Against the Current, No. 92, May/June 2001

— The Editors

REMEMBER THOSE ADS for the Viper, that hyped-up, super-computerized Dodge yuppiemobile that adjusted itself for road conditions, programmed its own itinerary, virtually drove itself and offered more luxury features than the average first-class airline trip?  The slogan for that promotional campaign—"This Changes Everything"—fits perfectly the sudden economic downturn and fear of recession.

— Betsy Esch

AS WAVES OF teargas rained down on demonstrators in Quebec City, as people scrambled to help one another while they were pummelled backward with blasts of water from cannons aimed by riot police to “protect” the perimeter fence that encircled the meeting place of George Bush and thirty-three other heads of American states, it became more and more clear to more and more people there that what we were chanting was true:

— Dan La Botz

FOLLOWING THE BIGGEST social explosion in Black Cincinnati in over thirty years after the April 7 police killing of Timothy Thomas, the question has become: Will the city change?  Will there be reform?  Or are we back to business as usual?

— Douglas Taylor

DURING THE PAST several weeks, controversy has erupted on college campuses across the country in response to David Horowitz's full-page advertisement “Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery are a Bad Idea for Black People -- And Racist Too.”

— Ahmad Rahman

A JANUARY 5, 2001, Associated Press article detailed the release of Peter Limone after thirty-three years in prison. Boston Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle vacated the conviction of the 66-year old man, stating that the FBI had been “tarnished” by its actions in the case.

— Steve Bloom

ACTIVISTS IN THE campaign to win freedom for former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, on death row in Pennsylvania, gathered in Washington D.C. March 30-31. About 400 attended a rally on Friday evening and 150, from as far away as Europe and California, participated in planning sessions on Saturday.

— an interview with Noam Chomsky

The following interview with Noam Chomsky, author of The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians and numerous other books and articles on the Middle East tragedy, was conducted by Socialist Worker in Britain.  It is published here with Professor Chomsky's permission.
— César Ayala

THE EXPLOSIVE RENEWAL of the struggle over Vieques took place just as this magazine went to press. For the last two years a massive movement of civilian protest has been calling on the U.S. Navy to get out of Vieques, a small island located a few miles east of Puerto Rico which is used as a bombing range despite the fact that there are over 10,000 civilians living within a few miles of the target area....

— Joanne Rappaport

ON WEDNESDAY OF Easter week, 500 hooded paramilitary gunmen invaded the hamlet of Rio Mina in the region of Naya, Cauca, and three nearby villages. By the time the massacre ended, thirty-three villagers had been murdered in front of their families, and more than 500 terrorized survivors fled. (El Tiempo, April 16, 2001) Horrifying accounts like this one have fuelled extensive criticism in the U.S. press and in alternative publications regarding “Plan Colombia.”...

— Kurt Biddle

THE INDONESIAN MILITARY is on a rampage. One example is Aceh, the area on the northern-most tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. On March 29, the bodies of two human rights activists and their driver were found shot dead. The three men had just left the South Aceh police station after one of the men was summoned for questioning as a suspect in a defamation case involving police....

— David Bacon, Joan Axthelm, and Daisy Pitkin

These materials are excerpted from the March, 2001 issue of Mexican News and Analysis, a monthly collaboratio of the Mexico City-based Authentic Labor Front (FAT), the Pittsburgh-based United Electrical Workers (UE) and AMERICAS.ORG.  Contacts editor Dan La Botz for more information.  For a free e-mailed subscription, send a message with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.
— Dan La Botz

IN ONE OF the most moving moments of contemporary Mexican history, a Mayan Indian woman, Comandante Esther of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), took the podium in the Mexican legislature on March 28, 2001.

She spoke to the nation's representatives and its people calling for peace in Chiapas, and for a new indigenous rights law that would grant autonomy to Indian communities throughout Mexico. She spoke for the ten million indigenous people who are the poorest, most abused and most politically marginalized among the country's 100 million citizens....

— SOS Initiative

[In March the Mexican Labor News and Analysis printed a letter from the SOS Initiative, a women's group in Juarez. The translation is by Dan La Botz.]

TO THE INTERNATIONAL Community,

Today March 8, 2001, women inhabitants of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico send this communication to the International Community desperately seek<->ing help to stop the interminable series of murders and disappearances of poor, young women which has been perpetrated in our community since 1993.

— Sara Abraham interviews Harriet Friedmann

Harriet Friedmann has devoted more than two decades to understanding the international politics of food and agriculture and to building local food systems that can be sustainable, polycultural in all senses, and enhancing of democratic, participatory communities.  She is former Co-Chair of the Toronto Food Policy Council and serves on the board of the Centre for Food Security.
— Henry A. Giroux

PUBLIC SCHOOLING IS now under siege and confronting a crisis of unparalleled proportions. As the obligations of public life are increasingly defined through the narrow imperatives of consumption, privatization and the dynamics of the market place, commercial space replaces non-commodified public spheres. The first casualty is a language of social and political responsibility capable of defending those vital institutions that expand the rights, public goods, and services central to a meaningful democracy.

— Ellen Meiksins Wood

THE QUESTION OF "Eurocentrism" is a vexing problem not only for academia but for the left. In the broadest sense, Eurocentrism can be understood as the implicit view that societies and cultures of European origin constitute the "natural" norm for assessing what goes on in the rest of the world.
— Catherine Sameh

JACKIE STILES. RUTH Riley. Katie Douglas. Niele Ivey. Sue Bird. The women of the NCAA Final Four have never shined so brightly as these stars did in March.

— R.F. Kampfer

A KINKY PERSONAL ad?

“To my Master
I HAVE TO TELL YOU
I am nude!!
I have no protective coating on my tender skin am afraid of rain and dirt, as my nude nature causes me to spot
BUT
I will promise to give you much comfort and pleasure, if you take good care of me and treat me preciously and delicately.
NAKED

No, it's the care label on a Hong Kong leather jacket.

— Kim D. Hunter

DEAR KEN BURNS:

The late Astor Piazzolla, the great Argentinean composer, bandoneon player and creator of Nuevo Tango, used to tell stories of how some traditional lovers of the tango, Argentina's national music, became upset with how he changed the form.

— Marty Glaberman; Alex LoCascio

GRANT FARRED, IN his article “C.L.R. James' Postcolonial Thinking” (ATC 90), is so involved with post-modernist jargon that he neglects to point out that the United States embargo of Haiti for over half a century (until after the Civil War), joined by the European powers, was the main factor in causing Haiti to decline from the richest colony in the world before the revolution to the poorest country in the world.

— Clarence Lang
A Nation within a Nation:
Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) & Black Power Politics
by Komozi Woodard
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999),
352 pages, $17.95 paperback.
We Are Not What We Seem:
Black Nationalism and Class Struggle in the American Century
by Rod Bush
(New York University Press, 1999), 336 pages, $19 paperback.

MORE THAN A movement, Black Power (1965-75) was a nationalist slogan whose meaning disparate communities of activists fought to define and appropriate.

— Malik Miah
Civil Islam, Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia
by Robert W. Hefner
(Princeton University Press, 2000) 286 pages, $17.95 paperback.

THE CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALIST Rev. Jerry Falwell is convinced that Islam is a horrific religion and knows in his heart that it can never be civil. Upset with President George W. Bush's plan to provide social service funding to all religious groups, Falwell opposes giving money to Islamic groups.