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New Ground 80

January - February, 2002

Contents

  • Fast Track Trade Negotiating Authority: It Ain't Over 'til the Sopranos Sing By Bob Roman
  • How the Left Can Win Without Pretzels By Mark Weinberg
  • Stop! Children as Guinea Pigs By Ron Baiman and Tom Broderick
  • Campaign for Better Health Care By Bob Roman
  • Ode to a Fallen Comrade By Ron Baiman
  • Comments and Opinions: The Real Threat of Cornel West By Harold Taggart
  • Comments and Opinions: Privatizing Medicaid By Alfredo Villasenor
  • Other News Compiled By Bob Roman
  • In Defense of Labor Rights, Human Rights and Civil Liberties
    Local Lad Makes Good
    Centennial of American Socialism
    Chicago DSA Officers
    War Conference
    Death Sentence 2002
  • Letters

  • Fast Track Trade Negotiating Authority:

    It Ain't Over 'til the Sopranos Sing

    By Bob Roman

    December 6, 2001, may not be a day that lives in infamy, but it was an evil time in Washington, DC, nonetheless. "Fast Track" trade negotiating authority (H.R. 3005) passed the House of Representatives. It passed, but it just passed, by a vote of 215 to 214. The vote was very nearly a party line vote; only 23 Republicans voted against the Fast Track and only 21 Democrats voted for it. At that, the measure very nearly failed. It only passed because the Republican House leadership promised South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint that negotiators would provide protection to textile dyeing and finishing companies. DeMint changed his vote from no to yes.

    This vote was a defeat for the left not because of some anti-trade, protectionist, isolationist obsession. The issue here is not whether there will be international trade but rather something far more fundamental: what are the rules for international trade. As William Greider documented in the October 15 issue of The Nation ("The Right and US Trade Law: Invalidating the 20th Century"), U.S. negotiators at international trade talks are pursuing an ideological agenda that places property rights above all else, an accomplishment insuring that labor rights would be nothing more than a noble fiction and that consumer, health, safety and environmental regulation would be impossibly expensive.

    This is not the sole item on the negotiators' agenda. The U.S. trade representatives are also negotiating the maintenance of the U.S. empire. The foreign policy establishment has always viewed trade as a political instrument, a potential tool of leverage and coercion. The WTO, NAFTA, MAI, et. al., are very much in this tradition.

    The negotiators also discuss rules that have specific consequences for specific industries. It is here that Congress understandably feels it has some special understanding and it is here that Congress has been most particularly deluded. After all, such special pleading very closely resembles how much domestic policy, especially tax law, is made. By all accounts, the Bush Administration and the Republican House leadership recruited and enforced votes in much the same way that Clinton achieved passage of NAFTA: by making promises that the U.S. negotiating team would make special provisions for particular industries and by making promises regarding policy unrelated to trade.

    But as Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch pointed out in The Record on Deals for Trade Votes (December, 2001), these "deals" have all the currency of "the check is in the mail". Indeed, there is every indication that one reason for the narrow vote was Congressional skepticism after having been burned. At least among Democrats: aside from issues of loyalty, many Republicans still seem susceptible to deals, perhaps thinking that these betrayals were a Clinton thing. The recent round of negotiations in Qatar illustrated just what a foolish vanity this is. Despite an informal demand by the U.S. Senate (a letter signed by 62 Senators) and a formal demand by the U.S. House of Representatives (H. Con. Res. 262, passed 410 - 4) that U.S. anti-dumping laws be kept off the table, these instructions were completely disregarded and the issue of anti-dumping laws will be very much on the agenda for the next round of negotiations.

    All of this leaves the deal makers, especially House members of the Textile Caucus, feeling a bit like maybe they've purchased shares of Enron, particularly as some of Textile Caucus concerns essentially demand that U.S. Trade Representatives negotiate a reversal of some of the provisions of the "NAFTA for Africa" act (New Ground #63 "Africa's HOPE Against Globalization"). President Bush felt compelled to hold a feel good meeting with these members a week after the vote. They all came away proclaiming confidence in the President, but one can't help but wonder. If the Fast Track passes and the next trade agreement leaves them in the cold, will they have the courage to vote against it?

