Letters to the Editor

Horowitz gets it wrong (again); readers debate digital democracy.

By Letters to the Editor
May 17, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)
main article image

Stop this war


David Horowitz repeats the old
and false canard about Serb tenacity in criticizing our war in Kosovo: "Suppose the American public, footing most of the bill, was prepared
for the long invasion and campaign, and for the casualties necessary to
defeat Serbia's forces, something 33 Axis divisions failed to accomplish
during a five-year campaign in World War II."


This is an outright falsehood
and a result of Tito's postwar Communist propaganda to
bolster the legitimacy of his regime. The truth of the matter is that the
Serbs capitulated quite easily before the Nazi onslaught and occupation duty
in the Balkans was considered somewhat preferable to similar duty in Norway,
where the resistance inflicted much greater damage on German divisions. The
two nominally anti-German resistance movements in Yugoslavia, Tito's
Partisans and the Chetniks, spent far more time killing each other than they did harassing
their German occupiers, who were able to effect an orderly retreat through
the mountains in advance of a Ukrainian division of the Red Army, the real
liberators of Yugoslavia.

-- Brian Erb

Bismarck, N.D.

I wonder what Horowitz means by reinstating "some form of
the draft." Is this code for "replace the welfare rolls with drum
rolls?" Too bad that the self-serving radicalism Horowitz adapted in the
'60s is not open for any other generation but his own.


-- Neal Vedelso

Horowitz once again displays his ignorance of history when he
refers to the Clinton administration as "the first president and the
first national security apparatus that owes its ... authority to illegal
campaign funds supplied by ... a foreign power". The first was the Nixon
administration, financially beholden to Taiwan's ruling Soong family, as was revealed by the
Moorer-Radford affair, by the Watergate tapes and in Horowitz's old
magazine, Ramparts.

-- Michael Treece


Milosz: Peaceful coexistence is still possible in the Balkans

Czeslaw Milosz's
perspective on the Yugoslavia situation comes across as historically savvy
and morally nuanced. But the blurb on Salon.com's front page is neither, and
grossly misrepresents his views. "On nationalism, Serbian crimes and why
NATO's attack is morally justified" has a very different tone from Milosz's
actual statement on the bombing: "I believe NATO's actions are morally,
absolutely justified, except that perhaps when one is frustrated for many
years, one can make mistakes out of frustration ... I don't know whether the
bombing was the best solution." Like many of us, it seems that Milosz
supports NATO's intentions without necessarily supporting its tactics.


It's difficult to write a headline about a subtle statement. But Milosz's
last words should guide any summary: "We should not jump to conclusions and
formulate general ideas .. It is very dangerous."

-- Tom Devine

Send the House home



David Fine has jumped on a tired bandwagon by rehashing the claim that
digital democracy can "fix" our political system. It's time to get real --
technology is not an easy solution to complex political problems. And
indulging in wishful thinking on the subject means we pass up the opportunity
to engage in serious discussion of possible reforms and the Internet's
important and potentially positive role as a political medium.

According to Fine, isolating members of Congress in their districts would
make them "listen" to "the people." This is unlikely. But it is clear that
his scheme would strip debates of any semblance of meaningful deliberation
and prevent the development of the personal trust that is crucial to
legislative politics. Offering voluntary public financing to candidates --
the clean-money option -- is a better solution, though more pedestrian.

On a more general level, Fine's advocacy of quasi-direct democracy means
that ultimately his problem is not with members of Congress but with the
Constitution itself. This is the inevitable -- and misguided -- implication
of most arguments for virtual democracy, which fail to recognize that we
stray from the wisdom of the Founders at our peril.


-- Brendan Nyhan

Mountain View, Calif.

Fine wrote, "Last year, Rutgers University surveyed 50 Web sites devoted
to politics ... and found that
most left a lot to be desired." Rutgers was looking in the wrong place. The most political
debate I have ever seen took place on www.slashdot.org, a
site that claims only to be a news source. Just look at the
intense debate and discussion on the Littleton issue, and it
is clear that political involvement is alive and well on the
Net -- if not at a place called politics.com.

-- Owen Williams

Madison, Wis.

Do e-mail petitions work?



Given Katherine Hobson's New York address, it is puzzling that she fails to
mention an article in the New York Times from March 24 of this year: "Flood of E-Mail Credited with Halting U.S. Bank Plan."
The FDIC chairman, Donna Tanoue, said in that article that the huge volume
of e-mail drove the decision to withdraw the proposed "Know your customer
rule" being considered at the time.

-- Tim Fuller

Jackson, Miss.

Minor saints


I just had to respond to Janis Cooke Newman's article. My
grandmother also took me to Radio City to see a movie and the Rockettes
at Christmas time. We too would follow that with a meal in the
Automat. When I first moved to New York in 1989, the Automat on
42nd Street was still open, and I went there to sit with a cup of
coffee and my journal and marvel at the little windows that opened up to
pieces of pie and plates of vegetables, the brass spigot for the coffee
and the memories of my Grandma Minnie, who died when I was 8.


I wonder how many others have grandmothers who left them with that
particular memory. Thank you for bringing mine back to
me. I, too, have a 4-year-old son and I, too, will share memories of my grandmother
with him.

-- Sharon DeMark

Letters to the Editor

MORE FROM Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------