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New Ground 86

January - February, 2003


  • Has Peace a Chance? by Bob Roman
  • National Wal-Mart Day of Action by Bob Roman
  • Fiscal Idiocy by Harold Taggart
  • World War II and the American Left by Mark Weinberg
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Letters

  • Has Peace a Chance?

    By Bob Roman

    The good news is that somewhere around 2,000 people gathered on the Federal Plaza in Chicago as part of a Midwest Mobilization Against the War. Saturday, January 11 was a miserably cold day, albeit sunny, and this was a comforting turn out under the circumstances. The crowd was addressed by mayoral candidate Reverend Paul Jakes, Aaron Patterson fresh from death row, representatives from the Puerto Rican and Palestinian independence movements and others, and introduced by an impassioned address by one of the primary organizers of the event, Chicago Anti-Bashing Network's Andy Thayer.

    This was a demonstration that needed to happen, given its proximity to Dubya's January 27 deadline and other pending events. The event was organized by the Chicago Ad Hoc Coalition Against War and Racism (though the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network seemed also to serve as an organizational vehicle). Chicago DSA was one of 60 organizations endorsing the demonstration.

    The Bad News

    The bad news is that there were only about 2,000 people at the rally. For a regional mobilization in a major urban center, this was hardly a demonstration of broad support. And while people attending such events are very much disposed toward cheering whatever is said, they were addressed by a series of speakers whose agendas seemed tangential, at best, to the issue of peace, followed by a march on the Israeli embassy. The people leaving early as a consequence were a distinct minority, acting individually thus not particularly noticeable, but people did leave.

    It seems the intent of the event's organizers was to use the rally as a united front of identity politics. As such, its agenda was inevitably broader than just the war. For many of the organizers, the prospect of preventing a war may be secondary to building a movement to first opposing an ongoing war, and racism, and economic injustice then on to revolution? I can't fault them for hoping this time will be different, but I hope they don't confuse the cheers of the crowd with agreement and commitment to that agenda.

    Given the organization of the rally, it was inevitable that the issue of Israel and Palestine would be a part of event. I wish I could say that the rally represented a break through in resolving the tensions on the left over this issue but it didn't seem so to me.

    On one hand, the power and impunity with which Israel has operated seems a perfect reflection of the power and impunity with which the United State has and is operating. It shouldn't be a surprise that for much of the left, Israel, particularly under Sharon, has become as popular as the United States under Richard Nixon. On the other hand, for those for whom democracy, law and speech are important (and not just for American Jews with a sense of solidarity with Israel), this is at least disconcerting, particularly when coupled with a silence about neighboring dictators whose power and impunity domestically make Sharon and Dubya seem positively benign. But breaking that silence would then require a discussion about just what to do about them, and on this there would be absolutely no agreement. For example, for some of the left even the idea of the U.S. State Department implementing a democratic foreign policy is an oxymoron. At a rally, it's far easier to just say no.

    One place to start resolving these tensions might be to keep in mind that while the Palestinian ­ American and Arab ­ American communities are under attack, neither is anti-Semitism dead in this country. While it ain't what it once was, examples are not hard to find. It wasn't much more than a year ago that a friend of mine was told by a neighbor that what she needed was to be "chained to the back of a pick-up and dragged for a spell". This awareness might be a first step but I'm at a loss for the next.

    Labor and the War

    On the same day as the demonstration, Gerry Zero and Teamsters Local 705 was hosting a meeting in Chicago to establish a new national anti-war organization, USLAW: U.S. Labor Against the War. While there was an open meeting on Friday, January 10, the Saturday meeting to actually establish the organization was a delegated meeting, the participants actually representing in one way or another unions that had taken a stand against a war with Iraq.

    Aside from adopting a resolution establishing the organization, the meeting selected an organizing committee charged with getting more unions to adopt resolutions against a war with Iraq and to contribute money to the new organization.

    Chicago Against the War

    In a similar strategy directed at local government, the Washington, DC, Institute for Policy Studies, working through United for Peace and Justice, the National Priorities Project and Education for Peace in Iraq has begun a campaign to get local governments to adopt a resolution opposing a war in Iraq. As New Ground goes to press, nearly four dozen municipalities have adopted such resolutions.

