A thousand hurrahs for your William F. Buckley interview (6/9). With it, NYPress has even more than ever placed itself as the polar opposite of the VillageVoice's extremely limp, one-dimensional cartoon-1960s marijuana-left jingoisms (or is it jisms?).
Dann Thor Karma, Manhattan
Muslim Diet, Christian Grace MUGGER: Since your trip to Memphis your column has lacked its usual edge. It must be all that pork you indulged in in that town. Rejoin the battle and take no prisoners, please. We're counting on you. Let the world know about the real Hillary Clinton and the truth about those pompous ass-pricks at The New York Times. And do stay away from the pork. Ask Mrs. M. to switch your diet for a while. Beef fajitas for desperate moments. In your Q&A with William F. Buckley last week, John Strausbaugh asked Buckley: "Can I ask a Nearer, My God question? I was raised Catholic, educated by the Jesuits and I came out a complete unbeliever. How do you know there's a God?" Mr. Strausbaugh: Being exposed to the Jesuits did it. There you were in an environment of an utter Christian optimism that counted on human endeavor more than on divine grace. Their model of the man of Natural Religion was a Christian gentleman who did not need grace, miracle or revelation, and was made virtuous and just by his own good nature. But you were lucky. If you had hung out with the same bunch from the 60s on, in addition to being a nonbeliever you would today be a Marxist and you would probably be dead, killed in the Sandinista war in Nicaragua. You also asked: "It clearly was a question of much more import at some point in the past than it is now. If you didn't believe 500 years ago, you were out of luck. Are we just going through a phase where belief, faith, religion have been moved out of the center of life, and might become more central again in the future?" You are so right. It was indeed the contribution of three major-league bastards: Rousseau, Descartes and Locke, the so-called Enlightenment, cemented by the French Revolution, with the emphasis on "French." Their insane drivel became an "anthropocentric humanism" that today is nothing less than a religion. Solution: What the world needs is a new humanism, a "theocentric" or integral humanism, which would consider man in all his natural grandeur and weaknessin the entirety of his wounded being inhabited by Godin the full reality of nature, sin and sanctity. I'd be happy to supply more details, but I don't want to overstay my welcome.
Marco Oliva, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
McCarthy's Ghost Joe McCarthy, had he lived, might have won a Hero of the Soviet Union medal for his inept handling of the issue of Communist influence in the United States ("William F. Buckley Jr. Q&A," 6/9). No matter how Bill Buckley tries to alter the historical record, the drunk from Wisconsin did more to help the KGB than all those British schoolboys recruited in the 1930s. How? Because he created such an intense paranoia about Communism that the people who betrayed the United States were able to do so with ease. Are we really supposed to believe that Harry Bridges, Dashiell Hammett and Zero Mostel posed a great and ongoing threat to the U.S.? McCarthy's witch hunt merely harmed Hollywood and shunted progressives out of the labor movement. The real spies were mostly greedy military men selling signal intelligence. John Walker was a white supremacist selling so many secrets to the KGB that he carried them home in duffel bags. McCarthy began his career defaming the Army for interrogating S.S. men after the Malmedy massacre. For the historically ignorant, S.S. units rounded up and killed nearly 100 U.S. Army prisoners during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. They shot them, then walked around kicking them in the testicles to see if they were alive, then shot them again. McCarthy said the Army used torture to obtain the killers' confessions, and made it a cause celebre. He ended his career by attacking the Army again. Not satisfied by defending Nazis, he accused the Army of harboring communists. Which it didn't. And he was ruined for it. When right-wingers bring up old Joe, they forget that the greatest harm he did was not to Soviet intelligence, but to the U.S. Army. My next point: Sen. Clinton? Get used to it. Rudy Giuliani isn't getting a clear shot at anything. Rick Lazio is the least of his growing problems. Peter King, a man who is neither shy nor an accomplice of the Pataki/D'Amato wing of the party, now thinks senator might be a nice job. If Newt Gingrich couldn't bully King, Giuliani, who has no power over him, has no shot at it. Giuliani's problem is this: He shat on everyone in his way. Unfortunately for him, one of those people was George Pataki, who seems blessed with the demeanor of Ron Howard, an intelligence just shy of Bill Clinton's and the patience of Michael Corleone. While Giuliani looks great at a distance, up close he's far from an ideal candidate. Minorities might support Hillary Clinton in record numbers. Maybe Giuliani saw Pataki as a soft touch. Well, Rudy's about to find out the hard way he isn't. Hell, like Al Gore or Bill Bradley wouldn't give Pataki a job? He needs George W. a lot less than George W. needs him. Pataki, despite the bleating of Mitch McConnell and the national GOP, is going to put Rudy in his place and get away with it. Why? Because Rudy is an asshole and everyone knows it. Also, because his see-no-evil, give-no-pay-raises attitude toward the NYPD will hurt him on both ends. Imagine the day when Hillary Clinton gives a nice big hug to Pat Lynch, PBA chief, when he delivers their endorsement to her. Then she'll hold hands with the Diallo family. Then, when the Feds move to appoint a monitor for the NYPD, Giuliani's war on crime at any cost will blow up in his face. All Pataki has to do is explain this nightmare to the national GOP, and you can see why Rick Lazio, who isn't routinely booed by crowds of African-Americans or referred to as your favorite 1930s dictator, might be a better candidate. Don't forget, despite all this carpetbagger nonsense, Hillary Clinton can travel upstate with clean hands. She may like Manhattan, but she doesn't have the reflexive contempt upstaters and downstaters have for each other. She can say, with true honesty, that she'll consider the whole state, since she's a new arrival here. Do you think anyone in Syracuse thinks Rudy isn't a downstate guy? Please. The whole argument is silly when people move from Pakistan and Iowa to become New Yorkers daily. If Hillary Clinton wants to learn our folkways, fine. Hillary has her flaws, but Rudy isn't going to bring up Filegate without returning to his largely blown Wall Street cases and Sukreet Gabel. Imagine Hillary Clinton reminding people that our Mayor is the kind of man who would force a daughter to tape her mother. A little too close to Linda Tripp, isn't it? The difference between Rudy and Hillary is that all of her problems have been debated for years. Rudy's haven't. From Cristyne Lategano to the harsh criticism of his tactics as U.S. attorney to federal oversight of his police force, there are many potential nightmares for his Senate campaign. His campaign could collapse like a house of cards over night, with or without a shove from his enemy Pataki. And there Pataki will be, telling his fellow Republicans that, yeah, Rudy looked good from a distance, but I told you guys there were problems.
Stephen Gilliard, Manhattan
He's One of Those Kennedys? In the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel department, criticizing hapless Patrick Kennedy ("MUGGER," 6/9) about his verbal acuity is, well, rather simple sport. Surely you know that the House of Representatives is packed with morons on both sides of the aisle, simpletons not exactly brimming with wit or even coherence. Patrick is just one among many. But then there's that last name of his, and I suppose the temptation is difficult to resist.
Harley Peyton, Santa Monica, CA
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