Letters

Serbversion

Jason Vest, in "Clinton Bombs Again" [April 13], didn't mention that our president, by disregarding international law and bombing hospitals, schools, monasteries, residences, and using cluster bombs, has demonstrated that he is just as ruthless as Slobodan Milosevic.

By supporting the terrorist KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army), the U.S. has established a precedent that it will support terrorism when it is in the national interest. By taking sides in a war in which no side is completely innocent, we have forced Yugoslavs to fight NATO and have worsened the conflict. The Serbs are not defending Milosevic— they are defending their homes, just as they successfully did during the World War II Nazi occupation of Serbia.

Last December, seven senators strongly urged Clinton to encourage democracy in Yugoslavia and support opposition to Milosevic. But Clinton, caught in yet another scandal, preferred to create an atmosphere of war that would divert public attention onto Yugoslavia. Clinton's foreign policy has been based on rumors, lies, and distortions (with the help of our media). His deluded belief that the Serbs would quickly roll over under NATO air strikes has been shattered, and in more desperate acts by NATO to save face, we will likely be involved in another long, expensive, Vietnam-type ground invasion.

How hypocritical of our draft-dodging, lying commander in chief to get us involved in another costly quagmire— the kind he was so opposed to some 30 years ago.

Michael Pravica,
Vice President
Serbian-American Alliance of New York


Villagers' Voice

James Ridgeway's April 6 Mondo Washington column was extremely biased. The opening lines referred to the "slaughter" of "Kosovo villagers" by the Serbs— although massive casualties in the year prior to NATO air strikes have included both Serbs and Kosovars.

Following that, in an item headlined "A Kosovo Primer," Ridgeway declared: "Is this civil war? No. It is a struggle for self-determination." That is the stance of Kosovar separatism— and the rationale of any group seeking to break away from an established nation-state. In this way, southerners in the U.S. might say that the Civil War was "a struggle for self-determination."

Then there was Ridgeway's choice of words: Serbian "warlords" rather than military commanders; Serbian "gangster" and "war criminal" Arkan; and "the Yugoslav dictator" Slobodan Milosevic— who actually was elected by the people of Yugoslavia on a nationalist platform. I found myself wondering if I were reading a section of The New York Timesrather than The Village Voice.

Jack Ponomarev
Staten Island


Real-Life Crime

Guy Trebay's article "Overkill: The Grand Guignol Murder of a Gay Man in Virginia" [April 13], about the brutal murder of Eddie Northington, was moving— especially because Trebay did not depict him as a stereotypical, defenseless gay man but as a complex human being. I also appreciated the attention Trebay brought to this story, which was largely ignored by mainstream media. The apathetic response from the gay and lesbian communities was disheartening.

Chris Sahar
Brooklyn

Guy Trebay's "Overkill" was an absolutely brilliant story. From halfway around the world I was taken to the very spot the murder happened. I met the people interviewed, I understood Richmond's environment, I saw the cruising ground, and I felt the tragic aftermath of that horrible crime. It was an article filled with totally superior writing!

James Macky
Auckland, New Zealand


Spirited Protest

I was stunned by Guy Trebay's statement in "Overkill" that gay protesters "never arrived" to square off with Reverend Fred Phelps and his anti-gay contingent at Russell Henderson's trial in Laramie, Wyoming, in the killing of Matthew Shepard. The dozen-plus "Angels of Peace" protesters were hard to miss in their seven-foot costumes with eight-foot wingspans. They silently surrounded Reverend Phelps and his parishioners and effectively neutralized them.

Did Trebay somehow miss them in press reports or assume that they were not "gay demonstrators"? They released a clear statement, and I, covering the story in my capacity as a freelance journalist on assignment for salon.com magazine, interviewed most of them. While the group included many straights, their intent was clearly to support our (gay) rights.

Dave Cullen
Denver, Colorado


Freed Speech

How gratifying that academics are finally coming to their senses and abolishing faculty speech codes [Jeff Howe, "Speech Therapy," April 13]. Anybody who has even the slightest interest in free speech cannot seriously entertain the idea that those codes were anything but a cosmetic measure implemented by cowardly administrators who feared being reproached by strident ideologues bent on political indoctrination.

As a professional educator, I abhor the idea of speech codes and regularly say so in my high school class on censorship. The clarity of vision and the common sense my students demonstrate when the more laughable aspects of speech codes are presented to them is amazing. I find it interesting that so-called "unsophisticated" kids who haven't been exposed to the dogmatic and self- righteous bullshit of p.c. types can see the truth so plainly. Most of them are offended by the paternalism that stands behind speech codes— and who can blame them?

Posted on the wall of my classroom is a quote from Thomas Jefferson (yeah, I know, he kept slaves) that reads, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man." I hope my students carry the memory of this quote with them to whatever college they may attend.

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