From the September-October 2021 issue of News & Letters
SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIANS
I do not completely agree with Gerry Emmett’s analysis of the continuing violence and suffering between the Palestinians and the Israeli government and its military machine (“Solidarity with Palestinians Needed as State Powers Scheme,” July-Aug. 2021 N&L). He has not specifically named the U.S. as a principal supporter of Israel’s horrible and unending oppression of the Palestinian people. He called attention to Israel’s connection with the capitalists of Russia, China and India, which he calls the “Eurasian capitalist order.” However, as far as I know, it is the U.S. capitalists who are the most dependable and committed group to support Israel’s unending violence and exploitation of the Palestinians. It was President Trump’s bold move to back ever greater reactionary forces and actions in Israel that may play a role in the latest outbreak of violence unleashed on the Palestinians, who once again suffer many times more than the Israeli people.
ATTACKS ON DEMOCRACY
I’m struck with the editorial “Republicans savage democracy and history” in the July-Aug. N&L. That should be developed internationally. For example, we cannot understand Middle East without understanding that democracy was always a lie in Israel. Also democracy was never the central intention of the U.S. ruling class, but it expanded throughout our history as a result of deep freedom struggles from below, which was the only real gift that the U.S. gave the world. Now there is a new stage of anti-democratic Republicans attempting to roll history back 150 years. They need to be called out on that.
The fight against democracy is not new. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, certain states and counties had to get pre-clearance to change voting laws. Those provisions of the Act were struck down a few years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. This affects mostly Southern states which had poll taxes and literacy requirements. Gerrymandering to exclude Blacks was being done then too. Now the Department of Justice is suing Georgia under the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that their new laws restricting voting access are discriminating.
On July 20 it was reported that three Iranian protesters were killed during demonstrations against the water crisis in Iran’s southwest region after four nights of protests over access to clean drinking water. Many more have fallen since. The situation is dire, yet people are fearless. During the peak hours, women in the Tehran Metro were chanting: “Death to Islamic Republic!” Combined with the oil and gas workers whose strike was supported by sugar cane workers and transportation workers, the situation is potentially explosive. What’s new with the Left is that unlike with Syria, no one is taking sides by blaming Saudi Arabia for infiltrating the Sunni Arabs of Iran. We shall see.
East Bay, Calif.
I cherish my Local 802 union card despite the fact that my work has been wiped out and now most of my work is non-union, though I try. What automation has done to labor you now see being done in orchestras who have, for example, automated the harp. The work has become degrading as the worker is forced to keep time to the machine. When the harp is synthesized, the violinist has to go with automated harp. It’s a metaphor of society. The Paul Taylor Dance Co. used recordings instead of live musicians. Recordings are a paradox of society. Radio stations had combos. Records can be a beautiful performance, but also can be used to keep live music from developing. The music world has been shaken up by the pandemic too. For example, now rehearsal time is set by the need to pay the bill; not by the needs of the music or the musician.
DAMAGE TO HOMELESS
I was homeless from 1983 to 1986, and I still meet new homeless people almost every day. A certain number of people become homeless because they were first emotionally unstable. However, it is more often the case that the experience of homelessness is so psychologically damaging that the emotional breakdown often seen in homeless people comes as a RESULT of being homeless, not the other way around. Living for an extended period on the mean city streets and going day after day without adequate food, sleep, medical care and continually facing the angry judgements of society is so painful that even the strongest would gradually start showing symptoms of emotional distress and breakdown. The only hope of actually ending this growing national crisis demands more than some special psychiatric beds. We need enough low-cost housing units available to the entire population of homeless people plus free counseling and medical services.
The headline in the July 24 Battle Creek Enquirer said, “Most unvaccinated U.S. adults don’t want shots.” These people are still under the spell of Trumpism and its lies. A research study carried out months ago concluded that 40% of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 could have been prevented if someone other than little Donnie had been in charge. At the time, U.S. deaths stood at 500,000, meaning that Trumpy has the blood of over 200,000 U.S. citizens and nationals on his hands. In the coming weeks and months, as the Delta variant takes hold in unvaccinated areas, perhaps hundreds of thousands of preventable COVID deaths will be added to that grim toll—the legacy of Donald Trump, traitor.
Battle Creek, Mich.
The bogus Republicans hold bogus press conferences complaining about refugees carrying diseases, while they discredit science and ignore recommendations and common sense about the COVID-19 virus and vaccines.
