Letters to the Editor

(May 10, 2004)


Regarding the publication, Swans

To the Editor:

I started visiting your alternative informational web magazine only recently, and find it very compelling. Any reason why you don't solicit donations to survive?

John Di Stefano
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - April 29, 2004

Gilles d'Aymery responds:

Thank you for your e-mail and your praise for our work. We are proud of entering our 9th year of uninterrupted alternative publishing, with no ads, no T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandising -- a simle and clean design that downloads quickly all over the world, whatever the speed or users's connection to the Internet, and that can be viewed by any browser, text ones included, or translated to a speech synthesizer. At Swans, what you see is what your *really* get, from known authors like Ed Herman to lesser knowns but no less interesting and challenging ones. We are one of the very few Web publications that offers original work and gives full, free access to the larger world community, in the hope and vision that another world, a post-capitalist world is possible, not a world of self-centered blogs but a *collective* one filled with diversity, and yet united. There is a long way to go, but each of us can stop playing the game and start walking our common talk. To answer your question: The main reasons we are not yet requesting financial support have to do with legalities, group dynamics and the need to "reposition" Swans (branding).

Swans is registered in my name (an individual) and needs to be incorporated before I can ask for donations. I am particularly concerned by the adversarial nature of the U.S.

The relationship between the authors who volunteer their work and the "publisher" remains ill-defined. I am working on this. The most difficult part is to have authors -- and attract authors who -- accept our no multi-posting policy, a policy that makes Swans a distinct bird altogether (branding).

I need to reposition Swans from early efforts to create a "Swans Organization" that entailed more than just a publication to what it has become in actuality: a publication. It means, on my part, taking a different outlook to my work (this takes time both operationally and emotionally).

Finally, I suppose I'm doing a relatively decent work to put Swans together but I am rather lousy with the commercial and self-promoting aspects of the endeavor.

But we'll get there... And, when we are, I hope that you will keep us in mind!

Thank you again for your e-mail. Please let people know about Swans.


Regarding Swans' April 26 Edition

To the Editor:

I certainly needed a dose of Swans...and happily got one. Thanks.

I was most struck with Rockstroh's piece on the culture of narcissism and authority, but what really seemed relevant was his instinct for the flaccid apology laden quality of liberal discourse. Time for seditious values indeed... My god, if the opposition to Bush and friends can't suck it up to say out loud, "yeah, Bush is a liar, Ashcroft is fucking nuts, and Rumsfeld is a psychopath," then what can they find to say out loud?

These are obvious truths, at least to anyone with a modicum of rationality... Yet, there is this soft latte soaked core to the modern liberal...a sense of being "fair" and a need not to be calling anyone names. And of course John Kerry is not exactly the poster boy for integrity!

All the while the flag-draped coffins keep coming back from the new colony...and all the while Paul Bremer keeps spouting rhetoric about how it's all getting better, and Gen. Kimmit (speaking of being fucking nuts) asks us to change the channel if we don't want to see American war crimes. Perfect!

Next, we get John Negroponte -- killer of nuns and priests -- as the new viceroy of Baghdad... (I guess Bremer was too much of a panty waist...time for a guy with real blood on his hands!)...and, still, the liberals won't start shouting out angrily... It's all rather pathetic at this point.

I was thumbing through an old anthology of poems put together by Robert Bly (circa the Vietnam war). The sound of real anger was such a tonic...and Bly's own speech when he won the National Book Award, where he asked that the award money go to counseling young men to avoid the draft and not to let their spiritual lives be destroyed... Where is that sound now? All we get is the lukewarm fuzzy tree hugging generalizations of Tony Kushner and the not quite cooked Sean Penn -- not exactly scintillating voices of opposition from the art community... But then, the corporate mind set hadn't quite set in so totally back in 1972.

I worry the images of coffins aren't going to do much though...death has perhaps come to seem more a lifestyle choice (or deathstyle choice) than a real matter of not being alive; and with Pat Tillman's death (Arizona is naming the new plaza out front of the stadium Tillman Freedom Plaza) the jingoism will rise to new levels of obscenity -- and I am sure Mr. Murdoch will be smiling.

