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  Winter 2007

Letters to the Editor

Boycott Sexist Churches

Dear Editor,

            Please publish this letter about the problem with harassment of women liturgical artists in Chautauqua County, NY.  For about four years my family has been harassed by male artists and pastors in the New York State community.  This is because I have been an outspoken advocate of women’s rights in the churches, and employee rights in the larger community. The lyrics and sermons in local churches reflect only the ideas of a few elderly men in the Church hierarchy, not the church community.

            I have taken a stand against harassment and oppression of women in this area. And I have taken a leadership role in the local Roman Catholic Church to speak for the ordination of women. I also lobby for the use of inclusive language in at least some of our liturgies.  My family and I have been repeatedly persecuted and harassed. 

Harassers have bashed in the windshield of my car and have popped (repeatedly) bicycle tires belonging to me and my kids. (My children need their bikes to get to work).  They have blacklisted me at many different jobs. They have made it difficult for me and my kids to be justly employed. They have slandered me both publicly and privately, and have cheated me out of money and valuable property. 

            Members of the local Catholic Churches, the local United Methodist Churches, and local Baptists have all been involved in this mean-spirited harassment of my family.  Harassment has included personal verbal attacks in my home environment and hate phone calls and messages, as well as veiled personal insults delivered from several different pulpits.

            I’d like to call for a boycott of these churches by withholding a percent of your usual church donation to represent the percent of the church members that are being oppressed and harassed by the sexists in these churches.  Let’s continue this boycott of the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, and the Baptist Church until women leaders are no longer persecuted by these churches, and until women in the Catholic Church are ordained as priests.  This will send a clear sign to all of the churches that sexism has no place in God’s house, and that the congregations intend that our churches become safe places for women and children.  At this time it is difficult for me to find a church in my community where I am safe from attack.

Donna Marie Miller, Liturgical artist, teacher, artist and composer

Fredonia, NY


Let’s Fight to End Killings in Darfur…and Mid-East

Dear Neighbors,

            As a Jew, I agree that “no religious or political tradition worthy of the name justifies burning children to death in the hopes of ‘taking out’ a rocket launcher.”  However, I also believe it is necessary to direct as much energy as we can to stop the distant, “complicated” killing fields in Darfur.  

            We must pressure our own government to exert honest, unbiased leadership in securing Middle East peace.  But we must also vigorously oppose the Darfur genocide.    This is no less important, less relevant to Jews than fixing the Israel-Palestine problem.

            It is precisely Jews who, given our experience of pograms and Holocaust, should be at the forefront of spotlighting and combating such brutality wherever it happens.  If not us, then who else? 

And the Darfur killing fields in fact are not that “complicated.”  The massive murder, rape, displacement, and village destruction are unquestionably orchestrated and even conducted by the Sudanese government itself.  As evidenced by eyewitnesses and the abundant shrapnel and shell casings (mostly Russian-made), the Sudanese air force actively supports the mounted Janjaweed militias.  (Reportedly, several Sudanese Air Force crewmen lately refused to fly Darfur missions and have been sentenced to long prison terms.)

            It is right and admirable that Jews are leading the effort to save Darfur.  It would also be right and admirable for Jews to persuade our own government to cease “its blanket support for the Israeli government and military.”  We can do both.  And we should.

Sanford Berman

Edina, MN


Nicaragua News Is Good

Hola Pat,

            Your “no outrage” 20-year anniversary issue covered two important events I had not heard of:  moms taking over the Oaxaca, Mexico TV/radio station and the story of Katherine Hall and the first US graduating class in Cuba’s medical school.  I have told people of this opportunity for a free medical education.  Now I can show them a two-page success story about it—to prove it’s real.  It’s like the difference in knowing that Venezuela is helping the poor in New Orleans via its CITCO ownership and having a real story from persons who were helped.

            I hope your next issue will cover the historical November 5, 2006 re-election of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.  After 16 years and three elections attempts he is again president of Nicaragua.  My wife who lives there says folks were dancing in the streets everywhere.  Daniel was inaugurated on January 1, 2007.  This was made possible by Venezuelan aid. 

            Unfortunately my 21-year-old daughter, who manages a health food store in Miami, cancelled her mother’s vote for Daniel. She even went so far as to call her mother to tell her to get out of Nicaragua before she got shot!  My wife attributes our daughter’s ultra-right-wing attitude to bad influences in the redneck city of Miami, where ousted dictators and their supporters find refuge.

