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Letters to WW

Published Mar 24, 2008 8:15 PM

Cynthia McKinney election campaign

Re: Larry Holmes’ talk at a Feb. 9 Workers World Party meeting in Detroit on “Globalization, Economic Crisis & Obama.” See www.workers.org for excerpts.

Larry Holmes makes many important observations on the 2008 elections, including on the importance of understanding Barack Obama’s campaign. He points out the bourgeois character of the campaign. It is also important to realize that Obama is stealing some of the energy and enthusiasm of people to get rid of Bush and his policies; energy and enthusiasm that belong to progressives. The corporate media are doing everything they can to paint Obama as the alternative of hope and hide the truth about his platform and about other, real alternatives.

One thing that Larry missed was that Cynthia McKinney, former Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, is campaigning to win the Green Party nomination for president. She has campaigned across the country and participated in the Green Party primaries, including in California and Illinois where she won several thousand votes and convention delegates. If she gets the nomination, she will be on the ballot as the GP candidate in at least 21 states. She is, among other things, solidly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for single payer health insurance, for reparations for slavery, for a much higher minimum wage and immigrant rights.

While readers of Workers World may not agree with the whole GP platform or the McKinney campaign, she represents a clear alternative to the twin parties of war at home and abroad. Her historic campaign, as a Black woman running for president in a third party bid, is an opportunity for all progressives to not only vote for her, but encourage others to join her effort, to run for local offices. Her campaign gives poor, working class people in particular, as well as students and middle class people, the opportunity to help build the movement in the streets by supporting a progressive independent alternative in the 2008 elections.

Her website is www.runcynthiarun.org.

In solidarity,
Fred Vitale
State Chairperson,
Green Party of Michigan

The Atlanta tornado: Class character of a natural disaster

With 135-mile-an-hour winds on the evening of March 14, a tornado tore through a 6-mile swath of Atlanta starting with African-American neighborhoods such as Vine City, west of downtown; barreling through well-known streets, where some of the city’s most prestigious buildings are located; and finally devastating another historic Intown community—once home to mill workers, now a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Thousands of images have appeared on newscasts showing the damaged CNN and Georgia World Congress Center building, the cars buried under bricks and twisted metal and the famous hotels with their windows blown out. The Atlanta media have also extensively covered the collapse of a section of the 100-year-old mill in the Cabbagetown area that was recently converted into lofts. There have been numerous stories about the more than 20 bungalows and shotgun-style houses originally built for mill workers, crushed by massive oak trees.

However, very little media attention has been given to the tremendous devastation in the Vine City area, an economically struggling neighborhood where many more homes were destroyed or seriously damaged and where a large apartment complex had its roof torn off, forcing dozens of families to escape with their lives and nothing else.

This part of the city surrounds the street where, just over a year ago, an Atlanta undercover drug squad burst into the home of an elderly woman, Ms. Kathryn Johnston, on the basis of a phony “no knock” warrant and killed her in a flurry of gunshots. While many of the homes in this community are owned by senior citizens, there is also a lot of rental property.

The Georgia insurance commissioner had announced that damages will run upwards of $250 million. It is not clear if this estimate includes any replacement of the homes of working and poor people. One can anticipate that low-wage workers, retired people and renters will not have sufficient insurance to cover their losses.

The major downtown businesses have assured their clientele that everything will be back to normal as soon as possible. But does their assurance include the thousands of restaurant workers, hotel housekeeping staffs and other service workers who won’t be getting paychecks for weeks or longer while the reconstruction takes place? And what provision is there for those whose homes will now be torn down and most likely not rebuilt, unless by developers of unaffordable housing?

—Dianne Mathiowetz

Buckley & HIV

Regarding your article on the death of Wm. F. Buckley (March 13), I still have somewhere the 1986 New York Times article about tattooing people with HIV written by Buckley. I am delighted that his voice has been silenced. The NPR/PBS gushing over what an erudite person he was really is enough to make you throw up on the spot.

I think of the 1980s (and really still today), about the stigma that contributed to so many unnecessary HIV deaths. I think of a gay male couple with HIV that I once knew in Hendersonville, Tenn., who had HIV and lived with a shotgun by their bed because of local Klan activity targeting them.

I think of the African-American brother who lives in the halfway house where I work who has HIV and is in recovery but is afraid to speak at AA meetings, lest people get to know him, find out he has HIV and then shun him.

I remember the young Ray brothers in Florida, whose house was firebombed in the 1980s when neighbors found out that the young hemophiliacs had contracted HIV via blood transfusion—in the era when the American Red Cross blocked hepatitis B testing (as a surrogate marker for HIV) because they were afraid they would lose blood donations.

All this led to many unnecessary infections—certainly tens of thousands in the early 1980s. I think of myself, who was dismissed as a volunteer from Nashville CARE AIDS organization in 1988 for organizing demonstrations and criticizing the governor in the media after the state legislature had passed a law in 1986 specifically removing disability discrimination protections for people with HIV—only people with HIV!

So many terrible memories, so much pain and death! Buckley’s role was to “legitimize” the hate and oppression by giving it his “thoughtful” analysis! I can almost hear the dead voices, still screaming in pain, of the thousands who met their early deaths because of the environment created by Buckley and his ilk.

We owe it to our comrades and all who have gone on too early—Danton Peres and Marshall Yates, to name just two—to redouble our fight against the “state” formulation of what passes for health care and their HIV profit-maker drug company partners. Let’s build a socialist world with our Workers World Party!

—Gerry Scoppettuolo