You can scarcely say that Germany's treatment after the war was self-righteous. Ask the Israelis about that. After suffering at German hands in two world wars, I doubt many others in Europe would agree with you either. Large German corporations that had used slave labor during the war were let off very lightly. If the price the Germans paid for their aggression was being "demoralized by endless reproaches," that's tough. No one is interested in de-Germanizing Germany, and Germans today would be insulted by your statement that they are somehow "less German." Nor do they "eagerly disown their own rich cultural traditions." Have you ever been there? Germans are very proud of their culture. Even rebellious kids study the piano and play Beethoven. European classical music is part of the fabric of life there, unlike here. As for Japan, I think few Japanese, outside of the right-wing nationalist wackos, would find much to agree with in your analysis. Japan before 1945 was run by militarists. It was not a democracy. The Americans dismantled the government and inserted the antiwar clause in the constitution because it was considered too dangerous not to do so. Do you have any idea how Japan's neighbors in Asia, most of whom have been occupied by the Japanese army for shorter or longer periods, feel about the Japanese? Just ask any Asian. It is the one issue they all agree on. Complaining that the antiwar clause was humiliating is like saying that murderers should not be jailed because that would be humiliating. As for Hirohito, he could have easily been prosecuted as a war criminal. He got off scot-free. Making him renounce his divinity was part of bringing Japan into the 20th century. You will not find any rational Japanese who will say that was not a positive and necessary step.
Get Off the Love Train MUGGER: Enjoyed your 8/11 column in NYPress, save for the portion wherein you tried to agree with The New York Times' castigation of the BSA. Being homosexual (which is voluntary) cannot be compared with being black, Asian or Polish (which is predetermined). Rather, a homosexual's rights are similar to a smoker's rights. If you choose to smoke, you may be prohibited from doing so in certain places, facilities or work situations. You know that in advance, and can decide to smoke (and give up going into those places) or not to smoke (with corresponding access). So it should be with homosexuality. The Boy Scouts, the Army, your private club?whatever?should be able to announce that no people who choose to be homosexual are allowed; an individual makes the decision to be in the Army or not. Any group should be allowed to establish its membership requirements provided they don't discriminate against naturally predetermined subgroups. But when the applicant's voluntary choices don't conform with the group's standards or stated requirements, he or she has no "right" to be admitted. You can modify your choices and conform, thereby earning admission. No group should be forced to accept homosexuals (voluntary) or criminals (again, voluntary), etc., if its membership criteria exclude such?but it should be required to accept women or blacks, or any other biologically controlled subgroup. Confusing the "rights" of people and groups who elect to do things with those of people who have no choice in what they are, is the big con of the gay community. It seems very reasonable to not discriminate against minorities?until you realize that in this instance, the minority has chosen to be a minority. You were right to feel uncomfortable agreeing with the Times.
David Messner, Marina Del Rey, CA
Bull Penn MUGGER: In your 8/18 column, you discuss Gov. George W. Bush's win in the Ames straw poll and the "tut-tutting" that followed. On the opposing side, in the upcoming primary, I have to wonder what Bill Bradley's chances will be if Sen. Joe Biden and others are right about the Gore campaign. Biden and others have stated, publicly, that people from the Gore campaign are holding Democrats hostage in their endorsements for the Democratic presidential run. It has also been alleged that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been informed that his plans for New York City's Penn Station will not go through if he endorses Bill Bradley. If this is true, it's obscene that our senior statesman can't use his final months to see through this wonderful plan for Penn Station. I also would not be surprised if Moynihan was deceived into believing that if he supported Hillary Clinton, and invited her to his virginal farm upstate, his plan for the station would go through.
