MORE

Letters

THERE’S DEVILS AND THERE’S DEVILS

I want to commend Marc Cooper for an excellent profile on Joe Hicks [“The Devil and Mr. Hicks,” May 24–30], who has had an amazing American experience and who has such enormous potential to bridge the ideological divide that separates the American people, particularly with respect to the issue of “race.” There is one item in Cooper’s profile, however, that is factually inaccurate and needs to be corrected. As chairman of the Proposition 209 campaign, I can say unequivocally that neither I nor anyone else associated with the campaign had any conversations whatsoever with David Duke or made any “deals” not to mention 209 during his debate with Hicks. Perhaps the opponents of 209 considered it cute or good political gimmickry to attempt to connect Duke with our campaign, but I considered the issue far too important, and I was too respectful of the people of California, to insult them by allowing Duke to be injected into that campaign. Moreover, while a broken clock is right twice a day, and Duke’s opposition to race preferences is one of those times when he is right, I remain steadfast in my belief that he does not want true equality but yearns for a return to the days of white supremacy. In the infamous “Duke vs. Hicks” debate about 209, I found myself in the unusual position of rooting for my then-opponent (Hicks) to kick the crap out of my other opponent (Duke).

—Ward Connerly Los Angeles

 

Marc Cooper states, “It would be a loss to all if Hicks becomes one more dogma-ridden conservative hack.” He assumes that because the left is riddled with dogma-ridden hacks, it is also true of the right. I have never met one. As Mr. Hicks tried to say, joining the right liberated his mind from the dogma-ridden left.

—Don Diamond Canton, Ohio

So, a scant two weeks after Marc Cooper’s vicious, content-free assault on David Brock, we read, in “The Devil and Mr. Hicks,” that political defections can be okay, provided they run left to right. Cooper’s ugly celebration of the abuse of Sidney Blumenthal is truly appalling. Hey, Weekly, is this really the best you can do? Seems there is a great deal of FOX in your chicken Coop.

I don’t know what’s in the heart of Brock or Hicks, but one name left-leaners should view with considerable trepidation is Marc Cooper.

—Greg Wall Los Angeles

 

Marc Cooper flails vainly to come up with an explanation for the conversion of activist Joe Hicks from the left to the right. Because he was uncomfortable with some of the effects of affirmative action and the campaign tactics around Proposition 209? Because he took a trip to the Soviet Union and beheld that living conditions there generally compare unfavorably with ours? So naturally he became acolyte, apprentice and Web master to David Horowitz, whom Mr. Cooper accurately characterizes as a man who makes a living off of "fiery denunciations of feminists, leftist professors, multi-culties, Democrats and demonstrators." Naturally.

Hicks offers up as the primary cause of his switch-over the fact that he has been dismayed by "a rise in multicultural victimhood. We hear rhetoric every day from the left that discrimination against women, against gays, against blacks, is worse than ever!" The fact that this "rise" has been accompanied by the rise in corporate dominance of every aspect of life on earth and a huge consolidation of wealth in the hands of a very few people while real wages have declined for everyone else might have something to do with it. But instead of subjecting Hicks’ complaint to such analysis, Cooper confesses himself sympatico and urges us all to get with the program: "Must the narrative of the left remain rooted in victimization?"

Sorry, fellas: If one is in favor of peace and justice, one must perforce be opposed to war and injustice and must also point out that the conditions that produce them also produce, yes, victims.

Interestingly, Mr. Cooper does not seem inclined to issue a corresponding call to the right to abandon its world view so we can all just get along. Equally interestingly, Mr. Cooper has previously pooh-poohed the concept of civil disobedience ("From Protest to Politics," The Nation, March 11, 2002) and granted gracious public air time to Robert McNamara and Pat Buchanan on KPFK in the form of kid-gloves puff-ball interviews. One must presume that advising activists not to go making trouble, allowing fundamentalist reactionary mind-sets to go unchallenged and providing a podium for self-exculpating war criminals is part of what Mr. Cooper has in mind when he plunks for abandoning "dusty cant" and laboring to "conjure a proactive vision with popular appeal" — like that of Joe Hicks and David Horowitz.

