Ben Mikell, Oxford, MS
Jello, Maybe MUGGER: I am an avid reader of New York Press and often find myself agreeing with your worldview. However, George W. Bush sickens me with his "Jesus is my man" bullshit while he disposes of Texas' death row inmates with record-setting efficiency. (What would Jesus do, George?) And you are relentlessly appalled by Clinton's hypocrisy? C'mon, MUG, there has got to be a better choice.
Salvatore Denise, Tarrytown, NY
Varmint Rifle It seems to me that the only way Jessica Willis can truly back up her pro-fur stance is by maintaining her position after a full consideration of the situation were it reversed. Would you, Jessica, now an innocent, helpless and terrified living creature, be willing to give your life just so some anonymous human could live a more luxurious one? If you answer yes, and truly mean it with all your heart, then you fully deserve to be reincarnated as one of those animals, and you'd be a hypocrite if you raised one single objection during your "humane" slaughter.
Matt Kaslow, Brooklyn
Whiteboy Now that Jessica Willis killed those minks and is so stylish and glamorous?on a par with her trapper-woman friend and the 600-pound chiseled beauty Aretha Franklin?can she please release the location of the Dachau fur farm, so we activists can free the rest of the animals?
Bruce Solomon, Manhattan
Gas Rover I am writing in response to Jessica Willis' 1/12 article about fur. This article was disgusting. It was a reflection of the selfish, callous attitudes that prevail in our society.
In this article, fur was made out to be "glamorous," something for the rich and the upscale. More and more people today are realizing that fur belongs where nature intended it?on animals. The article painted minks to be vicious animals, but vicious animals that are treated well so they can produce high-quality fur. In reality, this is far from the truth. Minks are living, sentient creatures just like ourselves. They feel pain just like we do. Minks are raised on huge fur farms and are kept in tiny wire cages for their whole lives. In the wild, they travel great distances and experience what is natural to them. There is nothing natural about wire cages and cramped conditions.
In other countries around the world, cats and dogs are killed for their fur. Think about it. Is this right? It is not right for any creature to live a miserable existence and then be killed for fur, a product that exists only for our vanity. It doesn't matter if that creature is a dog, cat, mink or fox. Taking a life for an unnecessary product is not acceptable.
Let's leave fur where it is meant to be?on the backs of living animals.
Delia K. Uherec, Paramus, NJ
Gen. George S. Pollitt So Lucian K. Truscott IV has gone from using vague DNA evidence to attack his Jefferson kinfolk to using statistics to attack the U.S. military ("Opinion," 1/12). Perhaps he's moving up in this world.
The overwhelming question that I had after reading Truscott's column was, "Who cares?" Can't we expect people to hold political views? If so, they're going to fall on one side or another. Does that make them "partisan"? Well, so is every American with any political views.
Another question is, "Why does it matter?" Does Truscott really feel that the military suffers (in a readiness sense, of course) from its level of conservatism? Of course, lurking beneath the surface here is a veiled warning of a coup d'etat. Echoes of this can also be seen in the statements of Al Gore and Bill Bradley that they would take steps to ensure that their Joint Chiefs would follow their orders, as if a member of that body has ever disobeyed the commander-in-chief. Has there ever been a military revolt or coup in this nation's history? Trust me, if it hasn't happened over the course of the eight-year presidency of a military-loathing (his words), draft-dodging commander-in-chief who's used the armed forces as his personal domestic, social and foreign policy experiment tool, it's never going to happen.
Truscott also compares apples and oranges in his analysis. He inflates the number of conservatives in the military by claiming that a lot of Republicans would disguise their identity (even though the rest of his article suggests that the exact opposite should be true), and then compares the ideology percentages to the party registration of the general public (about even, apparently). There's a difference between party and ideology, Lucian. A big difference.
Truscott had better ask himself if he would feel the same way if the numbers were reversed. Wait a minute, the perfect example does exist: The general media displays numbers that are a mirror image of the military. And this may come as a surprise to some, but unlike the military?whom they've got a lot more influence than?the media does act on its ideology all too often.
Perhaps people who bitch about this topic should ask themselves some tough questions. Can they deny that there's quite the military-loathing element in the left wing? Can they honestly say that liberals have been lining up to join, or at least support, the armed forces?
The military is too conservative? Doesn't sound half bad to me.
A note to Alexander Cockburn ("Wild Justice," 1/12): You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the Y2K hysteria as being purely secular, as opposed to religious apocalyptic views. In my view, the modern faith in technology has simply filled the gap left by religion?it's not acceptable to be seen as too religious, so we simply invent new dogmas to serve, even if only subconsciously, religion's role.
