Letters

Durst and degeneration

RE: “Soft money, hard cash

04/20/00

I agree with Durst, and I love his analogies. Campaign finance is one of the many things that we, the people, want, but the lawmakers, supposedly our “voices” in the Congress, refuse to listen to us, paying only lip service.

I wish we could do something, other than elect new representatives; unfortunately, new representatives usually become as bad as the old ones in a very short period of time. What are we to do?

Bonnie L. Revak


Never mind

RE: The Durst Case Scenario

04/20/00

I take back what I said about Durst’s column “getting old.” I was in a bad mood. I like it.

K.T. Lee


Happy or handcuffs?

RE: “DC Cops, Protesters Make Nice

04/20/00

I just read your article about everyone going home happy after the protests in DC, and I thought it completely irresponsible to not include coverage of the hundreds of people who were wrongfully arrested for exercising their right to assemble peacefully. Many are right now being denied basic rights while sitting in D.C. jails!

For more information, see www.ainfos.ca

Will Mangum


Which side are you on?

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point with Rebel Flag

04/19/00

Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s article attacking the NAACP for targeting the South Carolina flag does MoJo Wire little credit. Indeed, the cloth over the state capitol of South Carolina is important “only” for its symbolism. The South Carolina flag is clearly a symbol of institutional racism.

That the NAACP has targeted that symbol for a boycott, Hutchinson disapproves. That he goes on to suggest that the civil rights movement “erased” the barriers of racism in America make me wonder if he has visited this planet (never mind South Carolina) lately. For Hutchinson to suggest that the “real” problems of the working class and poor black Americans have no causal connection to institutional racism is more than a bit disingenuous. If he doesn’t know any better, MoJo Wire ought to.

In South Carolina, the state leadership adopted that flag in the 1960s as a declaration of racism. The not-so-proud history of the current state symbol is that it was the battle flag of the Confederate troops (it was never a state flag prior to the 1960s) that refused to honor the rules of war at the time. (By announcing they would kill white Union officers who led African-American troops and enslave the troops captured, South Carolina distinguished itself in the Civil War as a particularly barbaric regime even by the standards of the era).

That such a craven symbol was adopted as the state flag during the 1960s as a declaration of antipathy to the liberation movement of African-Americans tells a great deal about how little the elected state leadership in that area progressed in 100 years.

It would be swell if the NAACP was an omnipotent organization capable of multiple simultaneous action campaigns, rather than an organization working to mobilize support with a symbolic crusade. But to present a list of grievances and demand that they all be simultaneously addressed or none at all is to hamstring any effective action, and discourage any organizing that might lead to the capacity for effective action in the future. To sit on the sidelines and nitpick about what else the NAACP could be doing beside taking on this “easy” target puts Hutchinson and MoJo Wire on the very wrong side of a legitimate fight about a symbol of institutional racism. The easy question is what more the NAACP could be doing assuming inexhaustable resources at their disposal. But that is a parlor game for the disengaged.

The right question is: Which side are you on?

Ellen Starbird


Erase, eliminate, destroy

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point with Rebel Flag

04/19/00

So, the Confederate flag is not an important issue? If it were the Nazi flag, would it then be considered an important issue? I don’t suppose the symbolism behind the flag of the slave-holding states is something that should be addressed. Or should it?

The Confederate flag flying over any state capitol implies it represents all of the people of that state. How ironic that the flag of the warmongering slave-holders should also come to represent the descendants of the very Africans they enslaved, murdered, and maimed. The Confederate flag is dripping with the blood of African people. Anyone who fails to see this point must be a supporter of the system of white supremacy. All traces of white supremacy must be erased, eliminated, destroyed (including its advocates, supporters, apologists.) Anything less is unacceptable.

Ajagbe Adewole-Matondo


No, no, thank you

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point with Rebel Flag

04/19/00

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now, this is the Earl Hutchinson I like seeing. This article is so on time, I wish that more people would talk about this. Because the NAACP (especially) and a lot of the black organizations have sold out big time.

It is so frustrating to watch. I have written and called but I still feel so helpless. They have gotten to the point where they are hurting instead of helping. But they will not listen to the black community. They have completely sold out.

And it is so sad to watch, it’s like a dagger in my heart. I want to just shake Kweisi Mfume and say, “What is wrong with you?”

I have never seen the NAACP sell out to such extremes. Please, please stay on top of this and keep writing articles about it, we need some voices that can reach the public to stay on top of this issue.

Linda Walton


Festive mood at the IMF

RE: “Mild in the Streets

04/18/00

Thanks for presenting an intelligent alternative to the mainstream media’s shallow coverage of the IMF/World Bank protests — not that I’d expect anything less from MoJo Wire. Your stories have explored some of the complicated criticisms leveled at the bank and dealt frankly with distressing, albeit isolated, incidents of police brutality toward protesters.

One thing I didn’t see enough of, though, was coverage of the permitted march and rally. I can sympathize with those who complain about rowdy white college students causing trouble in a mostly-black city, because from the TV and newspaper coverage it appears that all of the protesters are young white kids with dreadlocks and weird piercings. If the media had paid more attention to the permitted events — which boasted a much wider variety of ages, races, and economic backgrounds — readers and viewers would have been more likely to see that the global justice movement unites a diverse coalition of people. By focusing almost exclusively on the blockades, the media only contributes to the mistaken impression that this is just the new pet cause of college kids.

