(November 17, 2003)
Regarding Diana Johnstone's French Common Sense And The Furia Friedmania
To the Editor:
The article, "French Common Sense And The Furia Friedmania" by Diana Johnstone is undoubtedly an accurate assessment of the French/American understanding, desires, and approach to our current involvement in the Middle East and recent history.
We were and are wrong for having invaded a sovereign country.
Sumner, Illinois, USA - October 20, 2003
Regarding Deck Deckert's We May Have Waited Too Long (December 2001)
To the Editor:
This evening has brought up an old memory that has always confused me concerning the Smothers Brothers. While watching the CBS 75th anniversary special, they brought up a Smother's Brothers clip that referred to their firing by CBS. I was an avid fan of the Brothers in the 70s, until one night when they did a scene about the crucifixion of Jesus. I can only say that I was so shocked and outraged that I could do nothing execept turn off the TV. There was no Internet, or way of registering my shock.
Shortly after it was my impression that the feedback from this episode had much to do about their termination. I have to admit I felt betrayed, because up till then they had my admiration. But in searching the Net tonight, I could find no reference to this episode (the Crucifixion). The responsibility seemed to be placed with their portrayal of the Vietnam War! I Agreed with that portrayal. Now, to the point, in Deck Deckert's commentary, "We May Have Waited Too Long," Deckert seemed to agree that the cancellation of the Smother's Brothers show was only connected to the political aspects of their show. I would really like to know if my memory is accurate, that the Crucifixion episode played a major role in the backlash, or if my outrage has distorted my memory. Again I can find no reference online to the Crucifixion episode. I would appreciate any help you could give me on the subject. I do feel I am imposing on your time, and thank you for any time you feel you could spend on sharing your opinion.
Thank you for any attention,
USA - November 2, 2003
Deck Deckert responds:
Regarding John Ryan's For Jews The Real Worry Should Be Sharon Not Arafat
To the Editor:
I agree with just about everything that Mr. Ryan is saying regarding the effect of Israel's actions upon popular perception of, and opinions about, Jews in general. He neglects to point out that the same could be said of "born again" Christians, many of whom are even more Zionistic then their Jewish counterparts.
Zionists -- Jews and some Christians -- believe that Israel "has the right to exist," in the same sense that Christian Germany, Christian France, Christian England and Christian United States have the right to exist. In this belief, they ignore history, and they make themselves fair game in the debate at large. In my opinion, they are losing ground quickly. Zionistic arguments as to Israel's "right to exist" are dubious on a number of points.
(1) Most Jews would vehemently resist any effort to declare Christianity as the official religion of either Germany, France, England or the United States. The federal constitution of the United States positively prohibits it, and the crippled position of any religious minority in such a state is obvious. Yet Judaism is the one and only official religion of Israel, and this association is part and parcel of Israel's claim to be the "Jewish State." Why should Christians -- who are prohibited by modern law from turning their status as a majority population into a mandatory or official religion -- be silent as to the obvious contradiction when Jews use their status as a majority population in Israel to impose the same thing on the Christian and Arab population of historic Palestine?
(2) Israel's right to exist, in purely practical terms, is based solely upon its military power to impose that existence on others, and its equally essential ability to keep that power constantly in tact. There is no "moral" element to this, any more than there is a moral aspect to a gun, a bayonet, a handgrenade, etc. Simply taking the argument to this level, the Palestinian suicide bombers are no more guilty of "immorality" than the very violence which Jews use to keep their "Jewish State" in existence. Violence by respective parties is simply an absolute equivalence, in so far as violence is violence is violence.
(3) Jews who believe that the necessity FOR a Jewish State morally entitles them to impose violence upon people who do not agree face a compelling contradiction in terms. These are people who have had Nazi-ism -- the ultimate such contradiction -- destroy half to two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe. Nevertheless, Jewish arguments about Israel's "right to exist" accept Nazi-like violence and hypocrisy as the governing social ethos, and impose it to Jewish advantage in the Middle East. Simply by the logical extension of this view, every Palestinian killed by an Israeli, in essence, is another Jewish Holocaust victim made irrelevant. Upon this essential equation, Israel's "right to exist" is premised. The Jews of Israel believe, in essence, that they have a blank check to kill 6 million Palestinians before their "moral" bank account runs out.
In conclusion, the right of the Jewish State to exist assumes that the Nazi regime had the political equation between morality and violence right. The Jewish State simply seeks to use that equation to create and sustain a Jewish State the likes of which no Christian State since the Middle Ages would recognize.
People -- Jews and Christians alike -- who accept these propositions and forcefully argue for the "right of Israel to exist" ignore 2000 years of painful political evolution. These people throw the entire planet back to a time where might not only made right, but indeed WAS right.
