Remember 9/11! Vote for peace Nov. 5

Our nation was changed forever by the horrendous terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001 that took 3,000 lives. Many drew positive lessons: that we must emulate the firefighters, paramedics, construction workers and police officers who risked life and limb to rescue victims of all races and nationalities. Several families of “9/11” victims formed a group called “Peaceful Tomorrows” to oppose war, racism and hatred as the answer to the attack.

Yet the ultra-right demagogues also seized on the attack. The Bush-Cheney Administration declared an “endless” war on terrorism. Iraq is now in their crosshairs. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered detention of over 1,200 Arabs and Muslims without charges. The USA PATRIOT Act was rammed through granting vast police powers in violation of the Bill of Rights.

The American people are having profound second thoughts about the direction Bush-Cheney pushed the nation after “9/11.” Within a month of “9/11” the Enron debacle exposed Bush and Cheney ties to corporate malfeasance. Many now ask: Is the war on Iraq about democracy or grabbing Iraqi oil? There is growing concern that Ashcroft must be stopped and the Bill of Rights restored.

Labor Day was the kickoff for 2002 election in which the people will have a chance to ask candidates where they stand on these life and death questions. Do they favor endless wars and bloated military budgets or will they promote policies of peace and disarmament? Will they take action to provide jobs for the unemployed, to protect pension benefits, to enact prescription drugs under Medicare? Or will they lavish more tax subsidies on Big Business and the rich? Will they vote to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act?

The best way to commemorate “9/11” is to start now to mobilize the votes to defeat the corporate ultra-right Nov. 5.


Back-to-school and (big) business

As millions of our children return to school this week we will all be confronting some daunting problems. Privatization, racism, lack of funding, attacks on union rights and bilingual education, vouchers, high-stakes testing and rolling back curriculum reform are just a few. The key players in these problems are Corporate America, the Bush Administration and his followers in Congress and the far-right extremists on the Supreme Court.

While Bush promised to be the education president, he has turned out to be the mis-education president. Bush and his right-wing ilk see public education as something to downsize and privatize. To get thriving modern, integrated public schools it will take funding, resources and an outlook that public education is a cornerstone of any democratic society.

Rural and urban schools in every state of the nation find themselves facing all the dilemmas caused by 20 years of right-wing attacks on hard-won democratic and educational rights. It certainly is a bleak future for public schools when capitalism insists that “private is better.”

Most of the problems faced by public education are about funding and equity of resources. The right wing’s tired argument of “not throwing money at a problem” wears thin when the government has been throwing money at corporate “problems.” Don’t our kids and schools deserve a bailout as much as the airline industry?

The peace movement first suggested in the ’70s that the Pentagon should hold a bake sale to raise money for its weapons. Aren’t our kids more important to national security than the latest “smart bombs?”

It will take a unified movement of all working class and democratic forces in order to guarantee every child in the United States a 21st century-quality education, and to defeat the right wing agenda for education in November.