justice
I work at Amazon’s MDW2 warehouse in Joliet. It is a harsh work environment where employees really do a crazy amount of work each day. We deserve that raise.
Woman worker at Amazon
…TO THE BANK
I’m the only one, eight-months pregnant, serving customers at the busiest time of the day. It’s like the supermarket: 15 self-service lanes and one or two cashiers. Here at the bank I really believe all of our jobs will be gone in the next two years.