Comments of the Week: "Won’t Back Down," the NFL and Leftists Explain Things

Storified by The Nation · Fri, Sep 28 2012 14:48:32

Each week, we pick the best reader responses from Facebook, Twitter and our comment threads. Let us know what you think–in the comments! 
First, our readers had a lot to say about Rebecca Solnit’s “A Letter to My Allies on the Left.” 
You can’t get elected Democrats to pass the serious agenda items of the thoughtful left, even if you elect them in majorities.  That’s because they require corporate support to stay in office.  But you CAN see to it going forward that only Democrats appoint members of the Supreme Court, members who serve for life and do not require corporate support to stay on the bench.  This is the big, big, big deal of national politics, period.  Lately, we lost a great deal with Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy.  But that can change in a longer term.  All you need is a "mere" Democrat in the White House every term and enough of them in the Senate to confirm nomineesA Letter to My Liberal Allies | The Nation
Well, I thought the article nicely summed up why it makes sense to recognize and vote based on some real impacts the choice has for some real people who will suffer less if one candidate wins than if the other does. And that the path to larger goals is movement building, not electoral politics. I’m old. I can’t wait for heaven on earth and don’t believe in an afterlife. I do want to celebrate the victories we sometimes win. And I don’t think a mass movement can ever be built on the hopeless despair, bitterness, and anger of some of the commenters here.A Letter to My Liberal Allies | The Nation
Rebecca Juro: 
A big reason why you’re seeing the pushback from the far left now is because it’s only when the Democrats need our votes and our financial support that they give more than the most basic lip service to our issues at all. There’s a reason why same-sex marriage, the pet issue of wealthy gay elites, has Democrats falling all over themselves to publicly support it, but LGBT anti-discrimination protections (read: jobs), an issue cited as a key concern of more than double the number of LGBT voters that cite same-sex marriage, gets barely a mention at the DNCC.… and it’s certainly not about helping the most Americans possible get through this tough economy. The reason the far left is speaking out now is a simple and obvious one: It’s the only time in US politics when the Democrats are actually paying attention to our interests instead of just their own.A Letter to My Liberal Allies | The Nation
In response to Dana Goldstein’s “Bad Lessons from ‘Won’t Back Down,” readers commented on the ubiquitousness of movies about teachers and education with simplistic messages and the “white savior” trope, while some pointed to possible positive messages in the film. 
I thought it would be simplistic – why else would they look so happy? Why can’t there be an inspiring movie about teachers that is realistic about the challenges and what really works?Terri Alberte Hallam
All your criticisms are valid. I’m sick of movies like this and documentaries like Waiting For Superman, where unions are demonized. And definitely don’t like the element of pretending that failing schools are multi-cutural and multi-ethnic places (obviously propaganda to hide the inherent racism in our school system). At the same time, I think you fail to see the political force that this movie has in giving people a sense of agency. Power and politics have been separated in the last fifty years and people generally feel hopeless about affecting change in their communities. However, whether or not it is an illusion that parents can repair broken schools is not the point. The movie portrays people working together to overcome an endemic problem in their community. Whether or not they succeed, there are bridges built between them in fighting against that injustice. Anarchists call this kind of movement direct action: where people identify a problem and seek to fix it–not considering petitioning the government or looking for a statist answer. Of course, the unions should not be demonized, but nor should they be transformed into the messiah. They should be cooperated with, but now bowed down to. In this way, I think the movie does have a quasi-positive message.Bad Lessons From ‘Won’t Back Down’ | The Nation
Spunky white ladies can really change the world.Tara Sweeney
Finally, when the NFL referees were finally able to go back on the field, our readers joined Dave Zirin in lamenting the lack of positive attention paid to more pressing issues, including most other organized labor.
Now why can’t we have such a fast-tracked reaction on such pressing issues as the Veteran’s Job Bill? extending unemployment benefits? etc.Joanne Herrmann
ALL the candidates are pro-union all of a sudden.Nathan Fong
Brian Donohue: 
I give this writer immense credit for drawing a lesson out of this — it’s something that will be entirely ignored by most who follow this game. I don’t pay much attention to football, so when I got a call from an employment recruiter about 3 wks. back, I didn’t know about this "labor dispute". The recruiter calling me wanted to know if I was interested in an IT business analyst opportunity for "the most powerful sports organization in history." I already had something else developing, but was interested anyway. "Who exactly is the client?" I asked. "It’s the NFL," he answered, "they have a 6-month contract for a professional BA with a good grasp of Java in a content-managed setting, with possible extension beyond 6 months." OK, BFD, pretty standard stuff, but they need a pro, I thought; so then I asked about the pay. He quoted a rate that’s currently about 40% below industry standard for that position (less than half in a "normal" economy). I told him secretaries do better than that, the NFL would not find a real pro to work at that rate. He meekly agreed but added that there was no room to move on the rate. Later, when I found out about the zebra union’s trouble, I understood: the NFL is an organization of gazillionaires who split nickels edgewise with their teeth and don’t GAS about workers and even less about quality. That’s the lesson of all this.It’s Over: The NFL’s Union Referees Return to Work in Style | The Nation
Would that Americans recognized the value of all unions, not just those associated with gladiator competitions.Glenn Bristow