Letters from the Issue of December 19, 2002
Golden Beach, you never had a better cop: I just read Tristram Korten's article "Officer Trouble" (December 12) and I must say I am baffled that Golden Beach Police Ofcr. Michelle Santinello, who I think is badly in need of a shrink, could destroy the lives of so many decent people.
I have known former Golden Beach Chief Robert (Bobby) Nieman my entire life. Ever since we were kids all he wanted was to help people and to become the best police officer he could be. From my view, Golden Beach has taken off the streets one of the finest, hardest-working officers the city could ever have.
People of Golden Beach, wake up and show your support. Get Bobby Nieman back where he belongs -- protecting your backsides.
David W. Kesterson
Las Vegas, Nevada
Instead I'll just cancel Brett Sokol: Among the many inanities in Brett Sokol's lackadaisically constructed "Kulchur" column "On the Left, Off the Wall" (December 12), here are some that struck me as particularly egregious:
Sokol accuses the antiwar-movement event organized by Concerned People Opposed to War in Iraq (CPOWI) of being "one-sided." Does he think that, besides presenting a case against the war, CPOWI should also present a case in favor of it?
"Doris," a woman Sokol met in the audience, sighs that she would be "better informed watching the BBC news at 11:00 p.m." Note that Doris did not say she would be better informed watching the news on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, or reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Miami Herald. If one has to turn to foreign news sources to be better informed, then this panel was clearly an important and necessary event. Indeed one of the very points made by a panelist was the lack of public speech about a war against Iraq.
"The Republicans are Nazis? Bush is Hitler?" These are Sokol's words, and nothing Professor Jennifer Uleman is quoted as saying remotely implies them. What she did say is that there is a growing climate of fear of dissent in this country. She also suggested (though Sokol chose not to mention her own diffidence over the comparison) that this may be similar to how it felt to become more and more fearful under the rise of National Socialism in Germany.
She most certainly never compared the policies or actions of President Bush and the Republicans to those of Hitler and the National Socialists. The nuance Sokol feels is missing from Uleman's discourse is lacking only from his reporting -- or understanding.
Sokol reports panelist Christine Gudorf's view that more Muslim immigration is a way for us all (Americans and Muslims) to get along. This receives no direct comment from Sokol but is quoted in a way that is evidently meant to make the sentiment seem absurd, almost criminal. Sokol puts it in a paragraph whose only other content is the fact that the panel made too little mention of the 3000 casualties of 9/11. The implication of the juxtaposition of these two elements (dead Americans, more Muslim immigration), though I am sure this is a result only of Sokol's unnuanced writing and not a piece of deliberate slander, is that Gudorf in some way supported the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and that more Muslim immigration would likely lead to more terrorism in the U.S.
I could go on but I won't. If only I paid for New Times, I would now have the pleasure of canceling my subscription to it. I must console myself with having tried to show your readers that in an effort to avoid the very same snide criticism he levels at Professor Uleman, Sokol has given us a piece of journalism that is worth exactly what we pay for it -- nothing.
And I am not a kook: Brett Sokol's weird account of the November 19 antiwar teach-in at the Coral Gables Congregational Church warrants a lot of correction. (It was in fact a great event, and brought together a lot of great people.) But I'll mostly worry about correcting the claim that I am a kook who thinks President Bush is Hitler.
At the teach-in I talked about politics and fear. I said that politics deserves our respect only when diverse interests and dissenting voices are included. I noted that after September 11 conservatives began describing anyone who dissented from war-mongering or Arab-bashing as "failing America."
I confessed to having felt fear myself, and especially to having felt uneasy about making my views known on my own campus. Professors have been targeted plenty and their lives made miserable for being too liberal or progressive. I reported that fear was exacerbated by the eerie silence -- no media headlines, no bumper stickers, no people in the streets -- that seemed to greet egregious Bush administration positions and policies. I mentioned in passing that this fear-amid-eerie-silence helped me glimpse something of the fear attentive Germans might have felt as National Socialism slowly rose around them. I closed by hoping aloud that everyone in the audience would show solidarity, that those of us in Miami's small but growing peace movement would encourage each other to keep voicing our objections to war.
My passing comment seems to be all Brett Sokol heard. Afterward he came up to me and asked whether I thought Bush was Hitler and Republicans Nazis. Um, no. What was I saying then? I tried to explain. He said he wasn't following my point, and I tried to explain again. He seemed frustrated and I suggested he drop it, but he didn't. So here, for the record: Do I think Bush is Hitler? Puh-leez. Do I think Republicans are Nazis? Come on. (Brett: Both mean "no.") Do I stand by my claim that there is too much polite and eerie silence around the Bush administration's activities? Yes.
Readers who are tired of silence should pick up a copy of The Nation magazine or try Harper's or Z or the Progressive (all have Websites), or they might want to start by looking at www.miamiforpeace.org, which has links to other sources as well.
Jennifer K. Uleman
All along we stupidly thought it was the bearded one: Thanks to Kirk Nielsen for making clear who the true enemies of America really are ("Righteous Bombers?" December 5). Some of us had a distorted perception that a certain dictatorship, which has consistently harbored, trained, and financed terrorists from the U.S. and internationally, and which sent specialized "technicians" to torture and interrogate U.S. servicemen imprisoned in North Vietnam and murderous hordes to fight wars of "liberation" in Africa, plus countless other feats -- some of us perceived that this dictatorship was in fact an enemy of the U.S. Thankfully, Mr. Nielsen has saved us from such delusional nonsense.
No, the real enemy of America is right here in the Magic City: a 74-year-old Roman Catholic bishop, a group of elderly Cuban-American Protestant pastors, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Miami, and a handful of senile "terrorists" here and in Panama who, supposing their crimes are true, have not done an infinitesimal fraction of the murder, damage, and mayhem perpetrated by that certain dictatorship (and its protégés) here and abroad.
It was disappointing, however, that Mr. Nielsen did not add to the mix the Cuban-American Freemasons, the espiritistas, the santeros, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. You can never do enough when it comes to warning citizens about the danger posed by el exilio. God bless you, Mr. Nielsen, and keep up the good fight denouncing and exposing America's true enemies.
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