LES JEUNES–UNE VICTOIRE!
Sam Graham-Felsen writes: Bowing to insurmountable pressure from France’s students and labor unions, President Jacques Chirac has repealed the CPE law. The students won because they put together an extraordinary protest movement. Witnessing hundreds of thousands of youth from all different ethnic and class backgrounds marching together, chanting in unison for seven straight hours was one of the most remarkable experi-ences of my life. I vividly remember, around the sixth hour of the protest, students chanting: “We are not tired! We are not tired!” These students aren’t delusional. They believe in markets and support globalization and trade. They simply refuse to accept that for capitalism to function, it must be totally unregulated and unharnessed. Despite its numerous protections for workers, France is the world’s fifth-largest economy, and despite its lifetime employment laws, thirty-five-hour workweeks and seven-week vacations, France has the highest worker productivity in the world. The students are anything but conservative; they’re visionaries. They refuse to inherit a society of savage capitalism in which workers’ rights are undermined in the name of efficiency. They’ve won the first major victory in what I believe is the great moral struggle of my generation: taming global capitalism.
SOA WATCH WINS A COUPLE (AT LAST)
The way of the peacemaker is not always blessed. Consider School of the Americas Watch (www.soaw.org), which since 1990 has been sponsoring yearly demonstrations at Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the notorious School of the Americas. The school (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) trains Latin American militaries in the fine arts of torture and suppression of human rights. On April 11, twenty-nine activists arrested at the 2005 protest began serving federal prison sentences of up to six months. But there’s also some good news: A few weeks ago Argentina and Uruguay announced they were ceasing all military training of their troops at the school. Also, a bill introduced last year by Representative Jim McGovern that would suspend activities at the school will come to a vote as early as May. It currently has 128 bipartisan co-sponsors.
Bob Moser, a contributing writer to this magazine, recently won the award for Outstanding Magazine Article, presented annually by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The piece honored is “The Murder of a Boy Named Gwen,” which appeared in Rolling Stone.
ON THE WEB
David Enders writes a letter from Baghdad on the growing sectarian divide. Garrett Epps reports on the heretofore unpublished Nino Scalia’s Secret Guide to Sicilian Hand Gestures.