Reader Mail

Freedom to Threaten

Who is fanning the flames of hatred? Also: The politics of short-term screaming. Terrorists and conventional considerations. NAMBLA and the return of Harry Hay -- an exchange. Plus more.

10.17.06

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OVERDRIVE
Re: Christopher Orlet's A Fatwa on the Truth:

I just want to say that Mr. Christopher Orlet in his article "A Fatwa on the Truth" has really gone on overdrive to rant about the freedom of speech and writing.

In Mr. Orlet's sordid and salacious view to hit at Muslims, to hurl abuse at Muslims, to demonize Muslims is fair game. I wonder where his morality is when someone writes something critical about the JEWS then the whole media turns with allegations of anti-Semitism? These writers are not only accused of anti-Semitism they are then subjected with legal suits. They are simply hounded and there are many such examples both in USA and Canada. Your freedom has gone so far that it has become illegal to question certain historical facts and can risk going to prison. Besides USA and Canada there are several countries where the JEWS have lobbied to make it a law to question anything relating to the events in the World War II. Such is the FREEDOM that he is talking. It is classic example of "pot calling the kettle" black!. Your article certainly had a tinge of black humor about it.

In today's world where writers' noble duty is to build bridges Mr. Orlet has turned to fan the flames of hatred. To demonize all Muslims in such a fashion shows how narrow-minded Mr. Orlet is in his approach. Yesterday, it was the Jews who were demonized by the people in Europe. Instead of learning from history, Mr. Orlet seems to be taking a leaf out of the times of the Nazis and expressing his views such blatant racism. Sad to see, that there are writers who are still peddling their perverted art of writing in respected journals like Spectator, and seem to get away with it.
-- M. Z. Iqbal
Surrey, England

Christopher Orlet replies:
I did write, "offend the followers of Allah and you risk a beheading or years hiding out like a most wanted desperado," and sure enough I received a death threat via email the very same day. Was it a follower of Allah who sent the death threat? Hard to say, since the coward sent it anonymously, but if I were a betting man...

I am certain that freedom of speech and Islam can co-exist, but freedom of speech and fundamentalist Islam cannot. It is the fundamentalists and those who take them seriously who are my concern.

THE BEAUTY OF EXPERIENCE
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Reagan's 1986 Election:

Mr. Reagan had discovered the only good thing about growing older: that eventually one realizes that not only has one seen it all before, but that even the biggest rock thrown into the pond causes ripples only for a little while before it sinks out of sight and leaves the pond serene. That is, nothing much that we are hearing blabberjabbered on the air and in the papers 24/7 right now will make a bit of difference in the long run. A person who has paid attention all her life will soon realize that she has seen it all before, and that it was irrelevant the last time and still is. For only one example, the Forbes magazine prediction for the 1980s of an oil shortage and $100 per barrel oil looked silly by 1982; today I can't get excited about the screaming on the same subject because I've seen how that trick works. Today oat brand will save us; tomorrow oat bran will kill us. Today stem cell therapy will make the dead walk; tomorrow it will breed monsters. Today electric cars will cause the temperature to fall; tomorrow somebody will realize that we're living in a province where, when the temperature rises, the government starts screaming for us to unplug all our appliances and sweat in the dark, and we realize that on the Thursday before a holiday weekend these same people will be screaming for us to unplug our cars. Whatever today's screaming babies are pointing at will be gone by tomorrow as if it had never been, and so will the next crisis. We can also see the irony in one page of the newspapers shrieking that our teenagers are fat, fat, FAT, and the facing page screaming that they are anorexic because they are obsessed with Body Image.

Mr. Reagan knew what Mr. Bush knows: that whatever today's bleating about, tomorrow it will be gone. Hold the course and keep smiling. And keep your earplugs in. Whatever the babies are screaming, you've already heard it. With age and experience comes the knowledge that there is in truth nothing new under the sun.

