Letters to the Editor

Dignifying hate with media attention; George W.'s military service no longer matters; refugees need the hopefulness of American movies.

Published July 15, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

"Jews have been the villains, not the victims"



The education of Alice


American history ex

It used to be conventional wisdom among the media that
hate-mongers like the so-called Church of the Creator were best ignored,
not dignified by any response. Perhaps circumstances and a new
medium have changed that. If such is the case,
why not be more active in the nature of your response? How about each day
posting on your site one of their alleged 100,000 "facts" white folk
should know, along with -- or inviting -- its documented
rebuttal/refutation/correction/explanation? Having covered the hate trial
of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel here, some years back, and been sued by
Lyndon LaRouche over a book I wrote about him, I'm well aware of what
passes for a "fact" with such groups and the kind of tunnel-visioned
followers they attract. If it takes "100,000 Refutations: The Pamphlet," it
would be well worth the trouble to silence the braying of jackbooted
asses for another decade or so.

-- Paul William Roberts


The entire series of articles suggests that neo-Nazi groups are seductive
monsters, just waiting for hapless children to stumble into them and be
corrupted. I hold little sympathy for Alice; if she wants to harness her train to an
ideology that was practically annihilated 50 years ago and is held in wide
disrepute, more power to her. She'll wind up disenfranchised, reviled and
on Jerry Springer -- I'm not sure which of the three is worse. And you can
only keep your beliefs secret for so long, at which point she'll find out
how people respond to racist beliefs -- i.e., with social ostracism.

Is there a danger? Sure. But every time some fool gets it into his head that
God has picked him to exterminate the impure, he gets tons of free publicity
for his cause and a chance for the slime that put him there to propagate his
beliefs. Ignore them, scorn them, put them on the Jerry Springer show like
the mutants they are; but don't give them serious attention. There are
thousands of murders that don't get the same attention whose victims were no
less important, regardless of the murderer's motives.

-- Darren MacLennan

Your article by Vivienne Walt is yet
another in a seemingly endless parade of dominant media propaganda pieces
intended not to inform, but to indoctrinate. It is utterly reprehensible of you to
abuse your First Amendment rights by neglecting to present the true
beliefs of the White Nationalist movement today. Whether you like it or not, it is the quickest-growing and one of the half-dozen or so most widely held political
perspectives in 1990s America. If we're so alienated, if we believe that the
media is a Jewish-capitalist cabal, if we believe that cabal is conspiring
against us, you might consider the possibility that your obvious refusal to
treat people like Matt Hale or David Duke with the same degree of respect
that you give to minority buffoons like Al Sharpton and Johnnie Cochran just
might have a wee bit to do with that.

I would also like to say that I disagree with the actions taken by Ben Smith.
I believe he was a good and patriotic young white man, but isolated
acts of physical violence, lynchings, etc., are simply not the way to effect
social change, nor are such actions appropriate behavior for any civilized
white man. Yet as much as I deplore the tragic course of action undertaken
by Smith (the greatest tragedy of all being the loss of a young white
Nationalist activist), it should be noted that despite all the media hysteria
to the contrary, such actions represent only the most minuscule portion of
violent crime in America. Perhaps one day "liberals" will figure out a way to get blacks to behave
as well as whites do, and if so, then our White Nationalist movement will
almost surely perish. But as long as the disparity in behavior amongst the
races remains so starkly evident, our movement shall continue its rapid

-- Kevin R. O'Keeffe

Now that you've published an article about Matt Hale, I can't wait for the future articles about Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan, who amazingly enough say the same things about Jews! Why do I have the feeling that it will never happen? Oh, I know: It's because
Sharpton and Farrakhan are "left wing" racists, and that's kosher!

-- Koby Kalfus

Encino, Calif.

Your articles on the Church of the Creator were interesting, but you
forgot to do your research. If you think that all skinheads are Nazis you're
dead wrong. But then, how would you attract more readers without this kind
of sensationalism? Skinheads
actually serve a legitimate role in society, keeping the Nazis at bay (ever
wonder why they're not at your door already?) -- and scaring the bejeezus out
of you people so you can flap your arms, scream, jump up and down, and
ignore the real problems that we face. A well-balanced article on
skinheads might have been more interesting than this blatant sensationalism.