            I feel our daughter’s attitude started in Nicaragua, when she returned there at age 15.  She was a refugee of our out-of-control Keaau High School.  The first thing the US did when it retook control of Nicaragua in 1990 was to close all public schools above 6th grade.  World Bank “economic reforms” forced children to work for WalMart in exchange for rice and beans.

            The United States of North America (to not confuse it with the United States of Mexico) also took control of news media in much of Latin America.  Thus the current younger generation, in only 16 years, knows almost nothing of this country’s 10 year “contra” war against Daniel Ortega’s government. They know nothing about the murdering of 62,000 women, children and men, many tortured to death. (The torture methods used in Iraq, were perfected in Nicaragua, starting with the Samoza dynasty. )

            With Daniel president of Nicaragua, it is possible that it may no longer be necessary for me to sponsor students there.  Land lines keep getting stolen. So it is difficult to maintain contacts, resulting in the use of cell phones.  This is also a security measure.  In this hemisphere’s poorest country (due to World Bank manipulations), crime as the only means of survival for many, has become rampant.

            The picture of me with my Homeland Security shirt with the setting sun behind me, is the one I sent to all my sponsored students in Nicaragua.  I like to think the picture shows that in my sunset years (I’m 67), I’m still not beaten by the Department of “Education.”

            El Nica, Paul Patnode



Can We Have Some Tribalism?

Dear Editor:

            In the US Constitution it is ordered that “no title of nobility shall be granted by the United States,” and “no state shall grant any title of nobility.”

            So besides declaring an end to our colonial status in the 18th century, the Founding Fathers also declared that we were dumping a social system: feudalism.  This was a social arrangement which gave Europeans a ruling class of kings, dukes, earls, counts and barons at the top and a class of untitled commoners on the bottom.

            One of the earliest social systems was tribalism.  This system served humanity well for thousands of years.  Within the tribe wealth was shared, crime was rare and punished humanely—sometimes by exile.  But there were no prisons.

            The tribes could not build great cities with pyramids and temples.  And they could not create empires or resist the conquering imperial armies.  These imperialists captured tribal members and forced them to do slave labor.  Tribalism died.  New nations arose ruled by kings and nobles.

            In 18th century England a class of merchants and industrialists were developing a sense of their own importance.  Daniel Defoe, the author of the Robinson Crusoe story, scolded the nobility.  “We merchants,” Defoe said, “scour the islands of the world’s oceans to bring pepper and cinnamon to your dinner tables.  But what do you noble lords do?  Nothing.  You are idle and useless, good for nothing more than collecting rent money from your vassals.”

            Now we have arrived at a time when the lords of commerce have to be challenged.  “What are you capitalists doing?  Scouring the continents of the world looking for the cheapest labor that you can find.  Meanwhile your employees here are downsized into the ranks of the unemployed.  You are refusing to honor your pledges to your employees to provide them with medical insurance and retirement pensions.  You sell us Vioxx which damages our hearts and cigarettes which destroy our lungs.  And you give us one war after another—Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq.  Are we going to have this capitalism forever?  Can we have some tribalism?”           

The old labor union solidarity song reminded us of the power of labor’s weapon—the strike: “you have taken untold millions that you never toiled to earn, but without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.”

Sydney Spiegel

Caspar, WY


Greetings from D’Arcy

Greetings from Margaretta D’Arcy,

            We survived last year with a certain amount of satisfaction.  If only Bush and Blair would have listened to the millions of us they wouldn’t now feel themselves to be such robots of mismanagement with no future but to be hauled up into court as war criminals.  We did our bit gong on marches, writing letters, signing petitions and putting on The Non-Stop Connolly Show.  We had forgotten how relevant it was for today.

            I began experiments with my pirate radio. I’m trying to get a wider access on the internet.  Also beginning to put some of the broadcasts onto my web page.  My technologically-minded son Finn helped.  He was in Venezuela with the Global Women’s Strike and has directed a rousing video, Journey with the Revolution.  It is about Venezuela and Chavez and the Bolivarians.

            I just returned from Amman, Jordan, where I attended an AMARC (World Associations of Community Radios) conference.  Afterwards, I went to the West Bank, then to Israel.  I visited an interesting group (Laborers Voice) in Nazareth working with unwaged and low-waged Palestinians.  It is a town with almost 100% unemployment.  The Israeli government, as an experiment in social engineering, has handed over its unemployed and their welfare needs to a multi-national commercial company—privatizing public benefits.

