Against the Current, No. 100, September/October 2002

Against the Current, No. 100, September/October 2002

Whole New Worlds of Turmoil

— The Editors

THIS ISSUE OF Against the Current marks a milestone for us: one hundred issues since the magazine was re-launched in 1986 with a merger of three previous publications.  For the world, of course, this month marks the one-year anniversary of the shattering events of September 11, 2001.

Longshore Battle: Bush, Butt Out!

— Dianne Feeley

MY BROTHER SAYS it's a more difficult situation on the waterfront than in 1971, the last time the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) went out on strike.  My brother is a clerk on the Oakland docks, just like my stepfather before him.

Anger at the International AIDS Conference

— Sam Friedman

AT THE OPENING ceremonies for the International AIDS Conference in Spain in July, I was in a room with 15,000 other people, many of whom are medical doctors, virologists, psychologists or social workers.

Race and Class: Cops and Videotapes

— Malik Miah

ONCE AGAIN AN amateur's videotape is spoiling the “lawful” deeds of cops in Los Angeles County. In 1991 it was the beating of Rodney King. Today it is a teenager. Unbeknownst to the cops videotapes expose the men in blue doing their job: beating up innocent civilians of color.

Fortunately for the public, the tapes were shown on national and international television.

The Rebel Girl: "Normal" Domestic Violence?

— Catherine Sameh

FOUR WOMEN ARE dead: Andrea Floyd, Teresa Nieves, Jennifer Wright and Marilyn Griffin. During a period of seven weeks this summer, each of these women was killed by her husband, each husband a military man stationed at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina. One woman was strangled, another stabbed to death, and two shot. Two of the men also killed themselves. Little is known still about the sequence of events that led to these four women's deaths.

Radical Rhythms: Music to Rock Your World

— Kim D. Hunter

South African Freedom Songs
Inspiration for Liberation
Making Music Productions 001

“Without (this) music ours would have been a much more protracted and bloodier struggle.” --Desmond Tutu, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, South Africa

Zionism, Non-Jews and the Israeli State

— Ur Shlonsky

ISRAEL SHAHAK, THE late human rights activist and anti-Zionist militant, once remarked that for at least the last 200 years, Jews have demanded equal rights in every country in which they've lived—with the remarkable exception of Israel, the Jewish state.  [See note 1]

Palestinian Elections Now

— Edward Said

This essay by the noted Palestinian author and activist, Professor Edward Said, first appeared in the June 14-21 issue of Al Ahram Weekly (Egypt), where his work appears regularly.  It is distributed for an international audience by the American Committee on Jerusalem, which works to build a "shared Jerusalem" among its people, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish.  You can contact ACJ at 4201 Connecticut Avenue, STE 302, Washington, DC 20008. Phone: 202-237-0215; FAX: 202-244-3196; or subscribe to updates at

After 9/11: Empire Uncaged

— Michael Ames Connor interviews Rahul Mahajan

RAHUL MAHAJAN IS a founding member of the Nowar Collective and the Green Party candidate for Governor of Texas. He is the author of The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, April 2002 and is writing a book on Iraq and U.S. policy. His email is He was interviewed for Against the Current by Michael Ames Connor, a teacher unionist and member of Solidarity in Portland, Oregon.

Against the Current: The U.S. ruling classes have responded to 9/11 in a variety of domains -- political, military, economic, etc. What aspects of this response were to be expected, and what aspects were surprising to you?

Against the Current Celebrates 100 Issues

— Christopher Phelps

IN 1986, AGAINST the Current was something new under the Reaganite sun, a fresh, radical, freethinking magazine of movement strategy and socialist revival.

Europe's Specter of Americanization

— Peter Drucker

A SPECTER IS haunting Europe -- and despite the disquietingly high vote for the far right in some recent elections, it is not really the specter of fascism. It looks more like the specter of Americanization.

Of course, the reshaping of European politics along lines similar to the United States, with blatantly reactionary parties on the right and middle-of-the-road neoliberal parties on the “left,” is being fiercely resisted. More than one possible variant, particularly with outright fascist parties on the right and/or resurgent radical socialist parties on the left, is not only imaginable and possible but a real and present prospect.

An Economy of Two, Three Many Enrons

— Robert Brenner

U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY Paul O'Neill has attributed the mushrooming financial scandals to the immorality of a "small number"of miscreants.  The Wall Street Journal has already listed twenty-seven major companies as under a cloud—including such household names and/or stars of the stock market bubble as Adelphia, AOL Time Warner, Bristol Meyers, Dynegy, Enron, Global Crossing, Kmart, Lucent Technologies, Merck, Qwest, Reliant Services, Rite Aid, Tyco International, Universal, Vivendi, WorldCom, and Xerox.