-- Eli Forester

New York

The not-so-good war

Jake Tapper misses a
seminal shift in the American body politic that makes concerns about George W. Bush's record irrelevant. Bill Clinton, by taking presidential and personal conduct
well below all conceivable standards, has forever changed how candidates
are to be evaluated. After Clinton, even modest standards of human
decency are a great relief to the long-suffering voter. A privileged weekend warrior is a most welcome change from a lying draft-dodger.

-- Leif A. Torkelsen

New Hope, Pa.

If George W. Bush wanted to pick a safe place to sit out the war
he probably could have chosen a better spot than the cockpit
of an F-102. Flying supersonic jet aircraft is a dangerous
business. Similar planes in the period that Bush flew had a fatal pilot
accident rate of about one per 40,000 flight hours. Assuming
that Bush flew about a thousand hours over his career, this
would mean he had a bit over a 2 percent chance of a fatal accident
sometime during his service.

About 3.4 million men served in Vietnam, and about 60,000 were
killed -- a fatal casualty rate of just under 2 percent. Thus
it is entirely possible that Bush was actually running a bigger
risk of death than someone in a non-combat position in Vietnam,
such as Gore -- though much less than someone carrying an M-16
in a rice paddy.

If Bush was looking for a way to maximize his chances of
survival, he'd have been better off going for a position
with less glory but an office slower and closer
to earth.

-- Don McGregor

The reason many Bush and Clinton contemporaries in the media seem to think
George W.'s obvious attempt to avoid Vietnam service by joining the National
Guard is no big deal is because like Clinton, Quayle, Bradley, et al., they
were, at the time, focused on saving their asses -- not on contemplating who
might be going in their places. I still remember a friend bragging in the late
'70s that his college had given an automatic C average to
all men in attendance during the war so that they could keep their college
deferments. My friend was puzzled when I got pissed and told him my
uncle, the son of a Mexican-American mine worker, had no such options open to
him, so he went and came home with a drinking problem, which wasn't as bad
as what happened to his best friend, who didn't come home at all.

Do I think everyone should have gone? I don't know -- but maybe if they had, the war would have ended sooner. At least the people who
protested and went to jail or did other service showed the strength of their
beliefs by accepting the consequences of non-compliance, and that was
honorable too. I wonder what George Sr., the World War II hero, really
thought when George Jr. joined the Guards?

-- Veronica Jordan

I take issue with Jake Tapper's comment that "Generation Xers[']
defining military moment was the last 'M*A*S*H' episode." I'm privileged
to be friends with one of the most highly decorated Marines of the
Persian Gulf war, a Gen Xer. There was no draft to the Gulf, and it may
have been a war for oil (propagated by that Texas oil man and ex-CIA
man, Daddy Bush), but don't insult the 20-something veterans, now
turning 30, who served their country.

-- Rosemary Picado-Corral


Peter Landesman's thoughtful and balanced story brings back my own
memories of being a teenage camp refugee. My pain was alleviated by the happy
celluloid images of America at a time when "home" and "country" became
ambiguous and painful topics.

In April 1975, shortly before the end of the Vietnam War, my family boarded
an American military aircraft and fled Saigon, the city of my birth. We
came to Guam after a three-day stay in Clarks Air Base, in the Philippines. I
was in Guam when I first heard that South Vietnam had surrendered to the
Communists. People were
cut adrift, and spent most of their days in shock. I was 13 at the time.

One night, the American soldiers who took care of our camp told everyone
that there would be outdoor movies shown at the beach. I took my five
siblings, who ranged from 3 to 10 years in age, to the screening. We took up a
whole bleacher in front of the screen. We laughed at the vintage Disney
cartoons and were somewhat perplexed by a very frenzied version of Dr.
Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat." For an hour
or two I forgot that I was a dan ty-nan ("seeker of asylum"), a teenager who
overnight had to grapple with the notion of being a "homeless foreigner" in
my adopted homeland.

While the idea of FilmAid could be construed by some as a frivolous luxury
or an insensitive marketing ploy, it can also make indelible marks in
those who still care to hope: that the world has not come to an end; that
romance, adventure, and mystery still exist beyond death and suffering.

Nearly a quarter-century later, I still believe in the power of celluloid to
soothe, to encourage, to challenge, and to inform. When I was a producer of
the Asian-American Film Festival in Washington, D.C., I was able to showcase
films written, directed and produced by Asian-Americans that explored the
ever ambivalent subjects of loss, nationality and identity. I wholeheartedly embrace Caroline Baron's efforts.

-- Thuy Dinh

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