Vince Beiser did a wonderful job capturing the festive mood that suffused I Street that rainy Monday. I’d also have liked to see a description of how inspiring it was to march with 10,000 others who had gathered to learn about the issues and demonstrate that the public will not sit blindly by as corporations and government institutions abuse their power. Focusing only on confrontational protests will discourage many people from joining the movement by suggesting that the only way to get noticed is to defy the cops.

Liz Borkowski
Washington, DC


Who’s in charge here?

RE: “Mild in the Streets

04/18/00

One thing that has become obvious to me is that the antiglobalization movement is in desperate need of some sort of spokesperson who is recognized by people within the movement as well as outside. All the great successful movements of the past had a leader who embodied the best aspects of that particular movement. I wasn’t alive during the civil rights movement, but I do know that it wasn’t until Martin Luther King led the struggle that the movement took off. Given the chaotic organization that has defined Seattle and DC, it is imperative that one individual be put forward to organize, to inspire, and to be a model to the world.

Another important consideration is the fact that past leaders have been a member of the oppressed demographic, whether it be Dr. King, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, or anybody else. I believe that the most credible leader for this movement has to be someone from one of the many developing countries that is getting a raw deal from the world economic order, so that he or she can give actual testimony to the world about why this movement is an important one and what it is that the movement should accomplish. It would be a bad move for a white, middle-class, college-educated, Christian male or female, no matter how passionately idealistic he or she could be, to become head of this movement. Not to say that those of that demographic should not take an active role against globalization, but it has to be a much more supportive role. Otherwise, the movement would likely head in a direction not beneficial to the people that we claim to be defending.

Christopher Hemmig


But what does Noam think?

RE: “Mild in the Streets

04/18/00

One curious thing I observed about the mainstream media’s coverage of the World Bank and IMF protests in Washington was the selection of people who were interviewed. More often than not the World Bank would be represented by some economist or official in a fairly senior position. The representative for the protestors would usually be a young activist. The problem with this approach is that the World Bank is represented by an expert who has a great deal of understanding about world economics and economic theory. On the other hand, the activist would come across as a hopeless nay-sayer. What more can one expect, considering that your average activist is a young student who hasn’t completely studied all the aspects of the global economy?

Why is it that the media never solicits the views of Edward Herman, Noam Chomsky, or Vandana Shiva as counterpoint to the official World Bank line?

This is yet another instance of the mainstream media’s subtle bias in coverage.

Shiva Iyer
Boston, Mass.


Pen ’em up

RE: “Pin Stripes or Prison Stripes

04/18/00

It is truly disturbing to see a serial Snickers thief get 16 years in the can while white-collar criminals get sentenced to a few hours in a comfy chair. I would suggest, however, that neither group of criminals deserves a long prison sentence — prison ought to be reserved for dangerous criminals.

A corporation which commits serious crimes should be stripped of its charter. That ought to be a pretty strong deterrent. Individual guilty parties should get just enough jail time to scare them straight, preferably in a big, scary maximum security pen.

Andrew LaFollette


The do-nothing activists

RE: “NAACP Misses the Point with Rebel Flag

04/17/00

I agree with your perception of the NAACP as an organization that makes a lot of noise and does nothing. I am white, but have been active in black issues for 30 years. The African-American leadership is pathetic. Where are the black leaders when it comes to the IMF, WTO, or the World Bank? Who do they think is going to benefit with debt relief, or equity in world trade? When jobs go overseas, who are going to be the first to suffer? If it is not going to fill their pockets, they are noticeably absent. Until the black community starts demanding more from its so-called leadership, things will only get worse.

Dave Johnson


Project Common Knowledge

RE: “The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored

04/17/00

In addition to the fact that Project Censored has become a meaningless sell out, it is even more embarrassing to think that the entire quest is a misnomer. Censorship is not lack of publication, but infringement by the government — an injustice that rampantly occurs in media today. While political powers are influencing publishers to keep certain unfavorable truths from the public, we’re reveling over the injustice of “censored” stories that not only appeared in print, but were read by thousands. Ridiculous.

Meghan Murphy


Get off your high, well-read horse

RE: “The Unbearable Lameness of Project Censored

04/17/00

I’m sure that throughout Project Censored’s history, there have been people like you who have had access to all of the source material and who ask, “Why doesn’t everyone else get it? This isn’t new!” But for the majority of people, it isn’t. They get their news from a paper, the evening news, and maybe one liberal magazine. Yeah censorship is a big scary term, but I haven’t heard any of these stories on the evening news, have you?

John Madziarczyk


“Equal treatment for all,” more or less

RE: “Pin Stripes or Prison Stripes

04/17/00

Democracy is suppose to mean “equal treatment under the law for all citizens.” But our founding fathers had their own ideas as to whom “democracy” applied. In the formation of the Constitution, democracy did not apply to women, slaves, Indians, or children. And unfortunately, there are still some people in this country who still carry the same views. This article illustrates the undemocratic way certain people in this society are treated. The old adage “money talks and bullshit walks” applies.

Vivian Jackson