Letters

Good Point, Hutch, But…

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point With Rebel Flag

04/14/00

Mr. Hutchinson’s fundamental point is valid, but I am less confident about his assertion that the NAACP chose to emphasize the flag issue because of a lack of guts. There are many reasons why an organizer may choice to emphasize issues that seem peripheral or merely symbolic to others. One may be that that the organizer lacks the political will to do anything else. However, another may be that the symbolic issue is visible and tangible. It provides a ready rallying point with a clear, measurable goal. And if it is something that people feel strongly about, the fact that “we” think they should be concerned about other things shouldn’t stand in the way. As Saul Alinsky once noted: if people are mostly concerned about the dog crap on their side walks, you should organize them around getting stray dogs taken care of. Then, if you’re successful, maybe they will listen to you when you organize them around attacking the bastions of corporate power.

I suspect the best way to measure the NAACP’s motives is to watch what they do next. And the best way progressives can influence the direction the NAACP takes is to apply a fire to its collective feet, making it apply its dearly-bought momentum to the issues that matter. I assume that this was Mr. Hutchinson’s goal in composing his Reality Check, and for that reason I stand behind him.

Tony Reeves
Madison, WI


I am not a citizen of South Carolina, but descended from slaves in Mississippi, slaves who lived, suffered and died under that heinous banner. I join in fighting this foul, loathsome symbol of treason that deserves no honors. Mr. Hutchinson should be admired for addressing the real problem facing black America: the failure of the black middle class to engage the real problems of its people. I join with him in his castigation of comfortable middle-class blacks. He in turn, should join black Americans regarding this universal fight: tear down the flag of hate.

Mafud


Mr. Hutchinson just doesn’t get it. We begin to make change by getting those who stand in the way of progress to agree to remove the SYMBOLS of oppression. We can’t make real progress without them. We now have more than our foot in the door. We’ve opened the minds of those who are resisting the last great push for freedom. Picture instead of a Pyrrhic victory, the effect of water dripping on a stone. There are more than 500,000 people in more than 2,200 NAACP branches covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Japan, and Germany. Black and white, rich and poor, they are not just talking, not just dreaming of the good old days when Martin and Malcolm were the “leaders,” but are chipping away at what is left standing between every American citizen and the potential to fulfill the American dream. THAT’S what the NAACP is!

Patricia Rollins Troslcair, President
Saratoga County Branch of the NAACP


Rock the (felonious) vote

RE: “Pin Stripes or Prison Stripes

04/14/00

Just another depressing example of how corporations in this country get away with murder. Why? Because they have loads of money, of course. NO ONE should have his right to vote taken away. To me there is no justification for the difference in the sentences highlighted in this article. No rich white male asshole, in a million years full of slick talk and hot smoke could convince me otherwise.

What is the answer? People need to vote! They need to understand that they have the power to change things if everyone will stop saying “I don’t vote because my vote wouldn’t make a difference.” That’s what the people in power want them to believe (and amazingly it works).

Noelle Nachtsheim


RE: “Pin Stripes or Prison Stripes

04/13/00

1. Felons should be allowed to vote. Period. End of story.

2. Corporate executives who steal more than a Snickers bar should face the full force of the law, including the “three strikes” law. Period. It is, after all, only fair that all citizens see the law enacted equally.

Tim Kingston
San Francisco, Calif.


Lameness is a virtue

RE: “The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored

04/13/00

I disagree that Project Censored is no longer necessary. When the corporate merger-drunk media shut out virtually all reporting on such issues, or spin what reporting does get through, how does the average person get information on issues of concern to them?

Certainly Project Censored is no longer the bastion of reporting on alternative issues that it was twenty years ago. But that should be regarded as a positive development, demonstrating how much easier such information is to obtain now.

Carl Condit
Santa Fe, NM


NAACP filling the void in SC

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point With Rebel Flag

04/13/00

I agree that there are many problems that plague South Carolina, but the fact remains that the Rebel flag has to be removed from the State House dome. Initially, this was a statewide issue of the local chapter of the NAACP — they had to involve the national chapter to get some action on this matter. The reason? The stubborn legislators refuse to listen to our point of view, and without national attention to this problem, they would not have even considered talking about a compromise. Being a college-educated African-American living in South Carolina, the opportunities are limited. South Carolina does not attract many large corporations because of this flag issue and other backward thinking.

Ruby Wheeler


National Association of Confused Priorities

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point With Rebel Flag

04/13/00

The author of this story is absolutely right on. There are so many more important issues to black Americans today — issues like racial profiling, police departments using brutality to elicit confessions from black suspects, the amount of innocent black people on death row, and the lack of jobs and education for black Americans. The flag issue is ridiculous.

