Progressivism and Catholicism aren’t mutually exclusive

RE: “Pro-Life International


In the past decade, I have devoted an increasing amount of my energy — as an educator, a citizen, and as a practicing Roman Catholic — to social and environmental justice. In this capacity I have found publications such as Mother Jones essential both for their progressive vision and for their alternative perspective, one informed with a similar concern for promoting greater justice among all the world’s peoples. However, I find articles like the one on “UN conservatives” despicably partisan in the way that it demonizes individuals or organizations seeking to effect that same form of justice, albeit in a very different way.

My hope is that progressive publications like this one will lead the way in promoting an essential and productive dialogue regarding such starkly polarized issues like abortion in particular. I think it is in all best interests to reduce the number of abortions across the globe as it represents one of the most horrendous human rights abuses in all of human history. Contrary to common leftist opinion, this work is not antithetical to promoting gender equality and defending the dignity and rights of all women. It is my wish that publications such as this one will work beyond the false “life” vs. “choice” polemic that saturates our culture and instead devote itself to fostering a dialogue from which more creative and productive discussions about true human justice — both for women and for our unborn, voiceless children.

David Callon
St. Louis, Mo.


C-FAM’s misguided efforts

RE: “Pro-Life International


In this day and age we need sex education for our children. We need education on homosexuality and the violence people suffer. Yes, I do believe that abortion should not be used as a form of contraception and maybe children need to hear about the procedure and hear statements from people who have gone through it and who now, as adults, regret it.

But saying, “You cannot have sex,” does nothing but make a child want to have sex more. Abstinence is unrealistic even though it may seem ideal. If we don’t encourage AIDS awareness and don’t distribute contraception, I think we will find more children having abortions, more children raising children and more young people becoming HIV-positive. C-FAM has overlooked the fact that most of these children are brought up by single parents. They are uneducated and usually do not have a lot of money.

As for not giving homosexuals rights, how can an organization possibly imply that homosexuals are less than human?

David Iazetta


Wanted: instant run-off voting

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash!


The backlash against Nader and the Greens is an inevitable consequence of the current two-party system. We need an “instant run-off” or some other form of election that allows people to support a party other than the “Republicrats,” without the fear of electing the worse of two evils.

The fiasco in Florida has given rise to calls for election reform in Congress. The Green Party should work through the members leading election reform discussions in Congress to ensure that the alternatives such as instant run-off are part of the dialogue. Achieving such reforms will benefit all, and may help rehabilitate the Green Party image among the mainstream.

Margaret Hilsbos
Springfield, Pa.


The true story about Nader

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash!


Thank you for that superbly stated defense of Nader. I find it apalling that Labor and the major environmental groups jumped on the Gore bandwagon so swiftly. By doing so, they forfeited any say in the development of the Democratic platform and essentially told the Dems that they could be taken for granted. Nader sincerely supports both labor and environmental goals, often trumpeting their cause louder than some of the organizations themselves. Yet he was dismissed out of hand (as labor and the environmentalists were by the Democratic party) and now he’s demonized as the “spoiler.”

But what did he spoil? Either party would continue to ram through expansion of the WTO, NAFTA, and GATT. They would continue to weaken food safety laws, stymie attempts to label irradiated and bioengineered foods, exploit our national forests, pump millions into the farcical “clean coal” lie, continue to allow chemical companies to profit from dangerous pesticides known to harm children, balloon our military during a time of peace, ignore human rights violations in China and elsewhere, and continue to export American jobs to the third world. To me, that’s already spoiled.

I agree that Gore is the only one to blame for his pitiful campaign and likely loss of this election to a bumbling, speech-impaired dimwit (I have a feeling Texans voted so overwhelmingly for him just so they could get him out of the state). Both major parties ran on a platform of, “Vote for me and I’ll give you…” — no vision for our nation, no moral leadership, and nothing of substance. Nader inspired people, rekindled the hunger to reclaim our country from the hyper-wealthy and global corporations, and inspired the supposedly uninspirable to vote.

I’m from Florida and I have to admit that I have regrets. I regret that I voted my fears instead of my concience. I regret that I didn’t vote for Nader.

Sean McCrackine
Miami, Fla.


No conspiracy to blame

RE: “Bamboozled at the Voting Booth


Your assertion that four presidents conspired and “crafted” a “Republican’s Southern strategy” is giving these persons more credit and capability than I think that they should be attributed.

