I want to ask Chris Peterson, the author of the article you published about the Communist Party (“Sleeper Cell,” 11/11), three questions. I believe Peterson might have written a more serious piece had he dealt with some real questions facing our society:
1. In his view, does the system we live under work?
2. How do things change?
3. What is his personal responsibility for helping to change the world, for making the world a better place in which to live?
To most members of our society, it seems that we live in a world devoid of politics, except perhaps during election campaigns, but to me, politics is the stuff of real life. Slavery in the United States was abolished in 1865, and now everything is fine, right? At present, there is full employment, and everybody earns a livable wage that enables people to eat a good diet and to visit the doctor when someone in the family is ill, and is well treated on the job. All the children go to decent schools that enable them to get jobs that will provide an adequate living when they become adults. This dream fantasy has turned into a dreadful nightmare.
To me, most of our world today is ruled by wealthy men who never seem to have enough for themselves. In pursuit of endless riches for the already wealthy, the president of our country has started an aggressive war to gain control of Iraq’s oil resources. The war already has killed more than 2,000 Americans and well over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilian men, women, and children who were living under U.S. bombs. Our government is full of greedy liars who have taken us into a dangerous war.
Our press is corrupt and prints a torrent of mostly pro-war propaganda. It delivers the message that there is no alternative to the present system of enormous disparities of wealth for a few and poverty for most of the rest of us. It lies about not only the real condition of the people in our own country, but the condition of people living in such places as Cuba and Venezuela, where governments act in the interests of ordinary people and not the wealthy. Peterson might have dealt with why our betters treat these countries as the enemy.
The world contains billions of people living in privation, but the article in the Washington City Paper sarcastically mocked the members of the Communist Party who are searching for ways to ameliorate the conditions of the people of the world. The author offered no suggestions of his own to support that goal. In addition, I could find no reference to the actual views of the people he interviewed.
In a nation rife with poverty, racism, and too many other ills to merely list, it is everybody’s responsibility to work to solve the many problems facing our own people and the people in the other nations of the world. Despite the difficulties, the struggle continues to improve our lot, and members of the Communist Party are part of that struggle. We and millions of others have not only succeeded in ending slavery, but have also brought us the eight-hour day, votes for women, laws that forbid starvation wages, and guaranteed decent housing and schools for many of our people. These goals were reached because people have no choice but to continue to work for a decent life in the face of numerous difficulties. There is no place for either pessimism or cynicism in this effort.
Peterson would have contributed to those efforts if he had dealt more respectfully with those working in that direction. Instead, he wrote an article preaching about the futility of our efforts, not searching for a way forward. I hope he will write articles in the future that add to that struggle instead of disparaging it.
Silver Spring, Md.