One of Daddy's favorite sayings, especially when the kids are moaning about the increased amount of knowledge in today's world, is "There isn't more knowledge than there ever was. All that stuff is just more information."
-- Kate Shaw
Toronto, Canada

If you want to call the present administration "Conservative," you might look at a few opinions from others who have more of a claim to that title. Senator Warner and James Baker seem not to echo the same "good news" about our foreign policy. Do any of you ever consider that the Conservative element in our nation's politics and life are presently being held hostage to an administration which is considerably more lame than any duck? Why do those who think themselves Conservatives feel it imperative to be loyal to a right-wing cabal which has hijacked the White House?
-- H.J. Wilson

Contrary to Marc Anthony and his famous speech, I come to praise Mr. Lord, not to bury him. I am very afraid that we will not see another as wise and as strong as Mr. Reagan in my lifetime.

I find it so very instructive that Mr. Reagan never deviated from Conservative principles in any way in his pronouncements. He was reviled by the press and Democrats and RINOs. All he did was to get that serious look on his face and say, "There you go again." But always with the twinkle in the eyes.

Oh how I wish that the Bush clan had the constancy of Ronald Reagan. Oh how I wish that the GOP elected officials and activists had the ironclad belief in conservatism that Ronald Reagan had. How I wish that "our side" would worry more about principles and less about being PC and whether the other side loved them. Conservative principles win every time they are tried, and I am NOT referring to "Compassionate Conservatism" which is just left leaning centrism by another name.
-- Ken Shreve
A Proud Reagan Conservative

QUIET MAN
Re: George H. Wittman's Ethics, Law, and War:

Those who argue that we must follow the Geneva Convention in re captured jihadis because we are "better than they are" seem to ignore the fact that if we do, we will probably end up deader than they are.
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

Excellent article. I am so frustrated at all the politicians and retired military who invoke the Geneva Convention for treatment of captured terrorists. They do not belong to any national army, so clearly, the conventions do not apply.

Political posturing about the inhumanity of "water boarding" to elicit information from terrorists is reprehensible, in light of the fact it is routinely administered on our own military personnel in SERE schools, to better prepare them for the horrors of captivity, should they even survive same. Given the current propensity of Islamists to behead, hang, drag through the streets, etc., any and all American military they capture, I think our military "gets it."

My usual revulsion for anything that lawyers, a non-combatant group of hairsplitters, come up with, is unchanged. When a nation is dealing with savages, respect may only be earned at the point of a gun, or at the end of a club. Marquis of Queensberry rules are nice when your enemy is civilized, but our current one doesn't even come close to that category.

Our government should take a close look at how Blackjack Pershing reputedly handled Muslim terrorists in the Philippines early in the 20th century. Whether or not the accounts are true is immaterial. Political correctness will never win us any points with Islamists, so we should cease attempting to make nice. If this offends the sensibilities of some of our more liberal citizens, tell them to kindly avert their gaze.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

The premise of your article goes right to the heart of the matter. Messrs. McCain, Powell, et al. are not as concerned with the success of the prosecution of the war as they are with their own smug moral and intellectual superiority. Americans will continue to die needlessly and the war will be extended because of this fatuous thinking, but McCain and Powell will have proven themselves to be the most enlightened among us. And that, quite frankly, is the most important thing to them.
-- A. DiPentima

If terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence, how can we even consider discussing ethics and law with terrorists or about how we must fight them? I suggest it's only possible if we suffer some collective derangement and/or death wish, or if the majority capitulate to the minority who may have such deranged and/or destructive tendencies.

