By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Then, Corn counsels the anti-war movement to eschew a “simplistic leave-Iraq-alone” position, and laments the fact that most speakers failed to address the question “What to do about Iraq?” He is disappointed that Jesse Jackson was the only speaker to state that Saddam Hussein “should be held accountable for his crimes,” and that little emphasis was placed on the “idea that revived and unfettered weapons inspections should occur in Iraq before George W. Bush launches a war.” In short, Corn is urging the anti-war movement to reject the politics of the Workers World in favor of those of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, most of which accepts Bush’s intentions as honorable, and differs with him only over questions of tactics.
Within the political framework Corn favors, however, certain questions seldom get asked: Why, for instance, is the Saddam regime any more of a “problem” than the numerous other blood-drenched dictatorships and aggressor states that the U.S. government, far from leaving alone, has actively propped up over decades, including two — Pakistan and Israel — that are not merely trying to obtain nuclear weapons, but actually possess them? By what authority, other than that of sheer military might, is the supplier of such regimes able to hold ä “accountable for their crimes” Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic or anyone else? Isn’t the U.S. government, which would reel in horror at the very thought of foreign inspectors coming anywhere within miles of its arsenals, a trifle hypocritical in demanding, on pain of blitzkrieg, “unfettered” access to those of a vastly weaker state?
The WWP’s political framework, however flawed and “simplistic,” permits such questions; that of the Democratic Party and the mass media does not. If forced to choose, I’ll take the WWP’s framework any day. So also, I venture to say, would most people in the world, who see the main threat to peace as coming from Washington, not Baghdad. The growing legion of doubters in this country can only become effective when they figure out “what to do” about their own government — something they will never accomplish while operating, like David Corn and most Democrats, on the basis of that government’s assumptions.
—James Creegan New York City
While it is surprising to hear words like “commies” from Nation writer David Corn (you might want to check out our nation’s labor history for other helpful uses of the term), it is also true that the WWP was behind the Washington march. The issue is not their politics, but their style. That is to say, those of us who have worked with them in the past are aware they will foist a larger agenda on any event they organize. That’s the same reason we find it distasteful, though often necessary, to work within the Democratic Party, who will also promote their own, business-friendly, centrist agenda. In these days of such a weak left in this country, you take your allies as you can, and hope that the movement broadens. I personally am glad that, for example, anti–Vietnam War activists didn’t stay out of marches due to “commie” influence or we’d probably still be fighting that war.
—Ty Brown Nashville, Tennessee
MEASURES OF OPPORTUNITY
In “Reading, Writing and Rats” [October 18–25], Howard Blume surprisingly failed to give credit to UCLA professor Jeannie Oakes for her unique contribution to the real meaning of school accountability. A new master plan that she helped write, now under consideration by the California Legislature, will include publication of an Opportunity To Learn Index, which will report not only what teachers taught but under what conditions learning took place. This reversal of long-standing thinking will make those outside the educational establishment answerable to schools, rather than the other way around. The index will reflect whether students had qualified teachers, adequate textbooks and materials, a curriculum strictly aligned with state standards, and a safe, clean learning environment.
When the Opportunity To Learn Index is published next to the Academic Performance Index, which measures student achievement on the Stanford 9, the public will for the first time get a balanced view of what schools are doing. It may also help settle Williams v. Californiabecause it will reveal the gross disparity between inner-city and suburban schools.
—Walt Gardner Los Angeles