Letters to the Editor

(July 3, 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.]

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Irish whiskey and PayPal rattlesnakes: Gilles d'Aymery's blips #37

To the Editor:

Two Irishmen are planning a camping trip in California.

One says: "what are you bringing?"

The other says: "a gallon of whiskey in case of any rattlesnake bites. what are you bringing?"

"I'm bringing two rattlesnakes"

Steve Heeren
Vernon, British Columbia, Canada - June 19, 2006

P.S. Suggestion: if you would get hooked up to PayPal, I predict you would get a lot more by way of donations to SWANS, certainly from me. As for myself, I'm partly too lazy to write you a cheque, but there is also the issue for me of a cheque to you in Canadian dollars. Most foreign banks charge hefty fees for negotiating cheques from another currency. A word to the wise is sufficient...

Gilles d'Aymery responds: The topic of rattlesnakes is quite fitting when one looks into PayPal. At least the rattlesnake life-style is not based on predatory capitalism.

PayPal is an eBay company, one of the worst predators on the Internet. Horror stories abound. Check http://www.paypalwarning.com/ or http://www.aboutpaypal.org/ or Google the name to learn more...

If we want to change the game we must refuse to play it. To play it serves only one purpose: to fill the coffers of those sharks.

Swans banks with a local Credit Union. Yes, there would be a fee to clear a check denominated in Canadian dollars, but it would not be applied to you -- we would bear the cost. Actually, I'd be curious to know how much would be deducted from your financial contribution -- one never knows for sure till one tries. In addition, whatever the deduction is, the end result of a donation would still be benefiting our work.

Now, I can't do much about someone's "laziness," but I can do something about the game. To all extent possible I endeavor not to play it.


Jesus, Rattlesnakes, and a Mongoose, in no special order: Gilles d'Aymery's blips #37

To the Editor:

Jesus, Gilles, couldn't you have first considered trapping the fucker in a burlap net/bag rather than go the shotgun route? Careful you don't find yourself developing a craving for the rush one gets from firing a shotgun. Best solution is to ignore domestic animal laws and get a mongoose. Worth researching first whether they attack cats and dogs, but they can take care of the snakes for you, and they're kinda cute too. If that seems a bit unrealistic, maybe bring in a few roadrunners instead. They're fast disappearing in the desert regions of CA and the Mojave, so maybe we can bring their numbers back up here and they in turn can deal with the snake issue.

I ran into a rattler while hiking in the San Jacinto mountains a year ago. I don't think I ever ran faster in my life. Though I have to say, next to skydiving, I never felt more alive and appreciative of life than during that frantic flight.

Alas, we are the encroachers . . . .

Sunil Sharma
Dissident Voice
Santa Rosa, California, USA - June 26, 2006


In defense of Intellectual Freedom: Tom Mayer's The Report On Ward Churchill

Dear Editor,

I want to thank you for publishing Tom Mayer's engaging and well argued piece regarding the Ward Churchill controversy at the University of Colorado. After reading it, I was moved to immediately e-mail and hard-copy each member of the UC Board of Regents urging them to reject the recommendations of the committee. Were it not for Swans, I would not have been aware of this particular attack on intellectual freedom.

Michael DeLang
Rockford, Illinois, June 21, 2006

[ed. Here is the text of the letter Michael DeLang sent to the UC Board of Regents. Readers can send their own comments in defense of Prof. Churchill to Peter.Steinhauer@colorado.edu]

Dear Member,

Having just read Tom Mayer's cogent analysis of the report generated by the committee investigating charges of academic misconduct laid against Professor Churchill, I am moved to strongly urge the UC Board of Regents, in the interests of preserving the academic integrity of the University of Colorado, to reject the recommendations of this committee regarding this matter. It is neither fitting nor proper for an institution of higher learning to entangle itself in an overt political vendetta. Before coming to a decision on this matter, please recognize that a great deal more is at stake in this decision than the future of one man's career. I hope that I am not too late in voicing my protest of this outrageous assault on the traditions of intellectual and academic freedom.


Michael DeLang
Rockford, IL


Communist, Marxist? Gilles d'Aymery becomes famous at last, thanks to Jefferson.

To the Editor:

On your Web site home page for June 19, 2006 we find:

"Trade liberty for safety or money and you'll end up with neither. Liberty, like a grain of salt, easily dissolves. The power of questioning -- not simply believing -- has no friends. Yet liberty depends on it."

This is a quotation by Thomas Jefferson. Seems funny that you would quote Thomas Jefferson, and not Karl Marx. You are obviously an America-hating, capitalism-bashing, pro-communism bunch of great thinkers.

I guess you're ashamed to be quoting Jefferson, that's why you left off the attribution. That way people will assume a great mind like Marx actually originated it.


