Letters to the editor

Every book is a mammary; more civilians were killed by NATO than by Serbs.

Published June 17, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Every book is a lesbian book


Actually, I think every book is a transgender book. No, wait ... every book is a man boy love book. Uh, scratch that. Ultimately, every book is about penises. No, that's architecture. Every book is a zygote book? Almost every book is about mammals. Except books by Mickey Spillane, then they are about mammaries. Every book is a mammary book. No, that can't be right. Let's see ... every book is, um, different. Maybe.

-- Tom Gardon

What's this? A lead story by Dorothy Allison? A lead story about lesbians that's also a story about how we're all shaped and saved by books?! Dorothy Allison is brave, sexy and wise; her writing is honest and clean. Thanks for putting her first. For a moment I feel like I'm at the center of a sane universe.

-- Sara Ferguson

A stunning victory


Ian Williams, a typical U.S. apologist, declares victory and ignores several important negative consequences of the bombing of Yugoslavia. The fact that the bombing weakened Milosevic's domestic opposition, the terrible environmental pollution caused by the bombing, the wrecking of the lives of so many innocent civilians, the West's refusal to help rebuild the nation it destroyed, the unsolved problem of the resurgent Kosovo Liberation Army, the radioactive dust remaining from depleted uranium bullets, the unexploded cluster bomblets, the violations of the War Powers Act, the U.N. Charter and other documents of international law -- Williams, like any competent propagandist, manages to spin the story away from all these problems in order to make it come out the way he wanted it to. I wish Salon would not publish crap like this -- there's already plenty of it coming from Albright, Clinton and the other war criminals.

-- Tom Davies

Where was the victory? The ethnic Albanians are going home but one must remember that they were at home when NATO started dropping bombs. More civilians were killed by NATO than were previously killed by the Serbs. The non-proliferation treaty will probably collapse as countries all over the world learn that in order to prevent invasion they must have a deterrent. Armaments companies are expecting a bonanza. Milosevic is still in power. There is no victory in this war. No serious diplomatic efforts were undertaken to prevent it. Everybody loses, and the U.S. is proving itself to be an errant superpower out of control.

-- Paddy Benson

Holocaust in American Life


As a Jew who grew up in the '50s and '60s hearing about the Holocaust and my grandmother's efforts to bring people out of Europe daily, I found your article refreshing. I'm at a loss trying to figure out how to react to the current interest in the Nazi destruction. It sometimes seems that the Holocaust may have broad appeal in the United States because it offers a semi-Christian experience -- catharsis in the death of others. This I find frightening. It represents a kind of Christianizing of Judaism. The central theme of Judaism has been survival. Exodus and Passover are a story and a commemoration of Jewish survival, a time, according to the Bible, in which marking yourself as a Jew was key to being spared. Hanukkah is the story of Jewish military triumph. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the living-through of another year. It is only after the new year has begun that we atone on Yom Kippur, grateful for the life we have received. The Holocaust gives us a Jewish Easter, without benefit of ham, I might add. Somehow I think that this makes it easier for evangelicals to identify with Jews, not a happy prospect. As I write this, I'm very tired and doubt that I'm equipped for sustained argument. Still, I wanted to write to say that there are people who fear that focus on the Holocaust may be as destructive to Judaism as the Germans were of Jews. Thank you for your article.

-- David Bristol

Arlington, Va.

Should hackers spend years in prison?


If I had a swimming pool, and it wasn't fenced properly, and some teenagers swam in my pool in the middle of the night and hurt themselves, I could be sued.

Why aren't computers that aren't properly protected the same as my improperly protected swimming pool? That is, why aren't they considered a public nuisance?

-- Frank Leahy

Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Cambodia?


Any visitor to a new country risks a distorted perspective if she peers through a single, narrowly focused lens. Your Cambodia correspondent [freelance writer Kennerly Clay] seems to have misused Amit Gilboa's "Off the Rails in Phnom Penh: Into the Dark Heart of Guns, Girls, and Ganja" in this way. She describes Cambodia's expatriate community as "overwhelmingly male, middle-aged and 'misfit.'"

As featured in "Off the Rails," which she recommends as an essential reference, they revel in cheap drugs and firearms while sexually exploiting the locals at bargain rates. There are plenty of such people, but they are hardly representative. Thousands of foreigners of all ages live in Cambodia as journalists, aid workers, diplomats, scholars and language teachers. They are drawn to Cambodia by their desire for adventure, their hope for professional advancement, and occasionally even their altruism. After several years in Cambodia I'm convinced that most of them are not keen sexual perverts who purchase children for orgies and then compare notes back at the guest house. Portraying them that way distracts from the other important ways in which foreigners can influence a country like Cambodia. For instance, it's possible to do far more damage in a two-year embassy posting than in a lifetime dedicated to whoring on the cheap. There's nothing wrong with peering into the cesspits in which "Off the Rails" wallows so gleefully. But only part of the story is down there.

-- Rich Garella


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