Letter of the Week
Bless the wild
Re Rick Perlstein's "Get Mad. Act Out. Re-Elect George Bush" [August 25-31]: I appreciate Perlstein's concern that RNC protesters may unwittingly tip the outcome of their actions in the wrong direction. However, his hyper-emphasis on the political (as in "schmoozier") aspects of protesting is alarming. I am not a dirty dreadlocked street protester, but I value their presence and appreciate their actions. The fringe is what moves the bloated middle forward. This is how social progress is made: The radical march on, the meek-mannered political types do some mopping up. You can't throw out part of the machine and expect to get anywhere.
His comments about MLK's methods are verifiable, but out of date. The enemy has mutated, become more dangerous, and Perlstein expects us not to change? Bless the ones who are treated with fascist violence by paranoid numskulls. Their pain is our gain.
Re Michael Musto's "Alien vs. Predator" [August 18-24]:
Michael, I almost never read your paper, but while surfing this morning I ended up reading your article on Governor McGreevey and nearly pissing myself. You are a rip. I had to write to tell you what a fantastic writer you are; only a gay man could be so hysterical. So cheers from this straight, retired Jew in Florida. I will be looking for you from now on.
Musto deserves the Pulitzer for this one. McGreevey just took us back a few steps, or forward (by showing that people in public life can also be gay). People are much smarter about the gay situation today. They are no longer blinded by the powerful taking advantage of their positions to get what they want. Unfortunately, the "far wrong" is smacking their lips (no pun intended).
West Palm Beach, Florida
I loved the McGreevey piece. As a former New Jerseyan, my first reaction was "the poor man, how he must have suffered before his announcement." Then, as more facts surfaced, I found that the gov was again taking care of himself, by trying to appear "wounded" when in fact he was practicing damage control. Cipel must have been hired strictly for sexual reasons; he wasn't qualified for the job McGreevey gave him. But Cipel is not the only one who got screwed by the governor. The citizens of NJ have been, once again, royally screwed. Bring back Florio!
I disagree with Rick Perlstein's basic premise in "Get Mad. Act Out. Re-Elect George Bush" [August 25-31], that the protesters at the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention were a major factor in Humphrey's loss to Nixon.
My parents, both lifelong Republicans, voted Democratic for the first and last time that year because of their shock at the intolerance, bullying, and beatingsfrom Mayor Daley to the brutish cops on the street. No. Humphrey lost because he refused to disassociate himself from the Johnson war machine. He remained the faithful servant of the president, fell on his sword, and died a political deathboth his and the Democratic party's. Hundreds of thousands stayed home or voted for third-party candidates (I voted for Eldridge Cleaver).
Thus, the Democratic party lost much of its soul. The more conservative elements are still in control, leading us dangerously close to a one-party, corporate-conservative stateit's called fascism.
As much as I can identify with the need to protest the thug regime of George Bush, I find myself more in agreement with Rick Perlstein and his point that politics is about communication. Who are the protesters trying to communicate with? The undecided voter? The media? It's become clear that the major media won't or can't deliver an honest message. So how will the undecided voter be convinced by the anti-Bush message of the protesters? To me, protesting the presence of the Republican Party is like protesting rats in the subways. They don't care if you don't like them. Either put up with them or try to get rid of them, which, here, means pulling the lever in November.
East Elmhurst, Queens
Re Erik Baard's "Critical Mess" [villagevoice.com, August 31]:
I am really happy that Erik Baard wrote about the general civility and reasonableness of the police during the Critical Mass ride on August 27. I was also there and also appreciated the massive (and expensive) effort on our behalf to block traffic and keep the peace. The point of the ride is best made in motion and respect for the law. Blind belligerence and prejudice are not interesting, not cool, and not effective.
Is Mr. Baard a cop? His article suggests an alarming subservience to authority, and to the police specifically. As a participant in the ride, I was twice almost rammed by aggressive cops on mopeds trying to stop the rideboth times when I actually was obeying the traffic signals. I saw them both that night and in further demonstrations this week make mass arrests irrespective of the actual behavior of the arrestees, scooping up whoever happened to be in range. The police have hardly been the image of moderation Baard suggests.
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 arrestedthat 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.
Croton, New York
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,
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.
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.
21st Century/China Daily
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