Introduction: Surveying the Terrain
Zack Furness, issue editor
Issue #70, October 2004
Lately, I've been consumed by the hypothetical question of whether or not it could be possible for me to literally slap the face of every undecided voter in the United States. How much time would it take? Would I use my right hand, or throw slap combinations?
I've been quite taken with such fantasies lately because, like many of you, I've grown incredibly weary of watching George W. fumble through his same tired speech about terrorism while allowing assault weapons bans to expire. I've grown weary with Kerry's campaign advisors that have allowed the Bush camp to appear noble, steadfast, and worst of all, admirable, at Kerry's expense. Moreover, I've grown extremely weary of the legions of Americans who choose not to recognize the fact that our president lied about going to war in Iraq, our economy is in the toilet, our environmental regulations are disappearing like flu vaccinations at a retirement home, our schools are overcrowded and under-funded, and people are more worried about John Kerry's swift boat than the mess in the Middle East. Despite my pacifism, even I recognize the fact that Kerry was fighting in Vietnam while GW was sipping mint juleps in the hot, Southern sun.
Aside from the clamor of the elite minority who thrive off of Republican policies of corporate deregulation, union busting, civil rights violations, no-bid reconstruction deals, and tax breaks for the richest 1% of Americans, there should be no debate about which party should be in office.
During the summer, the national conventions provided some hope for coalition of the sane here in America. In Boston, Democrats exercised their rhetorical skills on stage in front of roaring crowds, and in New York City, Democrats exercised their rhetorical skills on the streets, as a roaring crowd. Like the Democratic Convention, the protests in NYC proved to millions of people that the mission is not 'accomplished' and everything is not okay in Iraq or in the States. Despite the efforts to deter and ultimately detain protestors (illegally), there were hundreds of thousands who converged on NYC and demonstrated on behalf of everyone that does not have a voice in this country. Unfortunately, you probably didn't hear much about it, given the press coverage allotted to the Terminator's lengthy diatribe on the ethos of his party: "If you believe in fighting terrorism, then you are a Republican. If you believe in small government, then you are a Republican. If you hate peace, hippies, and small children, then you are a Republican."
In addition to the grandiose political events of recent months, there were thousands of teachers who were busy planning their fall lesson plans, networks of activists who were organizing their next insurgence, and millions of people who were striving to make ends meet while being overworked and under-paid. We here at Bad Subjects were also very busy. Following a summer that included a Bad Subjects book publication, a series of public readings, the departure of several editors, and the constant stress brought about by everything related to the Bush administration, we figured it was time to change gears and offer people a chance to vent their frustrations on a topic of their choice. Hence, the Open issue.
With the election right around the corner, it's clear that political matters are at the forefront of public consciousness, and the essays we received are indicative of people's dissatisfaction with issues past and present, domestic and foreign.
Issue #70 begins with three essays that draw reader's attention towards some of the problems in our collective backyard. Leah Halper literally begins in her own backyard, recounting the lessons she learned about environmental and political affairs while dealing with insect infestation in her home. Michael Brooks follows with a convincing argument for slavery reparations owed to the African-American community following centuries of oppression and torture. By drawing a comparison to the L.A.P.D. scandals of the 1990's, A. Rafik Mohamed rounds out this section by disputing the "few bad apples" analogy used by Rumsfeld in defense of the Abu Gharaib prison abuses.
The second section of the Open issue transcends U.S. borders with four essays devoted to different relationships between the Bush administration, democracy, and international policy. Omar Swartz critically analyzes the "rule of law" and describes the manner in which the United States exports a misguided, hegemonic legal agenda that inhibits actual democracy. On a similar note, Tom Crumpacker's polemical essay defends the Cuban political system against what he perceives to be misguided attacks from "interest-based" parties in the U.S. Rebeca Siegel responds to Judith Butler’s essay, "The Charge of Zionism", in order to discuss the ideological problems of Zionism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism, and Matt Weiss provides a complementary essay that critiques current peace proposals initiated by Sharon, the Palestinians, and activists in the Gaza Strip.
Our final three essays take somewhat of a different turn by focusing more explicitly on political issues through the context of personal experience. Issue editor, Zack Furness, provides a no-holds barred analysis of sex, aesthetics, and personal grooming within the setting of a strip club. Bay Woods sets the record straight about the Democratic roots of country music and describes his recent endeavors with an anti-Bush jug band collective. Finally, we leave you with the inspiring courtroom testimony of 67 year old Rosalie Riegle, a retired teacher and anti-war activist who was convicted of non-violent trespass on a U.S. nuclear command post.
Like the reverberating chorus of a Journey song, Bad Subjects comes to you with open arms during this eventful and tumultuous autumn. Enjoy the issue and hope that one day soon GW will defeated, exposed, and ultimately forced to man the drive-thru window at a Burger King on the outskirts of Houston...
"Do you want fries with that?"
Editor's note: Special thanks to Megan and Joel for all the hard work they did on the book, and we would all like to wish Megan and Cynthia the best of luck in their future endeavors.
Zack Furness is a member of the Bad Subjects Production Team.