by Bill Dixon
It might have been just another sunny Saturday in New York
but for the hundred or so socialist youth who descended upon the
Mexican Consulate, proclaiming solidarity with the Chiapas rebellion
and demanding free and fair process for Mexico's upcoming federal
elections. Of course, the place was closed, and in any case, it
was more than adequately guarded by several dozen of New York's
finest. No matter. The demonstration, loud if lawful, brought
a grand climax to the DSA Youth Section's annual winter conference,
the fifteenth such gathering of students and others from across
the US brought together for a weekend of socialist strategizing.
With a particular focus on NAFTA, a broad theme of socialist
internationalism ran through the three days of panels and workshops.
The slogan: Economic Justice Everywhere! Nevertheless, the forces
of anti-capitalist militancy still emerged in all of their manifest
plurality. The Conference also addressed health care legislation,
national economic policy, generational politics, and multicultural
and identity movements. Workshops included community organizing,
campus labor support, and gay/lesbian/bisexual politics (where
that brilliant YS perennial Dot Benz presided with her usual aplomb).
DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich opened up a frank and
free-ranging discussion over the future of socialism. Basic issues
of social change - culture, economics, political agency - were
given a fresh look in hopes of bringing new light to the prospects
for a revitalized Left. The conversation went from the legacy
of Marxism to the future of feminism. It began an exciting exchange
which would last throughout the weekend.
Bogdan Denitch (also a DSA Honorary Chair) closed the conference
with a call to the revered socialist tradition of ruthless criticism.
Denitch urged that socialists recognize the few advantages that
come with their marginality: the Left today has little to lose
by insisting on the full possibilities of democratic citizenship.
If nothing else, we are relatively unburdened by the demands of
pragmatism. For this, said Denitch, socialists enjoy a powerful
if not always popular place within the movements shaping our collective
Held in no less an appropriate venue than Manhattan's Norman
Thomas High School, the Conference enjoyed a turnout notably higher
than previous years'. A fair mix of college, graduate students,
and non-students arrived from as far off as California, with a
decent showing from states in between. All were immortalized by
a film crew working on a documentary about "The Internationale,"
the ancient European socialist anthem. In a bizarre episode worth
its own Walter Benjamin essay, the director had the crowd rehearsing
the revolutionary hymn at least three or four times. But no one
seemed to mind. "Also," he said before the final cut,
"if more of you could put your fist in the air... It looks
so great when you do that."
Voters in the Evergreen district of San Jose, California, made
history on Tuesday, April 12, when they recalled - for the first
time ever - a member of their city council.
Kathy Cole, who in 1993 made statements that many considered
to be anti-gay and racist, appears to have been soundly voted
out of office in a special recall election. With 28 out of 29
precincts reporting, a total of 5,296 votes have been cast in
favor of the recall, while only 3,665 votes were for keeping Cole
Cole, who is African-American, angered many in 1993 when she
spoke at a black empowerment workshop and complained about how
other groups allegedly received preferential treatment at City
Hall. She referred to Latinos as "pit bulls," slanted
her eyes in reference to Asians. Speaking about deals from City
Hall, she said, "If you (sic) black and gay, you might get
something out of the deal. Other than that, you are not important."
Cole also voiced her objection to domestic partner benefits
for city employees. Her anti-recall campaign targeted the Bay
Area Municipal Elections Committee, a gay political group, and
co-founder Wiggsy Sivertsen as indicative of the "special
interests" who wanted her out of office.
The Cole campaign also faced negative publicity during the
final weeks of the recall campaign. It was revealed that Cole
had accepted illegal contributions to her 1992 campaign; she promptly
refunded the excesses. Last week, a builders' group was found
to have improperly laundered contributions to the anti-recall;
however, the Cole campaign was not directly implicated in these
acts. And finally, on election day, a letter purporting to be
written by three San Jose police officers and which supported
Cole, was reportedly distributed through the district; at least
one of the officers came forth and announced that he neither wrote,
saw, or approved of the letter. The city attorney's office is
currently investigating the matter.
In a concession speech, Cole staff member Manny Sandoval said,
"She has a lot of faith and a lot of respect for the people
Once the election results are certified - which could take
up to two weeks - the San Jose city council will then appoint
a successor to fill the remaining two and a half years of Cole's
term. Mayor Susan Hammer says that the council plans to conduct
interviews and public meetings in the Evergreen district to help
them select a replacement.
Copyright ©1994 OutNOW!
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A diverse crowd - which included gays, lesbians, African-Americans,
and Hispanics - rallied together downtown Saturday (April 9, Midland,
TX)) to express their anger at the criminal justice system and
demand reform. The gathering at Centennial Plaza - which police
estimated at more than 200 - was prompted by outrage over a 12-year
prison sentence given to the murderer of a homosexual and evolved
into an overall protest of the justice system.
