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QUESTIONS

AND ANSWER

Howard
Blume’s recent essay on Michael Lerner’s dispute with ANSWER over anti-war organizing
[“Furor in Frisco,”
February 14–20]
concludes by saying, “The risk is that these attempts to
shove ANSWER to the sidelines also could provide the right wing with another
round of ammunition.” It’s hard to see how this follows from the rest of his
article — or, for that matter, from the events of the past week. The logic here
is pernicious: ANSWER gets to decide who the unacceptable speakers are (i.e.,
anyone who has publicly criticized them), and everyone else opposed to war in
Iraq should keep quiet lest we divide the movement and give ammunition
to the right? How exactly does this make sense?


Let’s be clear about one thing: The right wing has no better ammunition than
ANSWER itself. Not even The Wall Street Journal and National Review
could have dreamed up a coalition more likely to divide the left and de-legitimate
the anti-war mainstream. ANSWER now says that this is not the time for infighting
among anti-war protesters. But they weren’t able to put their sectarianism aside
even this once in the interests of the greater good — namely, appealing to anti-war
Americans of all kinds.


—Michael Bérubé
State College, Pennsylvania

I think Howard Blume got shellacked and bamboozled by pros when
he set out to find the truth behind the controversy over Michael Lerner and
ANSWER. One fact is plain and undeniable: Lerner, proposed as a speaker at the
antiwar rally, was refused by ANSWER on the grounds that those who have criticized
a member of their coalition may not speak. This is the nub of the problem: How
can those who claim to believe in democracy close ranks to deny public debate?
Those are the tactics of despotism, and they should be challenged wherever they
arise. Having sat through hundreds of sectarian meetings in my time, I instantly
recognize that when someone says they did not wish to pursue a matter further,
as Lerner's lieutenants say in Blume's article, they are really saying, “We
surrendered. It wasn't worth the fight. We were going to lose, so why bother?”
In other words, the matter was crushed in committee before it could hit the
airwaves — which it didn't until Lerner's side finally put up a stink.

Greg Goldin
Los Angeles

HOWARD BLUME REPLIES: The spin on this issue was coming from
all directions. I stand by the story.

 

THE LEGEND

CONTINUES

In the Weekly’s
election endorsements [February 14–20]
, the editors gush about Martin Ludlow
being a “legendary organizer at 38 years of age” and a descendant of a very
progressive family. Thus, you say, he will “fight the entrenched business political
establishments on behalf of the more socially responsible investment.” PUH-LEEZ.
The Martin Ludlows of the progressive movement are the problem besetting and
holding back progressives and the labor movement. Labor endorsed Nate Holden
for the 10th Council District and is now endorsing Martin Ludlow for the same
seat. With the same level of opportunism and shortsightedness, labor is endorsing
a candidate with no true connections to the district. In fact, Ludlow filed
in three other races before carpetbagging his way into the 10th. (He originally
filed in the 8th District, but did not have the stomach to take on Chief Parks.)
You claim that Ludlow will fight the anti-ethnocentric fight in L.A., yet this
“legendary organizer,” when faced with challenging the most ethnocentric of
candidates, courageously backed out. I guess what they say is true: Love is
blind. Or, in this case, myopic.

—Jane Kim
Westminster

THE DAYS AFTER

Marc Cooper’s column “What’s
Proof Got To Do With It?” [Dissonance, February 14–20]
furnished a solid
analysis of the dynamics leading to the launching of an unjustified attack against
Iraq. I have problems, however, with the conclusion of his piece, in which he
suggests that if war does come and the United States occupies Iraq, progressives
should not necessarily call for the ending of the occupation. Instead, U.S.
troops and money should be used to construct “something better” for the people
of Iraq.

Perhaps what is at stake is that we start from different assumptions. I believe
that convincing evidence exists that the Bush administration aims at nothing
less than imperialistic world domination. Their arrogance has reached the point
where they scarcely seek to disguise it. It is important to recognize that U.S.
occupation of Iraq will seek to make Iraq a compliant occupation client state
and in no way will be aimed at achieving any good for the people of Iraq. In
these circumstances it will be necessary for progressives to oppose that occupation
and, even more importantly, to oppose future projected aggressions.