            I discovered en passant that the Palestinians were there before Joshua turned up.  They used to be called Philistines and Canaanites.  Also learned that absentee Arabs living in Damascus sold their land to the early-20th century Jewish settlers.  These settlers then turned off all the laborers who had been working on the land—hence one of the seeds of the present conflict.  I also discovered that the building of the railway from Syria to Arabia before World War 1 was responsible for the upheaval of the environment, causing Jordan’s current water shortage.

            Back in the old sod, the biggest battle is to get the Government to stop Shell building a gas refinery in a sparsely inhabited part of Mayo.  People there strangely believe they have a right to live in safety and not be blown up.  Our President Bertie Ahern was quite sweet the other day.  He faced the camera after the EU report stated that Shannon had been used by CIA extraordinary-rendition planes. And he said, “I was nearer to the great president Bush [sic] than I am to this camera,. And I asked him about rendition flights.  He categorically told me Shannon has not been used.” 

We suppose Bertie ust have been in bed with Shell for them to assure him during the pillow-talk that Shell would never harm anyone.  All those dreadful repots of flare-ups, explosions, pollution, all propaganda from dreadful eco-warriors who in the end will make Bin Laden and al-Qaeda look like pussycats.

Margaretta D’Arcy

Galway, Ireland


Sodomy=Exploiting the Poor

Dear Editor:

            In Christianity, sodomy means same-sex intercourse.  But for the Torah and rabbinic literature, sodomy (Hebrew: midat sdom) means abuse of the poor.

            Genesis nowhere lists the sins of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah.  And only Ezekiel 16:49 offers specific details…“Only this was the sin of your sister Sodom; arrogance! She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility. Yet she did not support the poor and the needy.”

            Thus, biblically speaking, businesspeople who exploit the poor are examples of true Sodomites, not Brokeback Mountain buddies.

            The prohibition of homosexual activity found in Leviticus 18:22 is included among a list of prohibited sexual relations.  According to Leviticus 18:24, they “defile the land.”  A close, literal, Scalia-style “strict constructionist” view of this text yields a persuasive interpretation.  Such “defiling” sins are understood as being more ritual and cultic, rather than moral, in nature.  They apply to residents of the Holy Land, rather than all people, everywhere.

            Whereas for Christians, revelation is physical (the “Incarnation”), for Jews, it is verbal.  God’s revelation takes place in words, thereby sanctifying speech and making the proper use of language imperative.  Substituting Christian for Jewish vocabulary is inexcusable, and borders on sacrilege.

            Or might it be one more example of how the member s of the religious right—Christian and Jewish—have more in common with one another than not?  And of how the zealously Orthodox engage in—dare I say the “a” word—assimilationist conduct?  I have coined a neologism to describe this bedfellow phenomenon: evangelodoxy.

S. Rex Cohen

Baltimore, MD

Reprinted from Washington Jewish Week


No Health Care

Dear Editors:

            I want to know if others had a problem or heard of anything like this.  I am being denied certain types of medical care.  I have tried at two hospitals: Yale-New Haven and Saint Raphael’s and a community health center, the Hill-Health Center, all in New Haven, Connecticut.

            Patty, a white female who works for the Hospital Corporation Administration, and her gang are blocking me getting certain services.

            I had a verbal altercation with her child. (Patty’s son Johnny was a known drug dealer.) And all hell broke out.  She started complaining of harassment and lies on me. She prevents me from getting much-needed tests and medicine.  All medical hospitals and clinics work in conjunction with one another and she blackballed me. 

            I’m a little person fighting against a giant corporation.  The Hospital’s Corporation

has a history of unjust treatment to poor people of color and poorly educated on medical issues.      I will let every progressive outlet know about the illegal goings on in the medical field in New Haven, CT.

Tammie Moore

New Haven, CT


Thanks for Wonderful Artwork

Dear Mother Warriors Voice,

            Thank you for publishing my poem, “Where Have all the Shackles Gone” and your wonderful artwork you did with it.  It was published in a few places, but yours was the nicest.  I live in western New York near Buffalo.  I am originally from NYC and am quite familiar with the issues of poverty.  I would like to help you in any way.

Marian Merlino

Fredonia, NY 


Let’s Tell the Government to Change W2

Dear Welfare Warriors,

            Thank you for putting my letter in your Welfare Warriors newspaper.  Plus for those who took the time out to read your paper.  My letter was about the old AFDC benefits which are now W2.  I want to urge all the mothers and fathers to take the time to write to our governments about how the W2 is not working for the parents and children. (We can’t even afford to pay our rents and gas/light bills.) Then maybe we can get some help for our families.  The lights/gas company just feels that the people who are on public assistance can afford to give them $600 to $900 to get their gas and lights back on.