    In the Chicago area, Evanston, Gary and Chicago have adopted anti-war resolutions. The Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice (of which GOP DSA is a part) is leading an effort to have Oak Park adopt a similar anti-war resolution.

    As legislation or even as specific expressions of opinion (the Chicago resolution was greatly amended, and it's not untypical for local groups to craft their own resolutions), these actions do not mean a lot. But as a way of educating local political leaders and as a way of creating a buzz (important in professional politics), this effort is certainly useful.

    Metastasizing Into the Mainstream

    When Chicagoans Against War on Iraq was organized last fall, it began by organizing a Federal Plaza rally on October 2 that drew about half as many as the recent Chicago Ad Hoc Coalition Against War and Racism rally. It did, however, have a politically significant line up of speakers, including U.S. Representatives, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and well known community leaders and journalists.

    Two months later, on December 7, Chicago Jobs with Justice's Committee for New Priorities organized an afternoon teach-in on the economic consequences of a war on Iraq. They recruited a similar cast of political heavies, along with academics and a list of endorsing organizations, including Chicago DSA. They pretty well filled Teamsters Local 705's union hall; several hundred people attended.

    Both of these events serve to educate and to create a buzz. The Committee for New Priorities event was particularly strong on the education side (useful informational handouts were available in addition to the speakers). Because some of the participants were in government, there was also pressure to express an alternate policy. Unfortunately, the mainstream left is every bit as unprepared to deal with the question as the rest of the left. At both events, the best the professional politicians could do was call for a return to the status quo ante, the ante being before 9/11: a return to inspections and sanctions.

    With few exceptions (possibly the Kurds), U.S. policy had been accomplishing (with the complicity of the Iraqi government) nothing but death, poverty and a new generation of Iraqis educated in hatred and resentment. A return to the status quo ante is not an acceptable answer. Even though there is absolutely no chance of consensus on the left on this subject, we need to start posing alternatives.

    Has Peace a Chance?

    By the time you receive this issue of New Ground, we may be at war. But I think there's a reasonably good chance that we may not be. Part of it is that the peace movement is very much international in scope, and the American electorate has indicated a distinct disapproval of unilateral warfare. Part of it is that as far as the 2004 elections are concerned, war at any time up to around this time in 2004 would be fine. On the other hand, the logic of logistics would seem to argue for an early war as would the logic of empire. The latter demands something that international players would see as a U.S. victory. As North Korea has demonstrated, Dubya and Saddam are not the only players on the field; the longer the delay, the more opportunities Dubya has for being blind-sided.

    In the meantime, every day without an invasion is an opportunity to organize against it. If we can link the war to the looming disaster in Republican domestic policy, we'll have a powerful argument indeed.

    For More Information

    For more information regarding U.S. Labor Against the War, contact: Bob Muehlenkamp- Kabob240@aol.com, 301.346.3665 or Gene Bruskin- G8751@erols.com, 202.833.8525.


    For more information about the Cities for Peace program, including model resolutions and organizing packets, go to http://www.citiesforpeace.org or contact the Progressive Challenge Project at the Institute for Policy Studies: 202.234.9382.

    National Wal-Mart Day of Action

    By Bob Roman

    DSA was one of 120 local and national organizations that endorsed and participated in the Tuesday, November 21 National Day of Action at Wal-Mart stores. This Day of Action was organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCWU). Nationally, DSA was able to provide support at about 20 demonstrations.

    The Day of Action was organized around eight demands:

    1. Pay their associates a living wage so they can afford basic living expenses such as a home, health insurance, and modest savings for children's college and retirement.

    2. Provide affordable health care.

    3. Treat injured workers fairly and provide prompt and complete medical attention for workers injured on the job.

    4. Stop illegal interference with associates' right to organize, cease all coercive, threatening and bullying tactics to discourage organizing, and let the workers freely decide.

    5. Adopt less cut-throat, more cooperative policies that respect established commercial districts and avoid pricing out small businesses.

