Great caricature of Condi Rice as a “gangsta ho” by Robbie Conal
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
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
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.