            Now the government needs to hear from the people receiving public benefits. And they need to try to understand how we are really living in the inner city.  Is it hard on some of us mothers when the deadbeat fathers won’t even help the kids out with the child support payments.  But no one looks at the deadbeat fathers if their kids are hungry.  Everything is on the mother’s shoulders for love, support, and respect.  It takes a lot to be a real good mother to your children.

            I did raise my children up to be respectable and always show respect to everyone on this earth.  After all, God loves all of his children on this earth.  The ones who I do feel so sorry for are young mothers or fathers who never knew how to love themselves first.  We as a community have to teach our young girls and boys about the respect and responsibility for the child that they both have made together. 

            A mother’s job is never done, and the same goes for the fathers of these babies that they created together.  With different young girls too.  My children’s father never did help me with child support.  He was always taking care of someone else’s fatherless kids.  But not his own.

            I was the mother and father to my kids, like a lot of mothers in this world.  May God be with those mothers who are the fathers in their homes. It will all pay off when they finish school for good.  That’s when you can smile and say “thank you God for being with me in everything.”

Dorothy Blunt

Milwaukee, WI


Mom Gains Security and Peace

Dear Welfare Warriors:

            I would like to commend you for all your work on this wonderful paper.  I am thankful to know that there are people out there who understand the struggles of poverty, parenthood (both single and married), marriage, abuse, and unemployment. And you understand everything else that can go wrong for people who have tried all their lives to be the best people that they can be, but are always the ones who seem to struggle the most.

            After 13 years of marriage (mostly unhappy, and at times, abusive), I am now a single mother of two beautiful children, ages 12 and 13.  My ex-husband and I are trying to be the best of friends for the sake of our children. With the fair deal that I was lucky enough to get in the divorce, we can finally make it on our own.

I work part-time in the kitchen at the VA Hospital (does that make me one of the “feds”?).  But I had to go back to part time because I had a medical condition.  I am actually relieved because my condition is improving, along with my stress level. But it is a struggle financially, especially with these ridiculously high heating bills.  The wages and benefits at the VA are excellent, but the stress level of working in the kitchen can be enormous. Anyone who works there knows how sore anyone can get after a 3-hour day, especially when you come back for another shift at night.  Their are rough conditions and some people who thrive on driving you crazy. But the veterans who appreciate us food service workers, and the many friends that you can make while working there, make it all worthwhile.

            I know that not all women are lucky enough to get a government job or a divorce deal like mine to finally make it on their own.  I know all too well what it is like to stay with a man out of fear that I could not make it on my own with two growing children.   I quit watching talk shows because I got sick of these self-righteous talk show hosts. They condemn women for staying in relationships, even though some of them have probably done the same. (Some even stay when they could easily have made it on their own.)  That proves how hard it is to leave, not only because of financial hardships, but because of the emotional ties that we form in these relationships.

            My ex-husband, a Mexican immigrant, has always been an extremely hard worker and a very good father.  He has worked his way up from a migrant worker to a very highly respected worker in a foundry.  His bosses even wanted him to go and train people in India! I will always have a great deal of respect for him.  I can safely say that illegal immigration is not a threat to our society. The real threat is the way that our government and the corporations exploit them. That is what is harming both us and them.

            I will continue to pray for the struggle.  I hope to get back into activism sometime very soon.

            Keep up the good work!

Jill K. Meraz

Milwaukee, WI




Thanks for printing my letter (“A Rant Against Marriage Programs”).  You left out a line, however, that impacts the meaning.  Where it says, "...was it a wrong choice to leave his abusive family, go to work in the nearest town and work on the farm?" it should read "leave his abusive family, go to work in the nearest town and finish high school after his step-father wanted him to quit school and work on the farm." 

Working on the farm instead of finishing his education was about the last thing George wanted to do. That was the point I was trying to make. He'd made great efforts to finish high school despite active parental discouragement.  The way it is printed also makes it unclear that this happened in his youth. He didn't "leave his family" in the sense of leaving a wife and children. It was the family he grew up in that he escaped.

Anne Miles

Gobsons, B.C. Canada


Women, Action and The Media (WAM!) Conference  

It’s time to put women back in the story. That’s why the Center for New

Words is hosting the fourth annual Women, Action & the Media (WAM!)

conference.. It will take place from March 30th to April 1st at State Center, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

            At WAM!2007, we’ll share facts, develop skills,  and create action plans

to transform the media environment. We want to amplify progressive women’s public

voices—as analysts, opinion-makers, community members, and influential

participants in civil society. But to do that, we need you!

