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   Vol. 68/No. 34           September 21, 2004  
Letter to ‘Jackson Advocate’ from
backers of SWP ticket in Mississippi
Printed below is an August 22 letter to the editor of the Mississippi weekly the Jackson Advocate protesting the paper’s publication of an article attacking the Socialist Workers campaign in that state as a “deceptive” campaign of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that targets “vulnerable voters.” The letter is signed by four SWP campaign supporters from Tchula, Mississippi. The original Advocate article and a letter answering its red-baiting smears from SWP campaign director Norton Sandler can be found in the September 7 Militant.

Dear Editor,

We, the undersigned, are sending this letter to protest slanderous and false attacks by Barbara Harris, published in the August 5-11 edition, against the Socialist Workers campaign of Róger Calero for President and Arrin Hawkins for Vice-President of the United States. We are disappointed with the Advocate for printing this.

The most revealing fact about the article, which appeared on the front page of the Advocate, is its title, “Vulnerable Voters deceived by Socialist Workers Candidate.” The assertion that signers of the petition to get the socialist campaign on the ballot are vulnerable and deceived is not only arrogant, it reveals Harris’s clear bias against the socialist campaign. What is it that makes the 2,100 workers, farmers, and young people who signed the petition vulnerable or deceived? Is it the fact that they are workers, farmers, and young people, or are they vulnerable because Ms. Harris disagrees with their right to expand the political debate?

Harris’s article is not good reporting. Thousands of copies of the campaign leaflet were distributed to signers of the petitions all over the state. Campaign information was sent to the Jackson Advocate as well as other newspapers in Mississippi. The leaflets included a biography of each candidate, including their ages and where they come from. The Socialist Workers candidates are representative of the working class today. The literature also contained some of the key planks of the Socialist Workers platform. Instead of using this material Harris makes it seem like the only way she could find out facts about the campaign was by contacting the FBI (hardly a friend of workers and farmers) as well as other unnamed sources.

The method used by Harris is called red-baiting. Instead of raising her differences with the socialist campaign, Harris pretends there is some sinister unnamed conspiracy taking place. What is her proof? Harris states that the campaign “claims to support raising the minimum wage to union scale, a very popular issue with the working class and those entering the workforce.” In short, merely raising demands that working people need and want is suspect.

If Harris wants to inform the workers, farmers, and young people of Mississippi she would be better served to broaden the debate in politics, not limit it to the choice between Democrats and Republicans. No matter whom they choose to vote for, the 2,100 people who signed petitions giving the socialist candidates the right to ballot status did so because they want a real discussion of the problems facing working people.

Workers and farmers need a higher minimum wage. We need to stop farm foreclosures, defend affirmative action, demand a federally funded public works program to put millions to work at union scale, and we need the U.S. out of Iraq immediately. These demands are not out of order for a national election campaign. Yet they are not being discussed by either the Democratic or Republican candidates. We think that they are ideas that working people must discuss.

Barbara Bell
Joann Hogan
R.C. Howard
David Howard

Related articles:
Mississippi: Socialist Workers beat back red-baiting attack
SWP ticket also on ballot in Louisiana

Socialists campaign in Alabama mill town  
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