From the May-June 2014 issue of News & Letters:
LABOR AND IMMIGRATION
On April 8, about 100 people, the majority young Latinas/os, gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall to protest the deportation of immigrants. Obama’s administration has aggressively deported 2,000,000 immigrants. We held signs reading: “Not Even One More!” and “No Separation of Family!” Separation of family members has serious adverse effects on children. One 13-year-old boy in my class lost his concentration since his dad was deported to Mexico. Reforming immigration law is necessary to protect the immigrants who do difficult jobs to make a living for their family.
Teacher, Los Angeles
At a press conference for day laborers, a spokesman said: “This country’s dilemma is that it enjoys the fruits of 11,000,000 undocumented workers while ignoring their humanity. Los Angeles benefits from the labor of our hands. These are the hands that built our cities.” He listed many of the kinds of work that they do. He said, “The most vulnerable of the undocumented are the day laborers. We’re asking for equality to make sure our rights are respected.”
Basho, Los Angeles
I was happy to see the story from the Minnesota musicians in the March- April N&L. Professional musicians have to practice at least two hours every day to stay proficient. They are not paid for that. They are only paid for the actual rehearsals and performances. It’s hard to see musicians as workers, since they mostly love what they do. But just as in all other work, capitalism finds a way to rob music-making of its human qualities and strip it down to abstract labor measured only in time, taking out the joy it should be for everyone.
Subscriber, Oakland, Calif.
RACISM IN THE USA
On March 29, I went to an anti-gentrification meeting at the Mission Cultural Center. There were about 200 people, and spirits were high, but after less than an hour, it lost steam. English-speaking activists at the podium, who were trying to limit the discussion to the topic of land trusts, were, maybe unwittingly, crowding out Spanish-speaking community members who wanted to fight on a broader scale. Many activists need to learn to listen better.
Anti-Capitalist, San Francisco
After Frazier Glenn Miller killed three people at the Overland Park, Kansas, Jewish Community Center, it came out that he was well known to the FBI. He is one of the major players in armed racist organizations. If he were Muslim, the FBI would already have entrapped him. But the government and media talk as if “domestic terrorism” means Muslims and Occupy activists and maybe “eco-terrorists.” They do little if anything about the white racist and anti-abortion terrorists who have killed scores of people and bombed and burned many buildings.
WOMEN FIGHT SUBORDINATION
In April, after a Catholic healthcare company, Ascension Health, bought Jane Phillips Medical Center, and several other hospitals in Oklahoma, the Medical Center prohibited doctors from prescribing birth control, leaving only one local OB-GYN in Bartlesville who is free to do so. How can they call themselves health providers when denying women access to health services? Why are they so afraid of a woman owning herself?
I recently heard of a woman’s street art protest against harassment. One of the pieces is a protest against men who command women to “talk” or “smile.” Women are expected to listen to everyone, including strangers, give our time and attention to others and to respond according to the others’ needs. Nothing made me angrier when I was young than to have men demand my attention on the street. Anti-abortionists take this to a more extreme level and the U.S. Supreme Court may, again, enforce the idea that women are subordinate. They’ve already done that with all the restrictions on abortion, but taking women’s birth control adds another dimension. It’s just really disgusting.
Social worker, Chicago
The lead on “Women fight for freedom against growing retrogression” (March-April N&L) describes many horrors worldwide and points out how the struggle continues. I would have liked the emphasis to be on the struggle to overcome these attacks.
Reader, Los Angeles
Absolutely the best most concise, well-articulated article I have read about the war on Wimmin! Thank you, Terry Moon, and I’m so glad that you keep the ball rolling and the pressure on! I will pass this on.
A phony so-called crisis pregnancy center that is in cahoots with anti-abortion protesters called their fundraiser “Stork Walk” with a picture of a stork on a blue background. I find it telling that so many anti-abortion groups use a stork as their mascot. Once again they are taking the woman completely out of pregnancy!
DISABILITY, FEAR AND LIBERATION
A growing number of parents have murdered their disabled children because they couldn’t take care of them anymore. It says a lot about the lack of resources and support these parents receive. After the revolution I envision a world where the disabled, child and adult, are cherished for their strengths, where they have all the respite care they need and are respected members of society; where everything is accessible to them—not as an afterthought but as a part of a humane society. If parents feel that they don’t want to or can’t raise a disabled individual, there would be wonderful places where disabled children could live and get all the love and services they need. It’s not going to happen in this capitalist society. This is only one reason I believe in the necessity of its uprooting.
Suzanne Rose, Chicago
This is my first protest and we just took over the 4th floor offices of the Dept. of Rehabilitation Services by sneaking in and that doesn’t scare me. But when the state of Illinois threatens to cut home services, that scares me. When they want to pass a budget that takes away mental health services, that scares me. Whenever they mess with my rights as a human being, that scares me. When we demanded what we wanted from those who have the power, I wasn’t scared. And when the police came, I wasn’t scared. Living without basic human services, now that scares me.
