(May 10, 2004)
Regarding the publication, Swans
To the Editor:
I started visiting your alternative informational web magazine only recently, and find it very compelling. Any reason why you don't solicit donations to survive?
John Di Stefano
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - April 29, 2004
Regarding Swans' April 26 Edition
To the Editor:
I certainly needed a dose of Swans...and happily got one. Thanks.
I was most struck with Rockstroh's piece on the culture of narcissism and authority, but what really seemed relevant was his instinct for the flaccid apology laden quality of liberal discourse. Time for seditious values indeed... My god, if the opposition to Bush and friends can't suck it up to say out loud, "yeah, Bush is a liar, Ashcroft is fucking nuts, and Rumsfeld is a psychopath," then what can they find to say out loud?
These are obvious truths, at least to anyone with a modicum of rationality... Yet, there is this soft latte soaked core to the modern liberal...a sense of being "fair" and a need not to be calling anyone names. And of course John Kerry is not exactly the poster boy for integrity!
All the while the flag-draped coffins keep coming back from the new colony...and all the while Paul Bremer keeps spouting rhetoric about how it's all getting better, and Gen. Kimmit (speaking of being fucking nuts) asks us to change the channel if we don't want to see American war crimes. Perfect!
Next, we get John Negroponte -- killer of nuns and priests -- as the new viceroy of Baghdad... (I guess Bremer was too much of a panty waist...time for a guy with real blood on his hands!)...and, still, the liberals won't start shouting out angrily... It's all rather pathetic at this point.
I was thumbing through an old anthology of poems put together by Robert Bly (circa the Vietnam war). The sound of real anger was such a tonic...and Bly's own speech when he won the National Book Award, where he asked that the award money go to counseling young men to avoid the draft and not to let their spiritual lives be destroyed... Where is that sound now? All we get is the lukewarm fuzzy tree hugging generalizations of Tony Kushner and the not quite cooked Sean Penn -- not exactly scintillating voices of opposition from the art community... But then, the corporate mind set hadn't quite set in so totally back in 1972.
I worry the images of coffins aren't going to do much though...death has perhaps come to seem more a lifestyle choice (or deathstyle choice) than a real matter of not being alive; and with Pat Tillman's death (Arizona is naming the new plaza out front of the stadium Tillman Freedom Plaza) the jingoism will rise to new levels of obscenity -- and I am sure Mr. Murdoch will be smiling.
The madness of the neo-cons is just another version of a general madness at work in our society of the spectacle (thanks to Debord), and the alienation and lack of real feeling is so deeply entrenched that one wonders what will wake the masses up. Whatever it is, it's time to get and stay fucking angry!
Good work as usual.
Krakow, Poland - April 26, 2004
Regarding Phil Rockstroh's Neo-Con Tragedy -- Played As Farce
To the Editor:
The article by Phil Rockstroh is on target.
But how does the common man remove himself from this self delusion?
Sumner, Illinois, USA - April 26, 2004
Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Dossier, The 1991 Gulf War Rationale
To the Editor:
I found the article informative.
I am not certain that the wording "the case could be made that Kuwait was waging an economic war on Iraq" is how you want that to read. You seem to imply that a military response by Iraq was justified.
Clearly, it was justification in Saddam's mind -- especially since we pretty much gave him the go ahead (our government duped him, and our government duped us).
Do you think that was his only option?
Please rewrite this section and your article is superb.
Des Moines, Iowa, USA - May 2, 2004
Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Book Review, The Politics Of Anti-Semitism, Part I: Smear, Slander, And Intimidation
To the Editor:
Very good review of The Politics Of Anti-Semitism (PoAS) in Swans. You may be interested in the following form of censorship of this book:
I wrote a tiny review of the book and posted it on the Amazon UK and US sites to help the book along. Once in a while I checked to see how the review fared, and was pleased to see that 100+ thought it was useful. Then the following happened:
* Searching for the book on the UK site became very difficult. That is the search for the book via (author, title) didn't retrieve the record of PoAS. So, anyone wanting to buy it would be confronted with the impossibility of finding it in the UK website.
* In the US website the book is still findable, but here the positive book reviews appear towards the bottom. Although my review appeared for weeks at the top because of the large number of endorsements, suddenly it disappeared at the bottom. Also very negative reviews popped to the top against Amazon's stated policy. (Although about 80% of the endorsements were positive -- from one day to another a large number of negative ones appeared.)
* There are a few countries where Amazon has pulled the book altogether.