Andrew Christie Los Angeles

So is Marc Cooper angry that David Brock wrote this book, or is he just pissed that he didn’t think of it himself? I could actually hear Mr. Cooper whining through the entire review, so what is it contempt or jealousy?

Chris Davis Long Beach

Mr. Cooper writes that "Leftists seem constitutionally incapable of responding to Horowitz in anything less than a scream." That is because Horowitz uses reason in his arguments, no matter how provocative he may be. This totally baffles leftists, who then express themselves as children, which they are intellectually. Mr. Cooper then writes that "Hicks’ more diplomatic tone is a special challenge to the left. It’s the left, after all, that lays claim to independent and critical thinking . . . " This is an amazing claim by the left, which in fact mercilessly oppresses independent thought and relentlessly crushes any attempt at critical thought regarding its dogma. I applaud Joe Hicks for moving out of the realm of emotion and into that of thought.

Dennis J. Campbell Farmington, New Mexico

It is gratifying to read the story of Joe Hill and his move to the CSPC. As an ex-hippie who has also moved from the left, I agree that I was repelled from the left by its "dogmatic religiosity." America is not in a state of apocalyptic social repression, as the left would have us believe through its incessant cant and harangues. As I tell my "illiberal" friends, I’ll acknowledge all that is wrong with America if they will acknowledge all that is right. The left, in its hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, cannot acknowledge the truth about what is right in America because it contradicts their ideology, which to them is more important than truth.

Russ Starrett Fairburn

Mr. Cooper makes two misstatements with regard to Proposition 209. He incorrectly identifies attorney Manny Klausner as having co-authored the initiative. Proposition 209 was actually co-authored by Dr. Glynn Custred, an anthropology professor at Cal State University Hayward, and by Dr. Thomas Wood, the director of the California Association of Scholars. Mr. Klausner did, however, provide invaluable legal assistance leading to 209’s victory at the polls.

Also, Mr. Cooper claims Proposition 209 eliminated something called "affirmative action." Proposition 209 was written to eliminate the use of "race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting." "Affirmative action" does not appear in the text or the ballot language of Proposition 209. When the ACLU attempted to force the courts to insert that term into 209’s ballot language, Judge Puglia of the California Supreme Court refused, opining the term is "fluid" and "means different things to different people." Indeed, national polling results confirmed this opinion when the Roper Poll asked 1,400 university professors to define the term. Approximately 40 percent said they thought it meant preferences and quotas to be administered using race, gender and ethnicity as selection criteria. Another 40 percent, approximately, said they thought it meant no race preferences and no race discrimination, but equal opportunity for all Americans. The remaining 20 percent or so said they could not define the term.

Otherwise, Mr. Cooper’s article was both informative and engaging.

Raymond Batz Former press secretary for Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences Incline Village, Nevada

Kudos to Marc Cooper for writing a very incisive, balanced story on the "yin and yang" of Hicks and Horowitz. Maybe with this partnership we can actually come to a real dialogue on the issues that face the United States. It is appropriate that your article appeared on the Memorial Day weekend, a time when we honor all Americans who gave their lives so we have the freedom to have this discussion and, hopefully, work towards a better union. Be sure to put your flag out. Sincerely,

Mark Cosby Raleigh, North Carolina

DAMNED EITHER WAY

Perhaps you can clarify something for me. How can Jim Crogan attack the Bush administration for not anticipating the September 11 attacks? Hasn’t the Weekly printed many, many articles criticizing the present war against terrorism? Would the Weekly or Crogan have supported profiling Islamic militants from Middle Eastern countries before September 11? What security precautions does the Weekly support now that the World Trade Center has collapsed and thousands of Americans have been murdered?

