Letters to the Editor
Openly Biased, Openly Honest
You guys are no better than the commies: I read Kirk Nielsen's article about the Cuban news show Mesa Redonda ("Live from Havana, It's Mesa Redonda!" January 31) and was impressed with how much the issues he criticized are also true of U.S. media shows. In fact I would argue that U.S. news shows are just as one-sided as those in Cuba.
The truth is, the Cubans are more honest. They don't pretend to be objective. They're interested in uplifting and furthering the values of their society. The U.S. press, owned by big business, doesn't have to receive overt marching orders because they automatically line up with the government's policies, especially since it benefits their bottom line.
The American press seldom interviews activists who oppose the party line on issues like police brutality, housing discrimination, or other discriminatory ills in U.S. society. Usually the press picks the activist most palatable to the public, and seldom is that the most articulate person available. So too it was clear that Mr. Nielsen was not totally objective when he took on his Mesa Redonda project. It was disingenuous of him to pose as neutral; his bias showed throughout the article.
While we're talking about good old-fashioned American openness to other points of view, recall that after U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California cast the lone opposition vote to Bush's "war decree," her life was threatened and she received thousands of pieces of hate mail. Closer to home, the University of Miami fired an employee because he told a joke; the fire department nearly fired three black firefighters for simply voicing safety concerns; and a mayoral candidate was fired from his job for expressing opposing views. We must be careful when we talk about our hallowed concepts of balance and fairness.
Shiver & Jeb: Buddies
They never needed me, and DeFede knows it! Perhaps it's Jim DeFede who needs to attend an ethics course in honest reporting ("Introduction to Ethics," January 31). He ignores facts that were presented to him not only by me but by others involved in the nonstory about clemency for Steve Shiver's "pal" William Chaney, when Shiver was mayor of Homestead.
He wrote, "Despite Levy's efforts ..." notwithstanding his knowledge there were no efforts. As he was told, Mr. Shiver is very close with Gov. Jeb Bush. If he wanted to "influence" the process, he could have called the governor, in whose hands the entire process rested. He was merely monitoring the proceedings, and that is all he ever asked of us.
Mr. DeFede continues to ignore the fact that Steve Shiver and Bob Levy are and were close personal friends, so a personal request did not put me in an "awkward position." Mr. Shiver did not try to "help out a friend." He only requested that we keep our eye on the proceedings.
Mr. DeFede continues to ignore the truth, which leads me to believe there should be a mandatory ethics class for journalists.
Robert M. Levy
Jim DeFede replies: As I previously reported, Levy wrote an e-mail to Shiver: "Boss -- Governor denied Chaney's clemency at 2/22 meeting. Joe Gillespie [a former Levy employee whose job at the secretary of state's office included recommendations regarding clemency petitions] called [Chaney] personally to inform him of the outcome and told him he tried to help in your behalf." Shiver responded: "I really don't know what else to do for Chaney." And I don't know what other conclusion to draw than Shiver, through Levy, unsuccessfully tried to influence the outcome of a clemency petition.
James to Jessica: Imbeciles We Are Not
Love it or leave it! There, I said it: After reading Jessica McGilvery's letter "America to World: Bend to Our Will or Else!" (January 24), I must ask who is really naive? She accuses America of using the carrot and stick to make other countries bend to our will, yet she gives no examples. If she means our rewarding nations that subscribe to international standards of behavior and punishing those that would harbor and promote terrorism, violence, and hatred, then we're guilty as charged.
For every instance she could provide as evidence of our "manipulative" foreign policy, I could cite ten showing remarkable restraint and compassion. The "precarious position" in which we find ourselves is that of trying to be the world's policeman, which the rest of the world has pushed upon us and criticizes or encourages whenever it suits their needs. I will remind Jessica that we were asked to intervene in Grenada, Kuwait, and Bosnia, and dared to respond in Afghanistan. Perhaps she considers retaliation for the wholesale murder of 3000 American citizens, the destruction of multibillion-dollar properties, and the assault on our way of life -- all on American soil -- as another example of American arrogance.
Jessica likens the "American experience" to an "insidious epidemic" infecting beautiful cultures around the world while at the same time "insulating" our own borders from outside influences. Does she really live in Miami, one of the most diverse populations of any city in the world? No other country in the world tolerates, much less promotes, a more diverse population. None!
She also believes that Americans are all imbeciles and that our news agencies are all controlled by the government. Is she insane? While being far from objective, the only control over the press is each agency's own agenda, be it liberal or conservative. Then she claims that "everything we are and everything we do breeds hatred." At the risk of sounding like a "love it or leave it" redneck speaking to someone who has nothing but virulent contempt for this nation, I'd like to know what the hell she's doing here. I'm sure there are still a few countries in Europe where America-bashing is still in vogue.
While in no way being a perfect society (whatever that is), this country is a shining beacon to the rest of the world. Criticism within a society is good as long as it is reasoned and constructive. Jessica's is neither.
Jessica to Detractors: Criticism Is Not Treason
In fact it's downright patriotic: I always welcome intelligent dialogue, but the two letters written in response to my letter to the editor were anything but. I read with horror Paul Meade's referral to all countries outside the United States as "Third World." This is exactly the ignorant arrogance to which I was referring in my previous letter. It's a shame Mr. Meade confuses my desire for change and peace with "self-loathing" and a "sad, self-hating agenda ." Mr. Meade and people like him will be the biggest barriers toward a peaceful planet. His lack of knowledge about world events and his pig-headed refusal to accept responsibility for the actions of his own government are both telling and disturbing. I'll bet Henry Kissinger is his hero.
Apparently Mr. Meade is of the opinion that our government can do no wrong and that its actions should not be questioned lest you be considered treasonist. He needs to remove his rose-colored glasses and realize that questioning one's government is not unpatriotic. In fact this is exactly what our country was founded upon.
In response to Herbert Marvin's retort, I pose the following: Did he write a similar letter of outrage when we (our government, our soldiers) were killing innocent people in Angola? Congo? Somalia? Chile? Vietnam? Laos? Cambodia? Iraq? The Balkans? Yugoslavia? Why is he so quick to respond now, after decades of silent indifference to similar atrocities perpetrated by the United States? An innocent life has the same value regardless of which soil it was born upon.
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