Great caricature of Condi Rice as a "gangsta ho" by Robbie Conal [Image Control, January 21 - 27]. Maybe next week you can show Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta as a rickshaw driver (get it?). Keep up the good work! If you don't quite get it, I'm being sarcastic and am quite offended by the drawing.
Mr. Conal's article and accompanying image is proof positive that liberals can find no bounds for bad taste.
Charleston, South Carolina
More Powers to Us
What John Powers argues in "A Vision of Our Own" [January 21 - 27] is very right, very important and very well put. I hope that a lot of Democrats and progressives (real and so-called) read and ponder it carefully.
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
In light of our administration's egregious actions, and especially since the re-election of Mr. Bush, I had been thinking of moving to another country. But where? Canada is fine, but the climate is lousy. Zurich is great, but it's too cold. Then I received a tongue-in-cheek e-mailed article on California's seceding. I thought, wouldn't that be lovely, if it were possible. Now Mr. Donnelly has written an article ["Leaving Home," January 21 - 27] that makes it sound so feasible, practical and desirable. Let's put it on the next ballot.
The Frame Game
While reading Judith Lewis' "Frame This" [January 21 - 27], I couldn't help but repeatedly follow her titular imperative. I found her article, especially the parts in quotation marks (parts so long and numerous I often got confused as to who was speaking, the author or Gunther), to suffer from, and reveal, several classic liberal mental straitjackets - subconscious frames, if you will. Chief among these: a penchant for liberal in-bashing, the tendency for pitting two complementary approaches against one another, vacillating denial over whether an election was a defeat or simply unwinnable, a smug fear of political strategy and power, and the confused narrow-minded righteousness that leads to "if you really wanted to help, you'd be out there . . ." -type statements, as in "If he really wants to be helpful, he should go canvass houses instead of trying to convince people there's a magic key to people's hearts and minds." Interestingly, not only was I a student of Lakoff's in 2002 as a junior at UC Berkeley, but when 2004 rolled around, what did I do but knock on people's doors and canvass houses? I got involved at the "grassroots level" with the aptly, if oxymoronically, named company Grassroots Inc., which was contracted by the DNC to be their door-to-door fund-raising wing. I went to houses and talked to people - "one door, one person at a time." But I couldn't help but think that what I was really doing was raising money for DNC television ads. And what we all needed - what the legions of malcontented Democrat moms and dads kept reminding me we needed as they grudgingly yanked their checkbooks - was a better message, a better strategy, to fund.
Gunther writes, "We don't need more politicians carefully framing their positions, we need activists who are willing to make some enemies . . . Being on the left isn't about winning or dominating . . . it's about social justice." Whatever happened to having, or to doing, both? In Gunther's frame of mind, so to speak, you either have one or the other. Either winning or social justice. Honesty or strategy. Activists or politicians. For any political movement or persuasion to succeed, however, the movement needs to be multileveled, multipronged. One more activist on the streets fighting for the powerless doesn't mean one less political strategist fighting for an election. Likewise, finding the best way to speak to the public does not come at the sacrifice of values. Just the opposite. It's about finding the frame that fits the values. Lakoff simply urges the left not to accept the frames provided by the right, but to think - to frame - for themselves. And framing one's beliefs to reflect one's worldview is not a euphemism for euphemizing one's beliefs, it is simply smart.
Thanks for the surprising and insightful article on George Lakoff's campaign to teach progressives to frame our positions as well as or better than Republicans. Of course the American people do need to be made aware that they are being manipulated through language; and yes, we could improve our communication skills. But it's critical that we not be seduced into thinking this is more than it is. We are not PR people; we are people with heart. We have more to offer than slogan contests.
The best way to demonstrate wisdom and compassion is by being wise and compassionate.
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Regarding Scott Foundas' article on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Documentary Committee ["Docs on the Rocks," December 31, 2004 - January 6, 2005]: The committee also has a strange bias against documentaries dealing with motion pictures. Though Paul Seydor's short on The Wild Bunch was a rare example of such a subject winning a nomination, David Strohmaier's superb Cinerama Adventure was ignored. The joke has always been that to win the documentary award, the film had to be an uplifting study of either a Holocaust or cancer survivor.