Against the Current, No. 102, January/February 2003

Against the Current, No. 102, January/February 2003

War and Democrats' Panic

— The Editors

The Democratic Party is what it is, a party ultimately responsible to and funded by big corporate capital, continually forced to betray and demoralize the very working class, African American and other core voters on whom it depends to win power.  Given this reality, the Democrats in their "centrist" opportunism have positioned themselves as a permanent junior party that will win power nationally only when the Republican agenda crashes and burns economically or militarily.

California Grows Green with Camejo-Warren

— Michael Rubin

THE NOVEMBER 2002 election marked a qualitative advance for the California Green Party. This advance is characterized by some improvement in vote totals, but more importantly by improvements in the Party program and party composition.

Let's start with some numbers. Green Party voter registration statewide is now over 150,000, breaking the 1% milestone for the first time. Peter Miguel Camejo and Donna Warren, Green Party candidates for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, received over 345,000 votes (5.3%).

The Rebel Girl: Motherhood's Contested Terrain

— Catherine Sameh

THIS PAST OCTOBER, Barnard College and the Institute for American Values hosted a conference on motherhood called “Maternal Feminism: Lessons for a 21st Century Motherhood Movement,” designed to bring conservative and liberal women together to discuss the relationship of feminism to motherhood and call for a motherhood movement.

Random Shots: We Have Met the Enemy

— R.F. Kampfer

AS GULF WAR II approaches, it's well to remember that “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy. That's why they call them the enemy.”

Labor Under the Gun

United Airlines' Unfriendly Skies

— Malik Miah and Jennifer Biddle

HOW COULD THE biggest airline in the world, with the most enviable route structure, largest and most diverse fleet, employing over 100,000 workers -- an airline that made $8 billion dollars in net profit during the boom years of the `90s -- in two years go broke?

This is no Enron. United Airlines made lots of cold, hard cash. Yet on December 9, 2002, United filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Mt. Olive: Blood on the Cucumbers

— Nick Wood

URBANO RAMIREZ LEFT his wife and five children in the state of Guerrero, Mexico to find jobs in the fields of North Carolina. On June 26, 2001 he arose at 6:00 in the morning to pick twenty-two buckets of cucumbers on a farm that sells its produce to a supplier for the Mt. Olive Pickle Company.

After lunch Ramirez began working in tobacco when he got a severely bloody nose. He was simply told to go take a break. In his delirious state he wandered off. No search party was sent out, nor was a missing person's report filed. His body was found ten days later in the woods near a field.

UC Workers Take the CUE

— Claudia Horning and Claudette Begin

IN AUGUST 2002, one thousand striking University of California (UC) employees, mostly clerical workers, took over a city block in downtown Oakland to rally in front of University of California President Richard Atkinson's office.

This was the first multiunion strike at UC in thirty years, and the first UC strike ever to involve significant numbers of employees. Not surprisingly, this show of labor militancy originated at the UC Berkeley campus. What is more surprising is that the strike movement has spread to five other UC campuses since then, including even the traditionally conservative Riverside and Irvine campuses.

Confronting Bush's War

The Military-Industrial Empire and War

— Ismael Hossein-zadeh

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S planned attack on Iraq would serve as the first instance of President Bush's new doctrine of “preemptive strike” against countries perceived, or defined, as “threats to the national interests of the United States.”

Yet even if the administration's rationale for “preemption” and “regime change” were accepted, the question remains: What is the rush?

The Naivete of A Native Critic

— Sinan Antoon

I FIRST HEARD Kanan Makiya sitting in a shelter in Baghdad during the second Gulf War [1991--ed.].

BBC broadcast news of a book about Saddam Hussein's Iraq titled Republic of Fear by a man called Samir al-Khalil (Makiya's nom de plume). I was delighted that a man living abroad had taken the time to write about Iraqis' plight under Saddam's authoritarian rule.

On the Invisibility of Blood

— Aijaz Ahmad

NO BLOOD FOR oil is the title of this talk. First, on Blood, there is the blood that has flowed, and the need to stop blood from flowing further. Associated with that is the question of the visibility and the invisibility of the blood.

I think it is indecent to talk about “the possibility of an invasion of Iraq.” A war against Iraq has been waged for over a decade. It has lasted longer than the American war in Vietnam, longer than the combined duration of the two world wars. Those who are in the business of counting have suggested that a half million children have died so far.

Update: Killing Palestinians with Impunity

— Palestine Monitor

[The following update (14th December 2002) was issued by the alestine Monitor, an information clearinghouse in Ramallah, West Bank. For more information contact: Palestine Monitor +972 (0)2 298 5372 or +972 (0)59 387 087;]

LAST WEEK'S TRAGIC and brutal shooting of 95-year-old Fatima at a checkpoint near Ramallah highlights the brutality of the Israeli occupation. It is also a perfect illustration of the impunity with which Israeli soldiers act in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); and the complete control the soldiers have over every aspect of the civilians' lives.

Reparations and the Black Liberation Struggle

For Reparations and Transformation

— Robin D.G. Kelley

[This article is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination by Robin D.G. Kelley. Copyright 2002 by Robin D.G. Kelley. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston. This chapter surveys the history of the reparations demand and traces the Black Nationalist origins of currents in the present-day struggle, in particular N'COBRA (National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America).]