Clearly, given the huge advantages of hindsight, it looks like the intelligence agencies could have done a better job. Important information was overlooked. Perhaps the experts at the L.A. Weekly would have done a better job protecting Americans than the Clinton and Bush administrations did. Perhaps. And perhaps you can understand my skepticism.

—Eric H. Roth Mar Vista

ILLUMINATING BITS

Re: “Simon Squirms” [May 24–30]. Bill Bradley’s grilling of California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon was remarkably astute and absent any intellectual smugness. I’d like to propose that Mr. Bradley be granted a regular space in the Weekly to express his views and deliver illuminating bits of dialogue with prominent figures in the community.

—Gene Serdena Venice

READ RAGE

In “Instant Karma on the 710” [A Considerable Town, May 24–30], Ben Ehrenreich must have been writing on some level of irony rarefied even by L.A. Weekly standards. How else to explain the lack of self-awareness in his description of the accident of which he (yes, he) was the proximate cause. The guy who pulled his car out to block Ehrenreich’s had his own misconceptions about proper behavior in a car, but who can argue with his wanting to protect his place in line against a selfish jerk like Ehrenreich? Does Ehrenreich tolerate this kind of behavior from others at movie theaters? At grocery stores? At the bank? At the post office? I guess he must cut in line at those places too — after all, he drives a tiny car, right? There is some “divine retribution” sorely missing in this story.

By the way, did Mr. Ehrenreich stop laughing long enough to offer any assistance to the unfortunate woman who was the real victim? Ehrenreich doesn’t say, but his venal behavior seems answer enough.

—Geoff Grundy Alhambra

 

. . . What bothers me even more, though, is that this pissant got published just as if he had something interesting to say. Who at the Weekly thought this article would be enlightening or even mildly interesting? Mr. Ehrenreich is the type of driver that almost justifies acts of road rage.

—Doren Garcia Los Angeles

CREDIT WHERE DUE

In “Warhol-by-Numbers” [May 24–30], Doug Harvey’s reference to Henry Geldzahler’s role in fostering contemporary art is appropriate, but contains an inaccuracy that blurs the extent of his actual contribution. At the time, Henry Geldzahler was not working for a modern or contemporary museum like MoMA. He was, in fact, a curator of American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a post that he made much more important than it had been because of his extraordinary ability to seek out and get to know most of the contemporary artists then on the New York scene. In the face of considerable criticism at the time, and much later envious attack, he curated the Met’s highly successful centennial exhibition, “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970.” This exhibition lent considerable establishment prestige not only to the New York abstractionists, who had already been finding their way into the Met and other standard non-contemporary art museums for over a decade, but also to contemporaries such as Warhol, who could not have expected to show at the Met so soon in their careers. This use of a major traditional museum as a venue for contemporary art created a precedent that has since been followed throughout the world.

—John Beebe San Francisco

EROS AND LOGOS

Re: “The Erotics of Knowledge” [Weekly Literary Supplement, May 3–9]. Please convey my thanks to Bernard Cooper for his article about Anatole Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage. It’s a beautifully written and very fitting tribute to a unique and uncannily intimate book.

—Barbara Pierce Chapel Hill, North Carolina

LOOKING BACKWARD

In his review of the movie Insomnia [“Eyes Wide Open,” May 24–30], John Powers writes, “. . . without any of the time-jump shenanigans that gave Memento its special kick.” There were no “time-jump shenanigans” in Memento. Memento’s story was perfectly linear, only told in reverse.

—Tom Riviello Los Angeles

CORRECTIONS

In Geoff Dyer’s review of C.K. Stead’s novel The Secret History of Modernism [May 24–30], fellow novelist Christina Stead is identified as a New Zealander. In fact, she was Australian.

A commentary last week about the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ history of secrecy, “Power From the People” [June 7-13], incorrectly described the advice of the county’s outside counsel, Richard Jones. He told supervisors to sue to try to stop a November ballot measure authorizing a pay increase for home health-care workers. Also, it should have been made clear that supervisors have not yet voted on the district attorney’s budget.