Protester with disabilities, Chicago
MIDDLE EAST STRUGGLES
Egypt’s General Sisi came to my attention during the Tahrir Square Revolution. He is the one who officially justified the army imposing “virginity tests” on women in and around the Square. I never “bought” that slogan: “the people and the army are one hand.”
Tahrir woman activist, Bay Area, Calif.
It took years for me and others in the 1979 Iranian Revolution to grasp that the most important thing experienced seemed then to be so ephemeral. Only years later was it recognized that the most significant development was the new human relations forged in the struggle—even though the immediate tasks seemed more pressing. How can that, just that, be sustained? While there is no lack of discussions, this central idea is not on the agenda and the small coin of the concrete prevails. That question of the importance of new human relations only occurs after the fact and after much reflection.
Iranian feminist, Bay Area, Calif.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
I recently found out that Jamaa— as in Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, one of the main representatives of the hunger strikers at Pelican Bay State Prison— can mean a collective, or unity. What historical continuity this represents: today’s fighter against the racist, divisive policies in prison has put his philosophy in his name, just as Sojourner Truth did, when she held her conversation with God, and decided to follow what He told her: to sojourn the world over and tell the truth about American democracy, and how for Black people there isn’t any.
Urszula Wislanka, Oakland, Calif.
CAPITALISM AND ECOLOGY
Capitalism at its best cannot deal with climate change. Efforts have been made with cap and trade, yet it’s a market-based system that has begun to collapse. Anything posed in terms of markets collapses, whether it’s climate change or healthcare. The only solution markets offer is eliminating the human being: if you can’t afford it, you perish. At least 97% of climate scientists agree that humans cause climate change, yet every weather phenomenon discussed in the media is qualified as: “This is not proof of climate change directly.” The scientists cannot see beyond capitalism. We can’t leave it at that.
Retiree, Northern California
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
The U.S. is not about to allow a resurgent Russia to roll back the gains made in 1989-1991, which involved the impoverishment of its old enemy and the military and economic dependence of former Eastern European command economies on Western Europe and the U.S. In this sense I don’t see how Russia’s Putin could be said to be risking war by attempting to readdress the balance of power in Europe in Russia’s favor. The Russians are playing a game that has been ongoing for decades and, in this case, primarily involves broken promises not to expand NATO eastwards.
Some in the United Kingdom have made the peculiar and outrageous decision to call for a united front with Putin against Kiev. I inquired recently of one person holding such a view as to what a united front between Ukrainian workers and Russian soldiers would look like in the concrete. I was met with silence. We can do ourselves proud by focusing on the actual class forces at hand.
Friendly critic, UK
WHY READ N&L?
The other side of the story and the unknown side of the story. VERY VALUABLE. How can you know what’s going on around you unless you navigate all the journalism? Thank you very much for all you do!
Subscriber, Southfield, Mich.
N&L is a lifeline to understanding the endless struggles throughout the world from a proletarian perspective. As a writer of law manuals, I would like to have them advertised in your publication.
Prisoner, Lancaster, Calif.
Editor’s note: News & Letters does not take advertisements but does publish prisoners speaking for themselves. If you would like to write an article about why you write law manuals and why prisoners need them, we would certainly consider publishing it.
N&L exposes the struggles and triumphs of the unheard. These lives with their challenges bring to light pertinent and dire needs of underdogs around the world. Giving credence to the grievances lets people know that they are not alone and sustains the momentum for justice. None see their lives as peripheral, but easily do we, in our privilege, become insensitive to the ones to whose need we ultimately contribute. N&L is thus the accuser and suggestor of what ails our global home, s h o w i n g where we fall short and when our good i n t e n t i o n s need some adjustment, and where we woefully fail to see or meet our responsibility. You bring hope to a floundering world.
Prisoner, Iowa Park, Texas
Thank you for the complimentary subscription provided by those concerned for those who are confined. This resonates among those who share my copy of the paper. There are very few alternative news sources still in print. The means of communication is hi-tech and that leaves prisoners out of the loop where no computer access is available.
Prisoner, Iowa Park, Texas
My association with N&LC has spanned 16 years and the quality of the journalism and the commentary of N&LC through the newspaper and its proponents has always been compelling, insightful, and true to—in my mind— the vision and body of ideas of Raya Dunayevskaya, and to the Marxist- Humanist idea. In order to safely traverse a minefield one must have a map. In order to progressively pursue a revolution, one must first have a voice. News & Letters and N&LC is that tool which allows all voices for change, freedom, and humanity to be heard.
Robert Taliaferro, Black River Falls, Wisc.
Thank you for sending me a copy of Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers: We Want to Be Validated as Humans. It is greatly appreciated! I’d like to request my name and address be placed on your mailing list for a subscription to News & Letters as part of your prisoner fund. I’m also interested in getting in direct communication with anyone who wants to learn more about our struggle or is willing to help in any way.
Prisoner, Pelican Bay, Calif.