IF WE THINK of reparations as part of a broad strategy to radically transform society -- redistributing wealth, creating a democratic and caring public culture, exposing the ways capitalism and slavery produced massive inequality -- then the ongoing struggle for reparations holds enormous promise for revitalizing movements for social justice.

The Reparations Demand in History

— Paul Ortiz

—National Association of Colored Men, “Address to the Congress of the United States, 1896"

We were stolen from our mother country, and brought here. We have tilled the ground and made fortunes for thousands, and still they are not weary of our services.
—Bishop Richard Allen, 1827 [See note 1]

All Out for Millions for Reparations

— Black Workers for Justice

[This statement from Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ) appeared in Justice Speaks, June 2002, in preparation for the August 17 mobilization for reparations in Washington, DC. It is slightly abridged here and reprinted with permission. Subscriptions: $10 individual or $15 institutional from Justice Speaks, P.O. Box 26774, Raleigh NC 27611.]

UNDER THE BANNER, “They Owe Us,” the Millions for Reparations March is the latest step in the evolving and growing Reparations movement, both nationally and internationally.

Launching the Mass Reparations Campaign

— Reparations Mobilization Coalition

[The following is the statement of the National Reparations Education & Mobilization Coalition. The principal authors are Sam Anderson and Muntu Matsimela. Sam Anderson is compiling a Reparations Reader, scheduled for release by Doubleday in Fall 2003.]<D>

THE REPARATIONS MOBILIZATION Coalition is working hard to build a Massive Black Reparations Campaign. We are working with other pro-reparations organizations and individuals, which will culminate in a mobilization of several million Black people not only demanding reparations but actively engaged in the various efforts for its realization.

Black Politics, Greens and Reparations

— Donna J. Warren

MY NAME IS Donna, and I once had an addiction problem. I was addicted to the Democratic Party, says Donna J. Warren, the recent Green Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor of California.

At a meeting in 1999 in South Central Los Angeles, she was handed “some dog-eared sheets of paper, describing the `Green Party' and its platform. `My God,' I spurted out after I read what he had given me: `I'm a Green!'”

Reparations as A New Reconstruction

— Clarence Lang

Reparations present an opportunity to reconstruct Black civil discourse along more democratic lines, though the fulfillment of this goal depends on Black radicals' creative energies in formulating a mass organizing strategy that goes beyond the provinces of a few skilled lawyers, politicians, would-be entrepreneurs, and Washington, D.C. politicos.

A Native American and Civil Rights' View

— Hunter Gray

The blood-dimmed epochs of the hideous past are causal headwaters and obviously directly relevant.  But it's the poisonous effects and the chilling, lethal impact of this still widely on-going tragedy—continuing and pervasive racism of many cunning varieties and broadening economic exploitation and all its cutting, draining thrusts—to which my great anger and that of multitudes is directed.  The victims in "this rich land" alone are virtually countless.

Speaking Out for Bilingual Education

The Battle of "English Only"

— Stephanie Luce

VOTERS IN TWO states this past November were asked to vote on initiatives to ban bilingual education programs. Modeled after initiatives that passed in California and Arizona a few years earlier, the so-called “English for the Children” proposal, the initiatives would require students to go through a one-year “structured English immersion” program.

Those Who Speak Two Languages Live Twice

— Karina Altagracia Bautista

[These comments are from a talk given at a forum on Question 2 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Campus Center, on October 29, 2002.]

“HOLA. ¿QUE TAL?” I want to thank you all for allowing me to share with you some of my experiences as a person who had both the challenge and privilege of being part of a Bilingual Program.


Abolishing Race in Theory?

— Bill Mullen

Against Race
by Paul Gilroy (Harvard University Press, 2000) 406 pages, $26.95 hardcover, $16.95 paperback.

PAUL GILROY'S THE Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993) was probably the most influential academic book on race published in the 1990s. Gilroy's study of political and cultural routes of the African diaspora popularized the theory of “hybridity,” a description of migration, ethnic mixing and border crossing as markers of identity.

African Labor and England's Industry

— Christopher McAuley

Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development by Joseph E. Inikori (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), $29.95 paper.

FEW SCHOLARS, WHEN their work is not ignored, have so convincingly presented their side of a contested issue that even their detractors must concede many of their points. Such, I believe, is what Joseph Inikori has achieved in his latest work, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England, the culmination of over thirty years of scholarly work in European archives, a wide range of secondary sources, and development economics.

Multicultural Conservatism

— Christopher Phelps

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Now?
Multicultural Conservatism in America
by Angela Dillard
(New York: New York University Press, 2001), 245 pages, $16.95 paperback.

IN THE STORMY aftermath to Senator Trent Lott's giddy declaration at Strom Thurmond's hundredth birthday party, that had the Dixiecrat won his segregationist presidential campaign in 1948 the country could have avoided “all these problems,” there was a revealing juxtaposition.

Letters to Against the Current

Two Blunders

— Ernie Haberkern

THE OTHERWISE EXCELLENT statement of the ATC editorial board on the impending war on Iraq (“An Imperial Trifecta?” Against the Current 101, November-December 2002) contained two blunders.

The first, and most important warns of: “The danger that Iraq itself may disintegrate -- if, for example, the Shia population in the south or northern Kurds reject a new American-installed authoritarian central government.”