Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter231



Letters to the Editor

(December 19, 2011)


[Please include your first and last names, and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]

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Strong disagrement on OWS: Manuel García, Jr.'s What Next For OWS, Politics?

To the Editor:

I found the García article just awful. He has not dug deeply into the movement and, therefore, has a very superficial understanding and appreciation for its complexity and depth, especially with respect to its political aspects. Not only have I participated in the OWS protest, but I have written three articles on the Occupy movement, spent considerable time on a number of Occupy Web sites and materials, and also communicated with important members of it. The idea that the movement is just composed of relatively young people is totally incorrect; there is a large fraction of older, experienced dissidents. There has also been a very substantial amount of thinking and work with respect to achieving political reforms. Media reporting on the movement has been filled with incorrect information and intentional disinformation. The police violence against the movement speaks more about the fears of the status quo political establishment than about the movement itself. Don't count the Occupy out just yet; there are numerous Occupy participants making serious plans for future actions. They want to fix and reform the U.S. and, for example, have been increasingly seeing the need for constitutional amendments achieved through the first-time use of an Article V convention of state delegates.

Joel S. Hirschhorn
Chevy Chase, MD, USA - December 5, 2011


The Merits of Quoting Appropriately: Gilles d'Aymery's "Context And Accuracy": George F. Kennan's Famous 'Quotation'

To the Editor:

For many years now, well, okay, since the arrival of the Bush/NEO presidency, I have run with the George Kennan citation that you elegantly explored in "Context And Accuracy" (March 28, 2005).

I was drawn into the vortex of the US political quagmire while traveling in the U.S. in the early 1990s. I watched a big screen TV in a bar in Montana with horror as the BATF fired CS canisters into the timber buildings at Waco (canisters that were specifically prohibited, due to high exothermic risk, from being used indoors) and the subsequent fire that massacred all inside. Then, of course, came the OKC Murrah building affair -- deeply upsetting -- which still hurts me to remind myself of the criminality behind it. The sheer volume of murdered peoples that are the product of the US governments' various arms relentlessly running cover-up operations is staggering -- then you have assassination as a weapon of political in-fighting. How did these times ever arrive? Can we call all these evils Machiavellian, or was HE misquoted too? (I really should read his works.)

So, it was not a Bush (clown that he was) phenom that started me off.

I digress. Thank you for the article. This information is very welcome. I noted a review in The Economist recently (Nov. 12, 2011) of Gaddis's biography of Kennan, and it spurred me to revisit the Kennan quote, and now to the source of that quote. I owe you thanks for adding to my knowledge here, and, of course, it was laziness that led me to accept the confected quote in the first place.

I will explore Swans more. I rarely get to read cogent material on the Web (although I am quite sure there are many writers of your calibre there) and to see how decently and thoroughly you explore the subject has been illuminating.

Best wishes,

Henry Balfour
Nelson, New Zealand - December 5, 2011


Who's the Plagiarizer? Louis Proyect's Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah

To the Editor:

It seems that Louis Proyect's book review on Chinua Achebe's "Anthills of the Savannah" shares more than a few passing phrases with Dr. Manjula Davidson's essay "Postcolonialism and Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah." In fact, entire paragraphs are word for word. How is this accounted for?

Dimitri Bazos
Toronto, Ontario, Canada - December 11, 2011

Gilles d'Aymery responded the same day:

Thank you for your e-mail. Louis Proyect's review was published on December 1, 2003.

Dr. Manjula Davidson's essay, posted at, http://www.yabaluri.org/TRIVENI/CDWEB/postcolonialismandchinuaachebejul2006.htm, though undated is published in a 2006 directory on the Web site.

I have contacted Prof. Davidson by e-mail -- manju_lynd@yahoo.co.in -- and politely asked her to clarify when she wrote her article.

The question being: Who plagiarized whom? Swans has published over 70 pieces authored by Louis Proyect. Louis has often been accused of being a harsh and cantekerous man. He has *never* been accused of being a plagiarizer. It would appear that it is Dr. Davidson who needs to account for this matter.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
Mr. Dimitri Bazos responded as follows:

Thank you for your response

I actually noticed the dates myself shortly before seeing your e-mail. I regret sounding as accusatory as I did, as not only did Mr. Proyect write his first, but a few lines in Dr. Manjula's introduction also come from another essay entitled "The Term Postcolonial applied to Anthills of the Savannah and A Forst of Flowers" by Margaret Hander [ed. Brown University, Autumn 1997]. I've sent them an e-mail as well actually, asking the same thing.
[ed. As of publication date, Dr. Manjula Davidson has not responded.]


R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens -- 1949-2011

To the Editor:

Unlike most of the dying, Christopher Hitchens spoke about the process right up till his death. It was absorbing. Readers felt that an avowed enemy of cliché was taking a last swipe at the big one that had cancer victims "battling" the disease. His intellectual habits were formed in university debates where promising young men learned to argue for and against a question. Nothing could have been farther from the stance of his hero George Orwell with whom he seemed to identify. Hitchens's zig-zag path through the issues of the last fifty years has been a lesson in how prolonged school-boy brilliance can obstruct genuine commitment to anything at all. His polemics were entertaining, like someone doing a juggling act on stage. We enjoyed his verbal darts. He will be remembered for his sprightly turns of phrase.

Peter Byrne
Lecce, Italy - December 16, 2011


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Published December 19, 2011
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