The madness of the neo-cons is just another version of a general madness at work in our society of the spectacle (thanks to Debord), and the alienation and lack of real feeling is so deeply entrenched that one wonders what will wake the masses up. Whatever it is, it's time to get and stay fucking angry!

Good work as usual.

John Steppling
Krakow, Poland - April 26, 2004


Regarding Phil Rockstroh's Neo-Con Tragedy -- Played As Farce

To the Editor:

The article by Phil Rockstroh is on target.

But how does the common man remove himself from this self delusion?

W.D. Gray
Sumner, Illinois, USA - April 26, 2004


Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Dossier, The 1991 Gulf War Rationale

To the Editor:

I found the article informative.

I am not certain that the wording "the case could be made that Kuwait was waging an economic war on Iraq" is how you want that to read. You seem to imply that a military response by Iraq was justified.

Clearly, it was justification in Saddam's mind -- especially since we pretty much gave him the go ahead (our government duped him, and our government duped us).

Do you think that was his only option?

Please rewrite this section and your article is superb.

Carole Venhaus
Des Moines, Iowa, USA - May 2, 2004

Gilles d'Aymery responds:

How should I reword this sentence? Perhaps Ms. Venhaus can help. I am open to suggestions.

The military response by Iraq was not justified. Nor was the US military response to 9/11.

The issue here has little to do with justifications. Iraq had other options, as the U.S. had after 9/11. That in both cases they chose armed conflicts over legal, peaceful resolutions, speaks loudly about their frames of mind.

We are in an historical "human" period when assaults to the ecosystem are commonalities. We, all of us, including Iraq in response to Kuwait's pilfering, and the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11, come up with the age-old answer: Send the troops in. Seems to me, we need to think about this state of affairs.

So, no, it was not justifiable or acceptable; but it certainly was understandable (from an analytical perspective); the same way that is was not justifiable or acceptable to level Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, or invade and occupy Iraq in the name of non-existing WMD, non-existing links to al Qaeda, and the like. Yet, it was/is fully understandable...

...so long, of course, classes are taken into account.

This said, again: I'll welcome Ms. Venhaus's re-writing suggestions.


Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Book Review, The Politics Of Anti-Semitism, Part I: Smear, Slander, And Intimidation

To the Editor:

Very good review of The Politics Of Anti-Semitism (PoAS) in Swans. You may be interested in the following form of censorship of this book:

I wrote a tiny review of the book and posted it on the Amazon UK and US sites to help the book along. Once in a while I checked to see how the review fared, and was pleased to see that 100+ thought it was useful. Then the following happened:

* Searching for the book on the UK site became very difficult. That is the search for the book via (author, title) didn't retrieve the record of PoAS. So, anyone wanting to buy it would be confronted with the impossibility of finding it in the UK website.
* In the US website the book is still findable, but here the positive book reviews appear towards the bottom. Although my review appeared for weeks at the top because of the large number of endorsements, suddenly it disappeared at the bottom. Also very negative reviews popped to the top against Amazon's stated policy. (Although about 80% of the endorsements were positive -- from one day to another a large number of negative ones appeared.)
* There are a few countries where Amazon has pulled the book altogether.
* There are quite a few reviews that amount to character assassination, and again, appear despite the fact that they go counter to the company's policy.

Amazon has allowed Zionist activists to sabotage books of academics who have taken a pro-academic Israel boycott. For example, Prof. Mona Baker in Manchester backed/promoted the academic boycott, and was hounded for her efforts. Her books in linguistics are very important in her area of expertise, yet Amazon allowed a barrage of book reviews that were clearly character assassinations. Despite her protests, this continued...

I thought you would like this bit of info before you embark on Part II.

Keep up the good work.

Please know that Swans is much appreciated, and I am alerting folks about it.

Paul de Rooij
London, England - April 26, 2004

To the Editor:

Oh Learned One:

I have had a brief correspondence with the same Michael Neumann or is it "New"-man, that you praise so highly in your review of the Counterpunch Gang's book on anti-Semitism. For starters no one ever wrote an article in Counterpunch that does not adhere to New Left & anti-Israel stratas of interpretation (that is who they are in part).

