"'Publican steal election war bad!"

Readers respond to articles on "Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder, Pat Buchanan, an evening spent with George Bush and the death of George Harrison.

Published December 10, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

Read " Aaron McGruder, Creator of 'The Boondocks'" by Stephen Lemons.

I agree. He should leave the country. But he won't. These whiners never do. They have too good a deal in the U.S.

-- Terrence

Please don't move!! We need our artists to speak truth to power. After all, our media has decided they won't. I predict a flurry of letter writers saying, "Move -- we'll help you pack!" McGruder's statements may make you feel bad, but where are they inaccurate? Truth seekers can be so pesky.

-- S. Khan

Your willingness to print the Aaron McGruder interview and at least a semblance of opinions that don't give administrations -- specifically the Bush one -- a free ride let me know my money was well spent.

I hope the brother does not move to Canada, but more importantly I respect his right to express opinions that go against the grain. When all is said and done, if our war against terrorism becomes part of international window dressing to shield us from any examination of what's happening domestically, what does that say about us? That unless we are amused or placated to death by what passes as news, we are a bit testy, but quite willing to accept the news as "lite" entertainment.

-- Andrea L. Williams

Long before the Sept. 11 attacks, I read "Boondocks" in my local newspaper with the same sideshow curiosity that occasionally leads me to listen to Rush Limbaugh or Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The strip ranges from moments of brilliant insight to hopelessly bigoted rants, and is infinitely more daring than "Doonesbury" ever could be.

However, one thing is clear from the Salon Interview with the man behind "Boondocks": Aaron McGruder is a moron. He is a Saturday night TV comedy sketch character come to life, an angry African-American interpreting all people of noncolor as either insincerely deferential or prejudicially condescending -- in any event, never well-intended. Furthermore, his political views are repackaged liberal/left boilerplate with no evidence of anything new or critical, expressed with all the eloquence of another Saturday night TV comedy sketch character, this time a Frankenstein monster cartoonist who can stammer only the words, "'Publican steal election war bad!" McGruder's assertion that the U.S. is a "worthless democracy" and "corrupt" is his own confession of abject ignorance of the world outside his immediate experience.

Ultimately, McGruder's shrillness makes him irrelevant. McGruder, like right-wing talk radio personalities, isn't aiming to change minds or build bridges. His style -- crude verbal pipe bombs -- causes the mediocre mainstream of society to recoil. If he knew history better, he would realize that the mediocre mainstream decides the revolution, not devotees of angry comic strips.

-- Steve Lee

Read " My dinner With the Prez" by Cullen Thomas.

Thanks for writing and publishing the piece about the kitchen help and Bush. I can't stand that Bush is our president, but this piece made me feel a certain warmth toward him that I haven't previously felt. At least he is a person who would turn around and go back into the kitchen to make the day of nine people who to most people wouldn't mean a thing. That shows real integrity. I'll give him that.

-- Wendy Hall

I haven't read your magazine often but stumbled across this article. I just really enjoyed it -- a nice break from the cynicism of the reactions of many who work with or near politicians. Thanks.

-- R. Mohrmann

What Machiavelli referrs to as "the majesty of the prince" protects even a tyrant and usurper.

This charisma of "majesty" obfuscates the mind and keeps it from rational thinking. (It also obfuscates the heart chakra.) Thus instead of being a free citizen with free thoughts, one sees in this article how one devolves into a dithering idiot, thinking that false sentimentality is somehow a proper sentiment for the heart of a free citizen.

I am prey to those same human failings and feelings, but to write them without even a fare-thee-well to remembering that this man was put in office by "Thade" (guess whose gorilla-face is on the Supreme Court?) and company ... Well, America is not a country of free men and is quickly turning into a nation of sycophants rather as Tacitus pointed out about the Roman Senators after the institution of the Principate.

-- Tom Hoover

It's nice to know that the man who said "there ought to be limits to freedom" and who is restricting civil liberties now, is so good to the hired help.

-- Mark Morris

Read "Pat Buchanan: America First" by Jake Tapper.

How charming and quaint that Jake and Pat get to chum it up talking about Dubya Dubya Two and those noisy, messy people in the Middle East. The contempt Pat has for both sides of the Israeli-PLO war is obvious. His thoughts and feelings about Israelis and Jews in general are a matter of record. And when he says things like "the camps weren't running until 1942," he's wrong. It shows an almost inhuman disregard for people, for history and for the facts. Would that we all lived in Pat's world, where the murder of millions is little more than an inconvenient footnote to one of his books, and the blowing up of schoolchildren on buses is less important than Arafat's comparison to Michael Collins.

