[Marxism] Not so gullible - but very feisty!!!!

John Obrien causecollector at msn.com
Fri Jun 18 09:03:50 MDT 2004


Jose,

I would like to mention your comments about my "gullibility in believing propaganda against Cuba from Gusano and imperialist media cartel".  I will keep this short - and try to be friendly in my points:

1 - There is a difference between Cuba, the Cuban People and the Cuban government.  I think this was a point comrade Melvin was recently correctly making about China and the Chinese government issue, which you yourself allude to in this same email!!!  

2 - My differences are with the Cuban government leadership's refusal to take heterosexism seriously and aid homophobia in many ways.  I am not against the Cuban people, the land of Cuba, or the efforts to have an anti-imperialist, socialist society.  My points are to include Cuban Gays and Lesbians as real partners and equal citizens in the fight against Imperialism and for building a Socialist Society in Cuba that is a model for people around the world to be more proud of.

3 - G W Bush is denouncing the Islamic government of Iran - does that mean I have to give support to a Left Unity Conference to be held there too?  While the Cuban government is far better politically, than the Iranian government - can I not have a right to speak up for Gays and Lesbians in both of these countries and elsewhere?  

4 - "Unity" to me means "all of us coming together united".  The problem is "All of Us" - in my thinking means including Gays and Lesbians.  I do not think (or hope!) that some of the comrades who bristle at my points in their first reaction, are wanting to have Gays and Lesbians treated badly. 

5 -I just think it is painful to realize that for instance the Cuban government joins with the US Government and the Islamic governments objections to deny the seating of the International Lesbian and Gay Association at the UN.  Recently the Brazil government motion to raise the issue of Gay & Lesbian rights was shelved - and do the informed comrades who know so much about Gays and the Cuban government, as they claim - know what the Cuban government did to promote this motion or actually oppose it?

6 - As an internationalist, I believe we must hold accountable governments for what they do, or do not do, or their failure to speak out on when there is injustice.  The U. S. government has ties with and funds many horrible homophobic governments.  The Democratic and Republican Party both refuse to consider the rights of Gays and Lesbians in many countries to be "an important issue".  Sadly this view is also held by some leftists.  The Cuban government has ties with extreme homophobic governments and does nothing to raise issues about the situation of brutality against Gays and Lesbians (or really care in my opinion!)  There are ways to raise issues and support - it is done regularly on many issues "that are important" - but Gay and Lesbian lives are not that important to many - sadly!

7 -While racism is less condoned these days (fortunately!) - homophobia is not challenged and heterosexism is still in full bloom.  This is what my concerns are partly based on.  As many on this list know, racism and sexism have been ignored or denied for years by "progressive people" who want to be considered "progressive people".  The amount of work and struggle on this - has made it easier for People of Color and Women to raise the problems around this in more recent times - [in my opinion comrade Melvin (who I do not share political agreement on many things!) was correctly pointing this out in trying to raise some consciousness on the issue of China and the Chinese government and Chinese people being different things.  But I am also certain that comrade David Walters really was not that backward and just made a mistake on writing, which it would have been better to fess up to - and end the issue that was not really defendable.  We all make such mistakes in this not perfect world we are trying to all grow and learn in.

8 - To those who do not believe that Gays and Lesbians are truly equal people - I see it easy for them to dismiss me and to not believe I have much deep political thought, knowledge to share, analytical ability or true commitment - because I am Gay.  After all "you know those people are just not interested in political struggle and are just immersed in bourgeois thought".  However, heterosexism like all 'isms' gives prejudice to "assumed understandings" and therefore "what does he know about Cuba and the Cuban government!!!!  

Comrades the plight of Gays and Lesbians has been of great interest to me and I would suspect that many others on this list have given far less thought or concern to how Gays and Lesbians are treated and encouraged in Cuba and in many other countries - "because these are lesser important people".   So why not ask - maybe I have something valid to say on this - since it is my knowledge and experience and maybe my points have some validity. Sure you can disagree, fine but at least I should be allowed to speak and offer a different view to consider - and not be dismissed outright by those who do not walk in my shoes and have not seen what I have.

