Letters to the Editor

Saul Landau argues war has had its chance; Dr. Laura is trying to destroy our libraries.


Letters to the Editor
June 3, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

You can't negotiate with a war criminal
BY IAN WILLIAMS

(05/27/99)

and

Give war a chance
BY IAN WILLIAMS

(05/14/99)

Ian Williams' column is called "Give War a Chance." Where has he been this
century? War has had its chance and then some: The N.Y. Times, citing U.N.
figures, said war has taken the lives of 160 million people since 1900. Is
that not chance enough? Does Ian Williams, who proclaims himself a
socialist, not recall how British socialists voted to send their working-class youth to die against German working-class youth during World War I?
Will it take a rewrite of "All Quiet on the Western Front" to translate the
realities of war into the brains of those, like Ian Williams, too old to
fight but in obvious need of vicarious war pleasures?

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Williams, a, middle-aged man, extols the virtues of war -- a war whose
essence is cowardly, for it doesn't risk its own people in Yugoslavia, but
unleashes bombs and missiles onto military and -- "mistakenly" --
civilian targets. Recall, this monstrous NATO air campaign that has killed
Yugoslav men, women and children was undertaken in the cause of stopping
ethnic cleansing and punishing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. I would bet
that Milosevic's backside bears no NATO lash marks. But NATO
has done incalculable damage to human life and infrastructure, and NATO bombing
has not protected the ethnic Albanians.

Because NATO bombs have destroyed so much innocent human life and property
and people have seen the images of that horror, U.S. public opinion now calls
for a bombing halt, and Williams represents a minority opinion. He
extolled the virtues of Europe's "left" governments finally doing
something, They have done precious little for their own poor and working
classes, but their imperial display against a defenseless people has
certainly shown their true character.

Williams cast slurs on those who made cogent
anti-bombing arguments: Tom Hayden, Jesse Jackson, Ariana Huffington and
myself, slurring the name of the chair I proudly hold at California State
Polytechnic University Pomona. Williams, like NATO, failed to demonstrate how war would stop rather than accelerate ethnic cleansing; Williams, like NATO, showed no plan to return
expelled or fleeing (some from NATO bombing) Kosovars to their homes.
Williams, like NATO, apparently believes that bombing should strengthen the
democratic opposition to Milosevic (though according to most press reports, that wing of Milosevic's opposition has been forced into loyalty stances by the bombing). Williams, like NATO, ignores the growing stop-the-bombing sentiment in the West.

Milosevic merits punishment -- but by law and through a strengthened United Nations, not by illegal and immoral bombing. Had the recent indictment of Milosevic and a freezing of his
assets come three months ago, the world community might have been able to slow down
the cleansing; more U.N. observers, a larger U.N. role, the addition of other
intermediaries might have placed obstacles between the Serb goons and the
Kosovar Albanians. Now the question emerges from the growing mound of Yugoslav rubble and corpses: What is gained by destroying the rest of Yugoslavia? Whatever moral imperative NATO
had when it began bombing, it has been lost in the skies over Belgrade.
The NATO course seems to lead toward the total destruction of Yugoslavia.

For all their military prowess in bombing defenseless people, neither NATO
nor its mouthpieces like Ian Williams have had much diplomatic success.
They have yet to secure Russian backing, or indeed, sway the significant
minorities or majorities in their own NATO countries who oppose the bombing.
Unless NATO wants to obliterate Yugoslavia, the logical road would lead to negotiation.
Milosevic remains the recognized leader, even though lots of Yugoslavs and
others prefer that he would disappear. So, will NATO finally negotiate --
with Milosevic?

Yes, war is having yet another chance. Ian Williams must feel virtuous as
the smart bombs miss yet another military target and he sees the images of
corpses of an 8-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister -- but for the
tough aging hawks, that's only collateral damage.

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-- Saul Landau

Hugh O. LaBounty Chair of Interdisciplinary Applied Knowledge

California State Polytechnic University

Pomona, Calif.

Ian Williams gives the historically challenged idiots of
the American left a swift kick in the pants. These fools are being manipulated by Belgrade and seem not to care; they are letting
their disdain for the centrist Clinton swamp their critical judgment. And
I can't believe how readily Hayden and company have fallen for the united
Fox/G.O.P./Belgrade spin on things. Williams shows the creaky underpinnings of
what passes for the thought processes of the American anti-war
leftists/rightists.

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-- Teresa Huberty

Minneapolis

Dr. Laura targets the new Sodom: Libraries
BY PATRIZIA DILUCCHIO
(05/27/99)

I'm a public librarian, and can tell you with candor that Dr. Laura
can't see the facts.

1) The children of America are not flocking to
public libraries in order to access porn. The
preferred Web destination of the vast majority of
teenage Internet users is the World Wrestling
Federation site. Think about it: What do men, young and old, do with porn? Do they want to do it in the middle of a public library?

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2) Filters don't work. Studies have been done;
numerous anecdotes exist to testify that the various
Net nannies routinely block the innocent (recipes
for chicken breasts and ads for adult continuing
education) while letting through egregious sex grime
(try looking up "Black Beauty"). Are librarians supposed to sit over the
computers with a stick ready to slap little hackers?

Let's face it, America's public libraries
are no friend to Dr. Laura. We stock lots of copies of
her books and tapes so people can use them for free.
We also buy books from her competitors and detractors
and make them available for free. Just think if she
managed to single-handedly destroy what Melvil
Dewey and Andrew Carnegie took 150
years to build. No more free public libraries! Think
of the sales!

-- Anne Sharp

Livonia, Mich.

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Thank you for publishing the article on Dr. Laura's persecution of the
ALA and librarians. Dr. Laura's crusade has led to the cancellation of
funding by Toys R Us to build children's reading rooms.

