Getting it right

In response to your article by Paul Hill on “Immigrants’ tragedy and death penalty injustice” (PWW 3/26-4/1): You got it. Right on the nose.

Thanks for having the courage to stand up and voice your opinion about the misguided, unbalanced and supremely unjust system we call the “death penalty.” You just got a new reader, for what it’s worth.

I have some pretty harsh critiques about the way our criminal justice system operates today. Sometimes it seems the only thing that changes is the fluctuation of dollars into prisons. Prevention and rehabilitation are underfunded, ignored or discredited.

With all the media attention lately (the ruling on juvenile death penalties, Sen. Rick Santorum’s comments, etc.), I have some renewed hope on the obliteration of the death penalty. It’s really good to see more writing on the issue. Anyway, thank you and good luck. I look forward to reading your work!

Adam Lobaugh

Portland OR

Respectful and fair …

I was glad to see your balanced view of the Pope in last week’s editorial. I read it to my grandmother, who is Roman Catholic, and she thought it was a good statement. It was respectful to the beliefs of the majority working-class base of the church. At the same time, you didn’t let the Pope off the hook for the major setbacks to humanity that he helped deliver. Thanks.

Michael Reale

Jersey City NJ

… Wrong balance

Your recent editorial on the death of the Pope (PWW 4/9-15) tried to be balanced, and it made valuable points. But I think you got the balance wrong in straining to see “the good side” of the late Pope. I wish you had paid a bit more heed to the Sermon on the Mount: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16).

When it came to progressive policies, this Pope only offered words, usually when it was safe. His stance against war, inequality, the death penalty, the Iraq invasion, and “savage capitalism” was mere words. He spoke up for normal relations with Cuba when most of Western Europe and much of the rest of the world had already done so.

But, when it came to counterrevolution, the Pope was all deeds. He left no stone unturned to help counterrevolution in his native Poland. He crushed the Catholic Left in Latin America and its liberation theology, as you correctly note.

In the Catholic Church, reaction fights for its positions in the pews. Progressive ideas, by contrast, gather dust in encyclicals that few read. Ask any union organizer how little it helps to quote Rerum Novarum to a cardinal determined to foil a union organizing drive.

Maybe Marxist-Leninists should return to the scientific materialist approach of Marx and Lenin, who not only battled religion’s right-wing political expressions, but also repudiated its truth claims. The present “softly, softly” approach doesn’t seem to be working. Witness the successful mobilization of religious conservatives to vote for Bush in 2004.

Yes, organized religion is “the soul of a soulless world,” and “the cry of the oppressed creature,” as Marx pointed out. But it also contributes to the clouding of the human mind. Only Americans seriously out of touch with reality could vote for a president whose policies are so anti-people. The Bush regime needs mass stupefaction to stay in office.

Imperialism is not mistaken about who its friends are. The convening of most of the world’s leading reactionaries to honor the Pope in death ought not to be taken lightly. For almost three decades this Pope — who fomented counterrevolution, slowed down revolutionary change, offered otherworldly solace to a world writhing in pain, a world in which genuine solutions have long been possible — added to the misery and despair of the human race. I say the world is well rid of him.

Thomas Kenny

New York NY

Transplant recipient

I was a recent liver transplant recipient at LifeLink/Tampa General Hospital. I had Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a genetic disorder that leads to end-stage liver disease.

I am blessed for having a donor that gave me the gift of life. All over the world are individuals waiting for organ transplants.

The public should be aware that pairing of organ donors with needy recipients should become a more streamlined process. Surprisingly, Florida has one of the highest number of motor vehicle operators per capita giving organ donations.

While recovering at Tampa General, I pondered about the donor of my liver as I watched the 24/7 news coverage of the Terri Schiavo saga. So to all crazed fanatics like Jeb and his brother George who erred for life rather than follow the wishes of this poor woman — shame on you. Now I will live to see your cronies voted out of office!

Jay Alexander

St Petersburg FL

Death and America

No doubt Lawrence Albright (PWW 4/2-8) had his heart and sensitivities in the correct place when he appealed to us to recognize the Terri Schiavo affair as “an American tragedy.”

Albright reminded us of the hypocrisy of the president who rushed in from his “vacation” and got Congress to sit in special session to “err on the side of life,” as we plan and carry out deaths by the untold thousands in Iraq with no end in sight. But there is an issue Albright did not get around to that should be in the front of the struggle.

America’s preoccupation with death is a part of our history. We slaughtered the native peoples who were flourishing here when Columbus and his cohorts arrived in the 15th century. We continued the genocide with the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican and Spanish-American wars, all for “manifest destiny.”

We made heroes out of those who dropped the bombs in 1945 that killed over 200,000 civilians. Then came the murders in Chile, Grenada, Afghanistan, Libya, and Desert Storm.

We are a highly developed nation without health care for our people, and yet we want a death plan. I would like our energies to be put into finding health means, not death provisions. We need health care, not warfare.

Don Sloan, M.D.

Via e-mail