Jane Ivey
New York, New York, USA - June 19, 2006

[ed. Our sincere thanks go to Ms. Ivey for drawing the attention of our readers to the Swans byline. Actually, it was created by Gilles d'Aymery who, without re-inventing the wheel, combined an Arab proverb and common sense. Karl Marx would have appreciated it as much as he appreciated Thomas Jefferson. As Ms. Ivey may easily imagine, Gilles d'Aymery is greatly ingratiated that his modest aphorism will reach posterity through its attribution to Jefferson and the famous reliability of the Internet knowledge base. Voltaire, were he alive, could have enlightened Ms. Ivey and her ignoramus ilk. But, hey, as Buddha once said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your common sense."]


Lib-labs move to new horizons (Darfur, Iran?).

Dear Gilles and all at Swans,

A belated congratulations on your 10th anniversary! I have enjoyed (and learned a lot from) your work for quite some time, particularly regarding the former Yugoslavia. You will be happy to note that Swans has outlasted the so-called "Coalition for International Justice." See for yourself.

Thank you for being a genuine voice of dissent in these troubled times.

Best Wishes,

Dimitri Oram
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA - June 28, 2006

[ed. Ah, yes, the "Coalition for International Justice," such a friendly and humanitarian outfit (sorry I don't feel as putting a live link to their Web site). Its Executive Director was some Nina Bang-Jensen who had worked for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, another great humanitarian. Two members of its staff had worked at the ICTY. So, as one can imagine, they had a strong sense of "International Justice." For good measure, they had various projects in Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and of course, Sudan. But their true mission was all about lynching Milosevic and nailing one more nail in the coffin of the collective guilt of the Serbian people. They've even referred to Milosevic's entourage as "the Adolf Eichmanns of the world" ("Was Justice Ever Served?," Judith Armatta and Edgar Chen, Chicago Tribune, March 17, 2006) which is not particularly surprising since Milosevic had been crowned the "Hitler of the Balkans." But with the latter's demise I suppose the financiers behind the scene (George Soros, Ford Foundation?) did not find that organization worthy of another nickel. The job is done and there are so many new Hitlers popping up around the world from Iran to Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Sudan, etc. No worries, they will coalesce again.]


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From Handke to Milosevic, and Coulter to Misogyny... Charles Marowitz's The Coulter Solution

To the Editor:

Thanks for publishing Diana Johnstone's piece on Handke and again on Yugoslavia. Someone has to publish the truth about this stuff. It turns out Milosevic's death has been a blessing for the imperialists, removing any serious opposition not only from the front page but from the entire newspaper.

On another point, however, I opened with anticipation the piece on Coulter, since I find everything she says and writes particularly reactionary, cruel, and otherwise inhuman. I was dismayed to find an attack on her appearance that made me cringe, and I doubt I'm the most sensitive of your readers to what can only be described as misogyny. I think your writer does SWANS and himself a disservice by focusing an attack on her looks when what is really repulsive is her ideology -- perhaps ideology is too grandiose a name for her reactionary trash.

Yours in the struggle,

John Catalinotto
New York, New York, USA - June 19, 2006


More on Misogyny... Charles Marowitz's The Coulter Solution

To the Editor:

I have absolutely no brief for Ann Coulter, but Charles Marowitz's piece, "The Coulter Solution," appalled me. I thought that he was going to talk about the ugliness of the things she says. No such luck. Like any public woman, she is outspoken/controversial/noticeable/troublesome because she is just plain ugly and needs a fuck. It's been years since I read such an up-front piece of misogyny. I guess I should get out more.

I'm sure that Jean-Paul Sartre's philosophy can be explained by his physical ugliness. I'm quite certain Donald Rumsfeld's paranoid aggression can be resolved by a little plastic surgery. I mean, guys, lift your game. This is poor. If it was said about a man it would be rightfully laughed off the page. It explains absolutely nothing about why Ms. Coulter is so prominent in your lovely nation.

Alison Croggon
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - June 22, 2006

[ed. This criticism against a theatre lover, coming from another theatre lover, and a hungry one at that -- visit Croggon's worthy theatre notes from down under -- is rather beffudling; still, she joins John Catalinotto's exception-taking at Marowitz's piece. What's "wrong" with the picture? Neither [co-editor] Jan Baughman nor this [co-]editor saw one iota of misogyny in that short piece. Only humor, with a bard's no-holds-barred wit. To repeatedly watch that insect (apology to the insects of this world) show up in tight fittings, with her botoxed face spitting hate worse than a rattlesnake's venom, calls not for deconstructing her ideology -- she has little or none of it beside packaging herself (think of Rush Limbaugh) -- but going for the jugular, whether or not it hurts the sensitivities of the PC crowd, of the materialist or otherwise lib-lab genres (and genders). As Charles Marowitz commented:
I find it not worthy the effort replying to letters but if I were inclined to do so, I would point out that the reason for by-passing Coulter's reactionary opinions and going straight for her jugular is that her views do not warrant intelligent rebuttal because they are essentially menopausal bleats from a stupid cow and rebuttal would endow them with a dignity they do not deserve. The reason for resorting to "guttersnipes" is to show up the fact that her own views, being entirely ad hominem, deserve nothing more than a swift kick in the ass.