But if we've learned nothing from history, even the way we defeated the British in the Revolution, when we could've been called terrorists, and if the majority capitulates, then we deserve what we get. And that won't be the defeat of terrorists.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia

Marquis of Queensberry. The name says it all.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

THE NERVES OF SOME PEOPLE
Re: The Prowler's Nervous Harry and Howie:

Howard Dean has no reason to be nervous that a Democrat Speaker of the House or Senate majority leader will diminish his role and visibility, because just as when he was Governor of the Great State of Vermont, he was nearly invisible then (how often did anyone, even a democrat, care what Howard did there) and he has been nearly invisible in his role as head of the DNC. Howard's only interest is to satisfy his ego by imagining that he is a very important person. It's too bad that almost no one in the country, except perhaps his wife and family, hold him in such high esteem.

As for the senate minority leader Harry Reid, he seems very typical of people who somehow imagine themselves to be much more important than they in fact are. Our political system must eventually be changed to provide term limits, reduce or eliminate their extraordinary salary and benefits (congressional salaries should be directly tied to the average annual compensation paid to all works in the United States, and that average salary should consider the pay of those who are here illegally), reduce the lavish expense accounts that they are provided, reduce the incredible retirement benefits that they received after a mere twelve years in office.

As for Harry and the insults he freely hurls at others, I say only, "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones"!
-- Patrick R. Spooner, P.E.
Windham, New Hampshire

MAKING HAY
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Charlie Brown Democrats:

Your Mr. Lord needs to do more research and less speculation. I was acquainted with Harry Hay for many years and he was never known to have a penchant for young men or boys. He was in a monogamous loving relationship for the last 40 years of his life, with his lover John Burnside, a mature man who was similar in age. Please note that this union lasted much longer than your typical heterosexual marriage.

Nor was, as some claim, Hay ever the leader or a member of NAMBLA. All he did was advocate the right for NAMBLA to march in pride parades after Christopher Street West banned them, and express his beliefs that sexual active gay youth have certain rights as well.

It's both laughable and specious that Mr. Lord attempts to draw a straight line of endorsement between Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and NAMBLA by way of Harry Hay, simply because she was just one of hundreds of contingents marching in the parade that day. What about the other politicians in the parade? What about the Mayor? Senators? Representatives? Why single out Pelosi?

If I'm in the Mardi Gras parade, does that mean I support nudity and public drunkenness? If I appear in the Chinese New Year parade, who has banned Falun Gong groups, does that also mean I do not support Falun Gong? If I march in the Columbus Day parade in New York, does that mean I discriminate against Native Americans?

Nice attempt at deflection, but if you want to distract from the Foley scandal, you'll have to do better than dredge up something that happened years ago and has no basis of equitable comparison. Riding in a parade with someone who might support the sexual rights of sexually active gay youth is a far cry from actually soliciting a relationship with a minor and member of your staff.

Shame, shame.
-- Kasi Ceallach

Jeffrey Lord replies:
Thanks to reader Kasi Ceallach for the response to my recent article "When Nancy Met Harry." It certainly merits a response.

At no point did I suggest that Harry Hay did anything other than advocate in a very public fashion for the concept of older men having sex with boys. This is, in fact, why the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) has given him so much laudatory space on their website. It also should be mentioned that Mr. Hay's talks include a highly favorable account of his own experience as a minor having sex with an older man. I was indeed aware of his relationship with John Burnside, but alas Mr. Hay is not a favorite of NAMBLA because he was nothing more than an ordinary gay adult man advocating adult gay relationships.

Nor did I ever say Harry Hay was a member of NAMBLA. He was not, and I have said so in various interviews. What he was, however, as I have correctly stated, was a fierce supporter of NAMBLA's raison d'etre -- older men having sex with minors...boys. He supported far more than NAMBLA's right to march in parades -- a questionable cause in and of itself. He actively supported, as his own words clearly demonstrate, the very reason for NAMBLA's existence.

As to my singling out Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi for marching right along with Harry Hay, I am afraid that Kasi Ceallach is being a bit disingenuous. Elected public officials of all political stripes are in fact routinely held to account for lending or appearing to lend their blessing and/or physical presence to a cause, whether in fact they agree with the cause or not.

