Readers’ Views, March-April 2013, Part 1

From the March-April 2013 issue of News & Letters:

AMERICAN CIVILIZATION REMAINS ON TRIAL

American Civilization on Trial (ACOT) is not “Black history.” Rather, Blacks play such an enormous role in the U.S. that their history that is in ACOT is a history of America.

Octogenarian
Midwest

***

The movie Django Unchained could have been an ad for the NRA’s position on the current gun control debate, namely that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. That formula may suit Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western style, where a lot of bad guys do get killed. But it shortchanges the real history of the idea of freedom that was personified in the over 30-year struggle by the Abolitionists. I am glad PBS is finally paying some attention to that page of U.S. history.

Oakland activist
California

***

What was missing from the current Abolitionists TV special and the movie Lincoln was that “Black masses as vanguard” was not part of them. That lack reminds me of the passage in ACOT where Dunayevskaya writes briefly about the relationship of individuals and masses in motion. All the historians had marginalized the Abolitionist movement. The only one I heard about in high school was John Brown, who was always presented as a fanatic. Dunayevskaya didn’t stop by saying the real history was marginalized. She brought up John Jay Chapman, who had written that the history of the U.S. from 1800 to 1860 would someday be rewritten with William Lloyd Garrison as its central figure. She said that is better, but still a history of great men, instead of masses in motion. The Abolitionists acknowledged that they stood on the shoulders of the mass movement of slaves following the North Star to freedom.

Student of history
Illinois

***

The first Black U.S. president made a first ever trip to Burma, facing the new Asian power in China, India, etc. Is Obama selling American “soft power” in Asia? He is still expanding drone strikes, not to mention indefinite detentions. Democracy in the U.S. cannot be real as long as it is shackled elsewhere, just as “labor in the white skin cannot be free as long as in the Black skin it is branded.”

Htun Lin
Oakland

***

My friend believes that an apology for slavery to African Americans is in order. Japanese Americans and Native Americans, too, deserve an apology. The way you atone is first acknowledge the humanity of the person you’ve harmed. You acknowledge a people so they can acknowledge themselves, to begin healing of those who did the harm as well as those who were harmed. When my humanity is marginalized just to have a job, how can you have a healing that lets me find my humanity within myself? It’s necessary to look at the condition of African Americans, to acknowledge us as a nation so the healing can begin.

Ibrahim
Bay Area

***

The political letter from Raya Dunayevskaya in the January-February N&L took up the then new book, ACOT. Dunayevskaya wasted no time in elaborating key turning points becoming part of the historical flow of the book. She expected Marxist-Humanists would be elaborating on those points, be it more on John Brown, Confederate draft resistors, or anything up to the present day. We have an unfulfilled legacy to work on.

Bob McGuire
Chicago

***

The alliterative listing of dramatic moments—”Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall”—in President Obama’s inaugural address was a powerful way to show how this history impinges on the meaning of the present. But it was no substitute for the creative power of the negative that stands on its own in the transformation of reality. After all, Seneca Falls came out of Abolitionism’s total commitment to new human relations, completely in opposition to, and outside of, a Constitutional framework, while—as with Obama’s hero, Lincoln— a Constitutional framework seems to predominate over Obama.

Ron Kelch
Oakland

THIS SOCIETY’S WARS

Chicago allows the murder of children daily. The city leaders express sorrow, but they don’t do anything comprehensive to deal with the problem. Most Chicagoans are not particularly concerned with the deaths of innocent children because they are not their children. Racism rears its ugly head! The children are from Black or Hispanic neighborhoods. Private groups have rallies and meetings, but they don’t coordinate their efforts. How long will this tragic killing of innocent children go on in Chicago and the nation? Where is the outrage? Where is the reverence for life, especially from the “pro-life” hypocrites?

