From the September-October 2018 issue of News & Letters
ATTACKS ON IMMIGRANTS
I appreciate your timely and well-written lead on “Millions denounce Trump’s heinous immigration abuses.” What is so maddening, and so very awful, is that his administration is still throwing children in jail; still making people suffer horribly when all they have done is try to escape even more horrible suffering. It reveals just how far the U.S. has gone off the rails when even throwing children in jail can’t seem to be stopped.
The abuse of immigrants is this society’s model for the future for dealing with climate change. More and more people’s living conditions will be disrupted, and a ruling minority plans to hold onto their power and wealth no matter the cost for everyone else. It’s a step toward a world of war of all against all, death camps and fascism.
SYRIA AND THE LEFT’S FAILURE
By failing to understand the genuine quest for freedom of the Syrian people for the past seven years, the Left has failed to provide theoretical and practical leadership so that thousands of concerned people worldwide feel unable to help their fight for freedom. What can we do, now? How can we support the survivors of the impending massacre?
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE
A Democrat senator said the protests against extreme right-wing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the hearings are hurting the Democratic Party. Well, too bad! Democrats are hurting women! Demonstrating women aren’t going to put the Democratic Party above our own needs. And what makes him think these protesters are all up in the Democratic Party? If the Democratic senators who are fighting for their seats in November wouldn’t sell women out on this issue and vote no on Kavanaugh, and if the Democratic leadership hadn’t long ago sold women out on this issue, then we wouldn’t be protesting.
Angry protesting woman
Rape culture is worldwide and women everywhere are working to end it, as N&L’s women’s page constantly reveals. In the July-Aug. issue particularly inspiring was the protest by South Korean women in “Women WorldWide” against the practice of men secretly creating pornography by filming and broadcasting women in public places and the police’s lack of protecting the women and stopping the men. Laws with teeth against the filmings and the courage to enforce them are needed. All success to the South Korean women!
I’ve just heard that the woman who founded Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, María Isabel Chorobik de Mariani, died (see Women WorldWide). Her group and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo—women who marched daily in the midst of fascism with pictures of their children and grandchildren fastened to their clothing—inspired similar groups around the world. Because of her courage and creativity, wherever people are disappeared and/or murdered by fascist regimes and their proxies, women have formed organizations like María’s in response. From Yemen to Spain, from Mexico to Bosnia-Herzegovina, women have stood in the streets confronting murderers and thugs. María Isabel Chorobik de Mariani will be missed but her creativity and bravery will continue to inspire.
I will be reading Reproductive Justice: An Introduction (see review, July-Aug. 2018 N&L). Reviewer Adele contrasts “pro-reproductive justice” to “pro-choice.” Reproductive justice combines reproductive rights and social justice, placing “reproductive rights” in a human rights framework. The concept allows organic, genuine connections between social justice movements and recognizes the U.S. racist history of suppression of these rights for women of color.
Susan Van Gelder
Serena Williams has had to fight racism and sexism her entire fabulous career. She also had to fight for her life because of the racism in the hospital where she gave birth only a few months before her last tournament. If she is railing at the judges for sexism, I back her 100%. How dare Martina Navratilova say that it wasn’t the “right time” for her to complain. We women know all too well how it is never the “right time” for us to fight for our rights. I say to Ms. Williams: Keep complaining, anytime. We’re with you!
END MONEY BAIL, THE RIGHT WAY
Essie Justice worked really hard to abolish money bail in California (see “Women demand, ‘End money bail,’” July-Aug. 2018 N&L). Supported by others, they got a bill introduced in California’s legislature to do that. As it was going through the legislative process, the amendments adopted transformed it into its opposite. While now there is no bail, it is up to the judge whether a person arrested stays in jail or is released. Judges are supposed to base that decision on one’s prior record. In effect it means that if you are Black and you get arrested in California for any reason, you have to prove your innocence. Most of the supporters of this bill, including Essie Justice, withdrew their support. This shows that change will not come through legislation or the legal system. We need to be the change we want to see, to live our lives differently, to create the society we would want to be a part of.
Urszula Wislanka and Marie Lewin
I know N&L doesn’t make predictions, but one seemed to have slipped into your editorial in the July-Aug. issue on “Trump-Kim ‘peace’ threatens masses.” You write that Trump was “not going to turn around next year and admit that Kim gave up nothing in terms of nuclear weapons and missiles; if it comes to that, he will simply accuse Kim of treachery…” Good on yah! You sure have Trump’s number.
GENOCIDE AND WAR HEROES
Displaying his ignorance for all to see, in particular his ignorance of the recent history of the U.S., Donnie Trump, attempting to disparage Senator John McCain a few years ago, said “[H]e was captured, I prefer people who weren’t captured.” It was McCain’s status as a P.O.W., imprisoned for several years in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” that earned him the title of a hero of that unjust war. Vietnam was a genocide. After defeating the Nazis, we became like the Nazis. There was very little, if any, honor in serving your country in that quagmire. All the rules of war were turned upside down, so that the only one who could be seen as a hero was one whose claim to fame was being shot down. After coming home from the war, some Vietnam veterans were shunned, even to this day, by the likes of the prez, who neglected to lower the U.S. flag to half-staff after McCain died. Our country is still haunted by the ghosts of Vietnam.
SEX CRIMES AND THEIR FALLOUT
I enjoy your paper and many of your messages and have shared it for a while now. Many of the articles depict those convicted of sex crimes as predators. That is a broad stroke and seems myopic. I hope that we can get to the point where we look at individuals, listen to their stories and seek solutions to the many ailments of the human soul. Be angry at the behavior and try to determine where it derives, instead of being angry at the end result, which is quite complex. We have over 250 veterans here, over 500 at the defense barracks—over 80% of this population were convicted of sex crimes. We are now at the point where nearly one million Americans are “sex offenders.” I can guarantee that the vast majority are not predators. For those that fit those criteria, we should take the time to hear their story, just as we do with victims. We should mourn anytime that a person goes to prison and determine how that came to be. Still, great paper, I just wish it was more inclusive.
Mr. W., a prisoner
Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.
Editor’s note: Mr. W. makes a good point about the need to “seek solutions” and to “try to determine where it [the many ailments of the human soul] derives.” The designation, “Sex crimes,” covers a multitude of harmful activities including rape, child molestation, sexual battery, possession and distribution of child pornography and/or obscene material, prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, pimping, indecent exposure, and lewd acts with a child. What is important to remember, and what Mr. W. leaves out of his letter, is that NONE of these crimes are victimless, including child pornography or pornography of adults. The stories of victims are important and must be heard and believed. Even if we reached the stage where we could have what is called “restorative justice,” those victims of sex crimes might well desire punishment as well as understanding and treatment for those who, in some cases, destroyed their lives and in others horribly altered them. What the hundreds of letters we receive every month from prisoners do make clear to those of us who read them is that Mr. W. is right that “We should mourn anytime that a person goes to prison and determine how that came to be.” We hope that doesn’t have to wait until the new society we are all fighting for, because that is one of the most important ways we could stop sex crimes and recidivism. As prisoner Stephen Wilson wrote in the Jan.-Feb. 2018 issue of N&L: “We should push for transformative justice whose end goal is not only to restore relationships but to transform society in the process. Its focus is not only on the specific harm done, but on the structures that create oppression and inequality in the first place.”