People held signs that included "Justice for All,"
in English and Spanish, "Stop Hate Crimes," and "Amarillo
Queers are here, Stop Hatred." Adjacent to the Midland County
Courthouse, speakers called for better laws, stiffer punishments,
higher bail bonds and equality to minority victims. "That's
not a justice system across the street but an injustice system,"
said Jerry Hon of Odessa.
Hon's companion, 48-year-old Tommy Musick, was fatally shot
four times in the back of the head April 14, 1993. The murderer,
18-year-old Ramsey Harrell, was sentenced by a jury in February
to 12 years in prison for the crime.
Rev. Billy Charles Cawley of the Prodigal Ministries Community
Church in Odessa said key evidence - a confession of a codefendent
yet to be tried - was not legally permissible but clearly indicated
a robbery and murder intent.
Hon and Cawley organized the event. Plans for the rally were
recently expanded to include the plight of family and friends
of the two women recently murdered in separate incidents.
Angela Belcher, 21, was fatally shot outside a Midland nightclub
in November and Catalina Chavez Mireles, 18, was fatally shot
three times at her parents home in December. Suspects in both
crimes have yet to be tried.
Ms. Belcher's father, Tony Belcher, criticized the low bond
- $15,000 - set on the murder suspect, 20-year-old Sherry Henderson.
He compared that to the $150,000 bond for a man recently arrested
on charges of burglarizing "richy homes."
"What they're telling me is we base more value on property
than life," he said.
Belcher said he fears the possibility of a light sentence and
reminded the crowd of Musick being shot in the head four times
and the murderer's subsequent punishment.
"Our daughter was shot only once in the heart. Who knows
what the verdict will be?" he said.
"We refuse to accept another Tommy Musick verdict,"
he said. The crowd stood and cheered.
Jose Chavez, father of Ms. Mireles, also denounced the $50,000
bond set on the man accused of gunning down his daughter.
"The man who killed our daughter is already out on the
streets. I want to know if this is the justice we should have,"
he said. The suspect, the victim's husband, Rogelio Mireles, recently
rid himself of an electronic monitor and his whereabouts are unknown.
Others who spoke out about the criminal justice system included
representatives from the League of United Latin American Citizens
(LULAC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People from several gay/lesbian groups from across the state
turned out for the rally as well.
Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of the Austin-based
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, categorized Musick's murder
as one in another series of hate crimes across the state.
"I want to tell you this is a pattern in Texas, a pattern
we cannot be silent about," she sadly.
Ms. Hardy-Garcia criticized Harrell's defense - that he was
temporarily insane because of an alleged pass Musick made at the
co-defendent, 19-year-old Michael Thomas.
"We know all you have to do to get off murdering a fag
in Texas is allege he made a pass at you," Ms. Hardy-Garcia
"They used gay to get away and we can't let them do it,"
said Kathy Rhodes, who described herself as a heterosexual mother
Another speaker, Ed Bulland of Dallas, said Harrell should
have been taken out behind the courthouse and shot in the back
of the head. Ms. Hardy-Garcia denounced such extremes.
The rally, which lasted about two hours, ended peacefully.
Police said they had received anonymous calls about a counter
protest but no such opposition occurred.
By Jim Madigan
Directed by: Richard Bugajski; Cast: Ron Lea, Graham Greene,
Michael Hogan, Floyd Red Crow Westerman; Academy Entertainment:
Distributed by Northern Arts Entertainment, Inc., Canada.
Films can, depending on their intent, entertain, amuse, thrill,
or even titillate, but rarely do they enlighten - Clearcut
is a wonderful exception.
The film takes place on an unspecified Canadian Indian Reservation.
Corporate logging interests have just won a court case allowing
them access to thousands of acres of virgin forest which they
intend to "clearcut."
The film's main protagonist is Peter Maguire (Ron Lea), the
tribe's young, white and progressive lawyer, who has not only
lost the court battle but also his faith. Maguire's opposite number
is Bud Ricketts (Michael Hogan), the mill owner, who is a self-described
"filthy industrialist." I know what you're thinking
- pretty standard stuff: young white lawyer defends noble native
peoples against corporate slug and good ultimately triumphs. Not
in this film.
Into the political landscape steps Arthur (Graham Greene),
an avenging native phantom, who sees both Ricketts and Maguire
as the enemy. Throughout the bulk of the film Arthur forces both
men, but particularly the well intentioned but spiritually blind
Maguire, to see themselves for who they really are.
For Maguire and Ricketts it's a violent and mind-numbing journey
of self-discovery with Arthur as teacher, captor and trickster-god.
For Arthur it is a calculated leap into the void, a journey of
self-sacrifice rather than self-discovery, born of anger, frustration
and his intense love for his people and mother earth.
