Letter of the Week
Peace out

I am a soldier recently stationed in Iraq. If anything should happen to me I wish not to be part of any peace protest. Do not represent me as an empty coffin or pair of boots. Do not use my photo or anything related to me for any peace purposes. My thinking is that of the horrible history of the American peace movement. After the Civil War it was to bring the troops out of the South. We had around 80 years of Jim Crow laws and racism. Vietnam and Korea were two of the three major engagements against Communism. The first was in 1919 and 1920, when American troops fought against the Bolsheviks in Russia. Thanks to the peace movement American troops were brought home, Communism flourished, and around 100,000 Americans were casualties in Korea and Vietnam. That would not have happened if we had stayed in Russia. The peace movement was against our involvement during WWII—Jews sent to the camps were a European problem and bayoneted Chinese were an Asian problem. The U.S. military saves lives and frees countries, while the peace movement keeps dictators and hate groups in power. When was the last protest against North Korea?

Larry Klass
773rd Transportation Company

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Pervert's playground

Re Aina Hunter's "The Children's Hour" [May 3–9]: Changing the laws about having sex with underage kids won't change anything. The pimps will always be around because there's a market for underage kids. When I was 10 to 15 years old, men in their forties would hang out by my school and pick up girls. It was very normal for a girl that age to have a 35-year-old boyfriend. The people having sex with children need to know that they will lose their job, house, and family. Things will only change when people stop hiding the fact that their father or son likes having sex with kids. Things are not going to change until we change our attitude about sex.

Medina McPherson

No civil way

In Kathryn Belgiorno's "21st-Century Peep Show" [April 26–May 2], law professor Daniel Solove suggests that women could deal with street harassment using structures put in place "to deal with things in a more orderly or civil way" (other than posting pictures of harassers online). There is no orderly or civil way to deal with street harassment. What Solove means is that women should simply accept it. The extreme street harassment I have faced in New York City has caused some of the most degrading experiences of my life. In warm weather, I cannot walk a single block without receiving a catcall. The comments are embarrassing and they often make me fear for my safety. Street harassment creates a sense of violation and helplessness. Anyone who believes otherwise has obviously not experienced it.

Ashley Burczak

Under glass

Re Kristen Lombardi's "Undulating Facades" [May 10–16]: At a time when New York's neighborhoods are experiencing massive development pressure, decisions like the Landmarks Preservation Commission's recent approval of an undulating glass tower in Greenwich Village are particularly disturbing. Village residents have spent decades fighting to preserve their community. One of the few protections we have against powerful and deep-pocketed developers is landmarking, which is supposed to ensure that new construction maintains, rather than transforms, the character of our neighborhoods. The green light the city has given this developer contrasts quite sharply with the stories of the enormous time and expense average residents have had to expend to conform—quite willingly—to landmarks requirements for their neighborhood. It makes one wonder if the city is letting even these modest protections be co-opted by the real estate industry. Landmark regulations are one important way New York has kept its distinctive character, even as much of the rest of the country is taken over by strip malls and chain stores. Approving a developer's glass tower in a quaint historic district threatens not only to undermine the character of one of New York's most beloved landmark neighborhoods, but also to undermine confidence in a system that depends upon an even playing field and uniform standards for everyone in order to succeed.  

Andrew Berman
Executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Manhattan

Borderless immigrants

In "A Day Without Immigrants" [villagevoice.com, May 2], Sarah Ferguson quotes an illegal immigrant named Carlos as saying, "White Americans don't know what it's like to live every day without papers." There were a few Eastern European immigrants at the protest, too, and I'll bet they had their papers. There's no problem with immigration from south of the border or from anywhere else, but there are tens of millions of people around the world who'd like to come to the U.S. but don't have the luxury of walking across the border. Lazy minds that support the status quo think everything will be OK if we just don't take any action—it'll all be cool. We don't want anyone's feelings hurt or can't stand to think of a poor dishwasher having to get a temporary worker's permit. Meanwhile, people in Belarus, for example, don't have rights that Mexicans do: to start a business, to vote in a somewhat fair election, or to read a free press. Belarus and other countries in Europe and Asia are out of sight and therefore out of your minds.

Bob Earle
Bellevue, Washington

Sarah Ferguson responds:

The Carlos I quoted is from Colombia, so I doubt he and his family simply walked across the border, any more than someone from Belarus would. I apologize for neglecting to include his nationality in my story. But it is somewhat lazy thinking to assume he's Mexican.

True, the majority of protesters in New York and across the country have been Mexican. But my point in the story is that these bills affect all immigrants, legal and illegal, regardless of nationality.

Black slights

Nat Hentoff's passionate call for disclosure on American-run "black sites" ["CIA Secret Prisons Exposed," Liberty Beat, May 10–16] is undermined by his hyperbole. These prisons cannot be fairly compared to the Soviet gulag system, where tens of thousands of innocent Soviet citizens were held. Hentoff's description of disappeared detainees is over-the-top. As he surely knows, this term was famously applied to Argentine prisoners who were, in fact, murdered by the state. Hentoff's credibility is not enhanced by use of the passage from James Risen's book, which relays rumor as undisputed fact. The quote that "once you get sent to Bright Light [an alleged black site], you never come back" is unintentionally comic: Never apparently means not for at least four years, since that's how long these sites have existed. Hentoff's credulity in assessing the claims of former detainees matches that of Amnesty International, which swallows such accounts hook, line, and sinker. It doesn't occur to either Hentoff or AI that these people have great incentive to lie.

Bill Ireland
Ontario, California

Nat Hentoff replies: I use the term gulags in the generic sense—like holocaust. I suggest Mr. Ireland read the documented reports on the CIA secret prisons from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First. When the American delegation appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture last week, they refused to give any details about what goes on in those secret CIA prisons, including the interrogation techniques—or whether there had been any deaths following the interrogations.

Sign me up

Tell Hentoff that I do not give a damn about the human feces in the secret prisons. If it were up to me, I would torture them until they revealed everything, and then I'd put them out of their misery with a bullet in the head. I will gladly volunteer to do all the dirty work.

Avrahom Katz
Teaneck, New Jersey

Worth the Zen bucks

My experience of the film Refuge was entirely different from that of R. Emmet Sweeney [Tracking Shots, May 1–16]. I learned an awful lot from the interviews with Scorsese, Stone, etc., from the West, and the remarkable statements from the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans who have come to the West and actually found refuge here. Contrary to what Sweeney said I learned an enormous amount about Buddhism and about those who have come from the East to bring Buddhism here. I felt as though a whole new understanding was opened up to me. Actually, the Dalai Lama discourages people from changing religions in Refuge.  

Paul Pellicoro

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