    The fight has now passed to the Senate. If you haven't heard much about it, there are two main reasons. One is simply that the Senate has been recessed and, until it reconvenes on January 23, no activities have been formally scheduled. The other is Senator Max Baucus from Montana. Senator Baucus' involvement greatly increases the odds that the "Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority" will pass the Senate in a form easily reconciled with the version passed by the House. No contest, no news.

    Indeed, Baucus has wasted no time. The bill passed his committee, 18 to 3, in December less than a week after the House voted. That vote is another bad sign. When H.R. 3005 cleared the House Ways and Means Committee, the vote was 26 to 13, with only 2 Democrats voting in favor.

    Max Baucus has been an increasing problem. He's betrayed his constituency with bad votes on ergonomic standards and on Dubya's spectacular tax giveaway to the rich. Despite warnings not to, he intervened in favor of H.R. 3005 while the issue was in play in the House. Conventional wisdom is that much of this delinquency comes from facing a stereotypically wealthy Republican opponent in the upcoming 2002 elections. But the labor movement ain't what it use to be in Montana, and almost half of the $93,000 in labor PAC money Baucus received in the 2001 reporting period came from transportation unions (air, rail, maritime) which do not necessarily make fair trade issues a priority at best. $93,000 represents less than 10% of the PAC money Baucus raised in 2001. About $234,000 came from the finance industry, for whom "free" trade and Social Security "reform" are indeed priorities.

    Despite this gloomy outlook and despite the fact that no debate or vote has been scheduled, it is absolutely important that you contact your Senators sooner rather than later. The Senate must understand that this is an important issue and that people are watching their behavior. In Illinois, it should come as no surprise that Senator Fitzgerald used the occasion of Dubya's recent trip to Illinois to announce his support of the Fast Track trade negotiating authority. But even Fitzgerald is worth contacting.

    Whether you call, write or fax (email is better than nothing but usually heavily discounted by the recipients), not only express your opposition to Fast Track negotiating authority, but emphasize that any social protections built into such negotiating authority are bound to be inadequate. Granting such authority to negotiators essentially means that Congress has abdicated all effective oversight over the process.

    Contacting the Illinois Delegation

    The AFL-CIO maintains a web site from which you can fax your Senator. It includes a suggested text, which you can alter to your taste. Go to http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/fasttrack3.

     

    Senator Durban

    Washington Office:

    332 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
    Washington, DC 20510

    Voice- (202)224-2152

    TTY- (202)224-8180

    Fax- (202)228-0400

     

    Chicago Office:

    Kluczynski Bldg. 38th Fl.
    230 South Dearborn
    Chicago, IL 60604

    Voice: (312) 353-4952

    Fax (312)353-0150

     

    Senator Fitzgerald

    Washington Office:

    555 Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510

    (202) 224-2854

     

    Chicago Office:

    230 S. Dearborn #3900
    Chicago, IL 60604

    (312) 886-3506


    How the Left Can Win Without Pretzels

    By Mark Weinberg

    A crowd of about 40, many of them CDSA members, came out to hear John K. Wilson talk about his new book, How the Left Can Win Arguments and Influence People: A Tactical Manual for Pragmatic Progressives (New York University Press, 2001, $15.95 paper) at the New World Resource Center on Sunday. December 2nd. The event was co-sponsored by CDSA, the Chicago Socialist Party and Open University of the Left.

    Currently a graduate student at Illinois State University and a former Chicago resident, Wilson is an alternative press journalist, whose work for the late, lamented Chicago Ink newspaper and the increasingly impressive Chicago Media Watch newsletter is much respected. He is the author of two prior books, The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education and Newt Gingrich: Capitol Crimes and Misdemeanors.

    Wilson began by reading the controversial opening of his book, "Socialism is dead" and proceeded to explain how we can more successfully ameliorate capitalism's problems by appealing to the progressive ideas that a majority of Americans believe, "even though the power of the progressive movement itself in mainstream politics has largely disintegrated." He feels that the left must be more positive. For example, instead of criticizing the tax cuts that conservatives call for we should propose tax cuts that aren't accompanied by decreased social spending.

