Letter of the Week
Evan Wright did a great job of capturing the ambivalence of marines in combat in "Dead Check in Falluja" [November 2430]. I served seven years as an M-60 machine gunner, and his article is fair and balanced, to use a phrase.
However, I believe that he should have stated more explicitly that the marines in Falluja were especially on guard when checking dead and wounded Iraqis because of several instances of insurgents pretending to surrender, pretending to be dead, etc., and then suddenly becoming very deadly. The unit the marine rifleman belonged to had lost a marine only the day before to an Iraqi pretending to be dead.
It's a cliché that war is hell, but until someone has experienced the smoke, confusion, noise, and yes, fear of it (as Mr. Wright has), he should be careful in making snap judgments about what that marine in Falluja did.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Evan Wright's "Dead-Check in Falluja" [November 2430] is the most powerful piece about the horror of war I have ever read. When young men and women turn 18, register with Selective Service, and become eligible voters, they should have to read and sign a copy. Those who don't truly realize the horrors will always be too quick to vote for those candidates who would lead our nation into them.
Evan Wright says that the administration "has given us a war in which the airing of snuff films on national TV has become routine."
Snuff films don't just "become routine" any more than snuff articles like yours "become routine." Wright chooses to write them, and the Voice chooses to print them, in order to make money. CBS, ABC, NBC, and CNN show their snuff films for the same reason.
Wars are the same as they've always been: evil. It's snuff papers like the Voice and snuff networks like CBS that are new.
In cold blood
I am stunned by Wright's inability to separate right from wrong. If you see people murdering children in cold blood, shouldn't you risk your petty life to stop them? Wright exposes a disgusting aspect of the American ethos: As long as it isn't me, I'm OK with it.
One can only wish Wright had experienced some friendly fire, or even better, fire from people defending their homeland. Wright demonstrates his cowardice with every pen stroke of his essay.
As an Oklahoman and thus a resident of a flyover red state, I felt unfairly targeted by Ward Sutton's post-election 'toon "Gap-Toothed, Missing Link Troglodytes Delighted by Presidential Election Outcome" [November 2430]. I love Sutton Impact and read it every time there's a new one, but I think this is a rare lapse in judgment. I realize there must be a great deal of blue-state resentment toward those living in the red states, but I urge Sutton to be more careful about how he characterizes Middle America.
Though I didn't vote with the majority of Oklahomans, our votes are just as valid as those of New Yorkers. I'm not happy about Bush's re-election either, but stereotyping isn't the way to go if liberals want more red-staters to look at things differently.
Don't bother me
What's with all the letters to the Voice from right-wing assholes crowing over Bush's victory? Nearly half the country opposed himthe intelligent halfand practically the entire world was appalled by the victory of this sanctimonious, mendacious, war-mongering disaster. But yes, this time he was elected, not selected. So, letter-writing right-wing assholes, enjoy your victory. And now leave the rest of us alone.
George De Stefano
Long Island City
Black, whiteand Green
I am confused by Greg Tate's article on Eminem ["White Freedom," November 1723]. Who is to blame: pop culture, white people, or disenfranchised black people? You write as if there are no powerful black figures in the music industry. Do they have anything to say?
My greatest confusion arises out of your comments about him being the greatest rapper of all time. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. It is not for me to decide. My question: If he really is the greatest rapper of all time, no questions asked, why is race the issue? From your writing, I sense an inability to admit the possibility that "black music" could be improved on by a white man.
Walnut Creek, California
Greg Tate replies: Our music needs to be improved upon by a white man? Whoa, horsey. Sounds like somebody's racial issue, if not somebody's racial hangup, to me. Not to mention an oxymoron. But show me the white man who'll dare say he's "improved" upon the perfectly personal art (and the synapses) of a Coltrane, a Hendrix, a Wonder, a Chaka, a Fela, a Marley, a P.E., a Biggie, et al., and I'll show you a man cruising for a critical beatdown. Not to mention one who thinks music is football.
Jazz you like it
Aurora Flores's "The Day the Clave Stopped" [November 1723] contains provocative information, but unfortunately, she has done a disservice to jazz-formatted WBGO-FM by burying the news that it has increased the amount of Latin jazz music it programs daily.
While it is true that, several months ago, the station terminated its discrete Latin Jazz Cruise series, Latin jazz from record and CD was increased significantly. Several weeks following the decision to terminate the discrete show, WBGO management voluntarily decided to return the Latin Jazz Cruise series to the air and to continue the practice of more Latin jazz via disc throughout the week.
Contrary to Ms. Flores's article, WBGO has long recognized the importance of Latin jazz in the New York market and, with this move, has expanded its presentation of it to an all-time high. This is news for celebration, not condemnation.
General Manager, WBGO
Newark, New Jersey
Aurora Flores replies: My article was not a condemnation, but a passionate observation from a concerned community member as well as a Latin-jazz documentarian and educator.
The criticism focused on a sad national trend toward retro programming, activated by decreased federal funding. Management should take instead a more proactive marketing view, embracing specialty shows as well as "mainstreaming" rotation of Latin-jazz artists into regular programming. Trying to "cover the sky with your hand" by disregarding the growing numbers right outside the door seems fiscally foolish at best.
In "Public Approval" [November 2430], Charles McNulty claims that Oskar Eustis's appointment as artistic director of the Public Theater has generated unanimous support in the theater community. I have personal knowledge of Oskar Eustis, and I'm flummoxed by the adulation. I have always found this man to be a pretentious, hypocritical, self-promoting blowhard. Has Mr. McNulty actually seen shows at Trinity Rep? Methinks the emperor has no clothes. Time will tell whether he falls flat on his face at the Public. Hopefully he won't take the theater down with him.
Providence, Rhode Island
Fight or flight
I find it interesting that Garret Keizer ["Calling Out the Guard," The Essay, November 2430] apparently believes that National Guard troops should not be called up to war. Now I myself am a very passionate opponent of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I also believe that if you sign up to serve in the military, you are obligated to go and fight. You can't just take advantage of the benefits.
The Guard is part of the army, and unless Keizer's friend was somehow not aware of that fact when he enlisted, and didn't figure it out, then he must go to Iraq.
Gregory A. Butler
La dolce Mullins
Bravo for 20 years of sheer genius! [La Dolce Musto, November 2430] And brava for getting that girl to "corner your vagina" at the dessert table somewhere! Do you know that you are the only person who cheered me up from a deep depression since the "election" with your last three columns so that I didn't quite go crazy till I gave in and went ahead and made reservations to go to that hot-sheet motel in West Hollywood next week?
I may even be able to get my vagina cornered!
Patrick J. Mullins
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