Freedom Socialist Letters to the editor December 2015

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Success for revolution

So far Trotsky is convincing me all the more of what he kept reiterating in The History of the Russian Revolution and in The Transitional Program. A militant, action-oriented party deeply grounded in Marxist principles is essential for the success of a revolution.

It all makes me grateful to the FSP staff. You are steeped in a lineage of knowledge from Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Cannon, and Fraser and are passing that on to the rest of us, giving us a compass to steer through confusing times.

William Hathaway, Oldenburg, Germany


Criminalizing students

Shame on the principal of Spring Valley High School, South Carolina, and shame on every school district that gives a gun-carrying police officer the authority to “discipline“ young people while in school.

One need only see the video footage to know that school security officer Ben Fields, known as “Officer Slam,” launched a vicious assault on a female student that was a violation of her civil rights and a reminder of the centuries-long brutalization of Black women in this country.

This is extremely serious in itself, not to mention her arrest and the arrest of the student who took the video — all while Mr. Fields faces no charges. Talk about adding insult to injury!

The role of the school’s administration, members of whom witnessed the attack, and the socio-economic system itself need to be examined.

As a retired Newark public school teacher and activist in the fight to save public education, I have seen the drastic change in how students are viewed under the corporate reform agenda. In order to get high test scores, school district leaders want scripted rote learning instead of critical thinkers in their classrooms.

Excessive funding has been poured into testing, and schools have been stripped bare of enrichment activities. The State of New Jersey has controlled the Newark school system for 20 years, fostering an economic inequality apartheid-type system that makes both students and teachers feel like they are in prison.

Gone are the neighborhood community schools that once educated their parents. The proliferation of police in our schools and incidents like the one in Spring Valley are in-your-face signs of the school-to-prison pipeline.

In the U.S., public schools are portrayed as the means to make economic opportunity available to all, but in reality they are being used to indoctrinate the future work force. Is this forced march of quiet and compliant learners what the future of capitalism wants? I think so!

The corporate ruling class today is funding mass incarceration and constant war at record levels. As the capitalist economy struggles to survive, its rulers are fearful that the enriched social justice curriculum pushed by brave and innovative teachers may tell the truth about how racism and sexism prop up capitalism.

They also fear the students who are exposed to this curriculum because they may become critical thinkers who will rebel and fight for a better world. In Newark, we are lucky to witness the determined leadership of the Newark Student Union.

Betty Maloney, AFT Local 481 retiree, Newark, N.J.


She is missed

I was very saddened by the passing of Heidi Durham and attended a memorial for her on October 11 in Seattle.

I was a shop steward in Local 17, Professional & Technical Employees, for many of the years Heidi worked at Seattle City Light. I greatly admired Heidi’s courage.

She was a pioneering Electrical Trades Trainee (ETT) in the first program of its type at a large public utility. Heidi and her fellow workers were harassed and even fired en masse at one point, but they won their jobs back. Heidi was a plain-spoken feminist who supported EVERY labor and feminist cause. She was also an internationalist.

She often spoke of the wisdom she learned from the great socialist feminist leader Clara Fraser. Heidi fought for affirmative action and comparable worth. When Clara Fraser was fired by Seattle City Light, Heidi became an integral part of the fight that ultimately resulted in Fraser’s reinstatement with back pay.

Heidi fell off a pole and broke her back at one point. She was told she would never walk again. Perhaps with that statement as her motivation, she walked out of the hospital with the aid of a cane! “Mighty” Heidi then became an advocate for those who are differently-abled.

I worked with Heidi in the Committee for Equal Rights at City Light (CERCL). It cut across union and classification lines and rallied city employees against discrimination (including political ideology discrimination), for affirmative action, for comparable worth, as only a few examples. CERCL also helped individual workers who had trouble with the notoriously bad managers at Seattle City Light.

Heidi was a good listener and such a live wire; it is difficult to believe she is gone. She was a tireless and self-less organizer. She enriched the lives of countless working class people.

Larry Works, Seattle

Letter to Heidi

I don’t expect you to remember me now.

      I left a long time ago.

You let me go, gracefully, without fixing blame.

      Perhaps you thought it was best for all.

I’m walking with canes now, too. And there’s

      not much chance these days we could sit

and talk about how we’re feeling.


I watched you on your fifty-seventh birthday,

      head thrown back in a hearty laugh,

the woman who rose up from a broken back

      on the job to walk again, who fought

to make them take you back at work, a woman

      who could feel the grit under her nails

and the old scars, as she talked sense to anyone.


No matter now if you have to stop mid-sentence,

      if your train of thought has turned the corner

ahead of you, taking with it your next word,

      or you look at me with a smile and eyes

that know I’m not of your inner circle,

      and don’t recognize where my face

and voice saying, Hi, have come from…


You’re still the sister among sisters

      who charted maps for where and how to go,

who spoke from the podiums or the crowds

      with a big voice built to last,

who imposed upon the status quo, to plot —

      beyond repose — new degrees in the angles

of history, so many of us on your shoulders.


Joanne Ward, union sister and friend


Last issue’s article “Why ignoring the KKK sends the wrong message” reported that due to organizing in Washington state “there hasn’t been a whie supremacist demonstration in years.” However, there have been incidents of far-rioght racist and anti-gay violence, and skinheads in Olympia, Wash., have openly organized.

The FS welcomes your feedback and opinions. Letters may be edited for length. Please write to 5018 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118, or

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