COLIN POWELL: DISMANTLING THE IMAGE
John Powers has written fine and insightful articles on U.S. policies, especially since 9/11. Thus, I am puzzled by his uncritical stance in Visible Men [On, February 2228] on Colin Powell, someone whos benefited from mass media that have refused to examine Powells record, e.g., on Vietnam, Iran-contra, Panama and the Persian Gulf War. The carefully crafted image of Powell as soldier-statesman is contradicted by the facts. Few know that the then-Major Colin Powell helped to suppress the inquiry into the 1968 My Lai massacre. When ordered to investigate the killings and rapes, Powell concluded that while there might have been some isolated incidents of abuse, there were no widespread atrocities in Vietnam, and that relations between Americans and Vietnamese were excellent. How could he be so wrong on My Lai and the Vietnam War and yet be trusted on contemporary world conflicts? His style may be different from Bushs and Rumsfelds, but in essence all three are architects of imperialist economic and military policies that bring death and devastation to Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.
Powell has advised and pursued policies that violate international law, human rights and the Constitution. As assistant to former Pentagon boss Casper Weinberger during the Reagan administration, he was involved in the illegal and unconstitutional Iran-contra affair and perjured himself before Congress. He later persuaded former President Bush to pardon Weinberger for the latters involvement in Iran-contra. Then, in 1989, after Powell urged Bush to invade Panama under the pretext of bringing Manuel Noriega, formerly on the CIA payroll, to justice, thousands of Panamanians were killed. And he was a key figure in the Gulf War slaughter that left perhaps 150,000 Iraqi troops dead. To this day he supports the U.S.-led U.N. embargo that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children since 1991.
Given the recent attention to human rights because of charges against former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and the efforts to question Henry Kissinger about his role in the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile by Pinochet, why have the mass media refused to examine Powells involvement in war crimes? Americans who advocate human rights and international law and oppose tyrants such as Milosevic and Pinochet cannot ignore the tyranny of our own leaders, even those who, like Powell, get kid-glove treatment. No leader is above the law when it comes to human rights and murder; there must be a single standard in such matters. If Milosevic and Pinochet can be charged with crimes against humanity, then justice and truth demand that Powell have his day in court as well.
THE ALUMINUM KING: NO TONY SOPRANO
I was very disappointed to find a sensationalistic article such as Christine Pelisek and Charles Rappleyes Pet Shop Murder in the L.A. Weekly [February 2228]. Fraud, the Mob and the Aluminum King, said the cover, preparing the reader for a New Yorkstyle Mafia story. On the next page, in the Contents section, the words Armenian crime scene, used in the same sentence with massive rip-offs from the $450 million state recycling program, make you think, Hey, this is big stuff. But as you read more, you cant help but be disappointed that the story isnt as juicy as you expected; that a wannabe Mafioso bringing aluminum cans from across the state, who lives in a modest house with his wife and mother, hardly qualifies as an aluminum king; that a publication that I used to respect has sunk to the level of the Channel 13 News; that you go back to 1999 and choose this story as the first major story you do about the 60,000 Armenians living in Los Angeles the anonymous immigrant population, as you refer to them.
If the Armenian population were anonymous to your readers, wouldnt you serve them better by doing a story that paints not an overly positive or optimistic picture of the Armenian community, but a realistic one, of a community less than 1 percent of which (according to your own article) are involved in illegal activities, a population whose overwhelming majority are hard-working, law-abiding, taxpaying Americans. There are many stories out there. Choosing which one to tell is what separates Jerry Springer from Charlie Rose.
I was curious about why a story about criminal corruption was so concerned with Sarkis Antonyans heavily oiled hair, then taken aback by the writers interest in his long, broad nose. True discomfort set in when I learned that Like so many ambitious immigrants before him, he shunned the prospect of menial work . . . living by his wits on the far side of the law. Media such as the Weekly have so often given me an alternative to Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertsonlike rhetoric. That is why reading â such an article, in these tense times, both angered and saddened me.
GRANDMA: SHED PROBABLY HAVE A CONNIPTION FIT
Where can I take Grandma to Sunday brunch by the sea? reads question No. 39 in your Winter Restaurants 2002 guide [February 814]. The Weekly recommends One Pico, located in the luxurious Shutters Hotel. But if Grandma has a social conscience, shell chew you out. As reported previously in the pages of the Weekly, Shutters is the leader of the hotel-backed campaign to derail Santa Monicas living-wage law. First it spent tens of thousands of dollars to try to pass a fake living-wage referendum, called Prop. KK, which was defeated by 79 percent of Santa Monicas voters. Now it has poured more thousands into qualifying a repeal of the living-wage ordinance on the November ballot.
Maybe the Weeklys food reviewers should make a point of reading the Weeklys news stories. Part of what you pay for an entrée at One Pico goes toward fighting the right of workers to earn a decent wage.
What would Grandma think of that?
BOB COSTAS: NO FRIENDS IN QUAKERTOWN
I chuckled while reading Brendan Bernhards take on NBCs coverage [The Healing Games, Box Populi, March 17]. It mirrors mine completely. Only a few additional comments Id have made:
1) He left out the part where Bush said (as he says in every speech he makes), We are the greatest nation in the world ad nauseam. This at the Olympics, the one place where nations can show good sportsmanship.
2) NBCs figure-skating commentator Sandra Bezic couldnt shut up about how wonderful the Canadian pair were; I personally preferred the Russians.
3) When the Russians complained about the judging being unfair in a few events, I happened to agree with them, but thats beside the point. It was childish of NBCs commentators to make fun of them. Didnt the U.S. and Canada complain for days on end about the pair-skating competition?
4) One disagreement: I used to love watching Jim McKay when he was the lead commentator on the Olympics. Coverage was terrific then. But Im in total agreement with finding Bob Costas drivel extremely annoying. I wish hed disappear . . . forever.
FOR THE RECORD
Re: last weeks book page. Reviewer R.U. Sirius book The Revolution: Quotations From Revolution Party Chairman R.U. Sirius was published in June 2000 by Feral House, which also published Extreme Islam, one of the books reviewed. Also, due to an editorial oversight, in Judith Lewis interview with Lupe Ontiveros, the name of Chuck & Bucks director, Miguel Arteta, was misspelled throughout.