Nathan Lamm, Flushing
Press Editors Disciples of Mesmer! The editorial finesse at New York Press never fails to amaze me. As a devoted reader of The Nation, I have dimly watched as New York Press has steadily plucked the leftist weekly's writers and propped them up for everyone to gawk at as they soil themselves. Alexander Cockburn has been doing the dirty work for New York Press editors so effectively in recent months that Marc Cooper's pathetic call to make 2000 a year "free of Mumia" completely blindsided me ("Opinion," 1/5).
Like Cockburn, Cooper lives far from our metropolis. Cooper has probably not read New York Press on a regular basis, though I'm sure he knows that Cockburn, David Corn and other Nation writers contribute regularly, and the paper gives so much editorial freedom! Cooper reveals the depth of his West Coast insularity by proudly lumping himself in with "a few courageous left-of-center journalists [who have] dared to publicly break with the pro-Mumia orthodoxy." New York Press editors would be damaging their own program to let Cooper know that this is not a fresh posture in New York City, even among leftists.
Many people in the struggle to save the life of Abu-Jamal are dismayed at the deification of the death row inmate. I, like plenty of folks, recognize that Abu-Jamal may in fact be a cop-killer. Cooper would have the anti-death-penalty movement hold out for a less "cuddly" death row inmate, and laments the "3500 other nameless souls wasting away on America's death rows?forgotten and abandoned." Is Cooper proposing that we sift through those 3500 names until we find a more deserving candidate? We must not ignore that the effort to save the life of Abu-Jamal has become a highly visible movement, drawing more attention to the cruelty of the death penalty than any other organized protest in recent history. Does Cooper think that Abu-Jamal has been kept alive through the benevolence of the Pennsylvania judiciary? Every social movement has its blinder-clad fanatics; in this case it is the people insisting that Abu-Jamal is some sort of hero. But Cooper should turn east and peer through the reefer haze of liberal discourse in Southern California, perhaps spend a little more time in New York.
Like many of the other glib journalists at New York Press, Cooper treats the forum as a hobby, a playful alternative to the rigid editorial standards of his other writing venues. Kudos to The Nation for not printing Cooper's half-baked drivel. And congratulations to the savvy editors at New York Press for brilliantly manipulating progressive journalists into dumbing down leftist discourse.
Raul Deznermio, Brooklyn
Tina Brown? Your Mother? It's funny how the mainstream media has hardly touched on the fact that in Philadelphia a few short years ago, the police department was under fire for incarcerating hundreds of "criminals" and was forced to release them from custody because of false arrests and fraudulent documentation. Now, if this came to the surface somewhat recently, why isn't anyone researching the behavior of Rizzo's goosesteppers at the time of Mumia Abu-Jamal's arrest and sentencing?
So after New York Press goes through yet another format change (you folks are so indecisive), we readers still get puff journalism (which seems to be the credo for New York Press writers, staff and guest alike, with the exception of Alexander Cockburn and a couple of others) from a Pacifica management shill like "Comrade" Cooper.
I bet SMUGGER and the rest of the right-wing miscreants at New York Press could hardly contain their glee when a pinko like Marc Cooper provided a J.R. Taylor-like, anti-Mumia spiel in this toilet tissue substance called a newspaper.
P.S. Who the fuck reads Salon?
Stokes Davis, North Bergen, NJ
Lisa Loeb Classical Library John Strausbaugh's "Dead Letters" ("Publishing," 1/12) was like a shot of fresh, clear air, and I read it like Houdini gasping, having finally found the hole cut in the ice. As a novelist and reviewer, I considered my and my colleagues' shackled, contortionist efforts to soft-pedal on the awful books we review, and wondered: is our hesitancy due to sheer careerist self-interest? Or does it spring from pity, because we know that years of effort go into almost any work of fiction, regardless of its quality? For the 12 years it took me to write my first book, I was uninsured and under the poverty line, and I had no Plan B, so I know how much one review can mean.
Still, by refusing to call ersatz excrement by its rightful name, by pretending that our hard-won nuggets are fiction pills students can go to school and buy, by encouraging these same students, because we're paid to, to produce more mediocre ersatz excrement, we debase the sacred intercourse between writer and reader into a paid quickie. The machine of professionalism we've created is ghastly, our dependence on industry perks fundamentally incompatible to the subversive independence fiction writers need to be any good at all. And we should not be surprised when we find ourselves replaced by our less bothersome Stepford equivalents.
Joyce Hackett, associate professor of creative writing, New York University
Jello's Shot Despite Doug Ireland's attempt to crown Ralph Nader as the Green Party's presidential candidate last week ("Opinion," 1/12), there is the small matter of the primaries and the national convention. At the Green Party's presidential nominating convention in December, five candidates were placed on the March 7 primary ballot. Four of these five accepted their nominations. Also on the ballot will be Joel Kovel, who was the Green candidate for Senate in 1998; Stephen Gaskin, a founder of The Farm, a Tennessee cooperative; and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. Nader may well prove to be the choice of the Green Party, but he must earn the nomination the same as any other candidate.
Pete Dolack, Brooklyn