By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
War-y of taking sides
Jerry Saltz's review of my Iraq drawings is filled with glib, lazy mischaracterizations ["Paper Tiger," September 1420]. I'm not pro-war, as Saltz would have discovered had he read any of my journals. He seems to have confused me with Steve Vincent, with whom I spent a lot of time in Baghdad. I admired Steve's conviction, and even drew strength from it, but I've always felt ambivalent about the reasons for and execution of the war. Yet I also had moments of optimism, when I thought that the new Iraq could succeed. My drawings are not about promoting anyone's agendas, neither Wolfowitz's nor Saltz's.
I was making journalistic drawings of what was in front of me. The artists Saltz compares me to, Otto Dix and Kathe Kollwitz, were making didactic drawings long after the fact, of scenes they may or may not have witnessed. They were promoting their ideological views of war and revolution. For me, there were few rights or wrongs or easy answers in Iraq. Saltz is welcome to his opinions, but I resent the implication that I'm somehow immoral for the attention that these drawings have attracted because they don't hew to his Hollywood clichés of what war looks like.
Jerry Saltz replies: It's instructive to know that Steve Mumford doesn't write indignant letters when critics compare him favorably to Otto Dix and Kathe Kollwitz or get angry when he's called "part of a great wartime tradition." Whatever. Mumford's own words say it better than I can. He says he "began to understand the invasion differently after spending time with Iraqis" and that he thinks "the new Iraq could succeed." Fine, he should draw and paint that and not just give us generic Hollywood clichés and courtroom illustration.
Warhol a third correct
Re Sarah Ferguson's "NYPD Unplugs Cindy Sheehan" [September 19, villagevoice.com]: Stop wasting your time and space on Cindy Sheehan. She has had her five minutes of fame. One year she hugs Bush; the next she damns Bush. She spends time with the president and then, in the national press, she demands a meeting with him. Don't you know an opportunist when you see one?
West Hartford, Connecticut
Falluja on the Hudson
As a free-speech absolutist, I'm deeply dismayed by Sarah Ferguson's report on the NYPD's pulling the mic away from Cindy Sheehan at a recent anti-war demonstration in Union Square. But a passing detail in Ferguson's closing paragraph cries out for further comment. Ferguson writes that Dustin Langley of the Troops Out Now Coalition urged the crowd to "open a new front of resistance right here. Bring Falluja to New York and shut it down!" Ferguson had the good sense to call this "radical posturing," but she might have noted that justifying the brutality of the so-called Iraqi resistance is the official position of Troops Out Now, one of several fronts for the Workers World Party.
In the run-up to its March 19 demo in Central Park, Troops Out Now declared: "It is time for the anti-war movement to acknowledge the absolute and unconditional right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation of their country without passing judgment on their methods of resistance."
Since Troops Out Now does indeed "pass judgment" by supporting this "resistance," it is fair to wonder just what Dustin Langley and his friends are advocating when they say "Bring Falluja to New York." Do such statements justify NYPD repression? I don't believe so. But they do tell us a great deal about the moral principles of the Troops Out Now Coalition.
Upper West Side
Only the brave
I'd like to break a golden rule of filmmaking and comment on Akiva Gottlieb's review of a film I produced, Loudmouth Soup [Tracking Shots, September 2127]. Somehow, he saw the film as mean-spirited and "sadistic." He also makes it clear, in the first few lines of his review, that he'd rather watch famous actors than people he hasn't seen before. Perhaps he should be writing for People magazine instead. To define mean-spirited, you'd have to look at his review. To refer to seven accomplished theater actors, one of whom has been nominated for two Tonys, as "F list" is not only nasty, but inaccurate.