Peace Of My Mind
Re Nat Hentoff's "Where Is the Peace Movement?" [May 11]: I've lost patience with the whiny garbage of armchair analysts who pine for the '60s. I'll tell you where the peace movement is: organizing every day at the grassroots level, against the illegal war in Yugoslavia and every other manifestation of U.S. militarism.
Here in Chicago, our organization has participated in a dozen teach-ins or public forums against the Kosovo war. At two of them, I was greatly annoyed by three university professors who tried to impress students with their résumés as '60s antiwar protesters. Two now support Clinton's war in Kosovo, and the third hadn't made up his mind yet, but, like Hentoff, he had the mistaken impression that nothing was happening on campus. He was stunned when I told him that this was our 13th war demonstration in less than six weeks.
We've organized three demonstrations in Chicago, including one in which over 500 people protested on NATO's 50th anniversary. Busloads will be going to Washington for the June 5 national demonstration against the war, and we will mobilize thousands from the Midwest to protest President Clinton's June 12 speech at the University of Chicago and Secretary of State Albright's June 18 speech at Northwestern University.
In recent years, there have been grassroots campaigns to close the School of the Americas, ban land mines, and support freedom for East Timor. All have flourished below the radar screen of the mainstream media, and without much support from '60s-era activists now comfortably ensconced in academia. And just as these campaigns will succeed, so will the movement to end our government's two current undeclared, illegal, and immoral wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia. Hentoff quoted the great nonviolent leader A.J. Muste on the need to persevere. I couldn't agree more. Here's another Muste gem: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
Illinois Peace Action
Nat Hentoff replies: I am glad to hear the news. But so far, Illinois Peace Action has been joined by only a small number of active antiwar groups around the country. They are increasing, but still left behind are most of the former peace activists of the '60s and the Clintonized Democratic Party. Tom Hayden, in the May 24 Nation, is an exception. I am also glad to hear A.J. Muste is still being cited. However, it is not in the spirit of Muste to use the word "whiny."
The way James Ridgeway uses his Mondo Washington column to print unsubstantiated allegations and gossip about the Clintons is really outrageous.
An example was the unflattering anecdote about Hillary Clinton's alleged involvement with a bodyguard ["Fresh Meat for Starr"] in last week's issue. The source was L.B. Brown, who is part of the anti-Clinton cottage industry in Arkansas.
There are so many right-wing publications that spread this nonsense. Must the Voice follow their lead?
Jason Vest, in Press Clips [May 11], made many good points in his analysis of the reporting on the two boys who went postal in Littleton. However, before making the statement that actor Yaphet Kotto's "sole qualification to sound off on Littleton appears to be his role as a police lieutenant on Homicide," Vest should have checked it out. Kotto and his family are former residents of the Colorado town.
How nice that in William Mersey's "Cops and Rubbers" [May 11], the only sex worker whose nationality was disclosed was "Maria, a striking Puerto Rican prostitute." That certainly made me, a Puerto Rican American woman, incredibly proud of my heritage.
Why was Lily described as "dark-skinned," April as a "veteran" worker, Suzie given no description at all, and Maria characterized by her nationality? I thought that a "liberated" publication such as the Voice didn't endorse the stigmatization of Hispanics.
Arlene F. Rivera
William Mersey replies: I apologize for my lack of sensitivity. You make a good point, and in the future I will choose my words more carefully.
Richard Goldstein's "The 'Faggot' Factor" [May 11] was the best analysis of the Littleton, Colorado high school shootings that I have read.
The killing spree came one week before a Marilyn Manson concert in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which I attended with my two teenage sons and a group of their friends. The rampant speculation in the press as to what "caused" the Columbine massacre was disgusting.
A scapegoat was needed. Manson fit the bill.
Michael Atkinson should stick to writing movie reviews and leave the cultural criticism to others ["The Movies Made Me Do It," May 11].
That Atkinson bought into society's readiness to hold Hollywood and Oliver Stone accountable for acts of school violence is troubling. Is the Voice, former vanguard of progressive politics, embracing the retrograde position of Charlton Heston? The only thing Stone is guilty of with Natural Born Killers is a terrible movie.
Michael Atkinson replies: Categorize my politics all you want; I was just asking questions nobody knee-jerking "progressives" in particular seems to be able to answer with authority. Stone's innocence isn't an issue; his movie's social impact is.
Although I sympathize with students who feel that the money CUNY allocated to buy guns should have been used for academic programs, the 69 percent drop in crime that resulted from the creation of the school's new security force is impressive [Alisa Solomon, "Big Guns on Campus," May 11].