"Love for Sale," A Sex Trade Exhibition

— Dianne Feeley

BETWEEN MARCH AND September, 2002 the Amsterdam Historical Museum held an exhibit documenting four centuries of prostitution in Amsterdam. “Love for Sale” brings together an amazing set of documents, photographs and paintings about prostitution.

Random Shots: Life Imitates Art

— R.F. Kampfer

IN THE MOVIE version of “The Sum of all Fears,” the terrorist nuke is hidden in a cigarette vending machine. In real life, if placed in an underground parking garage, it would have been ripped off in about twenty minutes.

Immigrant Trials and Triumphs

From Immigrants to Labor Troublemakers

— Teófilo Reyes

This talk was presented at an April 2002 national labor retreat organized by Solidarity.  The panel was titled, "Globalization in the Americas."

The Hidden Story of "Los Repatriados"

— Elena Herrada

FOR THE PAST several years, members of the Mexican community in Detroit have been interviewing our elders about the period of the Repatriation (1929-1939).  Around fifteen of us have been gathering to compile oral interviews with our family members and friends and neighbors, to finally tell us a story which few would talk about for the past fifty or so years.

Arab Detroit: from Margin to Mainstream

— review by Brian Smith

Arab Detroit:
From Margin to Mainstream
edited by Nabeel Abraham and Andrew Shryock
(Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000) 629 pages
$24.95 (paperback).

JUNE, 2002: A luncheon of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has been delayed for a half hour. The delay is not just inconvenient but also awkward, as the luncheon is being held to honor a senator and a congressman who have been supportive of the Arab American community's concerns.

Arab Americans in Metro Detroit

— David Finkel

Arab Americans in Metro Detroit
A Pictorial History
by Anan Ameri and Yvonne Lockwood
(Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2001) 128 pages
$19.99 (paperback).

THE PICTURES AT a superficial glance may look like standard-issue family memorabilia -- until you learn the astonishing stories behind some of them.


Lives of the Exiles

— Mary Helen Washington

Exiles From a Future Time:
The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary Left
by Alan Wald
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002)
412 pages (37 photographs), $19.95 paper.

ANYONE WHO HAS ever talked to Alan Wald about his work on the Literary Left knows that his knowledge of the subject is -- I use this word without the slightest bit of hyperbole -- encyclopedic. Over the past thirty years, Wald has traveled coast to coast interviewing hundreds of writers and produced, according to my count, six books dealing with the traditions and history of the Left in the United States.

A Book of Lamentations

— David Finkel

The Death of the West
How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions
Imperil Our Country and Civilization
by Patrick J. Buchanan
(New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2002)
308 pages. $25.95 (hardcover).

AMERICA'S HOME-GROWN wannabee Jean-Marie Le Pen, Patrick Buchanan is always an entertaining read, if not entirely coherent. This breezy semi-fascist manifesto, his latest contribution to the public discourse, offers many cases in point, as well as introducing a surprise guest villain I'll get to later.

How Many Modernisms?

— Alan Filreis

Modernism, Inc:
Body, Memory, Capital
Jani Scandura and Michael Thurston
(New York: New York University Press, 2001)
304 pages, $19 (paper).

MODERNISM HAS BEEN defined in a myriad ways -- aptly, given its great social and aesthetic range and multinational origins. One useful definition holds that modernism, as a movement, cohered out of unorganized expressions of rebellious responses to psycho-social ills in the first years of the twentieth century.

In Memoriam

Trim Bissell, A Committed Life

— Chuck Kaufman

TRIM BISSELL, FOUNDER and National Co-Coordinator of the Campaign for Labor Rights, succumbed after a twenty-month battle with a brain tumor and left the ranks of those who struggle for justice and peace.

Trim died on June 15, 2002 in the home he shared with his wife, Ruth Evan. He was surrounded by his art, vividly colored paintings and sculpture that were his third passion in life following Ruth and the Campaign for Labor Rights.

June Jordan and the Language of Your Life

— Ellen S. Jaffe

WHEN I PUBLISHED Writing Your Way: Creating a Personal Journal, in 2001, I dedicated it to my parents and my son, and to “The Children, now Adults, in the writing group `The Voice of the Children,' led by poet June Jordan and teacher Terri Bush: working with this group helped me see how writing can change the world.”

As I write this tribute to June Jordan, who died on June 14, 2002, I am more convinced than ever of the truth of those words -- and filled with grief that June Jordan, herself, is no longer in this world. She does leave us, however, her writings -- poetry and prose -- and for those who knew her (even slightly) our memories and our enrichment from the encounter.