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FTAA: The Need For Direct Action

In response to Mr. Esaki’s column from April 24 [“What the Protesters Demonstrate”]: he asks if it would not be better to change the system from within. Civil society has tried this mode of change over the last four years; NGOs and unions have submitted recommendations to the Free Trade Area of the Americas’ (FTAA) Committee of Government Representatives on the Participation of Civil Society. Their efforts have not resulted in any response from the committee. Effectively civil society has been shut out of participating from within. In addition, the three-meter-high fence erected in Quebec City serves as a visual reminder that the FTAA will be negotiated without attention to the voices of the people.

This leaves those opposed to the FTAA with no other option but to take to the streets and engage in direct action. Direct action has been an essential part of every successful movement for social change in the United States and the world. Two movements, the anti-colonial movement in India and the civil rights movement in the United States, used various forms of direct action to achieve their goals. Nonviolent direct action allows people to move toward a variety of goals, allowing them to take power back from their oppressors. It enables communities to overcome the dangerous fatalism evinced by Mr. Esaki’s blithe “c’est la vie” rhetoric by challenging and transforming the political, social and economic structures by which they are marginalized and oppressed.

Payal Parekh G

[LTE]ROTC Should Address Gender Issues [body]
As always, the big ROTC event last Friday once again drew attention to the ban on gays in the ROTC programs. Although personally I’m very accepting of homosexuality itself, I’ve understood the military’s argument that the presence of homosexuals and homosexual relationships might cause distractions and discomfort that would adversely affect performance.
Recently, however, I’ve wondered why this argument hasn’t been extended to women in the military. There have been several instances of romantic relationships between ROTC cadets. Undoubtedly such relationships cause awkwardness not unlike that allegedly caused by the presence of homosexuals. Even aside from such romantic involvement, many men simply don’t accept the modern role of women in the military.
Perhaps the answer is to get rid of all the women. On the other hand, maybe it would be better to get rid of all the men. Regardless, if the ROTC programs are really concerned with avoiding interpersonal problems between heterosexuals and homosexuals, they should also address issues involving men and women.

Robert Kochman ’02[sig]
[LTE]Leftists Disrupted Objectivist Lecture[body]
In her column “Foolishness Stalks the Halls of MIT” [April 27], NoÉmi Giszpenc misrepresented the events of April 19. She neglected to explain that she and others at the “Capitalism and the Environment” lecture (given by Richard Salsman and sponsored by the MIT Objectivist Club) disrupted parts of the lecture and most of the question and answer section. During the question and answer section, Mr. Salsman called on several of these people with the hopes of getting reasonable questions about the substance of his lecture. Unfortunately, what he received were tirades that contained no semblance of a question. Apparently these audience members did not understand the question and answer format. After several attempts to get these people to either ask a question or leave, the MIT Objectivist Club president saw it appropriate to call the Campus Police so that the question and answer section could continue. The police were not called to remove dissenters -- after many of the disrupting members of the audience left, several people who had reservations about Mr. Salsman’s speech were able to ask him questions -- but to stop certain parts of the audience from disrupting the lecture. Just as one doesn’t have the right to stand up in 6-120 during 7.28 lecture and spout off whatever comes to mind, one cannot disrupt a lecture given by anyone who officially reserves the lecture hall.
Giszpenc’s actions and distortion of the truth should not surprise anyone. The radical left is notorious for using force and untruths to further their agenda. Take for example the current “Living Wage” campaign at Harvard University. Instead of entering into rational discourse with the administration, the leftist PSLM has taken over a building at Harvard, violating the university’s property rights. Often times these groups use the symbol of the clenched fist to show the power of their movement. What message does this send? It sends the message that these groups are not willing to persuade others with reason, but want to beat agreement into them. Reason and rational discourse must be our only means of exchanging ideas if this is to be a free and civilized society. Whether it be trespassing on private property or purposefully disrupting a lecture, these cases of irrational behavior should not be tolerated, no matter what the message.[sig]
Michael M. Torrice ’02