HUMAN NEEDS, PRESSING AND NOT-SO-PRESSING
Re: “In the Skies and in the Streets” [May 1422]. Certainly reasonable men and women of good will can differ on the merits of the U.S.-NATO war against Yugoslavia, and certainly there are some identified in the past as members of the “peace-and-justice movement” who support the current bombing campaign. But the overwhelming majority of groups and individuals comprising the traditional peace-and-justice movement condemn the war and, in Los Angeles, have joined in coalition to demand that the bombing stop, that the U.S.-NATO forces leave Yugoslavia, and that the billions being spent on this war be spent instead on pressing human needs.
For Harold Meyerson, who happens to be quite hawkish on the war, to consign our coalition to the “fringe” of the movement (suggesting, of course, that he now represents the “mainstream” of that movement) is really an appalling bit of Orwellian logic. And to suggest that he is more concerned than we are with the plight of the refugees and with the human-rights violations occurring on all sides in this war is grossly inaccurate. We simply believe that what the U.S. government and NATO are doing, they do for decidedly non-humanitarian reasons, and that what they are doing is only making a bad situation worse. We don't believe that you can “save” a country, or a people, by bombing it, or them, into oblivion. Perhaps brother Meyerson forgets that the first obligation of a U.S. anti-war movement is to critique our own nation's conduct in the war.
Frankly, for Meyerson to sit on the sidelines and quibble over the incompleteness of the demands of what is, after all, a new and developing anti-war movement, as ever-growing numbers of innocent civilians are being blown to bits and while Yugoslavia is being reduced to rubble, is hardly taking the moral high ground.
For the L.A. Peace Center Coalition Against the U.S.-NATO War in Yugoslavia,
International Action Center
National Lawyers Guild
Southern California Americans
for Democratic Action
Office of the Americas
Don White, CISPES
As president of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, I must respond to Harold Meyerson's mystifying article in which he described the Peace Coalition as uncritical of Milosevic. SCADA is part of that coalition, and Mr. Meyerson knows our organization long and well enough to recognize that not only do we regard Milosevic as a two-bit butcher, we have traditionally opposed the numerous other two-bit butchers supported by our consistently inconsistent State Department. Suharto, Saddam Hussein, Somoza . . . the list is endless. We were there in opposition long before the State Department admitted what bastards these dictators were.
If you're looking for support for Milosevic, consider NATO. Milosevic has never had it so good. The bombing has gotten rid of the Albanians a lot faster than he ever dreamed possible. It has converted the Serbian dissenters into his ardent supporters, something he has to be thrilled about. And while it has exacerbated his violence, destabilized the country, polluted it for a millennium, blanketed it with anti-personnel cluster bombs and depleted uranium, and killed and maimed thousands of Albanians, Serbs and everybody else who was unlucky enough to be in bomb's way, Milosevic himself remains safe and secure.
But Milosevic is not the only winner. There's Clinton. By initiating the bombing, he has managed to keep the China fund-raising scandal from really taking off. And the Republican Congress is happy. They managed to extract an extra $14 billion for their military buddies instead of the $6 billion requested by Clinton.
Above all, the war has managed to get liberals, like you and us, at each other's throats. Our war-hawking leaders counted on the fact that many would equate the situation in Yugoslavia with the Holocaust. But in Hitler's Germany, Jews, Gypsies, gays — all the minority victims — wanted to remain Germans. Nobody wanted sovereignty. In Yugoslavia, everybody wants sovereignty. This thing in Yugoslavia, while grotesque and tragic, is a classic civil war.
We at SCADA are revolted and horrified by this heartbreaking war. We will continue to have teach-ins, rallies, marches, whatever it takes to oppose it. And we will continue to work with the Peace Coalition. We do not have to agree on everything; what coalition does? It is enough that we all want to stop the bombing, negotiate out of this war and redirect those funds out of destroying another country and into saving our own. We invite Mr. Meyerson to join us.
YET ANOTHER COUNTRY
I don't know the music of TLC, or their videos, and nothing in Ernest Hardy's boneheaded paean to them [“Homegrrrlz,” May 713] makes me want to. In fact, with friends like Hardy, they don't need any critics. Praise, when couched in turgid, pretentious prose and salted with slurs against various Others and other artists, amounts to a highly qualified endorsement.