Kelleigh Nelson


The NAACP is only lending credibility to the Confederate flag by protesting it. If it’s such a negative symbol, why pay so much attention to it? If this “pyrrhic victory” is obtained, then what? It will be interesting to see if high poverty, school dropouts, infant mortality, and victim-of-violence rates are then addressed.

Andy Pitzer


Southern belle sounds off

RE: “Flying the Flag of Fairness

04/13/00

I am very proud of my heritage and find it ridiculous that simply because I am a white Southerner, I have to be hush-hush about my roots and where my legacy lies. I am not a racist — I have many close friends who are black. I am simply a young woman who is proud of her heritage and not ashamed to proclaim to the world that I am the descendant of a fallen Confederate hero who sacrificed his life for the cause. The Stars and Bars, which was the first national flag of the Confederacy, is not the same flag as the Battle Flag of the Confederacy, which is in fact the center of all the debates. Guess maybe we’re not all so uneducated after all.

Pamela Lee Boliew
Baton Rouge, La


NAACP misguided?

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point With Rebel Flag

04/12/00

The failure of the NAACP is indicative of a larger trend in American society that has manifested itself over the past thirty years. This is the death of the noblesse oblige that had played a large role in motivating elites of all races in the United States. One can call this notion elitist or patrician, but it is hard to deny this factor in the motivation of elites prior to the “baby boom” generation. These elites cared about their nation, their communities, and — most important — their fellow man. Today’s elites care for little more than the size of their compensation packages, stock portfolios, or book deals. This trend in American society has affected the NAACP just as much as corporations and the institutions of government. American society today is guided by the notion ubi est mea — in other words, what’s in it for me? Hence the disintegration of all organizations, including the NAACP.

I pray that future generations of Americans reverse this trend, which has accelerated the decline of America, both at home and abroad, from the Enlightenment principles that the Founding Fathers claimed to have supported.

Publius


An interesting article on the situation in South Carolina. I have felt for a long time that the NAACP is a misguided organization. It is a political body with all the foibles of any political body, corrupt with money and misguided by its leadership. The flag issue is much like when the Rainbow Coalition held rallies at Orioles Park at Camden Yards because the O’s didn’t have enough black people in the front office. It was a non-issue that could be trumped up in front of the press.

On the issue of the flag and the Civil War: In hindsight the South’s key issue of slavery was simply a case in point for a larger argument, that of states’ rights and the ability for states to be autonomous to a certain degree. Today we see the federal government using federal tax dollars to persuade states to do one thing or another. We see the federal fovernment mandating state laws and regulations often leaving the burden of paying for the mandate on the states. The bigger issue of the Civil War was for states’ rights; unfortunately they used slavery as the centerpiece for that argument. I am very much in favor of states’ rights and of taking away a lot of the financial power the federal government wields over states.

So when I see the Confederate flag and associate it with the right to own slaves and the racist connotations that carries along with it I am firmly against it. It should be put away in that light as a gesture of good faith to the black people of this country. But when I see it and associate it with states’ rights I am 100 percent for it. It’s this dual symbolism that makes it an interesting topic.

Scott Bailey


Just a snobbish snit

RE: “The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored

04/12/00

I hardly think it’s lame, and certainly not unbearable, nor are its flaws worth working oneself into a rhetorical and snobbishly blase snit over. The only people who’ll find it “an embarrassment?” Sounds like we’re talking about fashionable shoes, not skeptical journalism. “Of course, the corporate media’s flaccidity and vacuousness is a bad thing. But some grand conspiracy of censorship it isn’t.” Can such an assessment be any more simple-minded? No, there’s no “conspiracy” though the author seems to need there to be one — but then she might stop to consider that one way of obliterating the truth is to simply regard it as trivial — witness the paucity of coverage in the mainstream press of the Green Party’s US Presidential campaign — and when the noise of mainstream flack-catching reportage and “infomercial” journalism drowns out reality, the effect is not only the same as censorship per se, it is far more pernicious and far more destructive.

Essentially the “Reality Check” diatribe wants to call PC to task on a purely technical point — censorship strictly defined — but as the author notes herself PC has never actually dealt with “censored” stories, and how could they, given the selection process? Here’s another story, and take note of the sidebar piece, which does a better job — as opposed to a hatchet job — of analyzing PC.

And attempting to appear perceptive and witty by taking an arbitrary shot at what is obviously someone’s dyslexic typing error is mean spirited and dumb.