    6. End employment practices that discriminate against workers who are women, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

    7. Truly respect all associates as individuals irrespective of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

    8. Respect the environment.

    All of these demands are based on the experiences of employees and of the communities where Wal-Mart stores are located. The list of discrimination lawsuits against Wal-Mart and unfair labor judgements against it reads like a gangster's rap sheet. About a month after the Day of Action, a federal jury ruled that Wal-Mart was guilty of violating federal and state wage laws. That particular suit had been filed by two store managers from Salem, Oregon, and was joined by 400 other employees in 24 states. 39 other class-action lawsuits said to involve hundreds of thousands of employees are currently pending against the company in 30 states.

    In the Chicago area, demonstrations were planned for stores in Rolling Meadows in the northwest suburbs and in Bridgeview in the near southwest suburbs. Nationally, the demonstrations were planned from late afternoon through early evening so that people could participate after school and after work. In the Chicago area, these plans were complicated by the fact that the UFCWU locals 881 and 1546 were in the midst of contract negotiations with Jewel and with Dominick's. As a consequence, the times locally were moved up, making it more difficult for others to participate. The negotiations with Dominick's turned into an ugly game of chicken. UFCWU Local 881 cancelled the Bridgeview action and asked that people instead turn out for a demonstration at a Dominick's on Chicago's near southside. This action in turn was cancelled when Dominick's and the union reached a last minute agreement.

    Tuesday, November 21 was wet and as chilly as could be without actually freezing. The drive out to Rolling Meadows was on roads of suspended spray. What we found there summarizes the problems facing the UFCWU neatly. The store is in a mall: private property. The parking lot was swarming with Rolling Meadows police and private security. Where was the demonstration?

    After some wandering, we eventually discovered that the UFCWU had managed to set up a tent and generator in the parking lot of a strip mall several hundred feet away: "next door" in suburban terms. There was a small crowd that steadily grew to somewhat more than a hundred.

    The rally was harangued by a number of speakers, including DSA member Libby Frank who was representing the Northwest Suburban NOW chapter. The demonstration was then allowed to march past the Wal-Mart to another far corner of a parking lot for another brief rally (covered by a cable network, I believe) then back to the original site where the demonstration rapidly dispersed, hours early.

    I don't mean for this to sound like a delusory effort. This is a serious business with consequences for the workers that UFCWU already represents. There's no limit to the areas of retailing that Wal-Mart may go into (groceries in particular are an immediate concern), and this could easily drive union shops out of business or degrade the contracts in those shops to fig leaves.

    Not only does the union face an over worked (and now, with Dubya in control, hostile) National Labor Relations Board, but the stores are all surrounded by moats of "private" property, often guarded by hostile courts. The Day of Action included rallies in 100 towns and cities in 40 states but not Wal-Mart's "home" state of Arkansas. A state judge had issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the union from soliciting inside Wal-Mart buildings and stores.

    Fiscal Idiocy

    By Harold Taggart

    A trait of an idiot is that he can try something impossible, fail, and still believe he can do it the next time he tries. For example, the idiot will believe he can knock over a brick wall by ramming it with his head. When he regains consciousness, he will rise up believing he will succeed the next time he tries. That seems to be the case with Republicans and their attachment to the supply-side economics theory.

    Supply-side economics failed miserably in 2001. It failed in 1986, 1982 and in the 1920s. Like tossing a bucket of water to a drowning man, Republicans are proposing more supply-side economics to cure the problems created by their failed 2001 supply-side economics plan.

    If history repeats itself, there will be a major stock market crash within two years of passage of Bush's latest economic recovery package. Ronald Reagan put through a 25% tax cut in 1982, followed by a 40% tax cut in 1986. In 1987 the most precipitous crash in stock market history occurred.

    Reaganomics left the biggest non-wartime debt in U.S. history. As of New Years Eve, 2002, the national debt was $6,405,707,456,847.53 or 60% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). At 5% interest, the annual interest payments drain $320,000,000,000.00 from the economy. Not to worry. Our president and members of Congress don't make the interest payments. They pay interest only on those securities that are redeemed or have coupons or dividend disbursement requirements. They pay about $208 billion per year. Our government is willing the debt to our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and their descendents.

    The turning point from fiscal responsibility to fiscal irresponsibility was the election of Ronald Reagan. Ironically, Reagan ran on the platform of fiscal responsibility. During the campaign in 1980, he challenged Jimmy Carter to step aside if he could not balance the budget, because Ronald Reagan could. Jimmy should have responded: But will you? Reagan tripled the national debt.