Flora L. Ramonowski, Manhattan
Nostril-Burning Bush MUGGER: I always enjoy your articles, but I particularly appreciate your approach to Gov. Bush's presidential campaign. You seem to be the only journalist who consistently recognizes the Governor's personal and political skills. I'm stunned that there isn't wider acknowledgment of his achievements in Texas. I personally think he's the best governor we've had since John Connally. Anyone who questions his views only has to look at his existing record. He's never attempted to hide his feelings on important matters. However, while other candidates (from all the parties) often come across as narrowminded zealots, Bush possibly realizes that a president is more important for his leadership than for his opinions. I think we're all a little tired of politicians standing on a stump and either telling us what we should believe or telling us what they think we want to hear. I wish someone would take note of Al Gore's audacity in declaring that Bush doesn't have enough experience in foreign affairs. How much experience did Clinton have when he ran for the nation's top office? (Of course, he managed to bungle all of his international forays. Despite the claims of success for the recent disaster in Bosnia, the only military victory this administration can claim occurred in Waco, TX, during the first term.)
Ernie Kirkham, College Station, TX
Learning From Loss I'm sorry to see Amy Sohn go, but I knew that someday she'd hit the big time and leave us. Perhaps it's for the best. Anyway, she seems to have finally gotten herself into a functional relationship, which can only hurt the column. But we love Amy, so what's good for her is what's good for us. Congrats!
C. Lizzner, Hoboken
Girl Eighty-Six When someone told me the whiny bitch who writes for NYPress was leaving, I immediately assumed it was Russ Smith. Too bad it's actually Amy Sohn. Whose menstrual flow will I read about now? Whose fart-lighting antics will I follow? This is the saddest day in New York journalism since Pete Hamill gave up the sauce.
Alan Roberts, Manhattan
The Portly Gentlemen Of 333 You fat bastards! How could you let her go? How? Goddammit! What the fuck do I read now? Jonathan Ames has had Mangina on the brain for the past year. Jim Knipfel has about 11 days left before he spontaneously combusts and transmogrifies into a hot, blue gas. What do I have left? Sanchez's ass-fetish? MUGGER's "Diary of a Peckish Tribecan"? No! I need awkward metaphors for lubricated vaginal canals! Give me awkward metaphors for lubricated vaginal canals! I don't care how much money she got. Top it! Chain her to the floor with some gynocentric porn and a laptop that dispenses a pellet of food every hundred words typed! Or... ...every third awkward metaphor for lubricated vaginal canals! What am I supposed to do, buy Run Catch Kiss? I accidentally bought Go Dog Go! and by the time I realized my mistake I was engrossed. Was it the hate mail? Can someone please tell her that hate mail is like a Nielsen rating? For every irate letter you receive, your column is read by 1000 other people who don't have the free time to write shit like this. Whatever. I either get one awkward metaphor for lubricated vaginal canals per week, or I take my free show listings elsewhere. I thank you in advance.
Bob Powers, Brooklyn
Iron Filing I am an ardent supporter of a free press, but if someone placed a gun to my head and forced me to choose, the one thing I would ban is the use of the word "capitalism" by film critics. Armond White's favorite children's movie did poorly in theaters, so he asserts that capitalism has created a nation of "robotic consumers" incapable of appreciating a beautiful film ("Film," 8/18). How tiresome. Surely some of his other recent favorites have been hits; would that invalidate his argument? What if Iron Giant does well on video? Did Mr. White consider the possibility that Iron Giant was poorly promoted? I'm as faithful an absorber of Hollywood's "corporate hard-sell" as the next moron. Last week I saw about two commercials for Iron Giant and about two hundred commercials for The Thomas Crown Affair. Sure, I was nauseated when the Thomas Crown Affair ad, quoting some critic, bragged, "the most sizzling performances of the decade!" Perhaps I'm not as passive as the robot I'm supposed to be. That same sickening feeling returned reading Mr. White's opening line: "The kids are not all right." Because they didn't see a movie? The use of the word "corporate" as a pejorative adjective modifier to "hard-sell" also triggers the absurdity reflex. How is this different from the sole proprietorship hard-sell or the limited partnership hard-sell? What about the nonprofit hard-sell? Ever watch PBS during pledge week? The difference is that Mr. White knows that keywords like "capitalism" and "corporate" in his text are analogous to cinematic fireballs and fruit carts for his robotic audience?those who don't stop to think about the great films we couldn't see if not for capitalism. Like Dr. Pavlov, Armond White rings his paranoid-leftist bell and expects us all to salivate. Save your spit, and rent Iron Giant for the kids.
David Nadle, Manhattan
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