It has been an interesting month since the last Free Press issue came out.
  Two key Supreme Court decisions have endorsed long-standing Free Press editorial policies. The Free Press proudly was the first newspaper in central Ohio to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights – and the right to marry – as universal human rights. In many ways, the application of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment extending marriage rights to the LGBT community is a monumental and important victory for humankind.
  It is time to celebrate the LGBT community as well as to honor those who fought at Stonewall and resisted police brutality and to mourn the various martyrs, including the 29 who died at the UpStairs Lounge on June 24, 1973 in New Orleans. While homophobia still pervades society, the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision indicates that progressive forces are winning the cultural war.
  Jefferson’s quote, that “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance” comes to mind regarding the murders in Charleston, South Carolina. Our country’s neo-Nazis, Klan and white supremacists appear determined to go down fighting.
  The shooting by Dylann Roof fit into a broader plan that William Pierce outlined in his novel “The Hunter.” Roof’s posting and pictures online reflect Pierce’s extreme racialist belief that a few fanatical white “hunters” should randomly kill black people in hopes that they will shoot back and start a race war. This backfired for Roof, as the family and friends of the all black victims, and people of Charleston, offered such humanity and forgiveness under the circumstances. Still Camus reminds us that we need be “neither victims nor executioners” but take caution and monitor the racists and reactionaries in the U.S., which pose a far greater threat than ISIS.
  We must continue in word and deed to insist that gay lives and black lives matter. It is more important than ever to build a strong rainbow coalition in the tradition of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s original speech that includes all of the oppressed.
  Our most vulnerable people were aided in a 6-3 Supreme Court decision that upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. While the Act itself isn’t half as good as a single-payer health care system, it assists in covering millions of people who would suffer needlessly without it. It is a decent step forward in the slow, inevitable process that will lead one day to the vast majority of U.S. residents seeing health care as a universal human right.
  But, what Obama gives us in social justice, he also takes away in his grand promotion of the neo-liberal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Described as “NAFTA on steroids,” he is hell-bent on advancing the principles of non-transparency, bureaucratization and corporatization. In an era of environmental degradation and climate chaos, the planet demands re-localization and sustainable economies. Obama seems determined to make his legacy a mixed one where a modest gain in health care is posited alongside a massive de-industrialization of our nation. The Communist government of Vietnam and other countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, known for exploiting their workers, will benefit greatly. U.S. workers will suffer if we grant more and more power to the transnational corporations.
  A recent Gallup poll indicated that 47 percent of U.S. citizens would vote for a socialist. Let us pray that this is the end of so-called “American Exceptionalism” and that the United States develops a mass democratic left. The campaign of Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders for President, with polls showing his number in the high 30s to low 40s among Democratic primary voters, is slightly better than the fledging campaign of our own John Kasich. At the time we go to press, the governor is still at 1 percent and will not be allowed into the Fox News debate as one of the top ten candidates, although he used to be one of their bloviators. His cheerleaders at the Dispatch did poit out that one man gave his business card to Kasich in New Hampshire and told him to get in touch. Hmmm -- practically a groundswell.  
  At the state and local level, however, progress is being made. New York state banned fracking. Los Angeles raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Here in Columbus, activists are striving to pass a Community Bill of Rights, start a Civilian Review Board of the Columbus Police, and to get Columbus City Council President and mayoral candidate Andy Ginther to resign.
  Oh, and by the way, please refer to The Columbus Free Press as the city’s oldest locally-owned newspaper, now that the Wolfe family newspaper has been sold off to the wolves of Wall Street. New Media, a publicly-traded corporation, bought the Dispatch and all its publications including the printing press for $47 million as an investment on borrowed money. John Gunther in his book “Inside U.S.A.” called the Wolfe family the owners of the most ruthless media machine in America. New Media put them out of their misery with hardly a whimper from the Big Bad Wolfes. Hopefully this will change the print media landscape in Columbus and allow more opportunities for publications like the Free Press.  

~ Bob Fitrakis, Ed

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