    Reagan, the guru of greed, proclaimed that greed is good. The taste of greed mushroomed into greed addiction. They borrowed and borrowed and spent and spent mortgaging the futures of our descendents.

    Over one trillion of the thrown away funds are Social Security surplus, payroll tax, contributions. That means working people paid Social Security taxes for those currently on Social Security since it is a pay-as-you-go plan. They also contributed to a projected shortfall in the future, which created the surplus. Reagan squandered that surplus on his military misadventures and tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy. Working people must replace what Reagan spent from income tax contributions. Sitting in that otherwise empty Social Security lock box is one giant I.O.U. signed by The Gipper. By many estimates, future Social Security benefits will be 75% of the full benefit. That means many of today's working people will have fully funded their Social Security three times and might receive three-fourths of their promised benefits.

    We also are paying for Reagan's military blunders. Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda could not exist without Reagan's $4 billion contribution to the Afghanistan war in the 1980s. Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq are bees' nests stirred up by Reagan.

    George Bush's latest economic recovery package will make the rich richer and propel the nation closer to insolvency. When insolvency comes, the rich will gather their belongings, move to an untrashed nation and spout their supply-side theology.

    The Social Security surplus accrued when Reagan raised payroll taxes 30%. That was the biggest tax increase in U.S. history. Republicans like to tell us Clinton's 1993 tax increased was the biggest. They also assured us that Clinton's tax increase would doom the economy. Of course, they were wrong on both accounts. The nation experienced its longest boom in history. To be fair, we can't give Clinton all the credit. The technology boom and irrational bubble made the greatest contribution. It also delayed the state-level ticking financial time bomb.

    Why do Americans conclude that these people ramming their heads against a brick wall would make good leaders?

    Reaganomics called for a reduction of federal responsibilities and increase of state responsibilities. He neglected to tell us that those responsibilities would need to be paid for at the state level just as he forgot to mention he raised payroll taxes by a whopping amount. But then, the Democrats and the media didn't tell us either. Suddenly, most states find themselves in financial crises. What a surprise! All but one state is required to have a balanced budget. States are balancing their budgets by cutting back on education, healthcare, care for the disadvantaged and by emptying their prisons.

    One interesting phenomenon is the taxpayer who eagerly volunteers his head to be used as the battering ram. The estate tax, called the "death tax" by Republicans, is paid by less than two percent of the richest Americans. The Republicans have convinced some average Joes that they should pay Bill Gates and David Rockefellers taxes. Maybe the Republicans just forgot to tell average Joes that the $40 billion the super rich pay in excise taxes each year will fall on their, and our, shoulders if the death tax is revoked.

    Both parties tell us there are only two possible solutions to the fiscal crisis. Pump money into the hands of the wealthy, or pump money into the hands of everyone else. Of course there are other and better options. Public works projects would be better than either proposal. Public works would mean jobs as opposed to the other two proposals, which mean possible jobs. The Bush proposal, judging from the past two years, would mean a net loss of jobs. Clinton proposed redirecting military spending into projects such as mass transportation development. That would employ many if not most of those who worked for defense contractors. It also would create usable products as opposed to holes and craters in the ground that are the specialty of the military.

    Secondly, revoke Reagan's 30% payroll tax increase. That will put money in the hands of working people. When the crunch comes, merely raise the ceiling on payroll tax contributions. Currently, payroll taxes are assessed against the first dollar a worker earns on up to $87,000. If the Social Security Trust Fund is short, raise the ceiling until it is funded again. If a company can pay exorbitant salaries to executives, it can afford more contributions to Social Security.

    Finally, don't fall for the double tax claim the Republicans are making regarding dividends. Dividends are monies earned by working people that are paid to idle people. Bush is promoting the tax cut for his wealthy friends. He claims most dividends go to people on pensions. He doesn't point out that most of those pension dividends already are exempt from taxes or below their taxable income level. Let the Mellons and Bushes use their own heads for battering rams and pay their share of taxes. If we had equal justice in this nation, they would have paid far more than that in criminal fines for the ways they acquired all that money.

