Letters to the Editor

Horowitz's "revisionist" understanding of race relations
Plus: The politics and art of Rage Against the Machine; telling AOL what to do with its spam-fest.

By Letters to the Editor
Published November 30, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Throw away the key!


I am one African-American who does not agree
with Jesse Jackson's behavior in Decatur. Nor do I agree with (or appreciate)
David Horowitz using Jackson's faux pas as yet another excuse to attack
African-American culture. Nor do I agree with Horowitz's assumption
that Jackson is some kind of uncivil rights leader. I, like many other
African-Americans, do not consider Jackson our leader.

Horowitz's problem is that he is looking at the African-American community as a foot-marching, sign-carrying Borg creature willing to follow
anyone that calls himself a black leader and raise a clarion call to
"blame Whitey." The fact that many of us have not voiced our opinion in
the Decatur situation demonstrates that we are not a unimind marching in lockstep. Some of us may agree with Jackson's actions but many of us don't; sometimes silence is the best rebuke.

-- Alvin McEwen

Jesse Jackson's diatribe against the Decatur school system has already received far more
press than Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's ties to the racist Council of Conservative Citizens. Racism is, you know, so OVER. Except when it is perpetuated by blacks.

Yes, black racism is helping to drive a wedge between whites and blacks
who no doubt want the same things out of life. But that wedge has existed
since the first Africans were brought to this continent as slaves. To
blame the racial climate of the United States solely on black Americans, as Horowitz
seems to do, is specious and revisionist, to say the least, and a
form of conservative-approved political correctness. You know why George
Bush won't criticize Pat Buchanan? Because the Republican Party needs the
white bigot vote in order to survive.

-- David Dunne

Lately, there seems to be a rash of people who think that expulsion is a viable answer.
I find this loony: How will these young people ever change their ways if the best answer a room full of supposedly educated people can come up with is "kick them out"?

Work with these kids; try to make some kind of difference. Kicking them out is just
giving them an express ticket to a terrible life. It doesn't make any
sense to remove misbehaving kids from anyone who would hold
them accountable, That's a death warrant in cities like D.C., where almost 50 percent of
black male teenagers are in prison or awaiting trial.

-- Brian Thomas

The "riot" David Horowitz refers to, while ugly, was a fistfight which apparently
lasted less than a minute and resulted in no injuries. For that, the
students were expelled for two years. Even the Grand Dragon of the KKK, who
showed up to exploit the situation, said the punishment was obviously too harsh.
Also, the Decatur school board did not, as required by law, present the
students with options for alternative education.

It should also be noted that these so-called criminals faced no charges
until Jackson came to Decatur, and law enforcement decided, two months
after the fact, that the kids had better be charged with something to make the
two-year expulsions look a little less extreme.

-- John Soloman

David Horowitz wrote: "A month ago, for example, even as the trial of
Matthew Shepard's homophobic killer was concluding, two homosexuals -- one
black, the other white -- raped and murdered an adolescent white youngster.
There was little or no news coverage of this incident, no national
hand-wringing over a politically incorrect hate crime. Do we need a white
heterosexual civil rights movement to redress this injustice?"

Horowitz leaves one thing out of his discussion: context.
The murder of this child was a heinous crime, and my heart goes out to his
family. But the crime did not take place in a context of organized hate campaigns
directed at young boys. There are no organizations claiming that young boys are unnatural and
contrary to God and that society would be better off without them.
There are no religious groups pointing out that the Bible insists that young
boys should be murdered. There is no "kid panic defense" being used by defense attorneys.

The media focus on Matthew Shepard was on the link between his
murder and the hatred of gays so common in mainstream society.
That doesn't make the adolescent's murder any less evil. But it does call into question
why Horowitz is using it to bash civil rights for gays and lesbians.

-- Bennet Marks

Why is David Horowitz's rant about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton
prominently labeled News at the head of the page? Reads like an old-fashioned editorial to me. Even if I didn't think Horowitz was a zealot, I'd still be irked by the fluffy presentation by which his hot air is presented as fact.

-- Jeff Sharlet

Sharps & Flats: "The Battle of Los Angeles"

Gavin McNett's argument against Rage Against the Machine swings on what --
a high school student who doesn't understand the band's message?
It might be possible to dismiss the band as more style than substance if Rage was just the loud music and nifty guitar riffs. However, Rage Against the Machine has always included lyrics with their albums.

In the liner notes for "The Battle of Los Angeles," an "Action"
page is included, with Web site links and contact information for
organizations the band supports. On the Rage Web site you can find a link to the "RATM Reading List," which includes a complete inventory of books depicted in a photograph from the liner notes of "Evil Empire," Rage's second album.

For anybody who wants to know what Rage are all about, the
information is there for the uptake. Rage do as much as any group I
know to explain their music.

