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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
. . . 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.
CREDIT WHERE DUE
[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.
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.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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.
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.