    While we are at it, there should be a stupidity penalty. The $6.5 trillion national debt is depriving Americans of education, healthcare, child and senior citizen care and other services. The debt equals $26,000 for every man, woman and child in America. It is not fair to charge everyone for the stupidity of a minority. I propose that those who voted for Ronald Reagan pay the entire amount. If each pays $120,000, the debt will be retired and fiscal responsibility restored to America.


    For More Information

    World War II and the American Left

    By Mark Weinberg

    On December 7th, CDSA along with the Chicago Socialist Party, Communist Party USA and Networking for Democracy co-sponsored an Open University of the Left forum on World War II and the American Left at the Chicago Public Library Lincoln Park Branch. We paid dearly for the cleverly chosen date as sharing our audience with several large progressive events that day resulted in light attendance.

    The first panel, of which I had the honor of chairing, was on WW II and Major American Left Currents: the CP, the SP, the SWP and anarchism. After Jerry Harris, Professor of History at DeVry Institute gave some brief historical background, Carlos Cortez, poet and artist, a Wobblie and anarchist spoke of his incarceration for refusing induction in a war that he felt was not in the interests of working people. J. Quinn Brisben of the Chicago Socialist Party and DSA spoke of socialist support for a war against fascism that might not have been necessary if U.S. policy in the preceding years been different. Fred Gabory of the Communist Party, an Air Force veteran spoke of the need to set aside the war against Capitalism temporarily for a more urgent war and the much greater casualties and sacrifice of our Communist allies, the Soviet Union. Patrick Quinn of the Chicago branch of Solidarity, a former SWP member, spoke of the Trotskyites' refusal to fight in an imperialist war and their prosecution under the Smith Act. Although Gabory was very conciliatory, admitting the CP made a big mistake in not opposing the Smith Act when the SWP was the target, the SWP sympathizers on the panel and in the audience were still full of anger. Perry Cartwright of DSA, who declined an invitation to be a late addition to the panel, spoke very movingly from the audience of his experience as "a premature anti-fascist" with the Royal Canadian Air Force; he recalled with horror being told to intentionally bomb German civilian targets. All present seemed to be in fear of the civilian suffering that will surely result if the U.S. attacks Iraq.

    The second panel, chaired by David Williams of OUL and the Chicago Public Library, was on WW II's Lessons for Today: Imperialist Intervention, Humanitarian or Otherwise.

    Carl Davidson of Networking for Democracy pointed out that a US attack on Iraq was being justified as pre-emptive just as Japan's attack on the US was. Nevertheless, he felt we shouldn't preclude the possibility of humanitarian intervention as was called for in Bosnia or Rwanda. Barry Romo of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a mail handler, spoke of losing a union election because he's an anti-war radical, the result of his Vietnam experience. David Watson, visiting from Detroit, is an editor of The Fifth Estate, an anarchist journal and author of the recent book, Against the Megamachine, spoke of the similarities between Nazism and Stalinism. He shared Davidson's criticism of icons of the American Left such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn who have a blanket opposition to American military intervention, even for humanitarian reasons.

    All in all a stimulating afternoon, even if there were more questions than answers.

    Other News

    Compiled by Bob Roman

    Save the Date

    While the program is still under construction at press time, the 45th Annual Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner will be Friday evening, May 2nd. We'll be at the Congress Plaza Hotel on South Michigan Avenue.

    Homeland Insecurity

    Security for whom is the operative question. The answer is apparently not the 57,000 newly hired Federal airport security screeners. On January 9, Admiral James Loy, the Undersecretary of Transportation for Security, signed an order precluding their right to collective bargaining, say that such rights are not compatible with the nation's war against terrorism. As they had already been engaged in organizing these workers, the American Federation of Government Employees filed a suit in federal court the very next day, challenging the decision. We're already seeing the return of oppression by injunction. How long will it be before unions are considered terrorist conspiracies?

    Open University of the Left

    In keeping with a major theme of the new year, the "American Empire" series will start off on Thursday February 13th at 6 PM with a critical look at Max Boot's Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (Basic Books 2002), which examines how such lesser-known U.S. interventions such as the Barbary Wars, the Boxer Rebellion, the occupations of the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. influenced America's development as a superpower. Savage Wars of Peace is being treated in some quarters as an argument for a strongly interventionist U.S. foreign policy. The critical review will presented by a well-known survivor of one such "savage war of peace", Barry Romo, national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He will examine the implications of Boot's book for past and present interventions.

