Letters to the Editor

The Progressive, August 2001 | Go to article overview
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Letters to the Editor


Ehrenreich's McVeigh

Once again, I wish I could write like Barbara Ehrenreich ("The Making of McVeigh," July issue). I have been trying to tell people that McVeigh learned about "collateral damage" in the military. Ehrenreich once again grasped a complex and horrifying social truth and illuminated it with intelligence and power.

This column should be assigned reading for all political leaders and citizens.

Carolyn Keith
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I was very disappointed to read Barbara Ehrenreich's piece on Timothy McVeigh. In a society that lavished almost celebrity-like attention on this man, I was disturbed at the way in which Ehrenreich chose to add her own voice to the crescendo.

Did she think that she was one-upping the mainstream press by taking a different approach?

Does she feel smug and proud that she has been able to use the life of McVeigh as a stump from which to express her frustration at our government?

While most people in this world feel the need to try and extract meaning out of seemingly senseless tragedies, I cannot support her self-serving attempt to uncover the simple meaning of a logical irony in McVeigh's actions.

She makes overtures to the "potentially useful functions of government," and she recognizes that minorities are the "most common victims" of our federal government. But her critique expresses a brand of radicalism that does not seem at all in keeping with the views of The Progressive or most of its readers.

Wanting to fight against those views that marginalize McVeigh as "maniacal," Ehrenreich reduces the political difficulties of the last twenty years, as well as some very complicated problems, to a naive simplicity.

How helpful is it to praise McVeigh and conclude simply that the government produces warriors and killers?

Mass murder is the natural result of minimum wages, no unions, and missile defense shields?

What does it serve to sum up the meaning of the Oklahoma bombing in the idea that the government got what it deserved, it just got it from the wrong guy because he wasn't a minority?

The article is extreme in its views and reduces the complex journey of one man to the logical outgrowth of conservative politics.

Daniel Holt
Buffalo, New York

Among the violent and militaristic acts of the federal government that led to "The Making of McVeigh," Barbara Ehrenreich includes, along with Iraq, Serbia, and Waco, "the bizarre raid on the relatives of Elian Gonzales in Miami." Could she kindly tell us what the hell she is talking about?

Richard B. Du Boff
Haverford, Pennsylvania

Add Another Artist to Zinn's List

In his article "Artists of Resistance" (July issue), Howard Zinn does his usual excellent job of calling attention to the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of the artistic community. While his many and useful quotes speak to numerous aspects of war, he neglects one that is a constant throughout the history of war: hypocrisy.

I would like to add a few lines from Siegfried Sassoon, a soldier poet of World War I, which unmask the cowardice lurking behind exhortations to patriotism and loyalty:

   You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
   Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
   Sneak home and pray you'll never know
   The hell where youth and laughter go.
Thomas A. Comeau
Lemon Grove, California

Canada Is Becoming a Police State

The massive protest mounted in Quebec City at the Free Trade of the Americas Summit was correctly relished by Sarah Anderson ("Revelry in Quebec," June issue) as a sign of escalating public opposition to the corporate agenda for total global control. Sadly, for Canadians, the government response was more proof that Canada is becoming a police state and that democracy is confined to periodic voting for corporate-sponsored and media-promoted politicians.

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