* There are quite a few reviews that amount to character assassination, and again, appear despite the fact that they go counter to the company's policy.
Amazon has allowed Zionist activists to sabotage books of academics who have taken a pro-academic Israel boycott. For example, Prof. Mona Baker in Manchester backed/promoted the academic boycott, and was hounded for her efforts. Her books in linguistics are very important in her area of expertise, yet Amazon allowed a barrage of book reviews that were clearly character assassinations. Despite her protests, this continued...
I thought you would like this bit of info before you embark on Part II.
Keep up the good work.
Please know that Swans is much appreciated, and I am alerting folks about it.
Paul de Rooij
London, England - April 26, 2004
To the Editor:
Oh Learned One:
I have had a brief correspondence with the same Michael Neumann or is it "New"-man, that you praise so highly in your review of the Counterpunch Gang's book on anti-Semitism. For starters no one ever wrote an article in Counterpunch that does not adhere to New Left & anti-Israel stratas of interpretation (that is who they are in part).
Any output that emanates from the hub of Counterpunch has, by practice, core belief, and by definition, to be anti-Israel and against all claims made by Jews and Israel of anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish behavior. Counterpunch only peddles that line in regard to the Jews and the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. When have you ever seen an opinion in Counterpunch that repudiates their forgone conclusions?
Michael Newmann, Professor of Philosophy at Trent Univ., is by his own admission a hater of the state of Israel -- said opinion having been passed on to him by his family that visited "pre-Israel" in the 1930s and found it lacking. He dislikes Israel and if I can say it he learned IT (if I may liken it to the way people learn many racial prejudices) AT HOME! Newmann is so against the state of Israel, conflicted regarding his Jewish identity and so in conformity to his formative ideologies in regard to his opinions that he can hardly be trusted as an even handed analytical savant on this subject.
He is predictable and pumps out his own belief system in the guise of intellectual pursuits, but is no more flexible or right than someone holding the opposite point of view . All you fellows write beautifully but [that] does not make you correct. Mr. Neumann will remain, as will the Counterpunch Gang, now and always against Israel and Jewish peoples rights to fight off anti-semitism in any and all ways.
R. J. Liff
Dayton, Ohio, USA - April 28, 2004
Regarding Philip Greenspan's Law And Order
To the Editor:
"Creating a new federal crime, a victimless crime no less...in many instances changed the friendly cop on the beat to a modern version of a storm trooper."
I've been saying for years to anyone who might listen, that we no longer have "peace officers" but "Law enforcement officers" (spoken with a closed fist in hand!). But if you look through the ages, no matter how different we in America might like to think otherwise, it is the same here as it has always been. Human nature has always been the same, no matter the era. One only need look to the Roman Empire where one law existed for native Romans and another, more favorable law existed for, shall we say, "naturalized" Roman citizens from outside of Rome and Italy. If you look at the Middle Ages, especially in Britain, there were laws for peasants, and their respective courts (the Lord of the manor) and another set of laws and courts for the Lord himself.
I don't think it's fair to point at only the Bush administration, for all presidencies operate as apart as possible. They all would like to be a law unto themselves. Internationally, it is no different as ever it was. In more ways than the general populace knows, America has become more a modern version of Middle Age Britain than a modern City Upon A Hill of Freedom. One court for the serfs and another for the "elites."
Fact is, we are all in the same boat together, really, and only have the gilded edges left of a once-great Republic. It is a hollow shell of its former self. The words still hang upon some walls, other than in Philadelphia, but most average school kids are hard-pressed to even locate a copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. If the American colonists were so willing to pledge their lives in opposition to something so petty as a simple tax upon British-made goods and at such a small percentage, when compared to today's IRS rates, how can we ever expect any sea-change in the status quo now?
We have been made to boil like the frog who is put in a kettle of cold water and had the fire turned up. It wasn't as bad as getting dumped into an already boiling kettle, where we might have seen it coming, prepared ourselves and managed to hop out. It's been long, and slow and deliberate and now... it's too late.
We've been had. Ihre papiere, bitte?
Provo, Utah, USA - April 28, 2004
Regarding Manuel García's Which Holocaust Matters?
To the Editor:
Mr. García undermines his own point, by not taking into account all of the Jews who were killed in pograms throughout their long wanderings through Europe, and, of course, that little blood fest called the Spanish Inquisition. Just 12 years? Which Holocaust matters, Mr. García?
New York, New York, USA - April 29, 2004
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