I confess, I'm white and blue-eyed. Still, having some experience in such matters, I'll bet I'd have been better welcomed at the Lodge scene Hardy describes than a lone black man would be at the analogous WASP-fest. So I guess it's either a bit of blacker-than-thou-ism, or reverse-wannabe-ism that has him exulting in the “blue-eyed-free zone” of that evening. (Ever notice how it's the self-proclaimed “thinkers” in any group who are the biggest bigots?) I'll bet, too, that if a writer were to similarly celebrate the “brown-skin-free zone” of, say, a Steve Earle concert, the L.A. Weekly wouldn't print it.
While obviously the aim of the act is entertainment rather than racial uplift, the “gangsta, bitch/ho” pose TLC strikes is regrettable. It's completely understandable, perhaps inevitable, that people of color would be reluctant to become “respectable citizens” or “responsible adults,” particularly in the stultifying ways this deeply warped society represents those roles. But the infantilized, deviant and parasitic poses celebrated instead by black pop culture seem an embodiment of white-racist clichés rather than any critique or transcendence of them. Invocation or inhabitation of cliché, however conscious or ironic, is not the same as transcendence of same; just knowing something is stupid doesn't make you smart. (Ernest Hardy should bear that in mind when tempted to take cheap shots at very easy targets like the Spice Girls, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears.)
Not everybody in the black community thinks the whole gangsta pose, which Hardy finds so “straight up,” is cool. I was once at a corner in Washington, D.C., waiting for the light to change beside a handsome, impeccably tailored brother, obviously a lawyer. Also at the corner was a Lexus tricked out in full ghetto regalia, made nearly undrivable with the slavishly contrarian aesthetics of offense (i.e., what offends the uptight WASP is good). The car vibrated with ear-damaging bass, and the lyric was all muthafuckas, bitches and bustin' caps. The light changed and the car rolled away. The lawyer hesitated a moment on the curb and then looked at me, shaking his head. With a sad laugh, he told me, “Shit like that gives niggers a bad name,” and then strode off into the afternoon. He struck me as a man without a country; thus, strangely, I found my heart going out to a prosperous lawyer in a good suit.
Doug Harvey's rant on the exhibition “Forming: The Early Days of L.A. Punk” [“Recline and Sprawl,” May 713] was insightful and articulate. Please feature more articles by him.
Hey, wait a second. I thought it was the New Times that hired bitter hacks to do hatchet jobs about L.A.'s finest. Just because Doug Harvey missed out on all the fun because he was in Canada, he has to tear everything down. I went to the show, and it was amazing. I am so sorry, Doug Harvey, that you don't like subcultures. I am so sorry that â you never became an artist. I am so sorry that you don't get it.
As an advertiser in your “Spirituality L.A.” guide [May 713], I was shocked by many of the pictures. How could you put such an ugly, dark angel on the outside! It looks more like the devil. Then there were the inside back and front covers . . . Were you that pressed for money?
If the L.A Weekly is an “alternative media” voice, I have a CIA map of Belgrade's Embassy Row I'd like to sell you. The L.A. Times prostitutes itself to the May Co. and the portable-phone advertising to spew their propaganda. The Weekly tells its lies pimping with page after page of sex-solicitor advertising.
Re: Judith Lewis' story “Guns Dot Com” [April 30May 6]. There are already more than 30,000 local, state and federal gun laws that strictly govern the buying, selling and shipping of guns. The article praises the eNazis for censoring guns from their site. If they'd removed porno (which they have not), Ms. Lewis would likely whine that they're antiFirst Amendment. But it's guns, so all is well, huh?
Re: Bill Smith's “Living Nightmares” [April 30May 6]. I agree that some games are not for small children, but I think the worst thing we can do is use games as scapegoats to escape personal responsibility. I think children are more influenced by the real violence to which the evening news bears witness daily. Domestic quarreling can also rouse violent reactions, and we live in a country that is full of it.
–Nella F. Cook
I don't know what you're talking about. Doom was one of the cheapest games I ever played. I don't know how anyone could get immersed in such a crappy game. Wolf 3-D was a more violent game, because you're killing people who are in complete control of their behavior. The few people in Doom are under control of the satanic aliens. In Doom, you are killing aliens trying to take over the world. That is such a cheap storyline, because it's so fake. In Wolf 3-D, you can actually believe in what you are doing.
In closing, my friends and all the normal kids with good parents know that even the most violent video games will not make you go crazy and kill people.
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