Letter of the Week
Death or glory
My thanks for Kareem Fahim's "Iraq's Gravity Pulls a Soldier Down" [December 1-7], on Freddie Akintade. A suggestion to the editor: Run a story about either an Iraqi or an American killed in Iraq every week. Counting only Americans, there are over a thousand, and among the "uncounted" Iraqis and foreign nationals, well over 100,000. Sources should be easy to find. Who were they? What did they expect from life? Why were they there? Why did they think they were there?
The toll is staggering, and the mutilations are on par with those of the American Civil War and the trench warfare of WW I. Men and women with shattered minds and truncated bodies, their limbs blown off, their skin seared by fire, will return home to inadequately staffed VA hospitals, food stamps, and in many cases, a life in residence on the nation's street corners. Such is the glory of war.
Debate and switch
Re Sharon Lerner's "The Fetal Frontier" [December 814]: I believe strongly that pro-choice people, "liberals," progressives, all of us cannot cave into letting the far right frame the debate over issues. Yes, there needs to be a discussion of the pro-choice strategy, but part of that discussion should not be to concede ground to the right. We need to talk about the immorality of poverty and violence against women not about the rights of the fetus. Let's face it: The media will use our concern for the fetus against us. Let's make sure all the words out of our mouths help our cause.
Ann M. Klopp
Trenton, New Jersey
Matter of state
Re Garret Keizer's article on the National Guard ["Calling Out the Guard," The Essay, November 24-30]:
Believe it or not, Article I, section 8 (clause 16) of the U.S. Constitution provides that although Congress may write the rule books, the state governors shall appoint all officers of the United States Army, and shall do the actual training, Title 10 of the United States Code notwithstanding (the U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to recognize that the Constitution takes precedence over statute law).
Only a part of the U.S. Army might be under the control of Congress, and then only for the purpose of repelling invasions, not for preemptive occupations of foreign countries.
Somewhat like Switzerland, the Second Amendment was written with the army expressly in mind. In those days, the state governors were reluctant to surrender that much power to the District of Columbia. They thought that the U.S. Constitution meant what it said.
James A. Andrews
Thanks to Nat Hentoff for calling attention to how attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales led the way in skirting international law in ways that led to human rights abuses at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere ["Torture and Death," Liberty Beat, December 8-14].
Even Amnesty International, which maintains a policy of taking no position on the appointment of individual nominees, recently called for examination of Judge Gonzales's views on human rights and humanitarian law, "with particular reference to the Administration's misguided approach to these in the course of its declared 'war on terror.'"
The world is watching. Those involved in the confirmation process must demand a policy of openness and true justice, and the Bush administration must launch its next four years in power by setting an example of positive action and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Our civil liberties depend on it.
Amnesty International U.S.A.
Nat Hentoff makes the case against former attorney general Ashcroft's attack on the Bill of Rights, but he fails to recognize the root cause of this problem ["Worse Than Ashcroft," December 1-7].
While the events of 9-11 were used to propel a fiat against the Bill of Rights in the name of a "Patriot Act," the death knell of the Bill of Rights began long ago when Congress, presidents, and courts separated economic freedom from social freedom. The two cannot be separated without destroying the fundamental liberty of each human being. The advance assault by legislators, bureaucrats, and judges took place in the late 19th century.
These occasional bursts of fascism with intermittent blossoms of liberty do not detract from the fact that the left has placed economic freedom, and the right has placed social freedom, on the platter for statists to devour.
Gregg M. Gaylord
Nat Hentoff replies: Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried with the Second Bill of Rights, but did not succeed enough. Mr. Gaylord appears to have given up. But, in any case, using agitprop words like "fascism" is of no help at all. Organizing is.
Thank you, James Ridgeway, for "Saint Bernard" [Mondo Washington, December 8-14].
Sure sounded scary to have such a person as Kerik as the potential head of Homeland Security. One wondered just what Bush owes these guys who are unqualified for the jobs they're being put up for. Something stinks to high heaven here.
The most sickening thing about Kerik personally is his capitalization on his mother's unfortunate life and demise. Normal people would bury such truths as much as possible. This alone says something sinister about the man.
Re Anya Kamenetz's "Social Insecurity" [Generation Debt, December 1-7]:
I am weary of hearing that our kids are going to be paying for their parents' Social Security. Whose Social Security have we, their parents, been paying for with our taxes for the past 40 years? We will have paid far more into the trust fund for Social Security from our payroll taxes than anyone has, considering that we're retiring much later than our parents did and are unable to survive on Social Security benefits, as those before us were able to do when the cost of living was affordable on a meager income.
While working and paying taxes we raised kids and cared for elderly parents. It would be really great to be fairly represented in the media for a change. Give us a break, please.
Re "Social Insecurity": Social Security works. It is one of the most successful social programs this country has ever had. And it's not going bankrupt. True, there is a shortfall predicted; however, revenues can continue to cover benefits with only a small tweak, if the federal government is so inclined. But it is not. Bush and company are far too anxious to put the money into the hands of their corporate friends in the private sector. Privatization is the real disaster waiting to happen. Your story contains the sort of hype that will only confuse and frighten peopleexactly the sort of tactic the current administration will likely use in their campaign to privatize Social Security.
Not her bag
What happened to the Village Voice I used to enjoy reading?
Ever since the beginning of the election season, all you seem to want to talk about is Bush. I hate Bush too, and I'm disappointed, but I'm tired of hearing about him and anything related to the election.
Finally, I found an article that was completely unrelated to politics: "Bag of Tricks: The Year in Purses" by Lynn Yaeger [villagevoice.com exclusive, December 7]. At last, I thought: I can again read about culture without being reminded of the president! But no. Yaeger still somehow manages to stick it in there: "If these bags could talk they'd cry, 'We want a recount! Ohio was stolen!' as their owners settle in for another four long years."
Please make it stop! Let us move on, enjoy life, and stop acting like sore losers.
The photo of Bill Doggett accompanying Robert Christgau's "Recyclables" [December 8-14] was miscredited to J Records. The photo should have been credited to Jack Vartoogian.
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