-- Stephen Rifkin

For a moment I was amazed at how intelligent Buchanan was sounding in his interview. Recall that the only images I retain of him are from his campaign, which are basically loud, arrogant, far-right sound bites.

I was impressed at how objective his foreign policy comments in the Middle East sounded, and reconsidered his bad rap.

Until I came to the last page, when he admires Ike's Operation Wetback, saying no president would have the courage to do this again.

Then I realized he is still a moral majority fascist. Too bad: It just goes to show that even modestly intelligent people can still be monsters.

-- Julian Taylor

The Israeli bias in your interview is overwhelming. All the questions are asking how the Israelis should respond to the Palestinian terrorism. Perhaps you should also consider how the Palestinians should respond to Israeli terrorism -- like the mine that killed five children recently or the countless children and civilians killed in Israeli missile strikes.

Quite a few more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed during this conflict, and, although suicide-bombing innocent civilians is quite disgusting, the Palestinians don't have the ability to use gunships and missile strikes whenever they are mad at the opposition like the Israelis do. It is pretty much the only way they can fight. And, while Arafat is often derided as a terrorist, perhaps justifiably, Sharon was directly responsible for the massacre of far more civilians while he was an army general, and it was his visit to a holy site that started this whole thing.

At best the question of who is right and wrong is a murky situation, and the fact that the U.S. government is so pro-Israeli is completely absurd. The Sept. 11 attacks only further emphasize the necessity for the U.S. to worry about its own welfare and stop drawing the anger of the Arab world by its rather one-sided and unfair support of Israel. I write this as an American with no religious or ethnic ties to either side. If anything, being from the New York area, one would think I would have a pro-Israeli bias. But after reading stories in the papers for the last 14 months (and the last four in Europe, whose papers paint a far more accurate picture of what is actually going on than the American ones), it seems rather obvious to me that this is the only fair, and prudent, course of action.

-- Daniel Gagliardi

Read "He Was in the Band" by Gary Kamiya and "George Harrison and the Concert for Bangladesh" by Bill McKibben.

Thanks Gary, and Salon. It seems a bit silly but all true. And yes the tears come. As the songs and words come to mind George seems close by as he did when we first listened to all those songs. All those beautiful songs ...

George through his work exposed sides of himself to us. Sides other artists had not. A bit of teacher I realize now and a bit like a friend you had never met. His words and music opened to us as he let you inside. He knew this idea of life was out of our hands.

-- Brad

Thanks for the excellent articles on George Harrison. We will all miss him. Missing in the articles as well as the stories on TV is that once again smoking played a central role in cutting down someone we loved. While it's gratifying that many young people have been turned on to the Beatles, if even a few could be turned off smoking by seeing how George's life was ended prematurely in large part because he was a heavy smoker, then his legacy won't only be his outstanding music.

-- John Proctor

Gary Kamiya nails George Harrison's understated genius better than anyone else that I have read. Contrasting Harrison's artistic subordination of self to song is a masterful insight. For me, the sublime achievement in this is Harrison's minimalist licks in "Get Back." The self-restraint there is nearly heroic.

Mr. Kamiya mentions "Taxman" in his article. In fact it was McCartney playing lead on that song. However, this in fact helps the argument, since Harrison played bass on the song -- plays it, that is, with the same potent delicacy that marked his now-silenced guitar work.

-- Stephen Ogden

Salon's stories about George Harrison have been a big help. I was 18 when the Beatles hit the scene, a freshman in college. It was a time of big emptiness, that February of 1964, when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" first appeared on the radio. I was hooked immediately. It was the offbeat chord structure, the simplicity and the crispness of the music that caught me from the first.

The times, they a-changed, and the Beatles did too. That's the thing I remember best about them -- that they changed so much over such a short time. A lot of other things were going on at the time, but the Beatles, more than any other musical influence of the time, became the background music of our lives.

And more. About the time I had had about enough of the Catholicism of my upbringing, the Beatles went to India, and it was because of George Harrison that they did this. Because of this, I became interested in meditation and yoga, eventually following a well-known Indian guru for eight years. Eastern spirituality has been the dominant factor in my life ever since.

I realized long before George's passing how profoundly he affected my life. I will always think of the Beatles as a unit, indivisible, but the parts had their separate manifestations. I have been getting choky for the past several years when I think about what they gave us all.

During my guru days, I spent some time at an ashram in India in the late '70s, and met a guy from England who did a numerology reading for me. I told him that the reason I got interested in meditation was because of the Beatles, and he said, "Well, you know, they're Avatars." I found this a bit outlandish, and he calmly stated that, "Their whole presence was to bring the message of love to the world, and in that sense they were Avatars."

I couldn't agree more. Thanks, George, see you next time around.

-- John Hamilton

By Salon Staff

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