For example, Then-Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush spoke in February of 2000 at Bob Jones University. He gave a standard campaign speech with no reference to the University. Nonetheless he was instantly subjected to harsh criticism for failing to denounce the University's history of making not only anti-Catholic statements but also not mentioning the University's ban on inter-racial dating. Bush correctly apologized. He specifically wrote a formal letter of apology to Cardinal John O'Connor of New York for not denouncing the University's history of anti-Catholicism. Said Bush: "I make no excuses. I had an opportunity and I missed it. I regret that...I wish I had gotten up then and seized the moment to set a tone, a tone that I had set in Texas, a positive and inclusive tone." Bush specifically denied knowing of the school's policies on inter-racial dating, and apologized.

While I find it somewhat amazing that Representative Pelosi would have no idea of the identity and beliefs of the Grand Marshal of a major San Francisco civic event in her own district, she certainly knows now. To this instant she has not apologized for lending her prestige as a member of Congress to a man who argued strenuously for something that most Americans view as child molesting.

Kasi Ceallach points out very correctly, "what about the other politicians in the parade?" My point exactly. There is, apparently, a civic environment in San Francisco that endorses Harry Hay's views and never blinked at lending their prestige. One wonders what they would do if he were a vigorous supporter -- but not a member -- of the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis or...say...John Mark Carr, a man who has not young boys on his mind but young girls. The notion that Mr. Hay's views were so unremarkable to all of these very prominent people is, outside of San Francisco, something that is truly remarkable in and of itself.

If one marches in the Mardi Gras, the Chinese New Year parade or the Columbus Day parade as an anonymous citizen, surely one knows that no one will know or care. But to be, say, the Mayor of New York and march in the Columbus Day parade if the Grand Marshal were the late mobster John Gotti -- and so on for other celebrations -- one would quickly and deservedly be the subject of loud demands for an apology.

Last but not least. The Foley scandal is a scandal. Let's say it again: 1) No adult should be preying on minor children of either sex. 2) No adult in a position of authority, particularly over a younger person, should be playing for sexual favors.

Really, this isn't hard to figure out. Mr. Foley is gone, and should be. His conduct was outrageous. But if one reads the words of Harry Hay, Mr. Foley is some sort of hero doing a favor for a minor. Indeed, even as this is being written the accolades for the just-deceased former Democratic Congressman Gerry Studds are pouring forth . Mr. Studds didn't simply send e-mails, he actually had sex with a male minor under his supervision. Sorry...I don't buy it. And a United States Congresswoman who doesn't have the moral courage to look her own constituents in the eye and say she doesn't buy it either certainly doesn't have the leadership qualities to be the third-ranking member of the government.

Shame indeed -- to reader Ceallach...and to Representative Pelosi.

TANGLED WEB
Re: Jameson Campaigne's letter (under "Crane Connection") in Reader Mail's No So Fabulous Baker Boy:

The URL for the Conservative Party of New York State's free download of the American Conservative Union's account of Hillary's scandals is at http://cpnys.org not the .com address cited. That one is a place selling English Beeswax Furniture Polish. Such is the tangled web of the world wide web.
-- Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

As you've undoubtedly been informed by dozens (hundreds?) of other readers, Mr. Campaigne's given URL for CPNYS (www.cpnys.com) leads one on a merry chase to nowhere. The correct URL is www.cpnys.org

The book, incidentally, is excellent!
-- David Gonzalez
Wheeling, Illinois

WHINY BOY
Re: Shawn Macomber's Indifference Anthems:

Rock and POP are no fun if the lyrical content gets "heavy." When one has to "rock out" the "heavy trips" need not apply. To define "rocking out": it is a party of music, a collection of songs, or the playing of a single song in between the "heavy trips" of reality. That's why the "whiny boy" blues of Mayer and the "heavy trip" grunge bands couldn't get off the airwaves soon enough for me. Who wants to eat veggies when it's more fun to drink beer?

Who in the heck wants reality creepin' in on Rock & Roll?
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

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