Thursday, September 02, 2004

The New York Times:
Who’s a Partisan Opportunist? Not Us!

By Nicholas Stix

In its September 1 edition, the New York Times published eleven letters to the editor regarding the GOP convention. Most of the letter writers were angry that Pres. Bush and his party would dare refer to 911 and his leadership, decrying such legitimate and justified politicking, in the words of New Yorker Jesse Brand, as “tasteless and offensive.” Brand argued that, “Sept. 11 is something that we all remember, understand and live with every day. We all saw those buildings fall and were all affected in some way.

“To claim that day as one's own because it suits a political platform is tasteless and offensive.”

But Brand & Co. had no problem with using the War on Terror, and risking their nation’s very existence, for partisan gain.

Wendy Geringer, of Ossining, N.Y., claimed that “During his first term, Mr. Bush has greatly worsened the threat of terrorism to the United States and the world. Exactly how do the Republicans define ‘winning’?”

Paul Mange Johansen, of Ardmore, Pa., stuck to DNC talking points, by being passionately irrelevant:

“The Republican evocation of national tragedy that I saw on Monday night left me stone cold.

“Chest-thumping encomiums praising George W. Bush's single-minded determination to vanquish our enemies may help rally voters, but it's no way to lead a country facing record deficits, increasing numbers of people without proper education, adequate jobs and sufficient health care.

“If Americans want something to be proud of, why not start by vanquishing these domestic enemies?”

What could possibly have warmed your heart, Paul? If the roof had caved in and killed all those mangy Republicans?

Arthur L. Yeager, of Edison, N.J., apparently a proud supporter of the most corrupt governor in America, Jim McGreevey, attempted a cute-but-not-quite-there imitation of Lloyd Bentsen: “Rudy Giuliani, in his prime-time address to the Republican convention, likened President Bush to Winston Churchill. From those of us who were around 60 years ago: We knew Winston Churchill, and George Bush is no Winston Churchill.”

Alex Johnson showed what the most expensive higher education available, in Cambridge, Ma., is good for: Playing word games, in order to rationalize despicable, cowardly violence.

“In ‘Protesters’ Encounters With [sic] Delegates on the Town Turn Ugly” (news article, Aug. 31), you quote a Republican convention spokesman, Leonardo Alcivar, as saying, ‘Our delegates understand the old adage, do unto others as they do unto you.’

“Not to condone the protesters' tactics, but is this really the way the delegates understand this adage? What happened to ‘as you would have them do unto you’? The former starts wars. The latter ends them.”

That’s cute, Alex. “Not to condone” becomes, with a forking of the tongue, “to condone.”

Mary-Ellen Banashek whined, “As a longtime New Yorker, I find it offensive that the G.O.P. has co-opted 9/11 for sound bites and photo-ops.

“When the convention is over, these people will skulk back across the bridges and through the tunnels, and return to bashing us as a degenerate, godless hotbed of liberals.”

Well, I would hope so. But Mary-Ellen, did you mean that as a criticism or a compliment?

These socialist provincials don’t realize that when most Americans hear them say they “find it offensive” that anyone would disagree with them on anything, they write them off as arrogamuses.

The only anti-GOP letter to show any intelligence, let alone New York wit, came from David Johnson.

“Re ‘The Natural: Giuliani Plays the Role of Backer With [sic] Relish’ (news article, Aug. 31):

“As the World Trade Center was falling, do you really think that Rudy Giuliani said to the police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, ‘Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president’?

“I'm a New Yorker. Puh-leeze.”

New York actually used to be full of clever people, but as things stand today, I can understand if younger folks believe that the “witty New Yorker” is a myth cooked up by New York’s office of tourism.

The only two pro-GOP letters were buried towards the end, and showed a restraint and irony that contrasted with the sanctimony of the Democrats’ letters. The Times, no doubt, received polemical letters from Republicans and conservatives, but consigned them, as usual, to the “circular file.”

Scott Abramson, of San Mateo, Ca., wrote, “At the Democratic convention, the majority of the delegates were against the war in Iraq. But you could never have guessed that from the party's speeches, platform and behavior.

“At the Republican convention, most of the delegates believe in rightness of this war. And no one could have any problem figuring that out.

“So whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whether you believe that the Iraq war is good or bad, ask yourself this one question: Which party is more truthful about what it believes in?”

And Brian Hastoglis, of Pipersville, Pa., zinged thus:

“In listening to and reading reactions from liberal New Yorkers about the visiting Republicans, I am getting the impression that a lot of these tolerant and open-minded liberal New Yorkers don't want visitors in their town who have a different point of view.

“How could this be so? I thought tolerance and being open-minded meant oh, never mind.”

The Times also published one letter, by Brooklyn's Andrea Albert, condemning the treatment of the Republican delegates, but Albert had to prove her socialist bona fides, in order to get past the censors.

“It is not easy to describe the depth of my disgust at the personal attacks on Republican convention delegates (news article, Aug. 31).

“Personal attacks on delegates do nothing to advance the debate and everything to tarnish the image of Democrats and all who want to see this administration voted out. The Republican delegates are not evil; they just hold beliefs different from our own, so radically different that we want to end their hegemony. But they still have the right to a night on the town without being harassed.

“We have forums for our voices without resorting to violence. To do otherwise is no different than the suppression of dissent this administration practices.

“As for those who assaulted a police officer, the only printable thing I can say is, What were you thinking?”

I also sent the Times a letter. The Times hasn’t published any of my letters in seven years, though I have sent it close to one hundred during that time, and it has only published letters I’d written on non-political topics such as the Great American Songbook and those few contemporary New Yorkers whose homes (including, in some cases, their bathtubs) are full of books. (In generations past, the city was full of "bookworms.") My letter, which lacks Brian Hastoglis’ sardonic bite, follows:

Reading the mean-spirited, intolerant, dishonest letters you published ("The Convention: A Night Entwined with 9/11"), heaping scorn upon the Republican Party for coming to New York, and even rationalizing the harassment and assault of our GOP guests, caused me to reflect on my history with New York. As a teenager in nearby Long Beach, I dreamed of coming to New York -- Manhattan, that is. As a college student in the late 1970s, I came to town for Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and frequently stayed at my sister’s Lower East Side apartment, studying in all-night, East Village cafes and pirogi joints. In 1985, I came here to live, and remained. I associated the city of my dreams with open-mindedness, intellectual brilliance, urbanity. Its inhabitants would never wish, for the sake of cheap partisan gain, for their nation to lose wars. That city left town long ago, and was replaced by crude, intolerant, violent people.


Nicholas Stix

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