TRUMP AND TALIBAN
Trump’s direct actions to ink an agreement to leave Afghanistan, and to brag about it until a week ago, show a connection, and a basis for negotiation, between misogynist would-be totalitarianisms, Trumpism and the Taliban. It parallels the discovery by millions of people in August 1939 that Nazism and Stalinism in the name of Marxism were not opposites. Not that many, unlike Raya Dunayevskaya, reorganized their thinking—even Trotsky. Trump bragged also that what his agreements altered, even post-election—including release of Abdul Ghani Baradar and 5,000 imprisoned Taliban fighters—prevented Biden from undoing the concrete details of Trump’s negotiations. But Biden gets his share of grief for obstructing Afghan refugees, to avoid added confrontation over resettlement on top of Fox News orchestrating rage over refugees at the southern border.
FAR RIGHT IN PORTLAND
The violent far-Right protest in Portland on Aug. 22, confronted by anti-fascist counter-protesters, made an extra big mess, considering the mayor and his ding-dong friends thought it would be a good idea to hold a press conference the day before to urge people to “choose love.” This while a majority of the violence occurred in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, which was then overrun by the white supremacists. Not that I was under the illusion of the mayor doing anything.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY
My mother was born in Italy, my dad was born in Japan, so my line of thought is always influenced from an immigrant Italian/Irish or Japanese influence. I’ve always had difficulty totally understanding the racial divide between Black and white Americans. But I’ve never read a more informative article than “Targeting Anti-Racism” (July-Aug. 2021 N&L). It helped me understand critical race theory and white privilege. Your newspaper has abolitionist views that support abortion rights, prisoners, Native Americans, underpaid workers, etc. I wish more people would read what you print with eyes wide open, and not shaded with political, capitalist or racist glasses.
It’s wonderful to see the widespread resistance to the attacks on critical race theory (CRT) in so many school districts. Those opposed to CRT mean to make these attacks only the beginning. They want the U.S. to be like Hong Kong or Myanmar, where people are arrested, jailed and killed for criticizing the government in any manner. The use of the concept of “not making any [white] child feel uncomfortable about his/her history” is included so it will be easy for them to initiate punishment for the teacher, or even lawsuits, if just one kid complains (or is groomed to complain). But the masses of Black children who already are routinely made uncomfortable by learning about Greenwood, Rosewood, or their own enslaved ancestors could also initiate complaints and lawsuits, class action suits, etc. It’s ridiculous that it could come to this.
Susan Van Gelder
PRISONERS UNDER FIRE
An inmate at High Desert prison, which is right in the middle of a huge fire right now that is jumping containment lines, told us that the guards locked everyone in and mostly left. The roads are closed, fire all around, electricity cut off, smoke very thick in the prison already. All we can find out from the news is that the state corrections department is in “constant communication” with fire and emergency services, and evidently the air is so bad that officials claim they gave out N95 masks to prisoners and staff. A spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation refused to give any information on plans for prisoner evacuation.
Prisoner rights advocates
San Francisco Bay Area
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
I’ve been blessed to receive N&L for four years now and I’d like to thank you and all of the donors for your kindness and unselfishness. N&L has been so informative and has educated me on so many things in these past four years. I love the paper because y’all are unapologetically REAL and are not going to be politically correct and water down y’all’s work. Everything is raw and 100%, unlike the whitewashed mainstream papers. There’s a reason ameriKKKa wants to silence and get rid of powerful voices like N&L. I appreciate the love and valuable knowledge you spread. I always stand with N&L in unity and love. I will be released from slavery (prison) in October and I would like to keep my subscription to N&L and also help out in any way I can. Thank you once again for being a part of my political and revolutionary maturation.
The heavy hand of government censorship has come down on me. Last year, the North Central Unit’s mailroom claimed that the book They Can’t Kill Us All promoted racial violence. It is a book written from an African-American point of view. A previous head of the mailroom allowed an inmate to have the book, but I was denied. Now our mailroom workers claim that the May-June 2021 issue of N&L promotes violence. This is not the only crazy thing done by them in recent months. I get Our Daily Bread every other month. The address card contains a Bible verse and full color landscape picture on the other side. With the new mailroom coordinator in place, I have not been getting the card. Newsletters from places like Titus House Ministries, a religious group, are now photocopied instead of coming in with their color intact. The prepaid envelope for my Salvation Army Bible study group was declared contraband and destroyed. Another inmate had his copy of The Watchtower denied. They photocopied the front cover and sent it to him. Then they shredded his religious material. Our mailroom morons need to be fired!
Calico Rock, Ark.
ONLY THE DIALECTIC CAN SAVE US
Only the dialectic can save us.
Deep within our physical frame
is the claim of human liberation.
We go beyond good and evil,
We criticize, we split the atom that is
the human heart, go beyond the
laws of this heart, the source, the
reason, the core of coeur, to the
absolutes that are the beacon
lights, that transcend the wanton particularities
guiding us in the discipline of our