Reader Mail

Fighting Logic

A post-Iraqi potpourri, including a special guest appearance by a friend from down under.

4.8.03

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CARPENTRY
Re: James Bowman's Saddam's Honor:

I feel that James Bowman with hammer in hand has hit the nail on the head.
-- Ken F. Kersey

TOO LATE NOW
Re: John Corry's reply in Reader Mail's Iraq and the Big Picture:

Mr. Corry wrote the following:

"It would be better if instead they devoted themselves to destroying all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -- our intelligence is lousy, and it will take us a while to find the WMD -- and then packed up and went home."

We removed the government of Saddam Hussein from Iraq, and it is the only government that country has known for the last thirty years. Since it was our actions that took away their government, it is also our responsibility to help them form another.
-- Alexander Craghead
Portland, OR

DUAL TO THE DEATH
Re: Steve Hornbeck's Arnett Loss:

While I loved Mr. Hornbeck's exquisite satire, I'm too angry to laugh. I hope for his sake that Mr. Arnett has dual citizenship and can return to his native New Zealand. He is totally undeserving of American citizenship.
-- Jenny Woodward
Bloomington, IN

STAND-UP GUYS
Re: Francis X. Rocca's Standing for Old-Fashioned Etiquette:

Sadly, not just in Italy. Last Sunday in Wien I got up for a lady on U-1. The lady in question ignored me. Another man pushed in quickly, and took the seat. (My wife thought I was mad.)
-- Peter North

I live in Atlanta and occasionally ride the MARTA rail line, usually to the airport. If a lady is standing, especially an elderly lady, I will offer her my seat. As for embarrassment, it is not like I care what those other people think of me. They are not my kin, they are not my friends, and, if they feel that way, I would not want them as neighbors.
-- Ray Spitz

I'm a male in my late-40s who appreciates the practice Mr. Rocca advocates, that of surrendering one's seat to a lady if circumstances warrant. A related issue is the waning custom of opening doors for women. Living in Ann Arbor I am often at odds with the behavior of the locals, and they at mine. A few days ago I was about to exit a building, a woman who seemed to be in her early-20s a few steps behind. I pushed at the rail to open the door, extended my arm and held it full open for her to proceed. Instead, she stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me with such rage and contempt as though I had just yanked up her skirt to see what was underneath. She found another door.

I was annoyed at first but turned cheerful upon reflection. It is, after all, a win-win situation. Either the lady will appreciate the gesture (sometimes more than just passively), or at the very least you will have amused yourself by ticking off a strident feminist.
-- Gerald Brennan
Ann Arbor, MI

FAITH AND REASON
Re: George Neumayr's Of His Own Free Wills:

George Neumayr writes: "Garry Wills is certain that conservatives don't know God's will. But does he know God's will? He must think so. Otherwise how could he say that conservatives don't know God's will? Don't you have to know it in order to say others don't know it?" Too bad George begins a good article with a piece of illogic. You don't have to know what something is to know what it ain't....
-- John Staddon
Durham, NC

Thanks for the great article written by George Neumayr posted on April 2. In this piece, Mr. Neumayr is using his writing talents to express what so many ordinary Christian Americans understand.
-- Sandy Rodriguez
San Marcos, TX

FRANCE PAUVRE
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's The French, The French:

As the thick-headed among you search for more exceedingly tedious ways to punish and ridicule France, going to great lengths to portray her government as corrupt and antagonistic, her people as snobby and culture-obsessed, and her military's historical legacy as cowardly, let's keep two very simple issues in mind before you all gorge yourselves to death on greasy gobs of freedom fries.

Firstly, France is older than us. France is a grumpy old man with nice suits and exclusive tastes. America is a bellicose over-grown teenager with too much money and clout for his own good. He wears the pants around the house but he has no sense. You spent the better part of your article attempting to prove that French have always been a bunch of sissies. I could care less if their current military might is, on its own, unexceptional. I'm more concerned with your implication that they are a people culturally predisposed to weakness. Son, you must have failed freshman literature. France's past is filled with a colorful array of compelling military statesmen and heroic kings like Pepin, Charles Martel (The Hammer, fool), and of course, Charlemagne. Have you ever read the Song of Roland? If so, do you remember how unbelievably hard those guys were in that battle? Splitting skulls like red grapes. It took so many enemy soldiers to finally bring Roland and Oliver down. I know it might be hard to believe, but the svelte beret-sporting French fruitcakes hauling baguettes around Le Quartier Latin bear that genetic and cultural legacy.

What do you know about William the Conqueror? I don't know much, but I know he got nasty on the Saxons back in the day. He might have over-indulged in fatty roasts and died trying to get on a horse, but he and his Normans tore Medieval Britain a new arsehole and, in doing so, completely and dramatically altered the course of Western civilization while probably managing to teach those proto-English cads a thing or two about whipping up a good Bearnaise. How's that for some shock and awe? Our great early feat (after scampering away from the Brits with France's indispensable aid) was massacring thousands and thousands of Native Americans with "fire-sticks" and blankets laced with germs. Woo-hoo. Way to take out the trash bio-chem style.

