December 2011, Week 3


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Mon, 19 Dec 2011 22:12:52 -0500
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Reader's Responses Dec. 19, 2011

* Reply to submission by Michael Dover
* Re Zirin's Column: Violence in Sports (Bill Shortell)
* Re: Mayors Decry Rise in Poverty, Homelessness (Tina
* Re: The Making of the American 99%, the Collapse of the
  Middle Class, and the Fall of the "Liberal Elite" (Laurel
* Be Filled With the Spirit, Storefront Churches - new DVD
  now available - photographed by noted social documentary
  photographer, Milton Rogovin
* Re: The Origins of Bullying (Jamillah Richards, Wayne


*Reply to submission by Michael Dover
Date:  	Mon, 19 Dec 2011 
From:  	James A. Lucas

I would like to offer a perspective which may differ
with some of the points made by Michael Dover regarding
wars.  The U.S. is an imperialist power which serves
the same economic interests as those which the Occupy
Wall Street movement refers to as the 1%.  From the end
of World War II until the demise of the Soviet Union
the American public was indoctrinated with a fear of
the mostly illusory ogre of communism which helped the
U.S. build up its immense military establishment,
thereby deflecting much our nation’s financial wealth
from needed social programs for our people so that wars
of aggression could be waged against Panama, Grenada,
Iraq, Yugoslavia, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam,
Cuba, Dominican Republic, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.
Being a retired social worker, I recall how social 
programs here in the U.S. were cut during that era to
help finance those attacks and invasions.

In the course of those years we  also tried to
overthrow over 50 foreign governments and today we have
about 1,000 military bases in over 100 nations.

These events which caused millions of deaths (of which
about 2 million were in Iraq during two wars and 3
million in Vietnam) plus the U.S. siding with the State
of Israel in its oppression of the Palestinians has
caused much anger in the world toward us, however the
American public is in mass denial of the fact that this
history is the main reason for terrorism directed
toward the U.S., the world’s leading disseminator of
terrorism. Today the fear of terrorism has replaced the
fear of communism.


* Response to Zirin's Column: Violence in Sports

David Zirin, to my knowledge, the master of race and class
analysis of sports, opened a philosophical box in his column
on the Cincinnati basketball brawl:

Do organized sports, especially the contact variety, hockey,
American football, and basketball, in descending violent
order, channel the millions-of-years'-old male tendency to
war and private violence into a regularized, officiated
form, which allows these tendencies to be slowly diffused?
Or, conversely, are these sports a celebration of brutality,
which perpetuates a propensity that has outlived its socio-
economic usefulness?

I leave out of the discussion violent professional driving,
which is fueled by blood lust, and boxing, whose slow
disappearance seems to be a sign of the growth of

Human economy and national conflict used to require numbers
of big, strong boys who hoisted loads in times of peace, and
alternately defended their countries or attacked others in
hand-to-hand combat. They also beat their wives and battered
their brothers as their testosterone overflowed at
inappropriate moments. This last form of brutality is still

But now, wars are fought increasingly by remotely guided
drones and missiles. Automation, mechanization,
computerization has taken most of the muscle out of work.
Yet our gene pool keeps turning out the brawny boys. A lot
of them find their way into organized sports where their
economically and militarily obsolete bodies still serve a
purpose...to entertain fans, mostly men, who unconsciously
mourn the disappearance of the male world, and attempt to
reproduce it in allegorical arenas suffused with mass
hysteria, fogged and stimulated with alcohol.

My fear is that the former diffusing character of sports is
being gradually replaced by the encouragement of violence.
This is because, I believe, the male manual labor jobs,
manufacturing and construction, are disappearing from this
country. We have also deep racial frustrations of peoples
who are kept from other modes of employment and penned in

Add to this gory recipe the massive ego of coaches and the
economic motivations of university administrators, and
advertising executives. The sorrowful spectacle in
Cincinnati will probably multiply until we consciously take
in hand the repressed problems of the sports world.

Bill Shortell


* Re: Mayors Decry Rise in Poverty, Homelessness

The mayors need to quit whining about homelessness and look
at their own phony solutions.

