Letters to the Editor
Published: December 21, 2011
Thank you for Curt Guyette's informative article "Occupy: On the move" (Dec. 7). It was a much-needed overview of the movement and its plans for the future.
The movement has accomplished what many of us have been waiting for: a presence of protest on the national scene, a raising of awareness of the cruelty of inequality, and an effective, inclusive means of struggle that brings about a better life for all of us. These young (and most of them are young) people have put their lives on the line, risking bodily harm from the instruments of power to do all this. But they have brought into the conversation on TV, on the Internet and in living room discussions words like "occupy" and "1 percent," forcing us to think about the inequities of the capitalist system — something many of us in the older generation have been trying to do for decades.
Many have criticized the movement for not having a unified message. But as Greece's George Papandreou has recently said, they "are saying something very, very specific. That inequality, in the end, is an inequality of power and we need to redistribute power, not just money." The occupiers have risen to show us that. Now no one has to ask me what my "99 percent" button means. And that is a marvel.
But the words capitalism and socialism — they must be brought into living room conversations too. "The system" is far too vague. It was a catchword in the '60s, and I, for one, never questioned its meaning. But now we need to call it what it is. The capitalist system is broken and we must look for a more equitable system — socialism, anarchism (the people will decide) — to fix it. For starters, we might even want to take a look at our own U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. —Suzanne Antisdel, Detroit
Curt Guyette's cover story on the next phases of Occupy Detroit is flat-out awesome journalism. (Full disclosure: I'm part of the Occupy Detroit legal team.)
This piece accomplishes at least two vital things I personally haven't encountered.
First, it places the focus not on tents in public space or police brutality or ideological debates, but directly on an oft-neglected and absolutely crucial longer-term question: How could this global revolutionary uprising potentially become an integral part of the social and political fabric of life in a town like Detroit?
Second, it describes what Occupy Detroit's innovations and deliberations look, feel and sound like, to an extent that unites "the personal and the political" and makes it readily understandable to anyone who cares to. —Thomas Stephens, National Lawyers Guild, Occupy Detroit Legal, Detroit
It's time for a constitutional convention. The Occupy movement and the rest of us should rewrite the law to address the endemic problems of our political system, and to reaffirm and strengthen the Bill of Rights for human (not corporate) persons. If two-thirds of the state legislatures call for a convention, it has to happen. This could be done with a ballot proposal in state elections: "Should the legislature petition Congress for a Constitutional convention pursuant to Article V of the U.S. Constitution?" To ensure the convention truly represents the people the proposal must specify the way delegates are selected.
The usual objections to this course are that the ordinary people are too stupid to come up with a decent Constitution, and that government and business would be crippled by the uncertainty of having a new constitution in the works. The Occupy movement gives the lie to the first. As for the second, new laws always specify a date they go into effect, such that everyone can transition into compliance. In the meantime, I'm sure corporations will be more than happy to churn on as usual for as long as possible. —Jennifer Gariepy, Warren
Don't lump us in
Re: Jack Lessenberry's "How to deal with Troy" (Dec. 7), Troy Mayor Janice Daniels is no more representative of all white-bread Troy residents than the infamous Kwame Kilpatrick reflects all black Detroiters. In both cases, many people appear to have voted unwisely. Perhaps you need to be reminded that each and every person deserves to be judged on his or her individual merits, and not as members of generic ethnic, racial or residential groups. No one should be stereotyped in this way. —Elizabeth Breneau, Ferndale
The fall of Troy
Jack Lessenberry hit the nail on the head about Troy's mayor, who has since apologized for her slur (but only because she was pressured). I was shocked when Janice Daniels was elected. I sure didn't vote for her. I've lived in Troy 12 years now, one of the few lonely liberals, and yet continue to be surprised at the majority of the voters here. We sure deserve the national shame we've achieved (the mayor story made CNN.com). Sounds like our new mayor is also against building the new transit center, even though it will be federally funded.
I've walked my neighborhood handing out information about saving the library, only to be told, "I paid enough taxes while my kids were going to school. I'm done." I volunteer at the city's 100-acre nature center, which voters didn't care about enough to fund anymore, turning responsibility over to a new nonprofit that is desperately trying to keep the building open with donations. My husband and I go for walks on summer evenings, strolling the wide well-kept sidewalks outside huge homes, and seldom meet another person because everyone's indoors watching their big-screen TVs. I'd like to support my city by dining out here, but Troy's many steakhouses do nothing to tempt my vegetarian palate. Nor do I spend any money at Somerset, instead frequenting resale and consignment stores in neighboring cities.
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