Maybe some of us have some knowledge ourselves? People are at different levels of consciousness on different issues.  I have learned that people who say they know everything - really know very little.  The people who actually know a great deal recognize how little they really do know and still need to learn.  There is a history, it is there - it is up to people to see beyond some films and know what is truly happening - or one day more rude shocks and assumptions will come crashing down around some.  

Let us agree to disagree and find where we have unity to work together - but do not dismiss my point that real unity means all - not just non-Gay identified males.

John O'Brien
Los Angeles
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jose G. Perez 
  To: 'Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition' 
  Cc: Waistline2 at aol.com 
  Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 4:48 AM
  Subject: [Marxism] White chauvinism and the list


  Louis Proyect wrote: "Melvin, I am unsubbing you per your request. You
  are of course welcome back any time. I consider you a highly valued
  member of the list, but I simply can't allow one subscriber to accuse
  another of white chauvinism. If you can refrain from such
  characterizations, you may resub at any time."

  I think Melvin's objection to what was said by David was quite right. 

  It may seem clear to Louis that when people say "Cuba" did this or
  "China" did that, they mean the government. What is clear to me is that
  they're adopting such usages from the bourgeois imperialist white
  supremacist media, and not *just* the turn of phrase, but content, too.

  Perhaps Melvin's was overly vigorous in pointing this out. But his
  underlying point, on the influence of white supremacist habits of
  thought and language, is extremely important. It plays, at least in my
  view, a lot more of a role in our discussions than may be apparent at
  first blush.

  For example, I know John O'Brien didn't mean it this way. And I am not
  going to flame him about his gullibility in believing propaganda against
  Cuba from gusanos and imperialist media cartels. But you know, when
  comrade --was it Jack Vogel?-- half jokingly suggested making Havana the
  venue for a U.S. socialist unity conference, John couldn't help himself
  but cry bloody murder at the suggestion. 

  Now let us consider the context. The Bush administration is stepping up
  its attacks on Cuba and the Kerry campaign denounces this as just
  election year pandering, promising that he, Kerry, would be tough on
  Castro 24 X 7 X 365. In this context, comrade O'Brien says boycott
  Havana but winds up his post with the slogan, "On to Washington." I do
  believe that more is involved here than simply being misinformed. I
  believe it is fair to say at the very least that the comrade wasn't
  careful to make sure that his position could not be misinterpreted as
  having been, however unconsciously, affected by imperialist and white
  supremacist pressure.

  Because, frankly, in terms of the government's attitude towards gays,
  Havana is a much more suitable venue for the conference than Washington.
  Isn't that the truth? At some point the reasons why lying propaganda
  against Third World countries and governments gets more credibility than
  the real facts about white supremacist imperialist countries and
  governments has got to be confronted on the left and on this list.

  Right now there's a lot of white racist "yellow peril"
  pseudo-environmental crap floating around the imperialist media. Oil
  prices are rising because of growing Chinese demand. The United States,
  which is 5% of the world's population accounts for 25% of oil
  consumption, whereas China, which is 25% of the human race, accounts for
  little more than 5% of oil consumption and the problem is, of course,
  China.

  Because a tiny, mostly white minority driving around in 3-ton hummers
  that get 9 miles to the gallon is perfectly sustainable for many
  decades, but 1.26 billion Chinese having something a little better than
  shoe leather to get around on is an unsustainable natural catastrophe.

  I think Louis's stance on this is a *political mistake.*  Much more is
  involved than comity and civility, essential as those may be to the
  functioning of a list like this. 

  Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room, as a friend of mine
  in Atlanta, a sometimes lurker on this list, likes to say, but it is
  there nonetheless.

  José






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