True patriots

We celebrated the Fourth of July by attending a gathering of some 100 IVAW (Iraq Vets Against the War). These brave young women and men were overjoyed to see us there and when they saw my shirt reading “Veterans for Peace,” we immediately bonded. We all agreed that funding for the war in Iraq should be stopped and the troops should come home immediately.

These members of IVAW are men and women who were over there risking their lives. I dare the Bush backers and war apologists to accuse these young people of wanting to lose the war. These men and women of IVAW, along with other veterans and other war protesters, are true patriots.

Howard Bell
Philadelphia PA

Fraud against veterans

I have seen recently on cable access TV a program “Veterans Forum” on Veterans Affairs fraud that affects perhaps millions of veterans.

According to the guests, millions have not received benefits because of SPN numbers or “spin codes” that appear on veterans’ separation forms. These codes have been used to deny veterans jobs and benefits.

I think the topic of veteran abuse may be an interesting subject for the PWW. How capitalists use soldiers and throw them out like garbage.

Sijisfredo Aviles
Chicago IL

One thing leads to another

It’s remarkable how President Bush’s war policies have alienated even some of the United States’ most reliable Middle East partners. Even the typically servile Saudis have tired of the disastrous doings in Iraq and have openly announced their support for the tenacious Sunni insurgency there.

The Saudi Wahhabist royal family would love to see the Shiite Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, deposed and have baldly named Iraq an “illegally occupied” country.

In response to these dramatic diplomatic deviations, Bush now characteristically offers his wavering Gulf clients the only thing he’s capable of delivering. He’s placed more than $20 billion of high-tech U.S.-made weaponry on the table, enough it’s hoped to convince the Saudis to stifle their insurgent Sunni allies inside Iraq.

Moreover, Israel’s understandable concern over such a destabilizing deal will be allayed with financial and military emoluments worth billions more, prompting, in turn, a balancing boost in armaments and funds to prop up Egypt’s corrupt police state.

That these hackneyed arrangements, when inevitably approved in substantial form by Congress, will continue to fatten the wallets of Bush’s friends in the military-industrial-oil complex is, of course, merely a convenient coincidence.

Cord McGuire
Boulder CO

Thank you, Scott Marshall!

Re: “Thank you, Senator McConnell” by Scott Marshall (PWW 7/28-8/3), I recall about 21 years ago when we published a column that I wrote for our newsletter entitled “Aero & Spacey.” Sundstrand is an aerospace manufacturer. Aero was the thoughtful worker who studied what was happening and who was doing it to him. Spacey was like the IWW’s “Mister Block” who did not question the status quo. Anyhow, the latest episode of “Aero & Spacey” at that time was “Do the Owners Work?” I was confronted by a worker in the shop who did not appreciate how Aero explained the Labor Theory of Surplus Value to Spacey. A group of my fellow workers had gathered around, as he accused me.

“What are you?” he shouted. “Some kind of a communist son-of-a-bitch?”

“Wait a minute,” I replied. “I ain’t no son-of-a-bitch!”

The guys laughed at him as his face turned red.

T. Mills
Rockford IL

Scott Marshall’s op-ed reminded me of when I was in high school. It was socially forbidden to say the word Communist.

Eventually, I realized the only trump card the right had was that “you had no freedom of speech” under communism. Under capitalism (or, democracy, as they called it) it was fine to be homeless and eat out of dumpsters, because you had “freedom.” You could say anything you wanted to the alley cats and no one would bother you.

I worked with a Cuban exile for many years. He was really an OK guy, but rabidly anti-communist. When the USSR fell apart, he was overjoyed, but I told him it means that communism is spreading all over. He couldn’t see it, but what I meant was that now that the bogey-man had disappeared, the right wing no longer had anything to silence debate with.

Calling someone a terrorist just because he is for universal health care doesn’t cut it. The right is on a historical defensive, losing ground at every turn. They can no longer persuade; their only recourse is to lock people up.

Antonio Benal
Via e-mail

On Kahlo’s activism

The article in PWW (7/28-8/3) on the worldwide celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is welcome. Kahlo’s self-portraits are now finding their place in the broader history of world art, and her career has moved out of the shadows of her more famous husband and comrade, Diego Rivera.

However, it is strange that an article in the PWW (especially) should neglect a part of Kahlo’s life that is also neglected in more conventional art history accounts of her life and work. Frida Kahlo was a lifelong revolutionary and supporter of the Communist Party of Mexico (notwithstanding her short love affair with Leon Trotsky). While her painting emphasized a very personal and individual subject matter, she remained politically engaged through the end of her life. A famous photograph of her after one of many operations has her in a full upper-body cast on which she painted a hammer and sickle. And the last photo of her in public is being pushed in a wheelchair by Rivera at a 1954 demonstration in Mexico City against the U.S. overthrow of the Arbenz government of Guatemala.

Neither Kahlo nor Diego Rivera — whose work was more overtly revolutionary — saw a contradiction between her artistic explorations of her individual life and her revolutionary convictions. We should not either.

H. Lessuck
New York NY