On a more serious note, and this brings me to my second and final point. In keeping with the sports fan theme to this war and the current global climate, I'll speak in those terms. Three words, baby. France. Russia. Germany. Whatta triple threat! These guys are going to be huge, baby. What a massive, centralized political, economic, and military counter-weight to American dominance! They got ties to us! They do business with the Mideast! Russia's massive! Germany's got the industrial complex! Holy cow! It's showtime! They started out as a couple of nuisances in the U.N. but now they are going big-time, baby! This is only the beginning! Keep your eyes peeled because it's starting now and we are due for a shake-up. Baby.
-- A. Simmons

EYE ON THE ITALIANS
Re: Paul Sannella's letter in Reader Mail's All Isn't Fair in War:

Paul Sannella's "Italy Wasn't Built in a Day" needs a bit of historical perspective, and perhaps a dollop or two of analytical reading. I had to go back and read it again to find where Jackie Mason could possibly be interpreted as attacking the Italians. But Paul did ask (Please explain to me how this historical fact jives [perhaps he meant "jibes"?] with the following quote from Mason, "But put Italians together in an army and they are not so hot") so here's my explanation.

Now I'm not a defender of Italians, but I have a son-in-law who hails from the Italian peninsula, and I've read a little history so I think I have some perspective on the Roman Empire, past and present. I suggest that Mr. Sannella read up on the Punic Wars to see how quickly an empire can be decimated as Hannibal did in the second War.

The modern Italians are quite a different breed of cat from the ancient Romans, just as the present-day French are quite different from the Normans. They conquered the Saxons in Britain, and were the last people from the Continent to do so. The Normans were descended from Viking conquerors, by the way, and I doubt that anyone could argue that the present-day Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes resemble those ancient warriors who overran everything they attacked, or that the present day French have retained any of the Norman's aggressive bravery.

As for the stereotype of Italians preferring to sing, drink a little vino and eat a little pasta rather than fight, well, who can blame them? Rent Captain Corelli's Mandolin, or better yet read the book, for insight into Italian soldiers and their ability to fight when it became necessary. Recall that the battles they were being told to fight were shoved down their throats by Hitler's weenie Mussolini whose solution to chronically late-running trains was to force-feed castor oil to the offending engineers and conductors until they either got their act together or died from massive attacks of diarrhea.

I've never been to France, but I have been to Tahiti, and my exposure to the French out in the world, even if it is a possession of theirs, will forever live in my memory as the epitome of rudeness. As to that, it's not as if they worked at it, it's more as if explaining common courtesy to a Frenchman is like explaining color to a blind man. It's just not within his comprehension.

So let's all go back and re-read Jackie's take on the French for what it is, a take on the French. And please don't get excited about him attacking the Italians. It is a marvelous use of satire.
-- Bob Johnson
Bedford, TX

COMBAT WEARY
Re: Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder's Iraq and the Unspeakable:

Mason's and Felder's opinion piece was insane. I don't know how many Iraqis the U.S. and Britain have killed so far, I heard a figure of 20,000+ soldiers and 720 civilians. The U.S. and U.K. have probably suffered combined losses of about 110. At least 25 of these were from accidents or mistakes. Yet they say the U.S. should take extreme measures to prevent any more Americans from dying. This is war, people die in wars. Bush, Cheney and Rice should not have started the war if they didn't realize Americans were going to die fighting it. Mason suggests we depopulate Baghdad of civilians and level it with the new MOAB super-bombs. How would he feel if someone suggested doing this to Jerusalem, because Israel violated U.N. resolutions (it has), and possesses nuclear and chemical weapons? (Israel does possess them.) Would such a war against Israel be justified? Of course not. Would Israel consider outsiders destroying its historic city a "liberation"? Of course not. Our military is expert enough not to have to resort to annihilating Baghdad.

Even from a pragmatic point of view, wiping out Baghdad would be lunacy. The Iraqi man who risked his life to lead our special forces to the hospital where our POWs were held did so because he realizes that the Americans offer Iraq a better future. We would alienate people like this if we turned Baghdad to rubble.

If America is to salvage anything in terms of what objective observers think of us, let alone the dwindling group of moderate Muslims, it must not destroy Iraq's historic city. The cabal (they call themselves that) running this administration has little knowledge of history or World cultures, little perspective on the repercussions of an unprovoked war against a country that did not attack us and was not going to. (The wisdom, or lack of it, of the war is separate from the question of whether Iraq's post-war life will be freer and better -- it will.) This administration is so clueless that the head of the FBI has still not been fired, not even Rumsfeld has been fired. And they both are demonstrably incompetent. Mueller, the FBI chief, has actually given a commendation to the FBI idiot who refused to ask for a search warrant for Z. Moussaoui after Moussaoui's flight instructor told the FBI (in August of 2001) that he thought Moussaoui was going to "do something like fly a plane into the World Trade Center." Now the U.S. is stirring the hatred of the Islamic extremists, while still not deporting the 9 million illegals which the feds just admitted are in this country. Who knows how many future Moussaouis hide among those millions. Yet even this myopic administration is not dense enough to follow Mason and Felder's mindless plan of destroying Baghdad in order to save it. Our military is expert enough not to have to resort to an all-or-nothing approach.
-- Robert Ashton
Saint George, Utah

A FRIEND WRITES
Re: George Neumayr's Self-Inflicted Tragedy:

Re: George Neumayr's article on the death of Rachel Corrie by the Israeli army:

You are further proof that the Right Wing and the Third Reich have only one difference, the name. The language in your article is identical to the language and reasoning of White Supremacists. When I lived in the South, David Duke would publish pieces like this which appealed to a lot of bigots. His readers would reminisce the good old lynch days.

You can only wish to have the courage and conviction of conscience of someone as wonderful as Rachel Corrie. And by the way, I don't pretend to be a professional writer but you do and your writing style needs some serious improving. You substitute meanness for a flat writing style, hatefulness for in-depth understanding, lies to cover laziness for lack of research. I suggest that you return to Creative Writing 101 and get some pointers on how to write.
-- B. Labin
Brisbane

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