Letters to the Editor

(January 30, 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. Thank you.]

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Wildness is the preservation of the world: Martin Murie's Trumpeters
To the Editor:

The piece "Trumpeters" by Martin Murie, contains a glaring error. Henry Thoreau did not write:

"in wildness is the salvation of the world"

The actual quote, from his essay "Walking" is:

"The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild;
and what I have been preparing to say is, that
in Wildness is the preservation of the world."

Peter Borst
Dyce Honey Bee Lab, Cornell University
Ithaca, New York, USA - January 16, 2006


Robert Cray Video and the American Friends Service Committee
Hi Gilles and the rest of the équipe of Swans,

I notice that sometimes you do reviews of books and articles on musicians. I was wondering if you might like to feature the review of this Robert Cray music video, made with the collaboration of the American Friends Service Committee, who contributed their memorial exhibit "Eyes Wide Open":


The song is called "Twenty," and features Aidan Delgado, a 23-year-old Iraq war veteran who became a conscientious objector after serving in Nasiriyah and at Abu Ghraib prison.

The refrain is haunting: "When you're used up, where do you go, soldier?"

One of the first images in the video is that of a young woman shopping, not a care in the world, cell phone attached to her ear as she tosses her purchases in the back of her SUV. We see that her sports vehicle is sporting the ubiquitous yellow ribbons urging all truly patriotic Americans to "support the troops." When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.

"Promises they don't keep anymore...Got to fight the rich man's war," Cray sings.

The empty boots stretch on for miles...

Unfortunately, the readers of Swans aren't the ones who really need to see this video...


Barbara Quintiliano
Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA - January 28, 2006
[ed. This is a very powerful video that can be viewed online at the link provided by Barbara (again, http://www.afsc.org/iraq/cray-video.htm). The video is a part of AFSC's Wage Peace Campaign. Once you've watched it, take advantage of the link provided by the AFSC and send a letter to Congress to register your opposition to the war. End the war. Bring the troops home NOW! (Note: Cray's album has been nominated for a Grammy as Best Contemporary Blues Album.)]


Answer to Michael Neumann's Response To Jacob Amir
To the Editor,

Michael Neumann continues to deny the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty in Palestine. By 1947 there were 600,000 Jews in Palestine. All of them, with the possible exception of the Naturei Karta Ultra-Orthodox sect, supported the establishment of the Jewish state. It did not matter if they came in 1630 or in 1930. They all belonged to the same national entity and as such were entitled to political self determination.

The Jews in Palestine had every right to strive, fight and achieve their independence. Contrary to Neumann's assertion, the 110,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel and became Israeli citizens did not leave. To claim that the Arabs were right to reject the partition because those "terrible Zionists" would have attacked them later is the mother of all obfuscations! Menachem Begin and Itzhak Shamir, two very strong proponents of Greater Israel, believed that the Jewish state should include ALL of Mandatory Palestine, including the Kingdom of Jordan. When they became Prime Ministers they could have very easily conquered Jordan. But of course they did not. They did not even annex the whole of the West Bank and Gaza.

Neumann should take a look at the definition of ethnicity: "An ethnic group is a culture or subculture whose members are readily distinguishable by outsiders based on traits originating from a common racial, national, linguistic, regional or religious source. Members of an ethnic group are often presumed to be culturally or genetically similar, although this is not in fact necessarily the case." If one looks at the Jews from England and compares them with the Jews from Yemen one finds that they have nothing in common, except their religion and historic memory. The same goes when one compares the Jews from Bulgaria with those from Iraq. They all belong to the same people without being ethnically similar. And the encyclopedia continues: "On the political front, an ethnic group is distinguished from a nation-state by the former's lack of sovereignty." Israel is a nation-state and not an ethnic sovereignty. Israel does not perpetuate the power of a single ethnic group over everyone else within the territory over which that group holds sovereignty. It perpetuates the power of the Jewish people, just like Bulgaria perpetuates the power of the Bulgarian people.

I maintain my point that denying the right of the Jewish people to a sovereign nation-state, not ethnic sovereignty, but a nation-state, is in fact racist.

Yours truly,

Jacob Amir, M.D.
Jerusalem, Israel - January 29, 2006


Comradely Criticism: Gilles d'Aymery's Fran Shor's Bush-League Spectacles
Dear Gilles:

First and foremost, thank you for your generous review. I certainly accept the comradely criticism concerning my position on the 2004 election although I think it was more nuanced than "Anbody But Bush." On the other hand, I remain committed to the principle that building an alternative political movement cannot take place in the electoral arena. Moreover, while I did not explicitly articulate specific steps towards that alternative political movement, I did try to provide some outline of what needed to be critiqued and confronted. I do hope that my next book, Beyond US: Is Another World Possible?, will have some move concrete advice and examples for getting us on a different path. In the meantime, keep up the good work.

In solidarity,

Fran Shor
Detroit, Michigan, USA - January 16, 2006


Milo Clark's perspectives
To the Editor:

In May of 2004, in "Wahabi and Saudi Arabia, Islam and America," Milo Clark wrote:

"The keystone to close the arch, connect the patterns, is hanging ready to drop in place. That keystone houses the commonality among extremes, in this case Wahabi and fundamental Christians along with the rabid sects of Judaism, Zionist"

and this month, in "Holding Breath," he writes:

"The world of Islam is being driven by Wahabi/Salafi extremes. The world of Christianity is being driven by born-again fundamentalists, one of whom sits in the American White House. Jerusalem is under sway of Jewish extremists."

Does he write these passages from a Christian perspective, or an agnostic/atheist perspective? His bio only says he is an educated critical thinker.

David Ellis
Clearwater, Florida, USA - January 25, 2006
Milo Clark responds:

Mr. Ellis,

My perspectives are neither Christian nor agnostic/atheist. If there is a religious base, it tends to be Buddhist which, in turn, is highly modified by Sufi, Advaita, and Taoist influences.

Rather, I would say my perspectives are eclectic and reasonably informed. Always learning.

I assume, however, that none of the above addresses your concerns. Would you care to be more specific?


To the Editor:

This is an e-mail for Milo Clark. I just read your piece about Wahabi and Saudi Arabia and I was blown away by it. I would like to discuss this with you.

Grace Wu
Sacramento, California, USA - January 21, 2006


Greetings from Eli Beckerman
Dear friends,

A lot has happened in my life in the past 2 1/2 months. My job ended, I decided to attend the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, and here I am in Cusco, Peru, ready to start the 4-day hike of the Inca Trail early early tomorrow morning.

I feel very privileged to be here right now, and I am really looking forward to the remaining 3 1/2 weeks of my trip -- after Peru I will travel through Ecuador and Colombia to Venezuela. I am in Caracas for a week, and then fly to Costa Rica for a week.

I am writing a mass e-mail because I have been so flustered that many of you don't even know I have left the Center for Astrophysics, and I would like to let you all know about the really interesting politics that are going on in Latin America right now, and there's just no other way.

Though I have to say I am not a big fan of blogs, I have set one up if you are interested in what has brought me down here and what I see... I think this is a very important moment in global politics, and Latin America is at the forefront of its importance. Instead of merely offering criticisms and lists of what is wrong in the world, alternatives are being forged in the most creative and democratic ways, thanks in large part to this forum which started in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001. 'Another World Is Possible' is the ongoing slogan of the WSF, and indeed, Another World Is Happening.

The blog is http://otromundo.wordpress.com/


Eli Beckerman
Cusco, Peru - January 15, 2006


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Published January 30, 2006
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