I am writing to tell you about Chani Geigle-Teller. Though only 19, Chani is an American hero. But more than a hero, she is the most loving and gentle person I have ever known. Chani is extremely intelligent, active in her community and a devout believer in peace and nonviolence. She is the kind of person who will stand up against oppression and injustice in a loving, not hateful, way.
While many youth her age are going on with business as usual, Chani is preparing to go to Federal Court on July 8 in Columbus, Georgia. She is one of 43 defendants standing trial for her role in last November's national protest at School of the Americas (SOA). If convicted, she stands to serve up to 6 months in a federal penitentiary and/or pay up to a $5000 fine.
Why would a young woman such as Chani, with such a bright and promising future, risk it all to travel over 1,000 miles from her Oregon home to protest at a military base in Georgia?
If you know much about the SOA (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), you must already know the answer to the question. The SOA has been training human rights abusers for over 50 years. (For more information: www.soawatch.org).
What upsets me most about Chani's situation is that she stands to be jailed for exercising her freedom of speech, while many SOA graduates (implicated in beatings, kidnappings, murders and what should rightfully be called "terrorism") have never even been charged for their crimes!
Is this justice? We have an angel of peace speaking out for the silenced voices of the victimized AND yet she is the one who will be incarcerated for calling for an end to this violent foreign policy.
It would be one thing if Chani had destroyed property, interfered with the conduct of daily business, or injured someone in the course of her actions. But she did none of these things! All she did was state her opposition to a flawed policy.
Everyday I hear news about violent offenders, drug dealers, white collar criminals, deadbeat dads, and people charged with DWI who are NOT imprisoned. All of these people are charged with or guilty of crimes against people and/or property.
And yet Chani, who is guilty of nothing more than exercising her right of public dissent, is CERTAIN to be sentenced.
Readers of The Progressive Populist can help in three ways. 1) Publicly support any legislation that seeks to close the SOA; 2) Contact Chani at email@example.com to learn for yourself why she is such a special young woman; 3) Lobby the Federal Prosecutor either to drop the charges or recommend more appropriate sentencing. Tell him Chani is NOT a potential menace to society. .
We each have to pick and choose our battles in life and Chani needs you to choose this one. Let her know she doesn't stand alone.
Your opinion piece on Minnesota Greens and the Wellstone campaign ["Winning the Next War," 7/1/02 TPP] once again misses the whole point of the Green Party.
The Green Party is a political party. The job of political parties is to elect their people to office. They are not there to elect candidates from other parties to office.
I suspect that if Paul Wellstone had walked into that St. Cloud, Minn., convention hall on May 18 and said something to the effect of, "I know and you know we can't cross-party endorse in Minnesota. But if we could, I would ask for your endorsement," he might have gotten a "none of the above" endorsement. But, he didn't. His staff sent two low-level campaign aids to sow dissension and "work" the floor. This just made people mad. I don't blame Paul for this. I blame his staff. I'm sure he understands at this point that it was a mistake not to make an appearance.
I saw Paul this past weekend at the Minneapolis Juneteenth parade and festival. He cheered the Greens who marched (Ken Pentel for Governor, who finished 4th behind Ventura, Coleman, and Humphrey in '98, several legislative candidates and lots of volunteers), and we Green candidates, in turn, shook his hand and wished him good luck. At the festival, Greens and Wellstone workers (also ironically wearing green t-shirts) registered voters and got the word out. I'm sure we will run into him again and again as the summer turns to fall. Paul knows the score. Grassroots democracy is in his blood. He will do what he needs to do, and so will we.
Green Party Endorsed Candidate
State House Seat 58A
Is it possible that the editorial writers for The Progressive Populist still don't get it? Let's try it one more time. The Green Party is a political party. As a political party, the GP runs candidates for office on a local, state and national level. The GP is not affiliated in any way with any other political party. Your editorialists suggest ["Winning the Next War," 7/1/02 TPP] that "rather than go after Sen. Wellstone (who in addition to his other sins was one of the pack of liberal Democrats who viciously attacked Ralph Nader and the GP during the 2000 campaign) the Greens choose their fights better." The GP does not choose its fights. It competes for every seat on every level it possibly can considering its limited resources and numbers.
New York City
Editor's Note: We think progressive Democrats and Greens should be working together, not running against each other. We don't remember Wellstone attacking Nader in 2000. Instead, Wellstone was conciliatory before and after the election. Two weeks before the election, he said on the Oct. 24, 2000, PBS NewsHour he hoped Nader did well, but not well enough to help Bush get elected. After the election, Nader said he hoped his campaign would make people like Wellstone more influential within the Democratic Party.
I am treating myself to a Father's Day present by subscribing to The Progressive Populist. I like what you are doing here.
However, I have one gripe. Why are you running James Galbraith's tired canard, "Defending Democrats and Democracy" (6/15/02)? Galbraith calls his status as a progressive into question when he hauls out that old "Nader elected Bush" crap, claiming that "one man [Nader], more than any other single person, prevented [a Gore victory]." That is patent nonsense. At least it is arguable that Gore beat himself.
