Plus Letters to Good Times
Passion for the Protest
Ad Raises Issues
When I was 11 or so, I invited a bunch of friends to my house. We gathered in the kitchen, where I set up my little stereo system—some speakers with long, long cords and a turntable. (Am I one of the few who misses those things?) Well, there we all sat to listen to my very first “radio show.” With a portable cassette tape recorder handy—I really am dating myself—I grabbed the microphone and away we went. I took in “caller requests” from the three friends at the table. David Cassidy’s “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat” was requested. No problem. Next up: Dickie Goodman’s “Mr. Jaws” (remember that one?), followed by “Rubberband Man” and a Barry Manilow commercial medley from his double-album extravaganza. In between, I chatted with my guests about things that really mattered—that Ovaltine was better than Tang. Ah ... good times.
In the meantime, I’m still taking requests.
Greg Archer | Editor
Letters to Good Times Editor
Passion for the Protest
Kudos to GT for covering the March 4 protests in Santa Cruz (although apparently they weren't as important as “Food and Wine,” and the demonstrations at Cabrillo and in Watsonville didn't even seem to get mentioned). I have to ask, though, why you went with Tom Honig's op-ed—who is he exactly?—rather than soliciting one from an affected student or education worker.
Honig takes a paternalistic and dismissive tone towards the March 4 strike at UCSC, admonishing students and workers that our task is to "win hearts and minds" through strictly legal activity and the kind of activism that boils down to nothing but a song-and-dance for the media. A quick look at history shows us that social movements never win anything without rocking the boat. At UCSC, the occupation of Kerr Hall demanded (among other things) the rollback of a 15 percent cut to janitorial staff hours, which was quietly implemented several weeks later. At a statewide level, a spokesperson for the governor acknowledged that his proposal to guarantee increased funding for education was a direct response to November's rowdy protests across the state.
Like the governor, Honig offers the false double-bind between funding education and other social services. Many voices from the education movement have pointed to a number of possible alternatives like increasing taxes for the wealthiest segments of society or releasing some of the "criminals" Hong would like to keep off the streets. California's prison system is disastrously overcrowded and many of its inmates are in on nonviolent drug offenses; the ethnic and economic backgrounds represented disproportionately in their demographics continue to institutionalize the grave inequities in our culture; and as we all hopefully know by now, it’s both cheaper and more socially effective to educate someone than to incarcerate him or her.
Perhaps most tellingly, he mentions empowerment as a kind of fringe benefit of organizing. My response is that this is not a peripheral issue. It is precisely because we have so little power over our lives, labor and education that students and workers in California are going on strike, occupying campuses, and, yes, even breaking a few windows when that's what it takes. Many of the messages from the movement (which were plentifully available in flier and pamphlet format at the base of campus on March 4; shame Honig didn't stop by) have addressed themselves to the general social and economic crisis. It is not by begging politely for token reforms but by taking ourselves seriously as an organized social force that we are going to be able to make an impact on such a big mess from the grassroots level.
Ad Raises Issues
The full page Resource for Non Violence ad in the Feb. 25 edition of GT once again shows the anti-Israel and the hidden anti-Semitic leaning by the non-violence management. With all the major issues in our world, the civil wars and genocide in parts of Africa such as the Congo and the killings by the government in Sudan, it would seem the fixation on Israel by this group is more anti-Jewish than anti-violence. Why do they never address the treatment of foreign workers or the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia? How about the oppressive regimes in the rest of the Middle East where Israel is the only democracy? I do not know where their finances come from but I can guess. Being for non-violence is a great cause but being so one-sided damages the credibility of this organization.
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