When I hear people say that Israel "has the right to exist" with this background in mind, I am forced to wonder about the morality, intelligence, sincerity, ethics and spirituality of such people. At the present time, both right-wing Christians and American Jews are in the same boat, as far as I can see. They have both adopted positions which make morality impossible, because ultimately, they force us to live in an all-Nazi world of ever-increasing violence, terror and distrust. They do this largely in the name of God, a God of terror and violence. If this renders the Jewish State of Israel an ever-present fixture on the international scene, I assume that these people are satisfied. Those who resist life under such conditions are well within their rights to do so.
Great Falls, Montana, USA - November 6, 2003
To the Editor:
John Ryan makes a compelling case for Israel's withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. All this makes me wonder why Israel doesn't withdraw, or why they didn't withdraw long ago. One theory I have heard is that Israel believes these Occupied Territories are crucial to Israel's security, that Israel would be militarily vulnerable if it withdrew to its 1967 borders. Is there any basis to this?
The Woodlands, Texas, USA - November 6, 2003
John Ryan responds:
Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's Innocence Lost
To the Editor:
Such a smart piece. It's astounding how the 'we broke it we fix it' wing of the liberal intelligensia seems to forget exactly what colonialism is. The paternalistic tone adopted in this discussion endlessly replicates the voice of Lord Kitchner....or King Leopold.....while the evidence of Iraqi resistence is continually ignored. Funny too, how the West fails to grasp the profound effects of humiliation on a people's psyche. Everytime I see US soldiers ordering Iraqi civilians around with the end of their rifle I am brought back to how angry I have been at times when police just stop me for a traffic violation and use insulting language -- even mildly insulting... How must it feel to have US soldiers threatening you on a daily basis, you AND your family? All the while Bremer and Chalabi and the rest of these ghouls line their pockets with the profits of destruction. And it's seemingly forgotten who supported Saddam during his worst atrocities....though clearly the people of Iraq have not forgotten.
Keep up the good work.
Krakow, Poland - November 15, 2003
Swans' contributor Scott Orlovsky forwarded a letter he wrote to Robert Byrd, the senior Senator of West Virginia
Dear Senator Byrd,
I read your speeches on the Senate floor and find your assessments accurate and insightful.
Thank you Senator Byrd for showing up and voting a resounding NO on the $87 billion that President Bush requested from the Congress and American people to prolong an illegal occupation of Iraq. Thank you for having the courage to dissent from the president's Manichean worldview that witnesses almost every day the rising toll of American casualties and wounded, and the under-reported collateral maiming and murder of both foreign foes and innocents. Your words and actions need to be heard and witnessed by more individuals across the country, and more representatives of the people that sit in Congress should listen to and learn from your intrepid leadership.
I, and many like myself, identify a plutocracy that directs government and legislates by executive decree, and a Congress cowered on par with the Reichstag in the late 1930s in Germany.
Why cannot the Congress utilize any check or balance on the commander-in-chief's/cabinet's power, especially to challenge the thousands of often socially and economically unjust executive orders? That really bothers me deeply. A democratic-republic hinges on a copious set of laws that empowers the people in government. But the current occupant of the oval office, like many before him, authorizes executive orders every week that trump the law like imperial edicts. How can and why do Congress and the Supreme Court allow the executive branch to direct policy and conceal vital information from the American people in the manner of a generalissimo? In your Senate floor remarks on November 3rd you stated that: "Every Senator, upon taking office, swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution. It is the Constitution -- not the President, not a political party, but the Constitution -- to which Senators swear an oath of loyalty. And I am here to tell you that neither the Constitution nor the American people are well served by a process and a product that are based on blind adherence to the will of the President at the expense of congressional checks and balances. It is as if, in a rush to support the President's policy, this White House is prepared to put blinders on the Congress." And the president succeeded on putting blinders on not only many of the members of Congress, but also a good percentage of the American population. Where are the checks and balances and the separation of powers? Why does the Congress continue to sign off on blank checks for perpetual warfare and kowtow to the whims of an executive that speaks and behaves more like the vengeful Jehovah than the dissenting teacher of peace he claims to speak with to determine policy? What does that say about the ethics of many individuals, selected by only a small percentage of a mostly apathetic citizenry, to temporarily govern the United States and represent the interests and concerns of the people? How can high public officials and so many ordinary individuals think and feel so proud to be Americans, and at the same time consider dissent unpatriotic, even treasonous?
The American people hunger for answers to these questions; however, any revelation will probably be quashed by an executive order. I hope that you can consider the ramifications of the president's constant use of rule by decree, and address these issues to a Senate that I hope will exercise a greater check and balance on the executive's overwhelming power.
Clifton, New Jersey, USA - November 11, 2003
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