For many of us, the Democrats left us, we did not leave the Democratic Party. I am still a registered Democrat for the sole reason it allows me to vote in primaries. Betraying principle after principle, the Democratic Party left me long ago, lately at warp speed. I think it would take a tsunami to get me back.
There is nothing either progressive or populist about Galbraith's appeal to continue the support of Al Gore to meet "the only objective" of beating Bush, and it certainly isn't progressive to keep hauling out this old anti-Nader stuff.
Thanks for the article "Greens Challenge Wellstone" (by Ken Jerome-Stern, 7/1/02 TPP). It's even-handed and written in an objective tone. No snideness or hysteria. Too bad The Nation and ABC News can't report the news that well.
Green Party chair (and McGaa for Senate advisor)
I was disappointed to see Laura Flanders's article in your June15th issue ("A Darling's Tragic Flaw"), in which she writes off Dennis Kucinich's candidacy. I hope this does not reflect the thinking of your editors; it would be ironic if your publication hurt the chances of the only real "progressive populist" that we've seen in decades.
Ms. Flanders believes that Kucinich's stand on abortion (he's against partial birth abortion) disqualifies him. I disagree. There are many of us who count ourselves as feminists who have trouble with the abortion issue, especially late-term abortion. Kucinich's position on this issue could actually win him votes across the political spectrum.
With Dennis Kucinich, what you see is what you get. Ask the voters of Cleveland, who elected him their "boy mayor" back in the '70s. I can see his candidacy catching fire, as did Jimmy Carter's in '76. Like Carter, he is intelligent, has high moral standards and works like a dog for his constituency.
After another year or two of the arrogant but clueless Mr. Bush, the world might just be ready for a straight-shooter like Dennis.
Marilyn B. Girman
I appreciated the editorial on the Farm Bill in the 6/1/02 issue ["Farm bill compromise: Take what you can get"]. My family and I own a farm in Morgan County, Ala., and the farm bill is of extreme importance to us.
As one who has been politically active for a long time and who has sent small contributions to the progressive senators, I would like to give this suggestion to farmers: Obviously, money talks! If 300,000 farmers would sent $10 to three senators who are up for election and who are working in the interest of family farmers (i.e. Tom Harkin [D-Iowa]) that would mean one million dollars for each one.
Your timely editorial of June 15, 2002, which I just read, should stir us all to action. Is there any farmer and cannot send $10 to one senator, especially in view of the seriousness of the fight? I don't think so! To each family farmer, my advice is: form a group of like-minded people, locally, include non-farmers, send $10 checks, be sure the recipient knows that the family farmers intend to support only those who support them. We are not rich but there are hundreds of thousands of us.
Re: June 15 Letter to Editor ["Don't Like 'Populist']: When someone writes that those who dissent during these difficult times are un-American, they are no doubt ignorant of our country's history. We should be very worried about our country's future if we are not allowed to dissent. I am very worried!
Jim Cullen's "9/11 Coverup Questioned" [6/15/02 TPP] points out the problem (post-Sept. 11) that our civil liberties are under attack. One just has to recall the initial promises from President Bush and Attorney Generalissimo Ashcroft assuring that they would not allow basic rights and liberties to be eroded in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, yet they have nonetheless instituted a growing number of antiliberty measures that subvert our Constitution and threaten our democracy.
The unbridled powers given to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from relaxing restrictions against FBI spying against religious and political groups, to installing body-scanning equipment at our airports &emdash; that can expose a person's naked body &emdash; is very threatening. The past FBI spying and obstruction of justice, including such tactics as perjurious testimony and withholding of evidence, brings to mind an excellent example of FBI malfeasance and chicanery &emdash; the plight of American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier who has been incarcerated since 1977 presumably for the murders of two federal agents. My concern is this, if the prior restrictions imposed on the FBI are essentially repealed, pertaining to the conduct of agents, what safeguards (if any) would be in place protecting us from any civil liberty abuses committed, by the FBI against American citizens and legally registered residents under the guise of fighting terrorism?
As a concerned citizen ... who believes we can balance national security with preservation of our precious freedoms of speech and association, as well as our right to privacy, I can only applaud and continue to support organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that challenge these appalling attacks on our personal liberties and to The Progressive Populist in its dedicated coverage on these critical issues.
Dear Pres. Bush:
Today I read that Rumsfeld said that the USA is subject to vastly more deadly terrorist attacks than the Trade Towers. Does this really mean that we Americans are going to be subjected to the same terrorism the US has inflicted upon so many poor countries since WWII? 8 million victims. Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Bosnia, Iraq &emdash; including 2,000 camels and a million innocent children. How terrible for us!
However, I will sleep securely knowing you are at the helm, with the greatest mass destruction arsenal at your command. I do wish that you would wear a plumed hat, befitting your new status as Emperor of the Universe. It would be very becoming and assure the world: "Don't mess with us." Thanks for your concern in protecting all of us terrified citizens.
Alice Keiser Greth
Write: The Progressive Populist
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Austin, TX 78715-0517
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