By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Letter Of The Week
A Good Start
Re James Ridgeway's "Tenet Gets the Bum's Rush" [Mondo Washington, villagevoice.com, June 3]: Thank you for your coverage of the overdue resignation of CIA director George Tenet. However, it did not go deep enough. While Tenet rightly took the blame for intelligence lapses about suspected weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he is hardly the only incompetent misleader in the Bush administration. The torture of naked Iraqi prisoners by our own troops is not a story that should go away. Donald Rumsfeld must take responsibility for the moral lapse that happened on his watch. Rumsfeld must resign too, if we are ever going to rebuild the world's trust in us again.
In all other circumstances your article would sound uplifting and promising. However, as a single, educated black female, I don't think it is. I have a hard time taking hip-hop "activists" seriously, particularly in their call for voter registration. It is extremely important for young blacks to vote, if not solely because our ancestors fought so valiantly for this right. However, a number of hip-hop artists routinely publicly demean and degrade black peopleparticularly, black women. It's terribly hard to support, listen to, and stomach someone who condones such treatment.
Images from videos, in addition to some of the public actions of our "activists," strengthen the stereotypes that black people and particularly black women are lesser than other people and women. This makes it so that in our daily interactions, such as work, school, or with black men on the street, we have a difficult time being taken seriously despite our success, money, or education.
Unfortunately, when I think of hip-hop and the hip-hop generation, I side with the older folks who feel that this generation is apathetic and not carrying the ball. I also personally think of it as a generation that hates itself so much that it would publicly degrade itself. Hip-hop activists cannot sincerely pull, push, or encourage anyone to do anything until they become much more positive in their presentation of themselves and their people.
Hentoff for All
I must thank Nat Hentoff for bringing us some good and inspiring news in a season so filled with cause for despair ["The Patriot Act Besieged," June 2-8].The American spirit, which supports liberty, the rule of law, transparent government, and constitutional checks and balances, is still very much alive! Hentoff's lifelong devotion to the defense of these principles is inspiring, and your continuing to carry his articles is the strongest and most valuable ingredient in the Voice.
Loving the Sinner
Although some black people may object to gay marriage on the grounds that gays were never considered three-fifths of a person, or because of assimilation or other reasons that Boykin stated, my reasoning is more simple: I believe in the Bible, and try to live by the conditions set down in it. I didn't write the Book, but I believe in it. I would imagine that many other black people feel the same. It is possible to hate the sin, whatever it is, but love the sinner. It is also possible to live a celibate lifestyle.
The Egg Beat
Re Joy Press "Bling Breakfast" [May 19-25]:
There have always been and will always be people who have more money than brains. I can't help but wonder what motivation there is, other than publicity, for this omelet being added to the menu. Perhaps the hotel could offer $200 for every omelet ordered to a local food bank.
While the article is generally on point, the conclusion is totally ridiculous. It was the complicity of the media that created the surge in popular support for the war. The truth was available to the Times, and they didn't print it. When the truth was finally inescapable, they still quibbled. They let Judith Miller spread the lies of Bush, Cheney, and Chalabi. Yes, as much as anyone, the Times was responsible for the war.
Re "No Such Thing as Paranoia" by Gary Indiana [May 26-June 1]:
Since Indiana mentioned Noam Chomsky, it's curious that an observation Chomsky's made time and again regarding conspiracy theories was absent. When General Motors meets around ye ol' cabal table to plan how to increase its market share and profit ratio, it's simply acting in its self-interest. It's an institutional analysis, a description of how the structure of corporate capitalism operates. So go the media and all other concentrations of private power. Stating what should be obvious, Michael Albert points out that we all "conspire" to consciously pursue our own interests every day. What classes should I take next semester? When should I ask for that raise? What makes us think the power elite doesn't make its own calculations? These people accrue tremendous wealth and power because of the nature of economic organization, not because they might also wear funny cloaks on the weekends.
Gary Indiana replies: A careful reading of my essay in its entirety, rather than one installment of it, would indicate to most readers that the conspiracist ideation I describe in it is far from my own, and that I happen to agree, more often than not, with Chomsky's analysis of the institutional structure of unfettered capitalism. Essential to that structure, by the way, is the promotion of ignorance and superstition, in the form of egregious conspiracy theories, among the classes that only get to wear funny costumes on Halloween. I disagree with Chomsky about the Kennedy assassination, which was probably a mob hit, and ergo an authentic conspiracy (yes, Dorothy, they do exist), whether or not "ye ol' cabal table" was wheeled in to settle the arrangements.
Prisons, Politics, Palindromes: Tenet
Re James Ridgeway's "Tenet Gets the Bum's Rush" [Mondo Washington, villagevoice.com, June 3]In all the brouhaha about Tenet's resignation and the Pentagon's role in fostering the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in and outside Iraq, why is there no discussion of the Office of Special Plans? This White House entity, apparently run by Wolfowitz and Cheney, seems to have been one of the centers for development of pro-war propaganda. This then negates allegations that Tenet and the CIA were responsible for the false and hyped information Bush used to persuade Congress to give him authority to invade and occupy Iraq.
Re James Ridgeway's "This Made Ashcroft Gag" [Mondo Washington, May 26-June 1]: September 11 was an extremely atrocious event. However, when people begin to point fingers, play the blame game, and throw out random speculation as to alternative outcomes, it seems that we miss the point, and no lesson is learned. A hard lesson this was indeed, and one in which our blindness may not have been as innocent as the government might have us believe. Even so, these specifics need to be looked at with a discerning eye, and not with sensationalist comments such as those wondering if we could have evacuated a building had we had the proper advance warning from the government. Who is to say what will or could happen in an instant? The terrorists were not exactly broadcasting their intentions.
Marina del Ray, California
Teena Marie Now
Obviously, Linden doesn't appreciate good music. La Dona is classic Teena Marie. Not Teena Marie from 12 years ago, but Teena Marie now. She's a more mature woman who's sharing her gift (that beautiful voice) with those who can appreciate talent.
Keep out the Bushes
Re James Ridgeway's "The Second Coming" [Mondo Washington, June 2-8]:
McCain is a likable gent, and has the moral decency to tell Bush to take a walk if approached with the offer to take Cheney's place. I do not believe Cheney will go anywhere because he owns Bush, lock, stock, and barrel.
You are wrong, though, about Bush being a shoo-in if McCain should add himself to the ticket. Baby Bush will never get a second term at leadership of this country. He's done nothing over the past four years. We've had an overdose of his "shoot now and ask questions later" mentality, ass-kissing of the fundamental religionists, and robbing us of everything democratic we stood for in the eyes of the world.