By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Housing wasn't black enough. I was asked again what I had done for African Americans. As a delegate in the Service Employees International Union, I've advocated for African American workers. I've worked with African Americans on police brutality; but this was working with them, not doing "for" them.
My wife, Day Starr, and I lived in a black community in Flatbush for several years. I saw what it was like to go without heat in the winter and to wait for eight hours in the emergency room to see a doctor. Black people did not own the businesses in their community, teachers did not look like the students they were teaching, and young black and Latino boys were the only ones in the special-ed classes.
As I told Anderson, I don't have to "study" the issues of black people. I know injustice when I see it.
Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson replies: Although I was thankful for Chou's response, I never asked him what he has done for African Americans. I asked him, as my notes show, how he planned to reach African Americans, which many see as essential to the success of the Green Party. After he told me his concerns about housing, I asked whether he felt he has been successful in his outreach. I do not doubt his intentions, but I was struck by his need to defend his relationship with African Americans rather than to call for the Green Party to seriously take a look at their issues.
Thanks for Eric Laursen's article on Social Security, "The Battle of 2016" [September 4]. However, there are a few statements that I believe deserve a closer look. The first is the allegation that "Bush's commission is charged with developing a solution to this problem." In fact, the commission's true goal is to eliminate the Social Security program, just as most other social service programs have been gutted in the last 30 years. Mr. Laursen actually alludes to this hidden agenda when he writes, "Even experts who endorse Bush's private account scheme admit that he can't implement it and still keep Social Security fiscally solvent. . . ."
As to the statement that "supporters . . . say it would help working-class Americans share in the wealth that Wall Street creates": This is a blatant fallacy constantly promoted by the media. Wall Street never has created wealth. All wealth is created by those who do the work of this great country, not the parasites on Wall Street. A truck without a driver is a hunk of metal and rubber. A factory without workers is just a pile of bricks. A farm without farmers is a field of weeds. And a hospital without nurses is a place of sickness, not of healing.
NO BARS TO RIGHTS
While not as sensational as the actual event, the creation of Prisoners Legal Services of New York was one of the most important results of the riot that Jennifer Gonnerman wrote about in "Remembering Attica" [September 11]. A partially state-funded program that seeks to head off the exact problems that led to the riot, Prisoners Legal Services has struggled to stay afloat since Governor Pataki took office.
This program is a vital part of the prison system because it addresses prisoners' real concerns and acts as a protector of these incarcerated citizens' civil rights, which, needless to say, are not in the forefront of most New Yorkers' minds. Nevertheless, prisoners deserve basic human rights, which the system on its own has no intention of providingas was amply proved by the riot at Attica.
It's no surprise that there has been zero press coverage of Prisoners Legal Services' struggle to exist, but I find it unfortunate that Gonnerman's article did nothing to rectify this lack of information, especially in light of the fact that the Voiceis so consistently and essentially the Voice of the Unheard.
Re Rebecca Segall's "The Rael World Comes to New York" [September 4]: Back in the early '90s, when I lived in France, you could see Rael, now the leader of the Raelian UFO sect, on TV every other week. He was a frequently invited guest on talk shows, where he appeared as a harmless, crazy guy in fun attire. In everyone's mind, he was a (side)showman, and the way he used to smile made me think maybe he didn't really believe his own UFO story.
Well, 10 years later the fact that his followers are trying to set up a human cloning lab makes the joke much less funny. It's not surprising that they moved out of France. That country has set up anti-sect laws (although there is no such thing as "an anti-cult ministry," as Rael was quoted as saying). I question these laws since they do counter individual freedoms. After all, why should we prevent weak people from ruining their lives in dead-end cults if it is their own decision? And what are the exact criteria to differentiate a sect from a religion? But on the other hand, if such laws can help control really dangerous groups, maybe they are worth it.