Howard Blume’s recent essay on Michael Lerner’s dispute with ANSWER over anti-war organizing [“Furor in Frisco,” February 14–20] concludes by saying, “The risk is that these attempts to shove ANSWER to the sidelines also could provide the right wing with another round of ammunition.” It’s hard to see how this follows from the rest of his article — or, for that matter, from the events of the past week. The logic here is pernicious: ANSWER gets to decide who the unacceptable speakers are (i.e., anyone who has publicly criticized them), and everyone else opposed to war in Iraq should keep quiet lest we divide the movement and give ammunition to the right? How exactly does this make sense?

Let’s be clear about one thing: The right wing has no better ammunition than ANSWER itself. Not even The Wall Street Journal and National Review could have dreamed up a coalition more likely to divide the left and de-legitimate the anti-war mainstream. ANSWER now says that this is not the time for infighting among anti-war protesters. But they weren’t able to put their sectarianism aside even this once in the interests of the greater good — namely, appealing to anti-war Americans of all kinds.

—Michael Bérubé
State College, Pennsylvania

I think Howard Blume got shellacked and bamboozled by pros when he set out to find the truth behind the controversy over Michael Lerner and ANSWER. One fact is plain and undeniable: Lerner, proposed as a speaker at the antiwar rally, was refused by ANSWER on the grounds that those who have criticized a member of their coalition may not speak. This is the nub of the problem: How can those who claim to believe in democracy close ranks to deny public debate? Those are the tactics of despotism, and they should be challenged wherever they arise. Having sat through hundreds of sectarian meetings in my time, I instantly recognize that when someone says they did not wish to pursue a matter further, as Lerner's lieutenants say in Blume's article, they are really saying, "We surrendered. It wasn't worth the fight. We were going to lose, so why bother?" In other words, the matter was crushed in committee before it could hit the airwaves — which it didn't until Lerner's side finally put up a stink.

Greg Goldin
Los Angeles

HOWARD BLUME REPLIES: The spin on this issue was coming from all directions. I stand by the story.


Related Stories

  • Henry Rollins: War, Continued 3

    This morning, I woke up in a small hotel room in Gordonsville, Tennessee. Outside my door: Taco Bell, Subway, McDonald's and Waffle House. I packed my gear and headed down to the lobby for another day of shooting 10 Things You Don't Know About. Scheduled for today was a tour...
  • Marry, People 2

    After the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage to resume in California last summer, people started getting their vows on pretty much right away. See also: Gay Marriage in California: What Happens Next? But California law still contained antiquated language that defined marriage as "a personal relation arising out of...
  • Glove Law Repealed

    Remember six months ago or so when it looked like everyone from your friendly neighborhood barman to your favorite sushi chef was going to remind you more of a surgeon than someone providing hospitality? That's because on Jan. 1, a law went into effect requiring plastic gloves for all hospitality...
  • Californians Like Teachers But Hate Teachers' Lifelong Tenure and Seniority: Poll 2

    If California teachers felt a shadow pass over today, it was the fairly stunning PACE/USC Rossier Poll showing California residents are sick of "last hired, first fired" teacher union rules and oppose the nearly automatic tenure system that makes it all but impossible to fire crappy teachers. Polls show that...
  • Whole Foods Fined for Overcharging California Customers 5

    Just last week we went into Whole Foods for quinoa and came out with one $150 grocery bag of God-knows-what (we think Parmesan crisps, an organic T-shirt and beer made by Franciscan friars was in there). We are used to, but puzzled by, this phenomenon. So we were more than a little...


In the Weekly’s election endorsements [February 14–20], the editors gush about Martin Ludlow being a “legendary organizer at 38 years of age” and a descendant of a very progressive family. Thus, you say, he will “fight the entrenched business political establishments on behalf of the more socially responsible investment.” PUH-LEEZ. The Martin Ludlows of the progressive movement are the problem besetting and holding back progressives and the labor movement. Labor endorsed Nate Holden for the 10th Council District and is now endorsing Martin Ludlow for the same seat. With the same level of opportunism and shortsightedness, labor is endorsing a candidate with no true connections to the district. In fact, Ludlow filed in three other races before carpetbagging his way into the 10th. (He originally filed in the 8th District, but did not have the stomach to take on Chief Parks.) You claim that Ludlow will fight the anti-ethnocentric fight in L.A., yet this “legendary organizer,” when faced with challenging the most ethnocentric of candidates, courageously backed out. I guess what they say is true: Love is blind. Or, in this case, myopic.

—Jane Kim


Marc Cooper’s column “What’s Proof Got To Do With It?” [Dissonance, February 14–20] furnished a solid analysis of the dynamics leading to the launching of an unjustified attack against Iraq. I have problems, however, with the conclusion of his piece, in which he suggests that if war does come and the United States occupies Iraq, progressives should not necessarily call for the ending of the occupation. Instead, U.S. troops and money should be used to construct “something better” for the people of Iraq.

Perhaps what is at stake is that we start from different assumptions. I believe that convincing evidence exists that the Bush administration aims at nothing less than imperialistic world domination. Their arrogance has reached the point where they scarcely seek to disguise it. It is important to recognize that U.S. occupation of Iraq will seek to make Iraq a compliant occupation client state and in no way will be aimed at achieving any good for the people of Iraq. In these circumstances it will be necessary for progressives to oppose that occupation and, even more importantly, to oppose future projected aggressions.

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Scenes from the O.J. Simpson Circus
    In the months after O.J. Simpson's arrest for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in the summer of 1994, the drama inside the courthouse riveted the masses. But almost as much mayhem was happening right outside the building, as well as near Simpson's Brentwood home. Dissenters and supporters alike showed up to showcase art inspired by the case, sell merchandise, and either rally for, or against, the accused football star. Here is a gallery of the madness, captured by a photojournalist who saw it all. All photos by Ted Soqui.