    William Pelz of the Chicago Socialist Party, a history professor at Elgin Community College, was asked to give the democratic socialist response to Wilson which he did with humor and flair, noting that "progressive" brings to his mind the name of an insurance company as much as a political orientation. He noted that historically reforms have resulted not from moderate liberal proposals but radical ones, such as the demand for the eight hour work day.

    The crowd, which participated enthusiastically in the question and answer session was clearly on Bill's side, and felt that socialism must be presented as an alternative political system and a system of social values that puts people ahead of private profits.

    Your reporter was very pleased by the idealism and enthusiasm of his comrades, and the author was perhaps taken aback by the partisan audience, polite but not like the more complacent one he faced that afternoon at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park. I would ask us to look at Ralph Nader's presidential campaigns, which received much support from socialists and followed many of Wilson's suggestions but failed to secure the broad based support needed for victory in the foreseeable future; perhaps Americans are not as consistently progressive as Wilson would have us believe.


    Stop! Children as Guinea Pigs

    by Ron Baiman and Tom Broderick

    The Greater Oak Park branch of the DSA (GOPDSA) is playing a lead role in a coalition raising health concerns and the use of wireless technology in the Oak Park public school system. What began as a walk in the neighborhood by Barbara Mularkey (a long time Oak Park activist) has become an environmentalist / socialist coalition. We have adopted the name Safe Technology for Oak Park (STOP).

    During one of her walks, Ms. Mularkey noticed some tall, ugly towers going up over the schools in Oak Park. She discovered these towers are part of a wireless transmission system used throughout the school district. After a little research, she became concerned about radiation emission. Ms. Mularkey contacted GOPDSA member Sydney Baiman who brought the issue to her son Ron Baiman, GOPDSA Chair. He did additional research into the use of the equipment and the health hazards associated with electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) and how the system was being used in the Oak Park schools.

    Of principal concern is the Apple Airport iMac WLAN system, which is being used in all of the schools and in the district offices. This system involves several lap top computers and a single transmitter that are stored in portable wheeled carts. These carts are referred to as COWS ­ Carts On Wheels ­ and can be moved around the school for use by students just about anywhere. The problem is that they output electromagnetic radiation which may be disrupting DNA repair mechanisms. There is much research on the thermal impact of EMR and much less on the biological impact. The impact on children may be very damaging.

    Through an equipment upgrade, the Oak Park District 97 school system introduced the Apple Airport iMac system throughout the schools without parental input. Their reasoning was that it is convenient, cost effective and the way the industry is moving and, since it has been approved for use by the US Government, safe.

    STOP has gone to several school board meetings presenting health issues raised by various people and groups in this country and overseas. Charles Moore writing in MacOpinion questioned the safety of repeated exposure to EMR. Dr. George Carlo was hired by the telecommunications industry to study the health effects of electro-magnetic radiation and had his seven year industry-funded study squashed by that industry. The Directorate General for Research for the European Parliament has advised against the use of wireless technology by children. Lloyds of London refuses to underwrite or contract with the cell phone industry (cell phones use a similar technology) and the Disney Corporation has refused to license the use of its characters to the cell phone industry due to concerns of future health liabilities, particularly regarding children, as well as adverse publicity. Some of the same law firms that took on the Tobacco Industry are filing multi-billion dollar law suits against the wireless industry and the U.S. government regulatory agencies for cover up and failing to protect the public.

    As our numbers have grown, we have gone repeatedly to the District 97 school board meetings to urge an immediate moratorium on the use of the in-class WLAN system. We have requested the opportunity to bring technology experts to speak before the board. We have asked the board to present us with their safety documentation.