[

—Donald B. Delano
Los Angeles


The correct answer to Marc Cooper's question “What's proof got
to do with it?” — referring to the reasons put forth for a war against
Iraq — is “nothing.” Sure, thin evidence has been put forth linking Saddam Hussein
to 9/11 and establishing that Iraq has deployable weapons of mass destruction.
But isn't this beside the point? May I offer a scenario that better fits the
known facts? In attacking the U.S., in issuing a fatwa against Saddam
Hussein, and in releasing a timely tape a short time back from which one may
infer a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam, it is apparent that Al Qaeda
wants to provoke us to invade Iraq, so that they can subsequently take over.

Two-thousand years ago, the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu
propounded several tactics for war, including “Base all warfare on deception,”
“Use bait to lure the enemy” and “Subdue the enemy without battle [by getting
other nations to fight your wars].” The war with Iraq is an obvious Al
Qaeda trap. But how do we stay out of the trap, and what are the repercussions
whether we stay out of it or get into it, are the real questions for national
discussion. Neither the journalistic spin of Marc Cooper nor the propaganda
of government is helpful to producing a consensus on this issue.

Wayne Lusvardi
Pasadena

 

OLD TALES

OF THE NEW WEST

Bill Bradley, in writing “The
New Boss” [February 7–13]
, could have used a dose of reality. California
is incredibly broke: $30-plus billion in the red is $1,000 per person, or about
$4,500 per family. So California goes to people who have this kind of money,
in this case Wall Street, and — horrors! — Wall Street wants some assurances
that it’ll be paid back, and that the gigantic fiscal mismanagement that brought
California to its door won’t continue. Ah, that evil Wall Street. Maybe we should
be asking the Saudis instead. I wonder what their rates would be, and what special
favors they’d ask. In any case, let’s not blame Davis, the Legislature or the
voters of the state.‰ ä

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that should stand between Davis and
the Nevada border is a wooden rail, a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers.

—Don Meyer
Hollywood

THERE’S SCUMBAGS AND THERE’S SCUMBAGS

On John Powers’ “The
Journalist and the Pop Star” (On, February 14–20)
, he apparently can’t resist
slamming Bill Clinton a full two years after the termination of his presidency.
Even more pathetically, Powers uses the time-honored Republican tradition of
blaming the Clinton administration for our current woes. Face it, Powers, two
years ago we had unprecedented prosperity, a balanced budget, peace, decent
relationships with our allies all over the world, and no September 11 incident
to mourn over. It is totally within your rights to not like Bill Clinton because
he didn’t fulfill your ideal of what a Democrat should be, but please save your
cheap shots for the belligerent, oil-money-rich self-righteous right-wing scumbags
who now hold power in this country.

—Fred Stratton
Los Angeles


John Powers' take on the Michael Jackson interview is right on
the money. It is reassuring to know that the nation chooses to obsess about
its first stonewashed citizen and what has happened to his nose, rather than
about the consequences of a genocide about to be perpetrated by our vacuous
leader and his gang of thugs.

Lawrence J. Pippick
Los Angeles

WHOSE AGENDA

IS IT, ANYWAY?

Ostensibly, the Weekly aims to offer a
radical critique of our society. But does that mean that your arts critics have
to ignore true talent unless the product supports the overthrow of existing
social institutions? Steven Leigh Morris, in “Familiarity
and Contempt” [February 14–20]
, offers a perfect instance of this kind of
critical myopia. Reviewing Lisa Loomer’s extremely clever, funny and politically
sensitive new play at the Taper, Living Out, he finds himself wishing
the play were “angrier.” His underlying wish is that the play “had an attitude,”
that is, that it be a different kind of play, a politically radical play, the
kind of play that he would write.

Lisa Loomer’s wonderfully subtle, socially aware play, while offering us a
mirror of the way we interact with one another today, subordinates all these
social factors to the overriding dramatic concerns that make her tragicomedy
such a triumph. Moreover, she writes well. I would recommend any reader who
loves theater to go and judge for yourself Lisa Loomer’s enjoyable, thoughtful
and brilliantly written play.

[

—Brian Finney
Long Beach


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