From the March-April 2014 issue of News & Letters:
Readers’ Views, Part 2
LANGUAGE AND DEATH IN JUAREZ
I was moved by Yeyetzi Cardiel’s “Language and death in Juarez” (Jan.-Feb. N&L). How that story is told, revealed and transmitted makes the article powerful. It evokes the words of Elie Wiesel in the novel The Oath, that “A deed transmitted is a victory snatched from death.” As one who experienced the Holocaust, Wiesel’s testimony unites absence and presence, memory and responsibility by transforming the object of violence, into a Subject. Primo Levi writes in The Drowned and the Saved that “those who saw Gorgon,” i.e., those who touched bottom, “have not returned to tell about it…no one ever returned to recount his own death…we speak in their stead, by proxy.”
Cardiel acknowledges that “the dead can’t speak for themselves.” Yet she highlights the creative representation of Evil through memory—a memory formed through the medium of language and the solidarity the mothers, daughters and friends created in action. The power of memory is the vindication of the victims through words. It robs the executioner of his victory, and, as Wiesel stresses, haunts and punishes him by reminding him of his crimes. The Word, therefore, when preserved in collective memory, becomes “stronger than death.”
Bay Area, Calif.
“Language and death in Juarez” (Jan.-Feb. N&L) starts with a quote from Walter Benjamin on philosophy through language. Cardiel’s point is that words are the most important vehicle to express concepts. When she discusses feminicido vs. femicido, to express killing a woman because she is a woman, not just killing a woman, I am not sure philosophic problems can be solved by inventing words.
The Woman as Reason column by Yeyetzi Cardiel, a Mexican feminist, showed theory from another perspective. It is striking that she starts with a quote from Walter Benjamin on philosophy when facing a practical question for women in Mexico, that is, women specifically being killed because they are women.
WOMAN AS REASON
The anti-abortion protesters who show up at the clinic where I do escorting had a professional photographer with them this past week taking pictures of the sidewalk scene. They were also warning us of a website they were in the process of making, and alluded to it being a website about our escort team—showing our images, etc.
My instructor at school mentioned to me that I cannot write about abortion in an essay. I understand it’s his class, but I feel it’s not right. He said that’s the only topic he doesn’t touch in his class! It hurts me that I cannot write what I want. Why is the A word something that we can’t openly talk about? It depresses me! This will never end.
It was surprising to see such an uncritical article on the Zapatistas’ “Little School” in N&L. The author observed that, despite the Zapatistas’ 30-year existence and a lot of good press on the question of overcoming sexism, “within the family there remains a strong sexual division of labor.” He described how the women did all the traditional work: first up in the morning, grinding the corn, building the fire, cooking breakfast, caring for the children, cleaning, collecting firewood and water, washing the clothes, cooking all the meals. Beyond this, the Zapatistas insist “on full participation of women in all the administrative work.” A description of this entrenched double standard doesn’t stand in for a serious critique, especially not when it is in the midst of praise of books recording “the experience and thought of members of the Indigenous Zapatista communities.” I can’t help but wonder if the thoughts and anger of the women who keep the whole thing running are actually recorded in those books.
OIL & NUKES vs. PEOPLE & PLANET
The fact that the oiligarchs and gas holes who are destroying the environments of the poor (soon to be all of us 99%) also have our politics and the economy by the short hairs, has made democracy in the U.S. a thing of the past—and maybe the future.
The best climate scientists are at work to define the problem, make it understandable and influence public policy. They go up against big oil and gas and only stop short of becoming activists. On the other hand some of the best nuclear physicists are taking the climate problem as an opportunity to advance their careers and fortunes at the expense of the public. Last October, I attended a meeting where scientists from Argonne and Fermi labs expounded on the next generation of nuclear reactors. The problems right in front of their faces were basically ignored. I am beginning to feel really hostile toward the big brains that we are paying to “save” us from the climate crisis, only to give us the nuclear crisis for the next 2.41 million years.
Student of Science
DENBY AND THE DIALECTIC
“Charles Denby, worker-editor” (Jan.-Feb. N&L) explains the role philosophy played in the history of the movement he was involved in. Denby said Hegel’s language meant nothing to him as a worker. He’d rather just read Lenin. By the third column of the piece, he is quoting Hegel! The second part of Denby’s autobiography Indignant Heart is very different. It took him a journey through labor to see the importance of the dialectic, rather than being taught, as in a class.
Bay Area, Calif.
VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BARS
If television told the truth about news, like you all do, the world would be different. But people live with blinders on and believe only what they’re told to believe. Hell, I’m surprised the government ain’t shut you all down and you all had to move to Russia too.
Thank you very much. I always like reading my News & Letters. It’s an awesome paper! Is it possible to have more on prisons/prisoners? I’m sure there are many who receive this newspaper.
I commend your efforts to highlight the struggle ongoing throughout the world. Your Marxist-Humanist perspective provides critical insight to the historical and materialist aspect of the trajectory of the world’s masses as we strive to establish genuine self-determination. I would like to see an Islam question and answer section to inform your readers on the true nature and beauty of our religion.
Jefferson City, Mo.
I have no family or anybody to pay for a subscription. Can you please let me have a subscription? Thank you sooo much. I am at Pelican Bay Prison.
Crescent City, Calif.
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate $5, the price of a subscription, for a prisoner who cannot pay for one? It will be shared with many others. A donation of $8 pays for a subscription plus the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers pamphlet to be sent to a prisoner.