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Letters to the Editor 

Week of November 6, 2002

Protest Song

Germany, the CIA, soccer moms -- we're in good company: Regarding Saturday's anti-war protest ["Street Justice," Mecklin, Oct. 30], John Mecklin bemoans the presence of "fringe-feeding lefties" and their "... offensive rants blaming America (or, at least, American foreign policy) for terrorism." Mecklin is either under the impression that American foreign policy and terrorism are unrelated or that calling attention to the cause-and-effect relationship between the two is inappropriate at, of all places, a protest against American foreign policy. Perhaps Mecklin believes that we can change American foreign policy without actually finding fault with it. That's a neat trick.

I would, however, like to thank Mr. Mecklin for joining most of the international community, our own intelligence agencies, and a goodly number of soccer moms in allowing that war on Iraq might be a bad idea. Unfortunately, our tepid protests will not stop the Bush administration from starting a full-scale war in the Middle East -- they know, based on history, that the war will bring an escalation in global terrorism, but also that no good "freedom-loving" American will blame them for it. That would be offensive.

Joshua A. Thorp

Questioning the results of war: John Mecklin categorically states that the billions spent bombing Afghanistan were "necessary and proper." Really? Over 4,000 innocent civilians have been murdered so far by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, including members of a wedding party. These were poor people, not the middle-class Saudis that pulled off 9/11. The goal of this operation was to capture Osama bin Laden. The Taliban offered to negotiate his surrender, but the U.S. refused to negotiate. Why? They had no problem bringing the Taliban to Texas to negotiate the proposed UNOCAL pipeline at a barbecue. They had no problem giving the Taliban $100 million in the summer of 2001 in exchange for prohibiting opium production. Why not take the peaceful path and negotiate first? By acting unilaterally and outside the bounds of international law, the U.S. accomplished nothing. A band of thugs has replaced the Taliban. The rule of a corrupt military dictator in Pakistan has been legitimized. And no compensation has been paid to innocent Afghans. And, despite the propaganda otherwise, the Afghan women continue to be oppressed.

In a similar fashion, an escalation of the attack on Iraq is also being foisted on us. (The U.S. has been bombing Iraq for years.) But, a heavy price will be paid for all of this. Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War vet. The D.C. sniper was a Gulf War vet. And the recent murders at the [Arizona] nursing school were by a Gulf War vet. What future innocents in the U.S. will die as a result of traumatized Afghan war vets?

Harry S. Pariser
Inner Sunset

Lesson Learned

Funding your own destruction -- sounds like a job for Willie Brown: I found Peter Byrne's criticism of the organization SOUL to be completely misdirected ["SOUL Trainers," Oct. 16]. His main point is that the folks at SOUL accept donations from "capitalist foundations" while trying to undermine the capitalist system of exploitation. Nobody from the organization denies the irony in this, but isn't it those foundations' own fault for funding their eventual destruction?

Byrne mentions the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, but does he even realize that they, too, were criticized for accepting money from wealthy individuals?

Many people like Peter Byrne and SF Weekly are quick to point a finger and brand a group as "sellouts," but SOUL and its graduates are some of the most effective organizers in the Bay Area. I have faith that they will find ways to struggle on, if and when the corporate money has dried up.

Josh Connor
West Oakland

Come On-A My House

We know we'd like to be saved from that damned pursuit of happiness: Matt Smith must have had a blast pulling THAT article together ["You Don't Own Me," Oct. 16]! It's always good to have a glimpse of what is really going on behind the curtain, and it seems that the nonprofit wizards and their friends at City Hall have some explaining to do to the renters they are trying so hard to "help." The social engineering going on by "progressives" at City Hall and in the nonprofit housing world is more than frightening. Right now they are trying to save us from homeownership. What will they try to save us from next?

Kim Stryker

You do the math: I confess I consider myself bohemian. And I would love to be a homeowner. But there's a little problem with Proposition R. In a pro-R flier I got in the mail was the encouraging statement, "If you can afford $1,300 a month in rent, you can afford to own your home." Guess that leaves me out. I take home $1,500 to $1,600 a month. And I know a lot of people make less money than I do.

If Prop. R required landlords to sell to tenants at a price somewhere near the rent they're paying, and if all those sales were limited equity so the property would remain low-income housing in the future, then I and a lot of other bohemians would support it.

The way it is now, it just creates more unaffordable housing.

Rose Skytta
Polk Gulch

Monkeying Around

Next week: the poodle in the microwave: I cannot believe you wasted a cover story on something like this ["You Grab the Monkey; We'll Bring the Knife," Oct. 23]. You have done the equivalent of forwarding an urban legend and cc'ing all of San Francisco. This Monkey Knife Fight campaign is, first and foremost, a striving for that great American dream: 15 minutes of fame. Secondly, it's just plain vandalism. Culture-jamming? I think not. I have seen zero creativity in the placement of this message. "Andre the Giant has a posse" redux? It's been done, and now there's a clothing line that has repackaged the message -- ka-ching! -- by the originator of the guerrilla campaign, no less. My suggestion would be to vandalize the stickers by tagging [them] with something equally revolutionary like, um, a dollar sign. And don't get me started on the whole practice of painting one's slogan on the sidewalk. Citizens who take pride in their communities love seeing this as much as they do Fido's crap.

Kenny Lee
Lower Haight

We're not sure "artists" is the word we'd use: Great article on MKF. Sorry you couldn't find the perps. Since you got the cover on your story, I can almost guarantee that the artists might just step up now that it's big news. Then again, it might just get more cryptic and less resolved. Thus is life on the street.

Russell Howze

And we suppose those "pedestrian death" posters are protesting restrictions on stem-cell research?: Surely I am not the only person who reads "Monkey Knife Fight" as anti-war commentary. Am I hopelessly naive to think you didn't know that? I assume the sprayers of "Monkey Knife Fight" messages are expressing their view of the War on Whatever that "President" G.W. Bush (aka Curious George) flails furiously to wage. It looks to me like political commentary in the same vein as those public portraits of Andre the Giant's face -- captioned "Giant" and "Obey" -- that draw attention to encroaching totalitarianism. Recently I noticed a fresh Andre face on an overpass near Market and Octavia. Now he has skeletal teeth. What do you think the mutation means? Bless you, ironic cartoonists and ghostly artists all, for articulating unspeakable truths.

Emily Han Zimmerman
Noe Valley


Last week's Matt Smith column, "Field of Liens," incorrectly identified the Long Beach Breakers baseball team. The story also incorrectly stated that the Chico Heat had to pay visiting Long Beach players to show up to a game. SF Weekly regrets the errors.


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