Not very good journalism.

And yes, we really are that insecure. We should be. The moment we stop being insecure, we’re the establishment.

John Stanley Gesang


More Mumia

RE: “What’s Mumia Got to do with it?

04/12/00

Marc Cooper makes a good case for caution in “What’s Mumia Got to Do With It?” Being new to the matter, I’m puzzled by a point or two:

Cooper quotes Enzo Di Mateo: “Five spent bullet casings were found in Abu-Jamal’s revolver, the same hollow type removed from Faulkner’s forehead.” Say what? If the rounds in Mumia’s gun were all spent, the type of bullet they held cannot be known, except as to diameter (which is necessarily that of the gun’s barrel) and perhaps manufacturer. The statement as worded makes sense only if there was a sixth unfired hollowpoint in the gun.

Also, a quibble: Cooper says in his own voice: “Mumia was NOT busted and framed because he was a political threat to the establishment. He was arrested because he was found […] a few feet from a murdered cop.” Dead cop, surely — whether he was murdered is a matter for trial, a trial which Cooper agrees was likely tainted.

Anton Sherwood

In the weeks after this Reality Check appeared on the site, MoJo Wire sponsored a dialog between readers and Marc Cooper about Mumia. Read the Talk Back here.


Cheesy, but not dead yet

RE: “The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored

04/11/00

Before we get out the shovels and spades to give Project Censored a proper burial, we might want to consider an alternative. While many of the stories may be predictable and ‘cheesy,’ not all of them are, and most certainly not all are irrelevant. Many people indulge themselves with an annual look at the ‘top 25’ and discover things they didn’t know about. The fact that Mother Jones, Dollars and Sense, The Nation, and The Village Voice, “reputable and reasonably well-known publications,” have reported on many of these stories does not diminish their importance. It is this kind of elitist statement that facilitates underreporting, a key feature of media control. It seems to me that the real issue here is one of credibility. Let’s work on that instead of preparing for the funeral.

Jeff Bakke


04/11/00

Irony, thy name is… Brooke Shelby Biggs?

First Biggs complains about a lack of journalistic credibility, and then proves the point with such journalistic phrases as “no shit,” and constant sarcasm. My respect for this journalist is soaring for the clouds.

Then, in another display of journalistic brilliance, Biggs dramatically proves his (sic) point with, amazingly, a typo. Truly, one wrong word on a web page, probably typed in by an intern, proves them incompetent.

Gabe Lanham


Control the world through better eating

RE: “The Cost of Biotech Fever

04/11/00

Bravo to Martha Crouch! She is a shining example to all on putting ethics before the mysterious dollar. The biotech industry wants to rush in to make a killing in our food markets. No one knows the cumulative effects of genetically engineered foods in the human body — how long did it take us to realize how bad nicotine is for humans? And how much can children’s bodies take? Not to mention all the other side issues such as patenting germ plasm. Control the food, control the world: What a heinous concept. All the propaganda that this will feed the world is not true as presented by the book, “World Hunger: Twelve Myths.” Best wishes for Martha’s continued successes.

Cathe Muller


Vilifying Venezuela?

RE: “The Real Reason for US Aid to Colombia

04/09/00

The US is also militarizing the border of Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez has recently come into power, bringing a radical foreign policy change with him. While Venezuela was once the US’ largest source of foreign petroleum, Chavez has said the relationship contributed not only to the nation’s dependence on petroleum and its de facto loss of sovereignty to the US, but to an unequal social hierarchy. Furthermore, Chavez harboured fighters from FARC (Colombia’s left-wing guerrillas), allowing them to enter Venezuela to avoid Colombian death squads.

The US is now entering the disputed area of the Essequibo Delta, along the Guyanese border of Venezuela. Though the war on drugs is real as well, patrolling both borders of Venezuela is more of a reaction to the changing of the guard in Venezuela, and is reminiscent of Cold War policy to “contain” a potential domino effect in the region.

Josh Parr


Face-saving aid

RE: “The Real Reason for US Aid to Colombia

04/09/00

Like the military-industrial complex, the drug-fighting industrial complex has to be fed and maintained. If the drug czar doesn’t pretend to have answers, they will stop listening to him and giving him money. Like most of the elite of America he hasn’t the slightest idea what’s going on, but is afraid to say so.

The last thing the government wants to do is admit that it fought a 30-year drug war, spent billions and billions of dollars, put millions in jails, work camps, and prisons, and accomplished nothing. The dissection of the failed drug war will be even more painful for all those who made the decision to escalate it at every turn.

W. Steve Mckinnon