Letters to MotherJones

Same old song, still wrong
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/27/01

This is a hastily-considered approach to changing the world. I remain unswayed by the tired rhetoric (I was reading this sort of argument in college thirty years ago), and I am unconvinced by the stretched logic. The failure of India to become a wealthy, modernized society has nothing to do with the means by which Gandhi helped win independence from Britain, and to suggest a comparison reveals an ignorance of the incredible social and political complexity that is modern India. I remain committed to nonviolent action as the only method for effecting much-needed reforms.

David B. Dawson

 

Better ways to effect change
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/26/01

I have to agree with some of the points made by Mr. Rall. In most cases, real revolutions have relied on violence to get their point across, and lately that seems to be the only way to get any coverage in the mainstream media.

The dynamics of the modern global economic/political system do not, however, seem to be affected by what attention the violence has produced. The IMF, WTO, and the World Bank have not even attempted to adjust their practices since the broad coverage received after Seattle. In fact, the only consequence that this violence has had on the gatherings of such organizations, is to make them more reclusive and isolated from the rest of the world, which is not where we would like these organizations to go.

Yes, mayhem does attract attention to your cause. However, it has other consequences as well that need to be considered and addressed before we advocate its use as a tool. There are better ways to overthrow or change the global status quo, which I believe need to be explored and utilized before we resort to smashing windows for attention.

Timothy Verstynen

 

Violence is protesters’ only recourse
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/26/01

I was in Seattle for the protests, and while I agreed with the protesters at that time, I thought the violence was wrong. I hate to say it, but now I believe the violence was the correct response, and will be the only response that the corporate world understands. Occupy their offices, destroy their property, and shut them down!

Michael Huffman

 

4/26/01

Ted Rall’s column is absolutely correct! I know, I was there.

There were at least 20,000 (I’ve heard estimates of over 30,000) people in the peaceful march down in the lower city while many fewer were actively and violently protesting up by the notorious fence. Guess where almost all the “news” coverage was?

Without the violence, even fewer people would have a clue about what the FTAA does and the protests against them.

Ted Markow

 

Protesters should bring their ideas to the negotiating table
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/26/01

The demo in Quebec was what it was: 30,000 peaceful demonstrators, a hundred shit-disturbers. If the same vim and vigor were channelled into forging a political alternative to the mediocre left, right, and center, dissenters could change the world. Furthermore, the struggle with police enforcers and their tactics is tired: Why aren’t we challenging those who serve the myopic media? The media need to find the courage to shame those in power rather than feeding us violent images that simply satisfy an endless hunger for stylish photographs of 19-year-old anarchists throwing hockey pucks (this is, after all, Canada).

Brilliant ideologues such as Maude Barlowe and those who make up the Council of Canadians have some compelling blueprints for the future of the FTAA. It’s time to get off the streets into the seats of government. That’s where real power lies — find our way to it and we can change the world.

Vineca Gray
Toronto, Ontario


 

4/26/01

Ted Rall and the free trade protesters can break all the windows they want, but they have about as much chance of stopping the spread of free trade as the Luddites had of stopping the spread of technology.

The point is that the free trade protesters will ultimately have much more influence by helping to reduce the negative consequences of free trade while working to maximize its benefits. Otherwise, they will share the same dubious place in history as the Luddites.

Bruce Lustigson

 

Hippies and anarchists need each other
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/26/01

I think the different protesters have a symbiotic relationship. Without the anarchist brigade to actually cause some distrubance and get away with it, the peacful lefty hippies will be quietly gassed, shot with rubber bullets, “tased,” and otherwise abused by the power-hungry riot police who are all too willing to use their power on peaceful protesters.

Furthermore, destruction of corporate property is not violence. What is done by the state to curb free speech is violence.

Jim Clarke

 

Peaceful change is possible
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/26/01

I object to this part of Ted Rall’s recent column: “Lefties just don’t seem to get this fundamental truth of politics: Not only has there never been a revolution without violence, but there’s never been meaningful social change without violence or at least the threat thereof.”

This is very insulting to those who have used non-violence and won great victories. I am from Latvia and we did not resort to violence to accomplish our democratization.

Derek Voldemars Stukuls

 

Ted, like violence, is wrong
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/26/01

I am against everything you stand for. I am also against smashing your windows.

Lawrence Bleiberg

 

Slippery slope
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/25/01

I disagree with the use of violence to prove a point, but I do understand that many people do not listen unless violence happens. This is a dangerously slippery slope that the protesters are on.

