War questions

Is it true if we withdraw troops from Iraq that Iraqis supporting the U.S. would be killed? Does that mean U.S. supporters are not being killed now, and that only Iraqis against the U.S. occupation have been killed so far?

If so, doesn’t that mean there couldn’t be many Iraqis around supporting the U.S.; and why should our citizens be dying?

If not so, and Iraqis on the U.S. side are being killed, then how much worse do things have to get before the occupation is as bad as the withdrawal?

Erskine Finlayson
Via e-mail

Bring them home

Protest music has been around for thousands of years. It just leaks out every so often and helps make history.

A group of young people and not-so-young people have gotten together to sing one of my songs that I wrote around 1965 about the Vietnam War. And they’ve done what I did a few years ago; they’re singing it about the situation in Iraq. “Bring ’em home!”

What they are saying is we need to send the politicians a message in a language they understand: Election Day votes. Here in New York, voting on the Working Families line is the best way to tell the politicians, bring them home, bring them home.

We’re in a very dangerous situation. The problems in the Middle East are not going away — they’re getting worse. Churchill said anybody who thinks, when they get into a war, that they know what’s going to happen, is fooling themselves. With all the power that the American military establishment has, they still cannot predict all the things that are going to happen.

To quote Martin Luther King, the weakness of violence is that it always creates more violence. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.

Back in the sixties, I’d go from college to college to college singing songs. That’s how folk songs were shared. Sure, some person who thought it was an unpatriotic song might boo, but a few seconds later he’d be drowned out by a few thousands voices who started cheering enthusiastically. Made the poor guy start thinking.

Change comes through small organizations. You divide up the jobs: Some people sing bass, some sing soprano. Some copy the sheet music, others drive and pick up those who ride the subway. You take small steps. They all add up.

Take a small step today. Here’s your part: Tell your family and your friends about what we can do to send a message to the politicians to bring our troops home. And then vote on Election Day.

The very worst thing is for people to say: “My vote doesn’t count. So why bother to vote at all?” Our votes do count. And if we vote to bring the troops home, they count even more.

Let’s bring them home. Watch the video:



In solidarity,

Pete Seeger
Via e-mail

Slavery’s legacy

A large portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee in full military gear hangs in the Lee County Commission meeting room directly over the commissioners. I have on many occasions asked them to remove this picture but they refused. The reason given is that this defender of slavery is the namesake of Lee County. Lee County has never had an African American elected to office, so it can be said that this portrait says “whites only.”

I explain to them that it was hung up directly after the Brown v. Board of Education decision and that it is not only a moral issue but a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Mary Baldauf
Fort Myers FL

Help still needed

I’m an editor and writer based in Santa Fe, N.M., and I’m researching a book on the 1951 execution of Willie McGee, to be published by HarperCollins.

McGee was an African American man from Laurel, Miss., who was convicted on a charge of raping a white woman named Willette Hawkins. He was defended, in part, by the Civil Rights Congress, and his case was covered extensively by The Daily Worker. McGee’s defense team alleged that his relationship with Mrs. Hawkins was consensual and that no rape occurred. Through three trials and numerous appeals, these and other arguments failed to save him. He was executed on May 8, 1951.

The case became an internationally famous cause in the late forties and early fifties. Progressives, socialists and communists from all over the United States — particularly in New York, Chicago and the Bay Area — got involved.

I’m writing to urge anyone who knows something about the case or the era to contact me.

I’m also searching for sons, daughters, spouses, relatives and friends of several prominent figures who worked on behalf of McGee’s defense, including Bella Abzug, Aubrey Grossman, Jessica Mitford, Vito Marcantonio, Paul Robeson, Emanuel Bloch, John Coe, Stanley Edelson, Harry Raymond, Robert F. Hall, Buddy Green, Walter Lowenfels, Norman Mailer, Ann Braden, Howard Fast, George Marshall and William and Louise Patterson.

Finally, I’m attempting to locate surviving sons or daughters of Willie McGee’s wife, Rosalee McGee. I’m reachable by e-mail: aheard@outsidemag.com; or phone: (505) 989-7100 x 120.

The first letter I wrote in the PWW in October 2004 helped a lot. Thanks.

Alex Heard
Santa Fe NM

Oops, should have been Hoosiers

In the letter to the editor published in the 10/14-20 PWW my letter was titled by the paper “Labor energized in Indy races.” The term “Indy” is used for the city of Indianapolis, not the state of Indiana.

“Indy” has other references too, such as the independent news, but when using it in reference to events in the state of Indiana it means the city of Indianapolis. To call Indiana “Indy” is like calling the state of Michigan “Motown” or Pennsylvania “Philly” or closer to home, Illinois “Chi-town.” Thank you for your understanding. Peace, and keep up the good work.

“Obama in ’08” favorite son of the great state of “Chi-town.”

Paul S. Kaczocha
Gary IN