I echo Paula's remark thanking radman for sending along the highly relevant post of Angela Davis' speech on 'the color of violence against women.' Given the continuing relevance of concern about violence of all types in our culture, I'm passing along the following znet posting from Margaret Randall on 'rage' in our culture, and some of its (other?) underlying causes --not meaning to make the direct connection between this rage and violence against women, but between the growing potential for violence in a culture of massive powerlessness and meaningless politics --the very opposite of some of the 60s zeitgeist. Ted Morgan Finally, if you pass this comment along to others -- something you can do periodically but not repeatedly, please -- please remove the above material and include instead a personal explanation that explains that Commentaries are a premium sent to Sustainer Donors of Z/ZNet and that to learn more about the project and join folks can consult ZNet at http://www.zmag.org or the ZNet Sustainer Pages at http://www.zmag.org/Commentaries/donorform.htm ==== A CULTURE OF RAGE By Margaret Randall This week^s mail brought a letter quite suddenly and unceremoniously informing me that my health insurance provider is discontinuing my group policy. "Your existing QualMed health care coverage will end on October 31, 2000. . . this is the only notice you will receive" is the way the company^s account representatives put it. I am one year and three months away from 65, the age I will be eligible for Medicare (if Medicare still exists). And if HMOs still have senior plans by then, I may be able to draw on some combination of government and private coverage. Last year I earned $11,000. My partner is our household^s main provider, but I cannot be on her health plan because she is a teacher and the Public School System for which she works does not recognize domestic partners as families. For the past good many years we have been spending an additional two to three hundred dollars a month on my individual coverage. Now this cost will no longer be an option. I am one of the lucky ones. The same mail that delivered the above letter brought another telling me that longtime peace and justice activist Marv Davidov is currently fighting prostate cancer, diabetes, and a broken ankle. The letter asks for donations to help a man older than I am and with neither health insurance, a 401(k) plan, stocks and bonds or even a guaranteed job. I put what I could in the enclosed envelope, hope many others will be moved to do the same, and made a mental note to call my old friend. Still, I am not representative of the millions of U.S. Americans currently living below the poverty line, without health insurance, often even without adequate shelter and food. When compared with these citizens of the richest nation on earth, I have little about which to complain. Yet I am complaining. I am furious. A cursory look at either presidential candidate^s campaign promises in the area of health care and prescription drug accessibility shows cheap promises of "caring and commitment." Never mind that neither major party has placed our nation^s health high enough on its political agenda to insure the coverage enjoyed by citizens of all other industrialized countries and some countries that have nowhere near our level of industrialization. Attention to people^s health, education, and other basic needs is forever subordinate to maintaining the U.S. death machine. Those in power^whether they be our elected officials, the CEO^s of tobacco companies, manufacturers of automobile tires or insurance industry magnates^continue to seduce our support and then, when we need them, tell us they just can^t afford to help or that they want to "apologize to the American people" or say sorry: the coverage you^ve paid into all these years will end on such and such a date. Quite in spite of whom we vote into office, it is clear that corporate interests rule our lives. Further, increasingly sophisticated handling techniques are aimed at giving us the sense that our disempowerment is our fault. Any reassignment of priorities is our responsibility. The ever widening gap between those in power and those whose needs are not being met, the rhetoric that describes promises never intended to be kept, and the subtle and not so subtle shifting of blame from those in power to the victims of such a system, is creating a culture of rage whose effects upon our way of life are impossible to compute. But we can make some predictions. If we continue to spend more on prisons and the military than on people^s health and education, if corporate CEOs continue to draw six figure salaries while one fourth of our country^s children live in poverty, if more and more U.S. Americans swell the ranks of the homeless, the downsized, the throw-away elderly and those without healthcare, we cannot be surprised by the social rage that is everyday more evident. Road rage. Telephone rage. Massive depression and despair. A sense of disenfranchizement that forces people who care, in one election after another to swallow hard and cast their vote for whomever they presume to be the least damaging of the available "choices." This rage has been palpable for years in poor minority communities, inner city ghettos, on Indian reservations and in areas of rural poverty. The only change is that it has now invaded middle America: white middle-class suburbia. We are no longer surprised or even shocked by the teenager who goes on a killing spree or the presidential candidate who lies about his opponent^s and/or his own record and intentions. Still saddened but not shocked. An impotent rage courses through the nation^s veins, all its veins. Whether or not we as a people have a future with any degree of dignity and peace depends upon our collective ability to channel that rage into constructive action. Through lesson after painful lesson we are learning that this constructive action will not work if it is within the framework of electoral politics as we know it.
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