    During the last school board meeting of December 5th, the District 97 school board had their Director of Management Information Services state their case. Mr. Chowanski began his presentation with "generally speaking the newer the technology the better." He reiterated that the technology was convenient, cost effective, in use by many other school districts and safe as long as the school district was adhering to the federal regulations and guidelines as put forth by the EPA, the FCC, the FDA and OSHA, with the assistance of the non-governmental advisory groups ANSII and IEEE. ANSII and IEEE both have members of the telecommunications industry on their advisory boards. Mr. Chowanski also stated that trade shows support the use of this technology. Mr. Chowanski claimed that "no present evidence can attribute any health issues to the use of the federally compliant devices, whether mobile cellular phones or wireless networking technology."

    The school board currently refuses to call for a moratorium on the Apple iMac system. We completely disagree with this refusal and will continue to press for a moratorium and the right to present to the board, technology experts who refute Mr. Chowanski's claim.

    With the recollection of the time it took to document the adverse health effects of tobacco, PCP's, silicone breast implants, asbestos, and various pesticides we will continue to put health and safety before convenience. Our children should tested, not test subjects.


    Campaign for Better Health Care

    By Bob Roman

    The Campaign for Better Health Care's annual meeting has always been an odd combination of fundraiser, dog and pony show, and brainstorming retreat. This year's annual meeting was firmly in that tradition. Almost 200 people gathered at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago on November 30th to hear keynote speakers columnist Will Durst and Congressman John Conyers.

    For a change, all the Campaign's keynote speakers attended. The past few years the event has been undeservedly stiffed by people (Rev. Jesse Jackson, Michael Moore) who really ought to know better. Will Durst lived up to his reputation as a very funny person. This was a welcome relief for a time of trouble when the political left has been demobilized if not demoralized. Representative Conyors is not the most eloquent speaker, but he effectively expressed confidence that a universal health care system can be achieved nation-wide, even when all the political indications make success seem no better than unlikely.

    And Representative Conyors may be right. While the governments in Illinois and the nation are in the hands of people with a knee jerk hostility to a universal health care system, the Campaign for Better Health Care finds itself organizationally healthier than it's ever been. And while the balance of power is now decisively against the issue, there are stirrings that indicate this could change, soon and maybe suddenly.

    One indication is Congressman John Conyers himself. While Conyors has long been a supporter of universal health care, he's now become the chair of the newly formed Congressional Task Force on Universal Health Care. He's taken up the role that Ron Dellums played while he was in Congress but perhaps more effectively.

    Still another indication is that there are distinct signs that our opponents are becoming divided on the issue. For example, in a column for Roll Call last Fall, conservative pundit Morton Kondracke predicted that a "perfect storm" is brewing around the issue. He touched on many of the points us lefties have been making for years and he ended by warning, "Smart politicians should get the message."

    The Campaign for Better Health Care plans to bring the message directly to Illinois gubernatorial candidates, at least, by organizing a health care forum in February at which candidates for Illinois Governor can argue their positions.


    Ode to a Fallen Comrade

    By Ron Baiman

    From all that has been written, we know that Joe Powers Sr.'s life intersected with many different communities in this Village and beyond and touched many of us in different ways. I wanted to add my own testimony to yet another facet of Joe's life.

    When I moved here with my family in 1994, Joe was one of the first "real Oak Parkers" that we had occasion to get to know. The occasion was the founding, in a meeting at my house, of the Greater Oak Park Democratic Socialist of America (GOPDSA), a branch of the Chicago Local of the national Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Joe had responded to a mailing sent out of the Chicago DSA office by coming to the meeting with many of his friends and serving as an enthusiastic supporter of our fledgling group.

    At that meeting we found out that Joe was originally from South Orange, New Jersey, the community we had been living in before moving to Oak Park. In fact, it turned out that he was a graduate of Marshall elementary school, a wonderful little school which my oldest son (now 16) had graduated from as well. Thus Joe, a consummate Oak Parker, represented for me and my family a connection to the "old country" and a representative of the new. It soon became clear to us that Joe was an outstanding example of the ideals, energy, and commitment of this community.