Clearcut is one the most honest, intelligent and provocative
films I've seen in years. It's a film about true commitment verses
dilettantism, about the illusionary "house of mirrors"
we call the court system verses the reality of nature and native
peoples and, most importantly, it's about perspective; from the
vantage point of the world's native people's all of us caught
in the western techno-materialist grip are the enemy. Clearcut
is the film Dances with Wolves should have been. Do yourself
a favor and rent it.
Note: This film is not intended for small children. There is
strong language and scenes of graphic violence. Also, if you care
to comment on this review or wish to write a review of your own,
send it to Chicago DSA in care of New Ground.
by Barry Romo
I've worked at the U.S. Postal Service for more than 17 years
as a mail handler. I've also been a steward, chief steward, and
editor of the union branch newsletter.
Answering the question, "Why is mail service so bad?"
is easy: management.
For starters, the Postal Service has been run by Republicans.
Yes, those great businessmen (and I do mean men) have been making
the decisions for 12 long years. The Board of Governors, The Postmaster
General are Republicans. These appointees of Reagan and Bush have
been setting policy and making priorities. Delivery and customer
service have not been among them.
Quite frankly, it is not surprising that the Postmaster General's
response to poor delivery was, "It'll take five years to
correct." We've recognized that kind of arrogance in poor
work conditions for years. In fact, Postmaster General Marvin
Runyon's nick name is "Carvin Marvin" for specializing
in personnel cuts. Despite the fact that the Post Office ties
together rural and remote America with urban America, few among
management want it to retain first class service. I don't know
if they've intentionally sabotaged service, but it looks that
way from here.
The Post Office cannot be in competition with other private
"businesses". That's why copy machines in the Postal
lobbies cost twenty-five cents instead of a nickle: so as not
to be in competition with Kinko's, for instance.
All mail is flown by private carrier (i.e., United, American
Airlines). The mail is turned over to the airlines who load it
into their cargo bays. Of course, if they have plenty of passengers
with lots of luggage, guess which waits for the next (or the next)
Most industrial countries pay twice the twenty-nine cents for
first class service and the service reflects that. But you can't
have it both ways: cheap and prompt. Mail service is labor
intensive. More than twice the mail is now being delivered with
substantially fewer employees.
There is more than a little racism in the criticisms of the
Post Office. First, who gets listened to? Do you really believe
service is worse in the lake front condos than in Cabrini Green?
Second, who gets blamed? Quite frankly, the faces of carriers
have changed from white males to a rainbow of both sexes.
It's not to say that there are no slackers, alcoholics or drug
addicts working in the Post Office. I have worked on the railroad,
made Oldsmobile dashboards, cut meat, washed cars and been in
the Army. Its about the same- maybe less- in the Post Office.
Eco-Socialist Review, the national journal of DSA's
Ecology and Socialism Commission, has been nominated for the Utne
Reader's Alternative Press Award in the Special Interest category.
Among the 14 publications nominated were such major publications
as Earth Island Journal, Urban Ecologist, Tricycle, Disability
Rag, Social Policy and Left Business Observer. A more
bourgeois publication might suggest this is pretty heavy competition,
but we prefer to think of it as distinguished company.
Eco-Socialist Review is published by Chicago DSA. Subscriptions
are $10 per year. Individual copies are $2.00. Subscriptions and
copies are available through the Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee,
Room 403, Chicago, IL 60647. Make checks payable to Chicago DSA.
By Bruce Bentley
On April 9th 600-700 people attended the Staley Workers' Solidarity
March for Social and Economic Justice in Decatur, IL. The march
brought together Decatur labor, clergy and African American groups
to support the locked-out Allied Industrial Workers and commemorate
the 26th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's support of labor
in Memphis where he was assassinated. Naturally the local media
stated that there were only 300 people in attendance. According
to the Staley workers, the march has created a needed injection
of inspiration, solidarity and hope in their struggle as well
as establishing solidarity with the African-American and clerical
communities. A major solidarity march and demonstration is planned
for June 25 in Decatur.
By Bruce Bently
Three officer positions are due for election at the June 18th
Membership Meeting A description of the responsibility of each
office follows, from its minimal responsibility to a maximum visionary
scale. The latter is only a suggestion; being a volunteer organization,
each office on the Executive Committee is in large part what the
individual wishes to make of it.
Minimum: take minutes at Executive Committee Meetings
and Membership Meetings and Conventions. Type, file and mail minutes
to key list. Approximate time required is 5-6 hours a month. Maximum:
correspondence/networking with progressive/left organizations.
Minimum: maintain checking account, pay bills, provide
monthly Treasurer's report to EC and an annual fiscal budget.
Approximate time required is 4-5 hours a month. Maximum:
fundraising, accounting in detail.
Minimum: preside over membership and EC meetings. Approximate
time required is 2-3 hours. Maximum: spokesperson and liaison
for CDSA with other organizations and public events.