Long-time human rights activist
Chicago

***

A thought keeps recurring to me. A girl who took part in Obama’s inaugural parade came back to Chicago and got murdered. Some Black nationalists blame the system. I don’t agree. Five hundred people in Chicago decide to kill someone every year. They do it for reasons other than necessity. How do we “fix” that? Some see those who do the killing as depraved, broken individuals. I don’t know how to answer such a problem. It is not even warfare, or gang rivalry.

African-American Reader
Bay Area

***

Originally brought forth under the Nixon administration during the Vietnam War, the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), was in essence a war tax meant to fund the genocide that the U.S. government perpetrated on the peoples of Southeast Asia. And yet now in 2013, 38 years after the end of that war, we still have the AMT. The government rakes in tens of billions of dollars each year from the AMT. This is positive confirmation of capitalism’s permanent war economy.

Little Brother of Fighting Spirit
Michigan

***

This past month in New York, Occupy came to the Edison Electric Company, which is trying to eliminate pensions for the workers. A lot of people are now unemployed in this economic crisis. The capitalists manipulate the system by passing laws to get the most out of workers without paying fair wages or providing a comfortable life for them. Right now they are cutting teachers’ wages even though we are in the worst economic crisis in the U.S. in decades. So again, there’s a struggle between the poor and the rich, the capitalists and the non-capitalists.

Teacher
Los Angeles

WOMEN’S LIBERATION

I really hand it to the women of India for opposing the death penalty for rapists as regressive. I oppose it too, but it is a big temptation to want to hurt them back!

Adele
Memphis

***

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot is ill in her Russian prison at Perm or Mordovia. She is 24 years old and a mother. She has shown her ability as a political leader and a performer. In Russia as well as the U.S., and everywhere else, prison confinement should be the punishment: not starvation, rape, freezing cold, unbearable heat, beatings, illness, 24-hour bright lights, etc. Prisoners have internationally recognized rights—human rights. Nadezhda and Maria Alyokhina—also imprisoned— did nothing wrong. Political dissent is spreading, as is the punishment for it. You or I could be next! If you want to sign a petition to Vladimir Putin and the Russian prison authorities, go to http://act. watchdog.net/petitions/2390?r=91049. P4ETrK

January
Northern California

***

The public debate on sharia is changing, as is evident at our speaking engagements. University societies the length and breadth of Britain are increasingly speaking out for secularism and human rights. There is a bill to rein in the power of sharia in Britain’s House of Lords, exposing sharia bodies as being abusive to children in “marrying” young girls to old men in forced marriages. One Law for All continues to grow and influence this debate—including our vital opposition to the far Right and its attempts to hijack the issue of sharia law to further their own racist agenda. With your help, One Law for All will continue to lead the fight against sharia in Britain and elsewhere. You can help us. Our website is at: http:// www.onelawforall.org.uk/

Maryam Namazie and Anne Marie Waters
Spokespersons, One Law for All

***

The Arab Spring showed the shortcoming of not fighting the sexism of the Muslim fundamentalist ideology. The cry of Iranian women against Khomeini’s 1979 order to wear the chador, “At the dawn of freedom we have no freedom,” is still valid in the Arab Spring. It is a challenge against the counter-revolution from within the revolution.

As gender alienation shows, we need many more continuing revolutions in the Middle East. We need the permanent revolution that Marx called for, in the Middle East, as the center of the world globalization of capitalist crises. The importance of the Arab Spring was not only that it brought revolution to the center of the struggle for freedom, but it also raised the question: Why revolution? Why now? It is demanding a new social and economic order.

Ali
Los Angeles

CAPITALISM ISN’T WORKING

Whoever thinks capitalism works needs to repeat just one word: sequester.

Observer
Detroit

Editor’s note: There is a correction to the article, “Why ‘green on blue’ attacks?'” in the Jan.-Feb. 2013 issue. There was a mistake regarding the number of Afghans killed during night raids between 2010-2011. Where the author had originally written the correct number, 1,500, it was mistakenly changed to 15,000. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

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