Dr. Laura's allegations are not merely a ratings ploy, but the
beginnings of a concerted effort to turn the secular United States into
a religious fundamentalist nation -- either Jewish or Christian fundamentalism
would serve her agenda. Influencing corporate America to withdraw
financial support from the ALA to serve its youth population may be just
the first step in meeting her goal.

-- Linda Rudell-Betts

NATO in denial
BY TOM HAYDEN

(05/27/99)

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Looks like Hayden is falling prey to the "Good Old Days Syndrome."
Getting up into your 50s and wanting to relive a little of your
glory days, eh Tom? Teach-ins? Good God!

As one aging baby boomer to another, it ain't the
same. Milosevic is a shifty, nasty bastard who needs to be stopped. If he isn't done in now, he's going to go into Macedonia, Albania and most likely Greece if he thinks he can get
away with it. He has shown he has no respect for borders in the past
and will do so again. This is not Vietnam. Get over yourself, Tom.

-- Al Schlaf

Des Moines, Iowa

Finally, a lone sane voice sets the record straight. Tom Hayden presents
a balanced report on who has done what to whom in Kosovo, and why it's
both wicked and absurd for NATO to continue its airstrikes. Partition is
the only reasonable solution.

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Allegations of genocide aimed at the Serbian army and the unceasing
punishment of Serbian civilians in the media, as well as by NATO bombs,
have disguised the cruel acts of the KLA and who their true allies are.
This is a civil war, not a one-sided attack. But when the media wants to
sell U.S. involvement, it helps to promote the sad tale as David (Kosovar
Albanians) battling the much bigger Goliath (Serbs). Better to reduce a
complicated story to black and white, since all those shades of grey
will only confuse the voters.

When the KLA strikes against Serbia, they're called freedom fighters.
When Serbs fight back, they're branded as ethnic cleansers. The people
who heroically fought against the Nazis in WWII are now equated with
their former oppressors. It's time to brush up on your Orwell, folks. He
called such propaganda doublespeak.

And while Madeleine Albright has been busy displaying her brand-new
cojones to the other warmongers, she
appears to have overlooked this irony: A Serbian family in Belgrade gave
her shelter during the Holocaust. One wonders whether they were among
the recent victims of the bombing of Belgrade. One wonders how she, a
survivor who ought to know better, can equate this war with the
Holocaust. And one wonders if that family regrets having saved that particular little girl. She appears to have forgotten her good manners.

-- Pat Katzmann

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Hayden's assertion that the "The KLA ... ultimately seeks to include
Kosovo as part of a greater [Islamic] fundamentalist Albania allied with
the oppressive regime in Turkey" is curious. The "oppressive regime in
Turkey" he talks about is virulently secular. It recently ejected a female
member of the Turkish parliament for wearing a head-scarf, considered an
Islamicist symbol in Turkey. Hardly the sort of folks that might be
candidates for membership in some sort of fundamentalist Islamic alliance
in the Balkans. Hayden is either trying to take advantage of the general public's relative
ignorance on all matters Balkan, or is revealing his own. Either way,
Hayden has neutralized his own credibility as a rational and well-informed
participant in the debate over the NATO bombings.

-- Murat Konar

Birds do it. Bees do it. Even teens on the WB do it ...
BY JENN SHREVE
(05/28/99)

The Salt Lake City Weekly piece on vegan high school kids in Salt Lake
City that you linked to was missing an important bit of
context. The passing, almost facetious mention of "a so-called
Straight Edge gang" basically downplays the increasing violence and
militancy of the Straight Edge movement in SLC. I have heard countless
stories from SLC kids who have had beers knocked out of their hands at
shows or have even been attacked by groups of Straight Edgers who are so
opposed to drinking, drugs and smoking that they are willing to do pretty
much anything to inflict their beliefs on others. And, in recent years,
vegetarianism and veganism have been added to the spectrum of Straight
Edge tenets. The tension between Straight Edgers and non-Straight Edgers
in SLC is real and very problematic despite what the author of this
article would have you believe. The school board was responding to this
tension.

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In light of this, the Jordan school board's decision makes more sense:
It is the board's responsibility to preserve order in its schools, and
sometimes that means making some unpopular decisions. Like it or not, the
rules in high school are a little different than those in the real world.
Obviously, not every vegan is a violent thug, just as not every kid with a
Colorado Rockies hat is a gang member. A school district can't reasonably
have a "well, the good kids can wear this but the bad ones can't" policy,
however. To my mind, that's a lot more questionable than the current
policy.

-- Kat Chow

TV to over-49s: You haven't dropped dead yet?
BY JAMES PONIEWOZIK
(05/27/99)

I have a solution for over-50s fed up with the networks' youth obsession: Get a satellite dish, get a VCR and a collection of tapes, get online and tell the networks to take a long walk off a short pier. As incapable as they seem to be of long-term thinking, Y2K will be an old and moldy story before the networks wake up to the fact that the scene has changed. They aren't the only game in town anymore, and everyone seems to know it but them.

By the way, Salon, too, is far from being the only zine on the Web. How about declaring a moratorium on the name-calling and snide references to laxatives and wheat flakes?

-- Marcia Smith

As an over-49er, the most enjoyment I get from the networks these days is
watching their entertainment divisions implode as they struggle over the
same demographic within an overall shrinking audience. It's a clichi, but it has an element of truth: The television networks are following a trajectory similar to the radio networks of 50 years ago, and a similar outcome seems likely. Last time I looked, not many of us were still
gathering around the Philco in the living room to listen to the Lone Ranger.

-- Charles Pankenier

Ridgefield, Conn.


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