Thoughts on March 20th Peace March

Happily, there were no typical participants among the thousands who marched in New York City. Representation was so varied, so broad and so diversified that, finally, the only common denominator a body could possible find was the desire for peace and an end to war. And that is as it should be.

If so many people – so many New Yorkers (many came from nearby states) can come together in such an organized and well-coordinated manner anything is possible. The people united can never be defeated.

This writer found it especially rewarding to place her feet behind the CPUSA banner. Surely there is no more spirited, disciplined group with whom to march. Communists’ passion for peace and justice is legendary as is their name. They led a spirited and righteous contingent twice around the parade route carrying the slogan of the moment: “Drop Bush Not Bombs!” And so it was a time for all of us – young and old; all colors and all faiths to be counted. Hurrah for all of us who will never give up. Hurrah for peace and justice.

Jackie LavalleQueens NY

The French headscarf ban

In “What’s behind the French headscarf ban” (PWW 3/6-12), Cian Dolan argues that the ban is wrong. While it may be true that racism is a factor, this explanation does not do sufficient justice to the new French law or explain its near-universal support, including among French Socialists and Communists.

Dolan criticizes a French philosopher for comparing the oppression of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan with that suffered by French schoolgirls who are forced to wear clothing different from their peers. Dolan disputes the similarity.

But how is the oppression of French school children by their parents different in kind from the oppression of Afghani women by their government? Does the state not have an interest in liberating its children from all forms of oppression, even if that oppression is at the hands of misguided parents?

Second, by banning headscarves, those who would otherwise not choose to wear them are free to dress as they please. The problem is that in some neighborhoods there is a great deal of social pressure to continue these oppressive cultural practices.

Third, the law is claimed to be about integrating Muslims into French society. Does the state also not have an interest in integrating immigrants into the larger society? The issue is how one goes about encouraging that integration, and people do argue about this.

The French are more militant about their secularism, and fundamentalist religion is a threat to secularism there (and here, as witnessed by Bush’s drive to incorporate fundamentalist Christianity into our public life). France is experimenting with one approach to defending its democracy and secular traditions. We would do well to watch and learn. Besides the headscarf is just sexist and wrong.

Richard CurtisSeattle WA

Sending medicine to Iraq

I read Jose Cruz’s wonderful article in the PWW (3/20-26), which I received during the protest against the Iraq war yesterday. I was touched and moved by the story of Mr. Fernando Suárez del Solar, who is using the death of his beloved son Jesus, to help others like Sgt. Camilo Mejia and to save the lives of innocent Iraqis. Is there any way in which Mr. del Solar can be contacted? According to the article he promised to help the Iraqis with medication, and I would like to help in such a noble cause. I imagine that Mr. del Solar is accepting donations to buy the medicine, among other things.

Guadalupe JerezVia e-mail

Editor’s note: Supplies can be sent to Suárez del Solar, 1817 E. Grand Ave. #65, Escondido, CA 92027, Attn: Project Guerrero Azteca. While supplies are preferred, checks made payable to “Medicine for Iraq” can be sent to the same address.

Bush shirks responsibility

In the summer of 2001, George Bush took a vacation. In fact, it was the longest vacation ever taken by an American president. We all know what happened in September. Couldn’t he have done more to prevent our nation’s greatest tragedy? And why, after it took place, did he do everything possible to block the 9/11 commission? What does he have to hide? Do we really want a president who hides from the truth? Who wages war based on lies? Who does everything possible to shirk responsibility with negative attacks and deception? I don’t think so.

Russell JosephsBasking Ridge NJ

Kucinich and Nader

Thank you for the article on Nader (PWW, 3/20-26). … I am the national marketing and advertising co-director for the Kucinich campaign and I will continue to promote Kucinich as the “Green Democrat” and the best solution to the current crisis.

Carlton JacksonVia e-mail