Eric Davis
Greenwich Village

Witness to the persecution

While there may be differences of opinion about aspects of bicycle advocacy vs. anti-Bush feeling, Baard is incorrect about some events of the Critical Mass protest.

For example, he writes about the area around St. Marks, "Two police officers attempted to disperse the crowd, taking two riders into custody." But he failed to witness several officers on scooters pushing through the crowd. When one rider tried to get out of the way of one officer who was riding very forcefully through the crowd, he got in the way of another scooter, and was thrown to the ground. As he fell, he landed on my friend's bike. Police pinned him on top of the bike. After they violently subdued him, and dragged him off, my friend stepped in to get his bike. You could hear one officer saying "Let him get it," but the other officers tackled him (on top of a police scooter), and arrested him.

As for his closing line about standing on the sidewalk and basically being told he wouldn't be arrested—that may have worked for him, but when my friends and I walked our bikes away, and asked to leave the area, we were told to simply proceed, and we would be allowed to leave. We did as the police said, and seconds later were detained and handcuffed.

Erik Ferguson
Croton, New York

Swift injustice

Re Sydney Schanberg's "Vietnam, the Wound That Won't Heal" [August 18-24]: These attacks on Senator Kerry's Vietnam war service are an unfortunate sideshow of this campaign. Any short-term political gain for President Bush pales in comparison to the long-term damage to the U.S. military.

Senator McCain said that the Swift boat ad is "dishonest and dishonorable." That statement alone was more presidential than anything Bush has said about this matter. Bush's silence initially, and the message he continues to send by not speaking plainly to our troops and veterans here and abroad is: It is OK to question medals awarded by official branches of the military, and it is OK to attack veterans for their service to our country. As a veteran, I say, Mr. President, that it is not OK! Your failure to lead on this issue diminishes all who serve and have served.

Major Robert Tormey,
USAF Retired
Escondido, California

Methinks thou dost

In "Out to Launch" [Mondo Washington, September 1-7], James Ridgeway writes: "Bush has accomplished what no one would have dreamed of in July. He has forced Kerry to build his campaign around Vietnam and events that occurred more than 30 years ago."

What? Kerry and his advisers built this campaign, all by themselves, on this bonehead hero stunt. Didn't they ever think that bringing up Vietnam would also uncover his anti-war stance?

I dunno if the Swift vets are right, but Kerry left himself W-I-D-E open for this kind of attack and should have had a game plan rather than depending upon the old media to cover for him.

God help us all. This Democrat is voting for Nader just as a protest.

Albert Krause
Mesquite, Nevada

Leaving China

Thank you, Lindsay Waters, for the interesting comments on the state of learning and reading in "Bonfire of the Humanities" [The Essay, September 1-7]; it was informative. One comment, though: The remark about "friends in China" saying that the U.S. scholarly traditions are young may need a larger context since the cultural state of affairs in China is a bloody mess, which is why they're all trying to flee to the West. Apart from that minor quibble, I was instructed by the article.

Roger Bradshaw
21st Century/China Daily

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