Anyone who claims that armed security isn't needed should consider their safety. How CUNY's security guards are deployed should be discussed, but not their elimination.
As a student at Brooklyn College, Alisa Solomon's "Big Guns on Campus" shocked me. I was not aware that in the future our security guards may be carrying guns. It is important for students to know that our tuition is funding such a policy. This is certainly not where I want my money to go.
Luc Sante, in "Sewers of Budapest" [May 18], described Tom Waits's 1980s albums, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Franks Wild Years, in a way that captured their true beauty.
But how does somebody who still loves to crank up "Heartattack and Vine" and "Nighthawks at the Diner" make the transition to Waits's new sound on Mule Variations?
Turntables have been an artistic presence in non-hiphop music for a while now, but I find the idea of Tom Waits crooning to a scratch rather eerie.
Reading Guy Trebay's "The Enemy Within" [May 11], I felt disgusted by the hypocrisy of the U.S. military. Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy remains one of his biggest errors in judgment. If gay people want to serve their country, they have to lie about an essential aspect of their being, yet heterosexuals are free to taunt and harass at will. How can you expect gays to survive under the pressure of having to hide who they are?
I enjoyed Peter Braunstein's "Neck and Neck" [April 27], about Audrey Hepburn and the modern starlets who hope to fill her elegant shoes.
Braunstein is correct in stating that "the next Audrey" is a fallacy because no one really wants another. And even if we did, we'd be out of luck: she was one of a kind.
Regarding Guy Trebay's article "Overkill" [April 13]:
Recently, while reading an account in a local community paper about Eddie Northington's murder, I found myself thinking that his death was probably not a hate crime. I figured that the victim had just shot his mouth off one too many times in the wrong place. When I turned the page and saw Eddie's picture, I realized that I knew him! I met Eddie when I was a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. I did not know him well, but I enjoyed talking to him.
Trebay's piece in the Voice brought home to me that I had initially accepted Eddie's murder without any sense of outrage. No one deserves to die like Eddie did not for any reason.
Sharon Lerner's analysis of our nation's health-care system ["Profit and Loss," April 6] was right on the money. For 80 years, right-wing ideologues have frightened us with the bogeyman of rationing under a national health program, to the point where 44 million of us are now rationed right out of our private-market system, 30 million-plus are partially rationed, and the rest of us have to fight like hell with our health plans just to get the care we need.
The result? We spend almost twice as much per person on health care as other national health programs and we allow for-profit entities to rake off 10 to 30 percent or more for administration, slick advertising, outrageous executive salaries, and profits. Meanwhile, those of us in need suffer and die. And now they want to turn our only national health insurance program, Medicare, into a voucher scheme to feed HMO profits.
The private insurancemanaged care revolution has failed. It's getting to the point where we cannot afford to get sick anymore. But the "dirty" little secret the insurance industry doesn't want us to know is that we can do better. We can afford the best health care for everybody by instituting a universal health-care program. Representative Jim McDermott's American Health Security Act has been reintroduced in Congress, and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried's New York health bill has passed out of committee and awaits Speaker Sheldon Silver's assent for a likely positive floor vote.
The only way we're going to get out of this mess is if people demand that public officials guarantee comprehensive, affordable, quality health care for all. Enough of feeding the beast!
Mark Hannay, Director
Metro New York
Health Care for All Campaign
Fanning The Flames
Great article on the MetroStars fans at Giants Stadium [Denise Kiernan, "Among the Thugs: Who Are the Real Soccer Hooligans at Giants Stadium?" May 11]. There is nothing quite like the fan culture of soccer. It's a shame that security personnel cannot tolerate this.
As anyone who has attended soccer games overseas can attest, hearing fans chanting, singing, drumming, etc., is infinitely preferable to being in the comparatively lethargic crowds that watch American professional games. I'll take rambunctious fans over annoying, piped-in organ music and cries of "Charge!" any day.
Death Calls DONDI
Guy Trebay, in "Getting Up: DONDI and the Late, Great Art of Graffiti" [May 4], described the life of my brother, Donald J. White, from 1977 to 1988.
DONDI used the city of New York as his gallery and its public space and transit system as his canvas. He walked away from the fickleness of the art world in '88. He fought demons and overcame obstacles, found contentment in his life.
When death called, it did not ask DONDI what disease he had. The epidemic cut short my brother's life. He is greatly missed.
Michael A. White
Letters should be brief, and phone numbers must be included. All letters are subject to editing for clarity, legal, and space considerations. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, The Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003. Or fax to 212-475-8944 or e-mail to email@example.com. E-mail letters must include phone numbers.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.