    Over the years, as I got to know Joe better, I came to appreciate his self-deprecating modesty, organizing enthusiasm, personal charm, and goodwill, more and more. Though I certainly was not one of his closest friends, he made me feel as though I was, and I think had a similar effect on others. Joe was always ready to sacrifice, to give, to work together with others for common goals. He constantly pushed himself to the limits of his capacity and yet maintained a humility and openness which energized and inspired all of us. I remember being embarrassed by his praise and willingness to follow my lead when in fact it was clear that he was the more experienced and knowledgeable among us. But this was Joe's style. It was his way of bringing out the best in others, of helping others realize their potential and carry on.

    Whether it was the campaign to close the Westside incinerator (which we helped win) or the effort to elect New Party and labor supported Democratic State Senate candidate Lydia Williams (narrowly defeated), Joe was always doing more than his share. Moreover, Joe was a great enthusiast for study and learning, constantly goading me to plan more study groups, and bring more material. He was always developing and refining his notion of what "democratic socialism" is. He was never content with the old answers, and was constantly searching for new ones. As a principled and unswerving critic of both the morality and efficacy of capitalism, he was open to many (democratic) ideas about what should replace it.

    He was also particularly interested in keeping alive the history and tradition of social struggle, an interest that led to his book: The Day Will Come Stories of the Haymarket Martyrs and the Men and Women Buried Alongside the Monument" co-edited with Mark Rogovin (1994, Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co.). Joe's efforts in this area were consummated by the federal designation of the Haymarket Memorial as a national historical site a few years ago. Another example of this was his effort, as part of a Paul Robeson memorial committee, to get the national postal service to create a Paul Robeson centennial stamp which, although unsuccessful, did lead to a series of assemblies on the life and work of Paul Robeson in Oak Park schools. This work, I think, stemmed from Joe's appreciation of the role of culture and symbolism in forming our thinking and politics.

    I am writing this partly because I know Joe would have wanted me to do this. In death as in life he remains an inspiration.

    Joe, for GOPDSA and for all good people who want to make the world a better place, you did more than your part, you made more than your mark, and you made our life better and richer in this place by doing so. As you lie at Forest Home with other comrades, we know that none of you are really gone. Like Joe Hill, you just keep on organizing.

    For all of us,

    Good-by Comrade.


    Comments and Opinions:

    The Real Threat of Cornel West

    by Harold Taggart

    The events of the 11th of September seemed to invigorate our top leaders. It brought out what they excel at: Cold War tactics abroad and McCarthyism at home. The entire world was given an ultimatum: you are with us or you are with the terrorists. Since the World Court convicted the U.S. of terrorism for its activities in Nicaragua during the 1980s and the U.S. still operates a terrorist training school at Fort Benning, Georgia, the choice seems moot.

    McCarthyism's ugly head has raised itself at Harvard University. The new university president, Lawrence Summers, is one of its personifications. Summers' had not had time to get his feet wet when he called tenured professor Cornel West into his office and rebuked him for several sins. The charges against Professor West fit the neo-McCarthy agenda like a glove.

    Summers, the Treasury Secretary for the last two years of the Clinton Administration, admonished West for:

    West, a member of DSA, was highly offended. Here was a morally bankrupt sycophant of a corrupt, heartless, racist system lecturing him on values. Other faculty members of the Afro-American Studies department threatened to join West and take their program to Princeton University. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went to Boston and futilely attempted to get an appointment with Summers to express their outrage.

    Then the Wall Street Journal jumped into the fray. It published an article by conservative Shelby Steele, an African-American fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution. Shelby attacked West and progressives in general. National and local media joined in siding overwhelmingly with Summers and Shelby. The Chicago Tribune devoted an editorial to the conflict ("Crimson Faces At Harvard", Jan. 11). Georgie Anne Geyer's op-ed piece "Embarrassing Bow To Political Correctness" appeared the same day. Clarence Page contributed a tolerant article on Jan. 9 titled "Harvard Disses A Blue-Ribbon Professor."