             Contact Sarafina Kennedy at sarafina@centerfornewwords.org

Sarafina Kennedy

Project Manager, WAM! 2007



20 Years!  Incredible!

Hi Pat,

            20 years!  Incredible!  Thank you for your leadership, dedication, and courage to create and sustain such an important community journal and space.  Congratulations to you and all the amazing women and mothers who keep Welfare Warriors going strong!

I enjoyed your interview in our upcoming issue of Rain and Thunder. Hopefully we can have it looking as stellar as the most recent issue of MWV. You all did a hell of a job! Great work on an amazing anniversary issue  which highlighted 20 years of hard work, passion, committment, and courage. We're honored to continue on that note in our upcoming issue.

Nayiree Roubinian

Rain and Thunder Collective

PO Box 674, Northampton, MA 01061


College Scholarships for African-American Single Mothers 

The Sister Thea Bowman Foundation has four scholarships for African-American single mothers and their child to attend the College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska. The Foundation will grant $30,000.00 over a period of four years to the College of St. Mary on behalf of each student.  In return the College of St. Mary will match that grant with an additional $24,000. 

The student must be an African-American single mother who has completed high school.  She must be from low-income housing.  She must be able to gain admission to College of St. Mary.  She need not be Catholic. Each mother may take up to two children with her to the College of St. Mary. The cut off age for the child is nine.  Each mother will live in a dorm with other single mothers and their children. This dorm has been especially renovated to accommodate mothers and their children.

Each student will have an African-American mentor during her course of study at the College of St. Mary.  Each student will also have an African-American host family from Omaha who will also serve as mentor.

Please contact Mary Lou Jennings, Executive Director of the Sister Thea Bowman Foundation at: marylouj11@aol.com



DHS “Help”: Give the Kids Away


My brother Donelson is a single father of five childern. One of his children has been diagnosed with ADHD. Donelson is having great difficulty raising his kids alone. The biggest problem is finding a sitter to care for his kids when they are ill. He is fixing to "point out" at work and if this happens, he could lose his house.

Could you folks know of any organization that could help him?  Donelson has had a run around with the good ole' DHS here in Arkansas. After explaining his situation to DHS here, they told him to either divide up his kids with the family, get married, or give them to DHS. He is struggling very hard, please let me know if there is anything out there. Thanks,




Why Is It Okay to Slur People with Disabilities?


David Scondras, Boston City Councilor, was arrested in October 2006 for soliciting sex from a 15-year-old male security guard. The rest of my letter  (below) published in the Cambridge Chronicle needs no explanation. As usual politicians lament that newspapers cannot be relied upon for truth-telling, as if politicians can be. Ahem! 


Reeves Denies He Urged Scondras To Get Psychiatric Help  

Erin Smith reports that Mayor Reeves said "in a letter dated Oct. 11 to David Scondras, "I am also urging you to immediately seek psychiatric help, as well as alcohol and drug abuse treatment."

            I asked Reeves about the letter urging Scondras to seek "psychiatric help." I said suggesting he get psychiatric help because he was arrested suggests that the illness caused the alleged crime. The mayor told me twice, "I said he should seek help." I said the Chronicle reported he said "psychiatric help."

             The mayor said, "If you're relying on the Chronicle, then you're in trouble."

            Why is this an issue? If the mayor was truthful, the reporter added "psychiatric" indicating an irrational and negatively biased view of a person regarded as having a disability. It suggests disability as the reason David Scondras was arrested and charged with a crime. It suggests that being regarded as having a disability is causally connected to crime.

             That is the Flip Wilson defense, “The devil made me do it."

            If the mayor did say "psychiatric help," then not only did he lie to me, but also it indicates that the mayor holds the same irrational and negatively biased view of disability as a cause of crime.

            This is an absurd view, despite its pervasiveness.  And what would be the reaction if a mayor suggested that a person's race was a cause of crime? What would be the reaction if a mayor stated that a person's sexual preference was a cause of crime?

            Why is it acceptable in polite company to slur persons with disabilities?

Chronicle Editor's note: Mayor Reeves sent us a copy of the letter he said he delivered to Scondras. The letter reads "I am also urging you to immediately seek psychiatric help."

Roy Bercaw, Editor

ENOUGH ROOM; PO Box 400297

Cambridge MA 02140



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