Hints of conspiracy theory and paranoid finger-pointing seems to be taking the place of unbiased reporting of fact, or at minimum, biased reporting with strong and specific incidents to lead the reader to your same conclusions.

Please, let’s not attribute to the Republican Party of the south any more organization than they really exhibit. As with any political party of the size of the two most prominent ones in the US, gang mentality, herd steering, and just plain brand loyalty determine who holds office.

Ramon Collins


Civil rights abuses before our very eyes

RE: “Voteless in Florida


Once again the civil rights of minorities have been disregarded. In school I was taught the importance of the civil rights movement, and our history teaches us the struggle that many had to go through to obtain their right to vote. We are now in the year 2000, and I am seeing disregard for civil rights right in front of my eyes. I cried as I saw C-SPAN broadcast the disfranchised people from Florida giving their statements to the NAACP. I cannot believe Bush and his campaign are allowing this to continue.

I am disheartened and ashamed of Americans, because they’d rather see their preferred candidate end up in the White House than see all people treated with equal respect, dignity, and honor. The rich and the powerful have chosen their president. The rest of us have lost the voice we never really had.

If the courts decide that the voters of Florida were not treated unjustly, will we sit quietly or raise hell? The world will laugh if Bush goes other countries and tries to talk about democracy to them.

Norma Garibay


Get the race debate straight

RE: “Bamboozled at the Voting Booth


This is one of the most irresponsible articles I have ever read. Why don’t you try placing your allegiance a little more behind historical fact and a little less behind blind party loyalty. The day Reconstruction ended is the day Republicans lost power in the Old South, because all blacks holding office before the end of Reconstruction were Republican.

The Republican party was an abolitionist party to begin with, and won the White House in 1860 because of a split in the Democratic party. Yes, Lyndon Johnson, in all of his lewdness, managed to do something right in 1965. But the Civil Rights Act was passed because of Republicans, not in spite of them. And in trying to connect the Republicans with a century of denied voting rights to Southern blacks, you do forget that Southern blacks were denied registration because of Jim Crow laws passed by Dixiecrats. When southern blacks registered to vote, it was because Republicans registered them.

I am registered Independent. And the more race-baiting and divide-and-conquer politics I hear from Democrats others, the more Republican I feel.

Chris Schwartz


We should thank Ralph

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash!


Isn’t it likely that Nader voters who otherwise might not have voted at all might have provided the narrow margins by which several Democrats were elected to the Senate and the House?

It seems he gets no credit at all for this from either his critics or his supporters.

Bob Schlesinger
Avon Lake, Ohio


If not now …

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash!


From Gloria Steinem to Jesse Jackson, the poverty of “progressive” icons has been amply, even obscenely, demonstrated. Steinem can offer nothing more than the Holy Grail of abortion — of little significance to women busted down to “welfare reform” desperation courtesy of the Democrats. Jackson offers … what? He has become so marginalized within the Democratic Party that he can do nothing but play the race card in every situation.

The plaint is unremitting: Things will be worse if we don’t vote Democratic. Did I overlook something? Is history perhaps static, its central lesson being the inevitability of more of the same? This, from progressives?

There is never a good time to undertake major political changes: They are always accompanied by suffering, and the prospects of recompense are uncertain. That, however, cannot deter those concerned with social justice. If progressives let that hold them back, then the Freedom Rides, sit-ins, draft-card burnings — and everything and anything else deemed risky and not guaranteed of success in advance — would be discarded out of hand. What is needed is not less daring, but more.

Dan Raphael
Seattle, Wash.


Ralph ruined everything

RE: “Smash the Nader Backlash!


I supported Nader early with both time and money. By September it was apparent that Nader was not going to run an intelligent campaign and while I wished him luck I threw my support for Gore.

Why? Because as a working-class American I cannot afford to vote my “conscience”. Conscience voting is for the elite. While I was not in agreement with Gore on many issues, the alternative was Bush and a slide backwards in issues crucial to this nation: abortion, environment, labor, health care, etc.

Nader and those who voted for him gambled that he would achieve a 5 percent vote total for future matching funds. They lost. If Nader had decided to throw his support to Gore, Gore would have easily taken Florida, and Nader would have considerable influence in the upcoming Gore administration. Now he not only has nothing to look forward to but a label as a spoiler. His organizations, Public Citizen and the Green Party, will suffer irreparable harm, too. Nader lost and so did the working-class people of this country.

Tim Milligan