    Closely following-up on this inaugural forum, the "American Empire" series will host Jeff Guntzel, coordinator of the Chicago-based humanitarian organization Voices in the Wilderness, on Thursday February 27th at 6 PM, to discuss the history of U.S.-Iraq relations, conditions facing the populace in Iraq, and the implications of the Bush administration's drive toward a new war in Iraq. Jeff's reports have appeared in a number of U.S. newspapers as well as the National Catholic Reporter, Utne Reader, Punk Planet and other publications.

    These forums will be at the Lakeshore Academy is at 640 W. Irving Park Rd, 3rd floor, in Chicago. This is approximately a block west of Sheridan Road and Marine Drive on Irving Park and accessible from major CTA bus lines on both Sheridan Road and Irving Park. The Academy has a public parking lot available to attendees for this series. For more information call David Williams at 773.244.1480 or e-mail Anita Malinsky at anitanfd@aol.com.

    Welcome to Labor Land

    Bucky Halker and the Complete Unknowns will be doing a release party for their new CD, Welcome to Labor Land, on Saturday, February 15, 9 PM at Nevin's Pub, 1450 Sherman, in Evanston.

    The CD features renditions of 14 working class protest songs from Illinois that were written between 1865 and 1955. The CD was funded by the Illinois AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 1 and the Illinois Arts Council. Most of the songs on Welcome to Labor Land had never been recorded. They were penned by Illinois garment workers, coal miners, printers, union organizers, construction workers. The CD also includes a version of Woody Guthre's "The Dying Miner" (the 1947 Centralia, Illinois, mining disaster), "Solidarity Forever" (Lombard resident Ralph Chaplain), and songs by Illinois bluesmen Peetie Wheetstraw, JB Lenoir and Floyd Jones.

    For more information, go to http://www.buckyhalker.com or call 773.275.4959.



    I find Harold Taggart's description of Ariel Sharon as "blood thirsty" in "Has Bush Unified the Left?" of interest. I'm tempted to ask if Taggart thinks that Sharon is thirsty for the blood of Christian children to use in the baking matzos. While I have no love for Sharon and his policies, I do not find him any more "blood thirsty" than Saddam Hussein, who has killed more of his own people with chemical weapons, I might add, than the current body count of this intifada.

    I say this because it has become quite fashionable to demonize Israel. While one can and should oppose the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel, one should not turn a blind eye to the role of Arafat, Hammas and the Jihad in the conflict. This current intifada was orchestrated by Arafat and now senior Palestinian officials admit to its mistake.

    In the meantime, I have seen very little evidence that the left has given any support to the Israeli peace movement, preferring as it does to demonize Israel and cut itself off from potential allies within Israel. In regards to the peace movement in the U.S., we will run the risk of cutting ourselves off from many mainstream Americans if we ignore or make excuses for Saddam Hussein simply because he is anti-U.S.


    Harlan Baker


    Editor's Note: Alas that Harlan Baker succumbed to temptation. If Ariel "the bulldozer" Sharon is no more blood thirsty than Saddam Hussein, that's surely more than enough, even though no one, not even the left, seems to be advocating a U.S. invasion of Israel and the confiscation of any nuclear weapons. But I largely agree with the last paragraph, though with three amendments: 1) parts of the peace movement, particularly Not in My Name (not to be confused with Not in Our Name), have been deeply involved with the Israeli peace movement and, yes, there should be more of this; 2) the Socialist International and the International Union of Socialist Youth were very much involved in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together in an alternate process that showed considerable promise until it was interrupted by the current intifada (sparked by Ariel Sharon no matter who else has been throwing gas on the fire since); 3) the Israeli peace movement has its own problems, including a confusion between defending Israel and defending Israel from criticism.

    On an historical note, Harlan Baker was the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (one of DSA's predecessor organizations) organizer here in Chicago back in the mid-1970s and is still remembered by those of us who were around then with some affection. Since then he's gone on to a career as a community organizer, actor, and state legislator in Portland, Maine.

    Let's have some more letters from our readers. Brickbats or bouquets, the letters should be 500 words or less; anything more risks being excerpted.

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