Jorge Angula

 

Songs and sit-ins aren’t worth much
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/25/01

Damn straight … it goes to prove again that “hey hey ho ho open trade has got to go” and sit-ins aren’t worth much for shaping public policy. Plus, docile protesters have the modern distinction of being whiney, overprivileged, suburban people. Fight police brutality with brutality. Make the trade barons quiver and shake as fifty thousand angry people storm the buildings where they meet.

Force a confrontation, and force change.

Jeff DeRego

 

Don’t fight oppression with oppression
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World?”
4/25/01

While I agree with that the violent protest in Quebec bought the anti-globalization cause some publicity, I don’t believe that violence as a media tool is beneficial. Yes, the car smashing and fence toppling mayhem makes for good television — the mainstream media loves nothing better than to lead the evening broadcast with shots of black clad, gas mask-wearing “anarchists” destroying property. But what does it solve?

You don’t fight oppression by using oppression. Violence as a political tool — whether against a human being or property — is oppression. Mr. Rall implies that the campaigns of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been sucessful without the aid of outside violent forces. While this may be true in part, the ultimate message those leaders were spreading was that we should be striving for a society that doesn’t need to respond to social change with physical aggression.

Resorting to violence in a critical situation, or in self defense, is a desperate act. It’s inexcusable to excuse violence for the sake of promoting a supposedly humanitarian cause.

Steve Scherer
New York,NY


 

Trade neither free nor fair
Re: “It’s a Global Thing”
4/23/01

NAFTA is a disaster. The whole idea of free trade only benefits corporations, which are given free rein to do whatever they please — overstepping the voice of the people, their environmental and labor laws, and the ability to govern their own land.

Instead of free trade, we should be striving for fair trade that respects a country’s right to establish its own environmental and labor laws, and that will respect workers’ rights to unionize and demand decent wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Economic growth is a widely accepted concept based upon a false premise — that the earth has unlimited resources which we can exploit. If we judge the health of this planet and its people by a healthy economy, we will suffer the consequences of our myopic, self-serving vision — the further degradation of the environment, and ultimately our own demise.

Doreen Miller

 

Misguided baby boomer policy
Re: “Stoners Need Not Apply”
4/22/01

Whether the actions in question are legal or not, this amounts to the same thing as when teachers had to take loyalty oaths. It is a puritanical form of the purge, which was used in Soviet Russia to rid the party and all public services of those “antirevolutionary, petit-bourgeiose” elements. From a constitutional standpoint, it is a violation of the expectation against search and seizure without a warrant issued on probable (not possible) cause guaranteed by the fourth amendment, and the right reserved against self-incrimination under the due process clause of the fifth.

I also find it quite ironic that this new puritanism is being imposed upon Generation X mostly by the same baby-boomers whose narcisistic hedonism has come around full-circle and turned them into draconian prudes. As the boomers deny their progeny the normal adolescent rites of passage (cigarettes and beer) by stringent regulation, is it any wonder the kids are turning to drugs, which are easier to obtain?

Robert Jones
San Antonio, Texas


 

At least one MoJo reader supports Shell ads
Re: “Shell Ads on MotherJones.com”
4/21/01

I think the Shell ads are fine. In fact, receiving money from Shell will, no doubt, advance Mother Jones; that is good for the environment, good for politics, and good for everyone involved.

We, your loyal readers, are quite capable of making up our own minds as to the content of the Shell ads. I, personally, do not begrudge MoJo for doing this. Quite the opposite, MoJo would be silly to turn down funding that it could use to advance its ideas. Also, every dollar Shell sends to MoJo is one less dollar Shell can use to rape the planet and it’s poorer peoples.

I can think of some cases where it would be appropriate to turn away advertisers for some very good reasons, but this is not one of those cases.

I always thought MoJo was a smart publication; you just keep proving it.

Evan Edwards
Canton, Ohio


 

Use the dirty money for good
Re: “Shell Ads on MotherJones.com”
4/21/01

I believe it is wrong to accept money from Shell Oil as they attempt to improve their image. You gave them an “award for greenwashing” (a negative reflection on their campaign?), yet still help them to fool people. I think this is hypocritical. MotherJones should stop showing the ads and use any money gained from Shell to help those Shell harmed.

Michael Badalamenti

 

Feminists: a dying breed
Re: “Celluloid Sirens, Then and Now”
4/20/01

Thank you. Apparently there are still people in the world who consider themselves feminists. I’m so sick of the hypocritical whining of other women who don’t stand up for feminism.

As for Charlie’s Angels: What a dumb movie. The women are portrayed as both sexy and great fighters. How about some reality there, too? Women, in general can’t hold their own in a fight against men; they’re simply not as strong. Perhaps that is what Andy Kaufman was trying to show people, but nobody got it.

Helga Petzel