(April 26, 2004)
Regarding Joel Wendland's Bush Is The Stick-up Man For The Ruling Class
To the Editor:
This is an excellent article that captures perfectly the outrageous, even by the standards of Ronald Reagan, policies of enriching the military industrial complex and the well-to-do generally of the Bush administration. The real unemployed are as unreal to Bush as the phoney "weapons" of mass destruction were "real" in his administration's propaganda.
New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA - April 12, 2004
Regarding Edward Herman's We Had To Destroy [Fill in Country Name] In Order To Save It
To the Editor:
I congratulate prof. Ed Herman on excellent summary of the US foreign policy. Unfortunately for us and for the World there is no difference between the two parties. More than half of the eligible voters don't vote because the U.S. is not a democracy but a plutocracy.
Voya F. Ognyanov, M.D.
Tucson, Arizona, USA - April 12, 2004
Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Hearts, Minds, And The Military in Iraq
To the Editor:
I would like the words to the little poem that Sen. Byrd gave on the floor of the Senate this past week. It ended with 600.
Billy C. Herring
Pensacola, Florida, USA - April 12, 2004
To the Editor:
A lot of opinion but no facts backed by any evidence, if you want to write at least give us your qualifications and some evidence of what your [sic] saying has fact behind it, like have you been to these countries you write about and what is your experience in the subjects you write about?
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA - April 12, 2004
Regarding Philip Greenspan's Who Will It Be: Coke, Pepsi Or 7-Up?
To the Editor:
I am writing with regard to a statement in Philip Greenspan's article "Who Will It Be: Coke, Pepsi Or 7-Up?" to the effect that Mobutu was overthrown by his own people. This is patently not the case.
In fact, Mobutu was overthrown by a combined force of Congolese resistance fighters and the Rwanda and Ugandan armies, ironically, arguably with some degree of support from the US government, both diplomatic and materiel.
The subsequent massacres and ongoing bloodshed overseen by the DRC military ostensibly led by Rwandan army officers, and the extent to which institutions were taken over by Rwandan officials, with the blight of neo-liberalism and piratisation imposed could easily be seen as a blueprint for the US invasion of Iraq.
What is particularly sickening about this whole affair is that the world was horrified by 800,000 Rwandans murdered in a planned and orchestrated genocide, and still debates the extent to which it was 'ignored' by western governments who were largely complicit in it, but is largely unaware of 3,500,000 murdered in Zaire/DRC.
Anyway, great work, I've found the articles you publish extremely enlightening, and look forward to each edition.
Sydney, Australia - April 19, 2004
Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's & Jan Baughman's Ralph Nader: If Not Now, When?
To the Editor:
I am writing a letter to the editor for my local paper about the demonizing of Ralph Nader by the Democrats. I would like to use an argument from your editorial "Ralph Nader: If Not Now, When?", specifically, the figure of 250,000 registered democrats that voted for Bush. However, I cannot find the primary source for this figure. Could you tell me where you found this number, and point me to the website of the source if possible?
Corvallis, Oregon, USA - April 20, 2004
Regarding Manuel García's Which Holocaust Matters?
To the Editor:
The subject of historical bias in the reporting of genocide has been treated at length in two essays by Ward Churchill, both of which are available at www.zmag.org. The first of the essays was also included in his book A Little Matter of Genocide. I strongly encourage Mr. García to read these. These are scholarly works, written with great passion .
Beginning an essay dealing with mass murder with a bunch of "interesting" statistics, and incomprehensible ones at that, is idiotic. What purpose does this serve? David McGowen, in his book Understanding the F-Word lists the millions of military and civilian deaths for WWII, but provides them in an Appendix. It makes sense to do so.
The subject of the so-called "Holocaust" does matter, greatly, as Mr. García asserts. However, I find his treatment of this subject oddly repellent. As an example, he uses a euphemism, namely, "processing rate" in comparing Nazi and US genocide. It's not in a context that deals with specific methods used to murder people, nor is it stated with a sense of irony. He follows this up with the brisk little comment "a sad achievement, to be sure." This is not understatement, it's simply crude.
Next, lets talk about syntax and semantics. I urge Mr. García to read George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language." While he's at it, he might try "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" by Mark Twain, for a laugh.