Most housing programs discriminate against the homeless in
favor of people already housed.  In fact, people with
incomes far above the poverty level are most likely to
"qualify" for publicly funded housing.  Far too much of the
money that is supposed to go for housing is wasted on so-
called counseling, which consists of handing out contact
info for agencies that, if they exist at all, frequently do
not offer the services that are needed or do not provide any
services to the populations that receive the referrals.
Most of the homeless people I've met see these "services" as
a scam, designed to make money for profiteers, at the
expense of donors, taxpayers, and the needy.  We call it the
"homeless industrial complex."

A study by Denver's Road Home found that the three leading
causes of homelessness are job loss, the high cost of
housing, and family break-up.  Each of these three reasons,
individually, was shown to be more prevalent as a cause of
homelessness than all other factors, combined.  Most
homeless are not mentally ill or substance abusers.  The
fastest growing demographic group among the homeless is now
mothers with children.

Homeless people need housing, not shelters or intrusive
supervision.  Anybody who can't figure that out is not
qualified to make decisions that affect other people's

Tina Braxton (homeless 2004-2010)
Denver, Colorado


* Re: The Making of the American 99%, the Collapse of the
Middle Class, and the Fall of the "Liberal Elite"

These are very interesting if depressing articles. The
question is how to push back the conservative right, which
has been responsible for retrogressive policies for years? I
took the point on one level that people in the streets can
inhibit the right wing agenda. But I still return to another
idea, particularly in an election year, and that is that you
need new elected people who represent the 99%. So the Occupy
movement needs to move in from the parks and working with
trade unionists needs to push the political agenda and get
new people in. When is the last time you heard a politician
use the language of service, the public interest, of
accountability and democracy? A long time ago I bet, because
most politicians today are out for themselves and either
believe what the lobbyists tell them or are paid lackeys. So
that situation has to change. You have to re-invent genuine
representative government 'of the people, by the people and
for the people.' I think it is time and that people will
respond. More importantly it should work against a
Republican presidential candidate, and it should give
President Obama more backbone. At the moment he is under
constant pressure - look at the Keystone pipeline situation.
So a social movement is great but associated political
action is essential to change the direction of the country,
which is sorely needed not only to boost the economy but for
social and democratic reasons.

Laurel MacDowell


* Be Filled With the Spirit, Storefront Churches - new DVD
now available

www.miltonrogovin.com/be-filled-with-spirit> is a new DVD--a
dynamic look into the traditions of the storefront churches
as photographed by noted social documentary photographer,
Milton Rogovin.

Encouraged by sociologist Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, Milton Rogovin
photographed the storefront churches of Buffalo, New York
for three years. The images are filled with the movement and
expression of worship. With music and preaching recorded at
the services, the energy of  Rogovin's photographs come to

The words in the film by Du Bois are taken from the
introduction that he wrote for Rogovin for the magazine
Aperture (1962). Featured are interviews with Milton Rogovin
and Alton B. Pollard III, Dean of Howard University School
of Divinity.  Be Filled With the Spirit will draw you into
the storefront churches and leave you wanting more.

Milton Rogovin is a world renown photographer who focused
his lens on the poor and working people in ten nations.
Rogovin is best known for his dignified images of everyday
people at work and at home, and families he revisited over
30 years.

This DVD is available for $15. on the Rogovin website. For
more information on the photography of Milton Rogovin,
please visit his website at: www.miltonrogovin.com


* Re: The Origins of Bullying

I don't know the stats on suicide induced by bullying, say
10 or 20 years ago, but I am certain that it is cultural. I
think that culture determines the varying degrees of
bullying as it strongly influences a person's dominate
personality trait. I am not negating the role evolution
plays but this article diminishes the influence of human
exposure to environmental violence.

Jamillah Richards


This article is mostly pseudo science that serves the
interests of the biological determinists and conservative
social/govt policies.  I assume this is NOT the viewpoint of
portside editors.

The logical and evolutionary arguments Sherrow employs has
been debunked by S. J. Gould, Kamin, Rosen, at al.  Bullying
is a social, not a genetic problem.  Same applies to say
male supremacy or racism.  If we were to follow Sherrow's
argument however, male supremacy, like bullying is inherited
from our ancestors. We know this not true.

thanks for your work,

Wayne Nealis



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