As for the teacher McNett describes: What kind of educator throws his
hands up and walks away the first time a student misunderstands an idea?
Why not take a lecture and explain why Zack really is so mad at America?

-- Russell Gordon

Gavin McNett has it all wrong regarding Rage's
political effect, basing his entire case on one kid who doesn't even
know the definition of imperialism. Of course there are some kids who just listen to Rage for the hard rock, who don't pay attention to the lyrics or the message. They're
probably the majority. But I know for certain that Rage have created a few
activists, and with their great new album, they are sure to create more.

-- Sam Brody

I told you once ...


Christopher Sandlund has to tell Steve Case again because the last time he told him (December '98), he agreed to a one-year contract. The agreement for e-mail and pop-up windows
explicitly states that it's only good for one year and then the system reverts to
the defaults. (The mail and phone agreements are good for 10 years.) Why
is he complaining now about something he agreed to last year?

-- Andrew Hughey

Having been with AOL for many years, I am now at the
point of joining the league of unhappy soon-to-be-non-subscribers. The
level of XXX-rated e-mail soared and could not be shut off, even when
attempting to use "tosspam"; after re-setting the pseudo-filters to
the very lowest age, I continued to receive the solicitations, but my
non-AOL friends could no longer send me e-mail. I have many friends who
have also been migrating to other servers for their better filtration.
Time to wake up.

-- Dan D. Carda

Christopher Sandlund surely must be sophisticated enough to understand that it
is apathy like his that keeps AOL afloat to begin with. Why else would so
many Internet users put up with such shoddy service? I know that it can be a daunting prospect for someone who's never used a local Internet service to give up that familiar AOL interface, but Sandlund has no valid excuse. He doesn't want to give up his AOL
address? He doesn't even use it to have e-mail forwarded to him by Salon.
Hear those giddy chuckles off in the distance? It's the
sound of Steve Case counting Sandlund's money.

-- Robert Wade Bess

The bald facts


Frankly, what worries me is not what is on top of the heads of congressmen
and women -- it's what is in their heads that worries me.

-- Mary Colins

As a research scientist, I know that when you're doing statistical
calculations, the math can get pretty hairy. Nonetheless, I was disturbed
by the author's mistakes in finding the percentage of male U.S. senators
with toupees, transplants, weaves or hairpieces. The root of the problem
is an error in basic division: The author says that of the 88 male
senators whose pictures he found, between 10 and 22 are committing
follicular fraud. By dividing, you will find that 10 out of 88 equals 11
percent, and 22 out of 88 equals 25 percent. However, the article
incorrectly states that "10 to 22 percent of all our male senators have
engaged in some sort of cover up." While this is not a bald-faced lie, it
is off by more than a hair. The correct range is 11 to 25 percent of the
male senators.

-- Tim Marks

San Diego

"Drop the Chalupa, Al Gore!"


For years, Hispanics were second-class citizens in the eyes of many
Republicans. They probably still are, but their numbers have grown,
so now the GOP wants to court Hispanic votes. Meanwhile, Democrats, without courting any votes, have seen the need all along to create programs that would support the Hispanic
population. How unfortunate that some Hispanics will
betray those who have been their friends for years in order to support
those who promise much and give naught.

-- Teresa Simon-Noble

It will be difficult for the GOP to attract the Hispanic vote, because the
GOP is out for those who want to protect what they have -- not for those in need.
Government spending on social programs is what poor Latinos need. Try to
tell the country-club set, the people who write $1,000 checks to the
Republican candidate du jour, that they need to help the immigrant and the
poor Latino. Watch the money dry up.

The GOP will get the Hispanic, but will have to wait until he has something to
protect. Look at the suburban Irish- and Italian-Americans on Long Island. They were
all Democrats when they needed something from the government. Now they sound like a bunch of rednecks with golf clubs.

-- John Burns Jr.

Binghamton, N.Y.

Bush channels Reagan on foreign policy


Dubya can't even read a speech written by committee. Are we really
supposed to elect a leader of the free world who consistently
mispronounces "nuclear" as "nucular" -- 38 times in five minutes?
He's either too stupid to know better, or too arrogant to care.

Mark Dennis' pointed and insightful take on Dubya's foreign policy speech
is more accurate than he knows. No wonder Dubya's handlers won't let him out on his own, off-script. Even on-script, he's still a dunce -- another willing B-list front-man for the far more sinister and monied entities who have been obsessed for nearly eight years with overturning Clinton's election.

-- Robert Glass

Maybe I should buy you a globe for Christmas


I would suggest the editors buy Robert Parry a dictionary. The first
definition of the word "Grecian" is "a native of Greece." Who is stupid now?

-- Geraldine K. Smith

Letters to the Editor

MORE FROM Letters to the Editor

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

Aol George W. Bush Race Republican Party Ronald Reagan