To my relatives

I have to write you. The country is divided, and families are divided over very profound issues. Do we let these divisions stand?

I say we owe it to each other and the world to try to understand the other. This is no time to agree to disagree. Not while iraqi civilians are dying, while the environment is being ravaged, while economic policies are causing death and suffering to billions, including bringing deprivation to millions at home.

You may have heard of a half million protesers in NYC the day before the RNC. You may have heard it was “tens of thousands.” (Technically true: FIFTY tens of thousands.) Why this fact was misrepresented to you is for you to figure out. But conversely, why would anyone want to exaggerate it?

Do you doubt the 500,000 figure? And do you think those protesters were out there on some kind of ego trip? Some kind of adventure to mix it up with the cops? Do you doubt that those social conscious political groups, labor unions, health care activists, civil rights advocates, students and seniors, were out there on the streets for delusional reasons?

Think back about what we know know about Vietnam. Think about those who protested the war. From the very beginning didn’t they prove to be right? Wouldn’t we all have wished to have been on their side?

Have you seen any protesters who’ve turned out to be wrong? Lynch mobs perhaps, or the KKK or other moral supremists I suppose. But mass protests led by students and social reformers, have been about progressive causes now fully embraced by their opponents.

Think of the causes: for the abolition of slavery, for women’s right to vote, for the rights of workers, for civil rights, and against things like colonialism, like apartheid, like the tanks in Tieneman Square, like the Berlin Wall. When students and intellectuals protest, it’s usually against really bad things.

These days all over the world the protests are against totalitarian oppression by way of war and trade, against corporate malfeasance, against environmental devastation.

(To be continued.)

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