Omit or revise the following words or phrases in the text:
k/yr (its an essay, not a science project)
this new overt knowledge
informing a societal decision
a large sea of a hostile culture
outer teeming world
shrill pissing matches
Forgive me, but if he's a phreaking physicist, he shouldn't be writing like a high school senior (in fact, when I first read this piece, I decided to contact him to encourage his early efforts in writing polemical essays!)
In closing, I will commend Mr. García for one very potent insight. The American Native cultures were almost entirely exterminated, and continue to be suppressed to this day. If only two-thirds of these native communities survived the American Holocaust (as European Jews survived their Holocaust), and were they permitted to manage much of their remaining lands, they would likely be one of the wealthiest and influential minorities on the planet.
I hope that Mr. García expressed these opinions with his co-workers and the management while working at Livermore Labs. Merely a whiff of this kind of liberal paradigm can get you hassled on the job, even for privileged academic types. If he spoke up and got some legal counseling to protect his job, then he did a good thing.
Walla Walla, Washington, USA - April 18, 2004
To the Editor:
Allow me to address Mr. García directly.
I read your bio... You are so demonstrably brilliant: a Princeton educated nuclear physicist. What could possible sound more intelligent and educated? Yet your conclusions are ignorant and poorly thought out. It must be great to have impressive credentials, then you get to publish anything and people will read it (and believe it) regardless of how little merit it has.
In your physics you understand the value of a controlled experiment and for the necessity of respecting Aristotle's law of identity by having the variables you are measuring refer to the same things in different contexts.
Tell me this honestly:
If you had a choice, in one direction there were slavers (taking slaves), in another there were European colonists and in the third direction was the SS (taking Jews), which way would you run? Who [would] you rather be: a slave, a Native American or be in the camps?
While you are right that all death and murder is terrible and mass murder is so much worse. But, duh, who didn't know that? What is your point? To be wise, to be moral, to make intelligent statements about these extraordinarily important issues, a person has to think deeply and understand that truth is complicated are hard to understand. You entirely miss the nuances and important implications of these 3 terrible marks on the history of mankind and therefore fail to find the important lessons to be learned.
You act as if you are being scientific and objective when you are not. You act as if you have great moral high ground by condemning all holocausts...but in reality you are really diminishing the magnitude of the Holocaust and thereby practicing a subtle form of holocaust denial...I suspect you do so to serve your political agenda that is anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic:
"For example: 'lebensraum' in Palestine is just as evil as it was in Poland."
"Fortress Israel plowing its metal wall across Palestine to swallow it up. This is the subtext to arguments over which Holocaust is more important." Wrong, ignorant and biased. What the Germans did to the Jews in Poland has no resemblance to the West Bank. Even if there were no Jews considered, the way the Germans treated the Poles is vastly worse than the West Bank. Your supposition that the Jews are looking for lebensraum is anti-Semitic. It is grossly offensive and cruelly insensitive to compare the Israelis to the Nazis. Further you show your bias about the wall being constructed when you act as if it is the wall around the Warsaw ghetto and ignore the suicide bombers and valid security issues. You show no balance and no compassion for the Jews. Even if you disagree with the wall, the way you express it shows your animus.
You single out Israel to be criticized and ignore the approximately 60,000,000 who have been murdered by others since WWII.
You attack Israel's policies and forget Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Rwanda, Ethiopia/Somalia and Biafra.
So instead of actually opposing the Holocaust you are attempting to aid those who wish to commit another Holocaust in Israel. You talk of the West Bank yet you ignore all of the Arab atrocities in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan etc. You ignore the 330,000 Palestinians driven out of Kuwait and the 100,000 killed in Lebanon. You condemn Israel but say nothing of the suicide bombers. You ignore the legitimate security needs of the Jews and of the Israelis. Haven't you learned anything from history?
I realize from reading your article how much you missed about the history of the Middle East, the Holocaust, slavery and the history of Native Americans. I can't correct it all but here are a few examples of your erroneous fact and fallacious reasoning:
Here is what you missed:
Your projections of population growth and your techniques for comparing atrocities are fallacious. By your reasoning, if one person was murdered 4000 years ago, it would be worse than killing everyone in the world and vastly worse than the holocaust (2.23x10 to the 51st is greater than 6 million). I don't believe this but it is your logic and your type of overly simplistic projection using a 3% growth rate. If you are going to talk about 400 years, you have to talk about 400 years in all 3 cases!
If you want to compare long historical relationships between cultures, compare apples to apples, Jews to gentiles, Blacks to whites, Native Americans to Europeans.
