Letter Of The Week
Re Rick Perlstein's "The Jesus Landing Pad" [May 19-25]: We should be grateful that the Apostolic Christians have edged out the psychics and stargazers of the Reagan/Bush White House, supplanting them with people so fixated on every word of scripture being literal that they are extremely predictable in their views. There can be no doubt where they stand on abortion, gay rights, capital punishment, and other issues that we see as having gray areas; they see these as black and white.
If they are a comfort to themselves, what harm could they do by influencing Bush, who is so morally bankrupt that even a misstep toward religion is an improvement?
Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Laguna Vista, Texas
The Promised Landgrab
Re Rick Perlstein's "The Jesus Landing Pad" [May 19-25]:
I formerly was a member of two churches having eschatological beliefs similar to those of the Apostolic Congress. I can attest that those groups do not want the state of Israel to succeed for the sake of Jewish people. They respect Jews only because they believe the Jews will be converted to Christianity in "the end-times."
As for the undivided control of Palestine by Israel, one must realize what a boon the existence of the state of Israel has been for those who profit (in various ways) from these fundamentalist strains of Christianity. Prior to 1950, these groups were theological sideshows. Now they command the attention (and donations) of millions of adherents. The establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine has given their ideas, previously dismissed by mainline Christian denominations, an aura of legitimacy. They certainly would not want to sacrifice all that for the sake of mere peace in our time, no matter what Jesus may have said on the mount about the blessedness of the peacemakers.
Land O'Lakes, Florida
Re Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Ocean Apart" [May 19-25]:
Finally, an article that outlines the ambivalence Americans feel supporting the democratically elected Aristide and the desire for a just president.
However, I'm upset that the crimes and strife occurring in Haiti right now were not mentioned. Under the auspices of our State Department, former Aristide supporters are being massacred. This is why Congresswoman Maxine Waters is so vociferous: She knows what happens when there's a coup! In addition to this, no mention was made of the difficulties Aristide encountered as a result of the U.S. embargo. I would like to commend past reporting efforts, and encourage the Voice to continue to report on Haiti by highlighting the consequences of the recent U.S. coup.
Secret Haitian Men
How disappointing that Ta-Nehisi Coates chose to highlight the expenditures of the Aristide government on a handful of beltway lobbyists, without providing any explanation for why it might have made these expenditures.
I wonder if it might have had something to do with the active destabilization campaign against Aristide and Lavalas launched by anti-Castro Republicans and intensified after Bush's 2000 "election." Coates did not mention this, or the significant role of the NED, IRI, and USAID in overtly financing opposition parties, "civil society" groups, unions, and others aiming to undemocratically topple the Haitian government. Nor does he examine the history of U.S. covert support for the FRAPH death squads (out of which the latest well-armed "rebels" obviously emerged).
Understanding Haiti's recent history, and the despicable role played by the U.S. government in its suffering, is a prerequisite for putting Aristide's "mistakes" in context.
Ta-Nehisi Coates replies: Thanks for the response. In retrospect, I would concede that more information about the U.S.'s role in Haiti's instability might have helped provide more context. The story was focused on the relationship between African Americans and Haitians, and so some details that may have offered a broader context ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Re Harry G. Levine's "Ralph Nader, Suicide Bomber" [May 5-11]:
You Democrats who are so concerned about Ralph Nader "siphoning off votes" in the swing states should simply get Kerry to choose him as his running mate. That would effectively neutralize Nader's ability to provide a margin of defeat and unify the Democratic Party as a progressive force.
Establishment Democrats hostile to the kind of progressive agenda Nader represents are the real problem here. They offer no choice to an electorate fed up with centrists and conservatives, which is why so few people vote and why elections end up being squeakers. Then the vote rigging takes over and we're left with nothing.
Where did this passion to punish Ralph Nader and all real voices of liberal dissent come from?
Harry G. Levine replies: Zedd's letter nicely illustrates themes in the thought of stalwart Nader supporters: fantasies of political omnipotence ("simply get Kerry to . . ."); one-cause explanations (few people vote because of "Establishment Democrats"); denial of obvious political facts (like the enormous differences between fierce right-wingers and timid moderates); and loony accusations (The Village Voice wishes to punish "voices of liberal dissent"). A product of his time, Zedd neatly mirrors the logic of the Bush-Cheney administration.
May We Have Your Pension, Please?
Thank you for Tom Robbins's excellent feature "The Art of the Shakedown" [May 19-25] about former senator Guy Velella's decision to plead guilty to the crime of bribery. The ex-senator will serve a short time in jail and then get big bucks serving as a lobbyist.
This article made me sick! Senator Velella is a crooked politician who misused his office. Government officials should have nothing to do with him once he's out of jail.
In addition, the state legislature should pass a law depriving elected officials of their pension checks if they plead guilty to a government-related crime. Guy Velella will be earning $80,000 a year for life from the statethanks to his pension. His pension is based on his years of service. But Guy Velella didn't serve the people. He ripped us off.
Greenburgh, New York
I applaud Sharon Lerner's bold and poignant article regarding the Food and Drug Administration's rejection of over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill ("NyQuil, Yes. Morning-After Pill, No," May 12-18). Indeed, while conservatives hail the decision, their reasons do not hold up under scrutiny.
My favorite excuse is that over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill would lead to increased promiscuity. If that is the case, why not ban over-the-counter sales of condoms as well?
Mary T. Shaw
Sharon Lerner is making some very unusual comparisons and implications in her article. There is a fundamental problem with people's mentality about unprotected sex. We need to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to such matters. If the Plan B pill were to be sold OTC, I fear that people would use it as a form of birth control rather than the "emergency" drug it is intended to be. Perhaps a better solution to this problem would be to educate people about practicing safe sex, including the use of birth control in conjunction. Spreading knowledge and a sense of personal responsibility would alleviate this "problem." If one is going to engage in unsafe behavior (unprotected sex, cigarette smoking, drinking, etc.), then one must also be aware of the consequences. If a teenage girl is unaware of the consequences of unsafe sex, then I would have to say that she shouldn't be having sex to begin with. Lerner asks,"So what's a girl who's just had unprotected sex, or had a condom fail, to do?" Perhaps a better question that gets at a more fundamental problemis, What's a 15-year-old girl doing having unprotected sex?
Floral Park, Queens
Sharon Lerner replies: Whether or not you think 15-year-olds should have sex, they do. Forcing them to have babies or abortions doesn't make sense when there is a safe, effective way to prevent those outcomes.
Re Wayne Barrett's "Inside Bush's Indian Bureau" [April 28-May 4]:Congratulations on a well-written article about the influence peddling that goes on at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 2000 and again in 2003, certain individuals mentioned in your article were involved in helping pave the way for a tribe to acquire land in the Bay Area. This is one of many reasons I will not support Bush and his administration this time around.
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