    Between Jan. 7 and 10, the Wall Street Journal addressed the conflict four times with one editorial, two op-ed pieces and one letter to the editor. Except for the letter to the editor by West's colleague William Julius Wilson, all, including "liberal"Al Hunt, attacked Professor West. Steele accused members of the Harvard Afro-American Studies Department of using "White Guilt" and political correctness to gain unfair advantage and preferential treatment over whites. Appearing on "Good Morning America" on Jan. 16, Shelby backtracked slightly and acknowledged that whites had four hundred years of unfair advantage over blacks. That's history. The right thing to do now is to be fair, Shelby argued. It seems that in the opinion of Shelby and his supporters, fairness is to be trotted out only when it benefits the white male privileged class.

    During their meeting, West quickly discovered that Summers wasn't aware of the large volume of work West had compiled, including 16 books, and was unfamiliar with the Professor's work in general.

    Summers was equally ignorant about the Rap CDs when he accused West of frivolous pursuits that were beneath his position at Harvard. Chicago DSA helped finance one of the CDs. It was made to draw attention to one of America's most disgraceful institutions, its criminal justice system. That system is so barbaric, corrupt and racist that many nations will not extradite suspected criminals to the U.S. For West, this is an inexcusable social sickness as it would be for anyone with a social conscience.

    West is the polar opposite of the current occupant of the White House who, as governor of Texas, oversaw the execution of 152 human beings, a slaughter rate matched only by contemporary China.

    Finally, Professor West was singled out for a lenient grading practice that contributed to Harvard's grade inflation reputation. Grade inflation has been an embarrassment since it was revealed that a man with an I.Q. of 91 was given a Master's degree by the Business Administration Department. He comes from a wealthy, powerful family. That graduate is George W. Bush. It seems the Business Administration Department practices plutocrat advancement. Summers should check the courses George Bush took to find out which professors inflate grades.

    While the attack on Cornel West is the most egregious, it is only one of dozens of attacks on anyone who dares to question the administration and its policies.

    Academia is not the sole target of the neo-McCarthyites. The January 28 issue of The Nation magazine featured the Boondocks cartoon character Huey Freeman on its cover. An article by John Nichols discussed the political pressure applied to dissidents such as Boondocks' creator 27-year-old Aaron McGruder. Shortly after the 11th of September, McGruder submitted a cartoon depicting Huey calling the FBI's hotline to provide a list of those who had aided terrorists. First on the list was "Reagan." Several newspapers refused to run the cartoon. To its credit, the Chicago Tribune did run it. Nichols cited numerous cartoonists and journalists who had pressure to conform brought against them including one who was fired.


    Comments and Opinions:

    Privatizing Medicaid

    By Alfredo Villasenor

    The state of Illinois is pushing hard on privatizing the public aid health care system also known as Medicaid. As of January 1, 2002, it is asking a fee or co-payment from users. It requires a one dollar co-payment per visit to a medical provider or per prescription (for the majority of medications). It does exempt children.

    One may ask what is one dollar nowadays. Well persons living on public aid are on a very low income and one dollar counts very much. They are not living high on the hog. If anyone has tried to live on minimum wage, this is below minimum wage.

    This is a demarketing plan. Public Aid patients that belong to health maintenance organizations (HMOs) such as Harmony or United Health Care do not have to pay this fee.

    Well, is this not the answer to the problem? HMOs offer less services. HMOs offer less payment to providers. HMOs are constantly cutting fees to providers or services to patients.

    This trend could parallel what happens with those lucky enough to have health insurance. Every year the co-payment increases so that sometimes it seems there is no health insurance. HMOs principle concern is making a profit.

    In addition, the reimbursement to hospitals that treat Public Aid patients was cut close to 50%. A protest by hospitals made it a little better but not much.

    The state government says it took these steps because of the recession. Well the public aid patients have little to do in causing the recession. The state government also blames the war for the cuts. As a resolution passed by American Public Health Association says, this war is in favor of the oil interests.

    It was pointed out in an all news radio station, WBBM AM, that legislator did not refuse their salary increase. It also pointed out that many companies that got tax breaks to create jobs are now laying off people. They should not get the tax breaks anymore.

    We should act now and act forcefully. This includes health care employees, public aid and non public aid persons. We should hold rallies. We should sign petitions. We should phone in massive numbers the powers that be.


