(December 4, 2006)
[Ed. As a reminder to Letter writers: If you want your letters to be published, you must include your first and last names and your city and state of residence. Also, please, enter in the subject line of your e-mail "letter to the editor," and specify the article or the subject on which you are commenting. Thank you.]
Kudos from one Vet to Another: Bruce Patterson's The Grind
Thanks for getting Bruce Patterson to write a piece for Swans. Pat, are you there? Please accept heartfelt appreciation for your account of combat. As a combat infantry vet (Tenth Mountain, WWII) and having read many of your reports in the Anderson Valley Advertiser at the time Bruce Anderson was editor, I want to applaud you for stepping up to the plate and telling it like it is, in detail, in personal, honest words. That's a public service, believe me. If I remember rightly, the only military story Bruce Anderson printed of mine was entitled "Tenth Mountain Mule." The theme was how inevitable it is that military plans always go FUBAR [fucked up beyond all repair/any recognition] to a greater or lesser extent. The actual experiencing of surprises and disarray by the rank and file is probably the most valuable experience training gives them. Your work stories are good too. I used to read the AVA from front to back. It was a great paper. Probably still is, though many of us miss that special bite that Anderson provided. My wife and I have opposed every war during "Cold War" times and on through Clinton's dastardly attack on Serbia and both of the Bushites' criminal use of our military. We even have anti-war demos up here in northern New York State, supposedly a conservative region, but that good old American tradition that everybody has the right to protest, to express unpopular views, holds yet, in spite of total sell-out by media and presidencies. Thanks again for you honesty, and keep writing.
North Bangor, New York, USA - November 21, 2006
Israel's treatment of the Palestinians: Interview with with Dr. John Dugard
Today, the day after Thanksgiving, perhaps we can take a moment to reflect on the plight of people who are really in a bind, on Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. In this conversation I talk with Dr. John Dugard, the UN's Special Rapporteur for Palestine, a man of extraordinary common sense and wisdom.
This is one of the best interviews I've done. I hope you have time to listen and that it helps you understand the Palestinian situation a little better. Also, since I do think it's an important conversation -- one that would never appear in the mainstream American media -- I'd like to ask your help in telling other people about it and where they can find it. Thank you.
The podcast entry is here:
Bethesda, Maryland, USA - November 24, 2006
[Ed. George Kenney is a principled US citizen who resigned from the State Department in the early 1990s in opposition to the US policies in the former Yugoslavia.]
To the Editor:
Left wing, right wing, or just mainstream citizen, advocates of violence are worse than child molesters. Taking a political position, especially one you are willing to kill for, does not bestow virtue. Virtue resides in the heart and not the mind (think "evil genius"), it is to be found everywhere and it is as ancient as the first human stargazer. War, all war, is an abomination, and there can be no progressivism without first embracing pacifism. That's my position; a position validated, I think, by history.
To be crushed by guilt is to lose your individuality. It is to be mired in the "sound and fury" Shakespeare and Faulkner wrote about. A guilty conscience is hell on earth -- something always known in all cultures, as reflected in their literatures and oral traditions. And, obviously, the best way to avoid guilt is to stop doing bad things and to make amends or, at times, restitution for the bad things you've done. Yet how do we do that in a world as bloody and inter-connected as ours? Perhaps, as Hesse wrote, our minds are the admission price we pay for life on earth. Conversely, our minds are what make life worth living. So we have a choice.
Here's an instruction out of Zen Buddhism that I've followed ever since I was a young man. Racked by guilt because of my combat experiences, still I wasn't fool enough to believe that the war was my fault, or that what I'd done was any worse that what the taxpaying folks back home had done, or what the Viet Cong had done. I struggled mightily to reconcile my feelings until I found the way out. Though by following the instruction I wasn't instantly cured or granted a life of bliss, still it allowed me to get a grip on reality and find my place in the world.
"If you wish to know of yourself, look outward. If you wish to know of the world, look inward."
(P.S. Pease tell Jan Baughman that I read a couple of her articles plus her cartoons and hey, she's pretty good. The cartoon about the mouse on birth control -- brilliant like Gary Larson.)
Boonville, California - November 28, 2006
[ed. This is a part of an e-mail exchange with the author.]
Don Quixote invades America
Hey Monsieur d'Aymery,
Stop charging the windmills with your Sancho Panza, whether there are 30 or 40 of them. It's a Sisyphean effort. Not even Dulcinea will be at the rendez-vous. No one listens. As ol' Sancho said, "neither the rays of the sun beating on his face nor all the cheery notes of the birds welcoming the approach of day would have had power to waken him."
You can't change a culture that is based on making money and whose society will kill at will to achieve its survivalist goal: Making money. Even "progressives" and "pacifists" in America keep their eyes on the ball. Money. Is there anything else worth talking about your American experience but money? Let's throw religion to the lions' den.
Get the hell out of there as I've advised you time and again. They'll tar you right in the middle of main street Boonville, applaud the lynching, and hang you with hip hip hip hurrah. No dervish will come to your rescue.
Allez, bon vent. Give 'em hell, but stay safe...if you can.
Paris, France - November 29, 2006
[ed. A substantial majority of the American people is about two pay checks away from bankruptcy. Fifteen percent or so are dirt poor. Health insurance is a lottery. Still the Malls keep getting besieged. What else do you want people to think about but money?]
Third Parties in the USA: Gilles d'Aymery's It's The Issues, Stupid!
To the Editor:
Good piece. Here is a link to my new article on third parties, I think your readers would really appreciate it:
Joel S. Hirschhorn
Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA - November 21, 2006
Jewish Family and Friends all over the World
To the Editor:
Good lord! How you misunderstand what I have contributed! I haven't been talking about Jewishness really at all, and most certainly not that "everything Jewish is evil" (again you resort to childish hyperbole as your main debating tactic), rather the geopolitically-derived imposition of a Jewish STATE in Arabian Palestine. This is essentially a political/secular/practical/political dynamic which has very little to do with race or creed -- although such things are provided as rationales. If it is not true that this is essentially a political event/situation, rather a religious/racial one, then perhaps that explains why it hasn't (and will not) work. UNLESS (as I also mentioned tangentially) a way to run a state along racist lines (positively speaking) is found, and one that works both internally (i.e., non-democratically as we understand the term today) and also externally (i.e., making friends with its Arabian neighbours).
FYI, I have Jewish family and friends all over the world and the notion that "everything Jewish is evil" is not only ridiculous, but something I have never before considered, late alone being applied to myself. Clearly we understand each other NOT AT ALL!! Perhaps I would say that everything "right-wing Mossad-controlled Zionist" is evil, although without knowing more about their activities this would have to be -- at best -- an uniformed view and therefore one that I would not express. I have read Victor Ovstrovsky, but his is only one voice, and of course I have no way of knowing whether or not he is telling the truth, although I suspect that much of what he writes gives a generally accurate picture of how they operate. I do believe that power blocs or "ruling elites" tend to exist in any social group and that often they can exert too much influence, often of an "evil" nature. But that has nothing to do with being Jewish or anything else, rather ordinary human greed, ambition and so forth. And no social system is free of this type of thing, or nation, including the U.S., and Israel, and the Palestinian whatever-it-is.
In any case, I am quite happy not to contribute further as per your request and hope your future efforts yield good fruit.
Cape Breton, Canada - November 20, 2006
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