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Thoughts on Al Fishman's passing and more

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Rest in peace

Kudos to Jack Lessenbary for his tribute to a most extraordinary local citizen, Al Fishman ("Farewell to a hero," May 25).

Al's sudden death earlier this month was a stunning blow to the countless men and women who tried to keep up with him in his devoted commitment to peace with justice, to human rights and in the ongoing struggle against racism.

Al outpaced us all, but he was a model for many, including this writer, and Jack caught his essence very well indeed. —Rudy Simons, Berkley


Don't discount the reds!

Jack Lessenberry's otherwise fine tribute to Al Fishman is marred by the impression that the reader is left with concerning the Communist Party. As an activist for peace and justice in Detroit for many years, Al was my friend and mentor. I was another who left the Communist Party in 1992 and founded, along with Al, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). Al continued as a member of CCDS and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) until his death, which leads to a very important fact not understood in Lessenberry's description of Al — his deep concern for the unity of left and progressive people in the fight against a powerful far-right wing concentrated in the corporate, military-industrial complex.

Al participated in the July 2009 national convention of CCDS in San Francisco, which featured a discussion on strategy for building a "progressive majority" — a majority that a few months later elected the country's first African-American president. Leaders of the Communist Party and DSA participated as invited guests in these discussions as an expression of the need for left unity. Al encouraged such developments and did so until he died. He felt as I do that members of the Communist Party are some of the most stalwart defenders of peace, justice, equality and democracy. Al was dedicated to the proposition that socialist and communist organizations have an important role to play in society — they bring clarity on the fundamental problems we face and the need for a socialist, i.e., people-centered, response to the immense concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few.

Al Fishman worked his entire life in these vineyards. His legacy must include this important history. —Pat Fry, National Co-Chair, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, New York, N.Y.


Small acts matter too

I didn't know Al Fishman, so I won't quibble with Jack Lessenberry's fond recollections of him. I do know, however, that what we like to call selflessness in the name of a cause larger than ourselves is often just our smallness brushing up against the great issues of the day to make us feel larger — if only by association. For someone accustomed to the ego-gratifying perks of his field, Lessenberry would naturally be impressed by this type of activism.

I couldn't help wondering, though, how many old folks in nursing homes were, literally, dying for some human contact while Fishman was melodramatically marching with one of his "Bombs are Bad" placards. Did he really think that the politicians with ice water in their veins would suddenly be moved by his exhortations, however heartfelt they might have been?

Mother Teresa, still the standard for pride-swallowers in my book, got it so right because she knew that "giving" isn't about hitting home runs. It's about the singles and doubles and well-placed bunts. The motivation behind life's little, unchronicled works of humanity is usually much purer. —Todd Steven Kindred, Livonia


Reagan Democrats deserve what they get

Re: "Snyder house rules" (May 18), I read Jack Lessenberry every week, but this time he is wrong. Well maybe somewhat.

I agree. Snyder is Snydly Whiplash. Raise taxes, yes: Tax those of us still employed and making $200,00 a year and more at a higher rate. Do not make the business tax breaks so lucrative, and tie them to hiring. Raising beer, liquor and cigarette taxes is prudent logic. Raise the sales tax to 6.5 percent on everything.

However the issue is moral, not monetary. It is a power grab. The focus on redistricting and breaking unions is all about the Republicans running the table. As most patriotic and idiotic Michigan residents hurry to the Barcalounger to put on cable, they still think they are Republicans or Reagan Democrats. Most are now seeing that after W. that they ain't, but they still went out and voted for Snydly. They are getting what they deserve and, as stupid as they are, will certainly still be influenced by the dream that they too can become CEOs

Most Republicans say that they are concerned for their grandchildren. Yet they are fooled into thinking that reducing the deficit is good for their heirs. Their kids will all be working harder for less, living a worse lifestyle with no safety net and eating mac and cheese. Thanks, Grandpa and Grandma. Stick it up your you-know-where, go to the casino, and spend the rest of my legacy. You built this country on unions and collective bargaining and now only care about what is good for you, as you say they have outlived their use. Wise up! —Gary Kuszpit, Macomb Twp.


Erratum:
In response to "Extreme makeover" (May 18), about the Jacket for Jobs program, board secretary and career wardrobe director Betty Henderson disputed the observation that most students in a class were in their teens or early 20s. Henderson said the program accepts only students ages 19 and older, and that most are in their late 20s or early 30s.

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