    Other News

    Compiled by Bob Roman

    In Defense of Labor Rights, Human Rights and Civil Liberties

    Save the Date! The 44th Annual Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner will be Friday evening, May 10, at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza on Chicago's near north side. The honorees will be Tom Balanoff, President of the Service Employees International Union's Illinois State Council and Local 1, and labor attorney Barbara Hillman of Cornfield and Feldman. Our featured speaker will be the well known professor of international law and radio commentator, Douglass Cassel of Northwestern University School of Law. With our honorees and our speaker, we hope to make the point that defending human rights, civil liberties and labor rights are all part of the same struggle. For more information, call the Chicago DSA office at 773.384.0327.

    Local Lad Makes Good

    Civil Rights Since 1787, co-edited by Chicago DSA member Jonathan Birmbaum and reviewed in New Ground 77, was among the books named an Outstanding Book of the Year for 2001 by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. The Gustavus Myers Center was founded in 1984 and named after the pioneering historian who wrote in 1943 the History of Bigotry in the United States. The Gustavus Myers Award commends works published in a given year which extend our understanding of the root causes of bigotry and the range of options we have in constructing alternative ways to share power. For more information, go to http://www.myerscenter.org.

    Centennial of American Socialism

    The Open University of the Left (cosponsored by Chicago DSA, Chicago Socialist Party USA, and the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co. See New Ground 78.) retrospective on the founding of the Socialist Party of America will be broadcast on Chicago Access Network Channel 21 on Sunday, February 17, from 9 AM to 2 PM.

    Chicago DSA Officers

    The date for Chicago DSA's annual "Membership Convention" in June has not yet been set, but it's not too early to start thinking about getting involved in Chicago DSA in a leadership way. The offices up for election in June will be the female Co-Chair, the Treasurer, and the Political Education Officer. These are two year terms. Because Chicago DSA has no paid staff, the officers substitute for staff, making their role somewhat different than many other Boards. The female Co-Chair position is vacant, but if you are interested, feel free to contact the incumbents (see the New Ground masthead on page 2) or call the Chicago DSA office at 773.384.0327 or plan to attend one of the monthly Executive Committee meetings which are held every second Tuesday, 7 PM, at the Chicago DSA office.

    War Conference

    The American Friends Service Committee is planning an ambitious three day conference on "The Impact of September 11 on US Foreign Policy, Civil Liberties and the Economy". Scheduled for late February in Chicago, the planners hope to bring some 300 to 400 to discuss various aspects of the war and its fallout, listen to "big name" speakers on the subject, participate in training, and perhaps engage in a protest action. For more information, contact the American Friends Service Committee Chicago office: 312.427.2533. Chicago DSA has endorsed the conference.

    Death Sentence 2002

    Death Sentence 2002 is another ambitious conference being organized out of the Illinois ACLU offices in Chicago. It's intended to explore the religious and ethical dimensions of this issue, as well as the actual administration of justice and the politics of the death penalty. Scheduled for Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, the conference will be held at DePaul University's north side campus. For additional details, call 312.849.2279 or go to http://deathsentence2002.home.att.net/. Chicago DSA has endorsed the conference.


    Letters....

    Dear Editor:

    While I am happy that DSA members are part of the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, I was somewhat surprised at the bald statement in point three ("National Youth and Student Peace Coalition", New Ground #79, Page 1).

    I am a supporter for Friends of Peace Now and work for a peaceful solution in the Middle East. But given the complexities and historical context of the problem, to buy into the interpretation being put forth by uncritical supporters of the Palestinians that Israel and the American policy towards Israel is the cause of the problem; it is both simplistic and unfair. I expect better from DSA and our Young Democratic Socialists. A coalition without some integrity can be self destructive.

    Attached is a letter I have been circulating to local people with similar attitudes. It speaks for itself.

    Best wishes for a happy new year.

    Stanley "Rosebud" Rosen

     

    Editor's Note: Stan Rosen's letter is far too long for New Ground, but we'd be happy to pass along a copy to anyone requesting one.


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