Any output that emanates from the hub of Counterpunch has, by practice, core belief, and by definition, to be anti-Israel and against all claims made by Jews and Israel of anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish behavior. Counterpunch only peddles that line in regard to the Jews and the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts. When have you ever seen an opinion in Counterpunch that repudiates their forgone conclusions?

Michael Newmann, Professor of Philosophy at Trent Univ., is by his own admission a hater of the state of Israel -- said opinion having been passed on to him by his family that visited "pre-Israel" in the 1930s and found it lacking. He dislikes Israel and if I can say it he learned IT (if I may liken it to the way people learn many racial prejudices) AT HOME! Newmann is so against the state of Israel, conflicted regarding his Jewish identity and so in conformity to his formative ideologies in regard to his opinions that he can hardly be trusted as an even handed analytical savant on this subject.

He is predictable and pumps out his own belief system in the guise of intellectual pursuits, but is no more flexible or right than someone holding the opposite point of view . All you fellows write beautifully but [that] does not make you correct. Mr. Neumann will remain, as will the Counterpunch Gang, now and always against Israel and Jewish peoples rights to fight off anti-semitism in any and all ways.

R. J. Liff
Dayton, Ohio, USA - April 28, 2004

[Ed. Glad to know Gilles d'Aymery is a "Learned one." He's also been addressed in the past week or so as, "My dear sweet tender Gilles" by a correspondent who signed off with "Your most humble and lowly servant to your majesty." Always comforting to address polite people!]

Regarding Philip Greenspan's Law And Order

To the Editor:

"Creating a new federal crime, a victimless crime no less...in many instances changed the friendly cop on the beat to a modern version of a storm trooper."

I've been saying for years to anyone who might listen, that we no longer have "peace officers" but "Law enforcement officers" (spoken with a closed fist in hand!). But if you look through the ages, no matter how different we in America might like to think otherwise, it is the same here as it has always been. Human nature has always been the same, no matter the era. One only need look to the Roman Empire where one law existed for native Romans and another, more favorable law existed for, shall we say, "naturalized" Roman citizens from outside of Rome and Italy. If you look at the Middle Ages, especially in Britain, there were laws for peasants, and their respective courts (the Lord of the manor) and another set of laws and courts for the Lord himself.

I don't think it's fair to point at only the Bush administration, for all presidencies operate as apart as possible. They all would like to be a law unto themselves. Internationally, it is no different as ever it was. In more ways than the general populace knows, America has become more a modern version of Middle Age Britain than a modern City Upon A Hill of Freedom. One court for the serfs and another for the "elites."

Fact is, we are all in the same boat together, really, and only have the gilded edges left of a once-great Republic. It is a hollow shell of its former self. The words still hang upon some walls, other than in Philadelphia, but most average school kids are hard-pressed to even locate a copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. If the American colonists were so willing to pledge their lives in opposition to something so petty as a simple tax upon British-made goods and at such a small percentage, when compared to today's IRS rates, how can we ever expect any sea-change in the status quo now?

We have been made to boil like the frog who is put in a kettle of cold water and had the fire turned up. It wasn't as bad as getting dumped into an already boiling kettle, where we might have seen it coming, prepared ourselves and managed to hop out. It's been long, and slow and deliberate and now... it's too late.

We've been had. Ihre papiere, bitte?

Allan Beamer
Provo, Utah, USA - April 28, 2004


Regarding Manuel García's Which Holocaust Matters?

To the Editor:

Mr. García undermines his own point, by not taking into account all of the Jews who were killed in pograms throughout their long wanderings through Europe, and, of course, that little blood fest called the Spanish Inquisition. Just 12 years? Which Holocaust matters, Mr. García?

Madeleine Dunn
New York, New York, USA - April 29, 2004


We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, sign your e-mail with your name and add your city, state, country, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. (Letters may be shortened and edited)
Previous || Letters to the Editor || Next

Published May 10, 2004
[Copyright]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Main Page]