You minimize the atrocities against the Jews:
You cannot look at 12 years, you have to look at 1,700 years of oppression of the Jews. (FYI, The vast majority of Jews died in about a year and a half, not 12 years and the percentage of Jews murdered was vastly higher. Approximately 95% of European Jews were murdered.)
You forgot to include:
400 years of slavery by the Egyptians
Slavery by the Babylonians (Babylonian captivity)
Genocide by the Assyrians (in which 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel were wiped off the face of the earth)
Genocide by the Romans in which approximately 1 million Jews were killed
The atrocities of the Crusades
The Spanish [and other] inquisitions
And all of the other pogroms and murders for millennia.
You are entirely insensitive to this history and act as if it never occurred.
You ignore all Muslim oppression of Jews for 1,400 years.
Even though terrible, you exaggerate the suffering of other groups:
The vast majority of Native American's died from European diseases ~95%. The vast majority died before they ever saw a white man...the microorganisms traveled faster and killed much more effectively than humans could. Therefore if 4 million Native Americans died in what became the U.S., then about 200,000 to 250,000 were lost to other causes. Of these how many died from economic dislocation, how many were lost by intermarriage or assimilation in one way or another? What is left of these losses is only a tiny fraction that were actually murdered. The real numbers are vastly less than 6,000,000.
Intermarriage is not the same as murder. When you look at the current Native American population you must factor in their contribution to the so called white communities. I am part Indian though white. My housekeeper is part Indian though black and my gardener is part Indian though Hispanic.
You also failed to consider is that the American Indians were more or less at the carrying capacity of the land. Any ability to reproduce beyond their numbers would have been impossible without European technology. In looking at the vast sweep of relationships between peoples you should not only look at the negative aspects of the interaction.
Slavery though terrible was not an act of extermination. Slavery was the way of life for all of humanity since prehistoric times. What was unusual about slavery in the Americas was not its existence but its abolition. Though this does not excuse it, it is important to understand it and its role in society. Some slave owners capriciously murdered their slaves but if this was the rule, the slave owners would soon have been driven into bankruptcy and the institution would have died out long before it did. You also forget that the Jews during most of this period were little more than slaves in Europe.
On the very day Columbus sailed to the new world the ports of Spain and Portugal were flooded with Jews fleeing the Inquisition with its murders and expulsions. While there was a large Jewish community in Spain at that time (the major Jewish community in the world) the population went to zero before St. Augustine was settled and remains that way to this day. The Jews who fled were stripped of their possession, banned from the New World by the Spanish and driven to Eastern Europe where most of them were put to death by the Nazis.
There were approximately 500,000 slaves brought to the U.S. They have grown to 35,000,000. Of the 6,000,000 who were taken to the camps they are almost all dead....forever and their descendents will never live. I suspect there will never be 35,000,000 Jews and it is much more likely that the Jews of the world will become assimilated and the Jews of Israel will eventually be exterminated. Native Americans are not threatened with extermination nor are American or African blacks. But the depth of the hatred in the world against the Jews is deep and real especially in the Muslim world. You ignore the very real risk to the Jews and their ongoing persecution.
Jewish law says, a person who saves one life is "as if he saved a whole world." I agree with this sentiment that is echoed in Christianity and Islam. However, I have to question the motives of one who minimizes the suffering and culpability of one group, the Jew, while exaggerating the suffering of other groups and minimizing their crimes.
There is much to be learned from these events, but you have not learned compassion. It is an undeniable fact that when it comes to persecution the Jews have the unenviable distinction of being the most oppressed people in history. Rather than look at it and help to put an end to that persecution, you tell half truths to help further their persecution.
Don't lecture Jews about how they are oppressing others. Lecture others about how they are oppressing Jews. You are of Hispanic background; your people are not without sin. Not only did they perpetrate the Inquisition, the Spanish and Portuguese were the primary slavers and brutal Conquistadors. You should not cast the first stone, nor the billionth stone. You should be lecturing the world on behalf of the Jews in repentance for what your people and your ancestors did to the slaves, the Native Americans and to my ancestors. So that what has been done to my people, what is being done to my people and what will be done to my people, will some day stop.
Tell me what you advocate that the world should do to protect the Jews they have persecuted so long.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA - April 14, 2004
Manuel García responds:
We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, sign your e-mail with your name and add your city, state, country, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. (Letters may be shortened and edited)