Thanks for passing on the comments.
One would say the same about Rush Limbaugh. (Is there an equivalent word in English to define man-haters, as we have misogyny to point to woman-haters?) To mirror Ms. Croggon, "I mean, gals, lift your game." Or, possibly, shy away from rehashed clichés...and in this modern age of darkness, keep that little lantern lit.]


Israel's enlightened democracy? Ask the Palestinians...

To the Editor:

When Hitler killed 6 million Jews -- did he drive a few million more crazy (or at least neurotic)?

For decades now, Israel has been trying to shove a tiny percentage of its people (never near double digits) in among a million howling West Bank natives -- causing a billion more Islamic sympathizers to howl -- and worse. This "never has so much effort been expended for so pointlessly little" act is called building "Greater Israel." Aren't Jews supposed to be smart?

The one sure accomplishment of year in, year out pulverizing Palestinians is to ceaselessly remind the rest of the world of the unwholesome way Israel was made -- which is something Israel's supporters should not be anxious for everyone to review, all the time. A little Irish political savvy might help here.

The Holocaust -- a few years after: Israel's founders succeed in establishing the state of Israel by force. A few survival wars later (to my amateur psychologist mind) too often traumatized Israelis become totally fixated on military invincibility -- possibly to the point where they wont squarely face any notion of vulnerability, from which rational assessments of cost/benefit -- as per above -- flow.

Being Jews, not real Nazis, they won't finish off their opponents (West Bank residents), of course, but only drive them daily to more homicidal rage -- in full knowledge that Palestinians and their billion-plus co-religionists have a theological template for violence. Maybe it is time to try being all Jews again.

I always say: Too bad the Arabs don't have a template for politics, like the Irish. I can just see the Madison Avenue campaign now: "Imagine the uproar if China crisscrossed Tibet with Chinese-only roads.... " I call them infidel-only roads to get a laugh and to avoid ugliness.

The quickest way for anyone to diminish Israel's support would be wide dissemination (that is, throughout the USA) of copies of the Oslo II treaty map: Palestinians permanently herded into discontiguous ghettos -- nowhere adjacent to other countries -- comprising only 60% of West Bank land. That map revealed it all to me.

Developing story: Israel is now starving these ghettos because the newly elected Hamas government refuses to ratify the creation of Israel at its own people's expense -- though most reasonable observers agree they would live with the result: now it's Warsaw ghettos! Diagnosis: blind control compulsion?

Islamics and Jews who see this all as some kind of "manifest destiny" duel should consider that a monotheistic religion is supposed to focus on the next world -- as in sending your members to glory (instead of the other place).

Which is why Islamics can worry less over the withering of a once dominant empire. Ditto: if God wanted the Diaspora to end, Jews by the millions could conceivably have moved back into Palestine as friends, without necessarily establishing political boundaries -- if that was what God wanted.

In any case, it is long past time for Israel to get along with the rest of the world. This means no more "Cask of Amontillado" walls. Israel cannot simply seal off Gaza, either, in 2008 (as it projects) and leave a people with little or no sustaining means.

Israel's only sensible -- and moral -- course must be to begin to treat these people as well -- instead of as poorly -- as possible and hope they will respond peaceably -- as most rational observers expect they would. Don't almost all Israelis wish they could? Other nations -- just average nations -- treat their neighbors as well as possible all the time -- all over the world. Can't Israelis, the miracle workers who "made the desert bloom," make everyday peace (the poem says only God can make a tree -- maybe He will help with peace too?)?

Maltreatment of Palestinians cannot stay permanently hidden from the eyes of our Internet-age world. View a recent e-mail from Israeli peace activists to Canadian sympathizers. Big brother lives right next door.

Israel's invincibility act has worked up to now largely because big brother happens to be invincible -- and, so far, relatively incurious. Big brother's support act could reach an uncomfortably quick finale should he begin to contemplate that he may have traded skyscrapers for settlements.

Irish IQ level: If you can get a billion, two hundred million Jews together to go pick a fight with six million Arabs -- morals aside -- you can drag us along. But, if the numbers look the other way around -- as big as we are -- we want out.

Denis Drew
Chicago, Illinois, USA - June 27, 2006

PS. I get some smart ideas and some silly ones. While watching the slow moving documentary The Wall on "Encore," I noticed Israeli Jews all spoke Hebrew (I don't know what I expected -- much Yiddish was spoken in my boyhood Bronx). It occurred to me that it would be more useful for the half the world's Jews who live in Israel to speak the same language as the half who live in the USA. A hundred years from now, the whole world will be speaking English (or Chinese) -- by then, Hebrew should be about as popular as Gaelic.


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Published July 3, 2006
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