Update on Sgt. Pequeño

Amherst, Mass.

The July 7 photo essay, “War Is Personal,” by Eugene Richards, is, as I’m sure it was intended to be, shocking and heartbreaking. Please, what happened to Sgt. José Pequeño and his mother?


Richards Replies

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Space limitations imposed by The Nation prevented a fuller story. José Pequeño is in the James A. Haley VA hospital in Tampa, Florida, following a recent surgery, and his mother and sister are with him, as they have been throughout his ordeal. For information about Sergeant Pequeño and how you may be able to assist this remarkable family, please see caringbridge.org/visit/josepequeno.


The Devil Redeemed

San Francisco

I have often thought Alexander Cockburn’s commentaries are either “right on” or skewed beyond reason. With “The Canonization of St. Tim” [“Beat the Devil,” July 7] he has found redemption. This is the most accurate piece of criticism I have seen regarding pundit/anchor behavior after 9/11. I relished his take, too, on the Holy Roman Catholic Media à la Chris Matthews, former altar boy. As a 70-something ex-Catholic, I find it literally does my heart good to see hypocrisy stoned.


Can’t We All Just Get Along?

New York City

Jon Wiener’s “Warriors for Zion–in California” [July 7] dismissing Muslim anti-Semitism at UC, Irvine (UCI) is riddled with errors, distortions and omissions. He incorrectly states that only “one stone [was] thrown at one Jew,” and “only” one swastika was found–as if that weren’t enough. There have been several threats and assaults, and several swastikas, not to mention the destruction of a Holocaust memorial and regular Muslim Student Union (MSU) events spreading lies about Jews, promoting Israel’s destruction, justifying terrorism and insanely claiming there’s a holocaust against Palestinians.

Wiener ignores the impact of this– students fearing to wear items identifying them as Jewish or pro-Israel and two students transferring, as recommended by the Hillel-organized Task Force of Jews and non-Jews (not the “ad hoc Jewish group” Wiener claims).

Wiener says that the Office for Civil Rights absolved UCI, but it wasn’t for lack of evidence. The decision was based on OCR’s determination to no longer afford Jews the same protections as other ethnic groups under Title VI. That’s why, as Wiener notes, “three Republican senators” complained about OCR’s decision. Six liberal Democratic Congress members also complained, including Brad Sherman and Linda Sanchez of California.

Wiener notes four Jewish students’ support for UCI chancellor Michael Drake’s efforts but ignores thirteen other students and the more than 1,000 signatories to a petition condemning the chancellor’s failure to denounce the MSU programs by name. Wiener emphasizes the MSU’s free-speech rights but ignores that administrators should be exercising their free-speech rights to denounce the MSU’s anti-Semitism–actions advocated by the ACLU. Wiener doesn’t mention that Congressman Sherman recently told UCI’s chancellor that he had a duty to condemn Muslim anti-Semitism on his campus.

Wiener’s attacks on “right-wing Zionists” make little sense. Don’t we all, regardless of our politics, support campuses free from bigotry?

MORTON A. KLEIN, national president
SUSAN B. TUCHMAN, director
Center for Law and Justice
Zionist Organization of America

Wiener Replies

Irvine, Calif.

The issue is not whether there is anti-Semitic speech at UCI (and elsewhere)–my article described what’s been said at MSU events in lurid detail. The issue is what the ZOA and its allies want to do about it. They now say the solution is for Jewish students to withdraw from UCI because the campus administration, and the Bush Administration, have failed to protect them. Morton Klein and Susan Tuchman’s problem here is not just with me–it’s with Hillel, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the local Jewish Federation, which disagree with that solution, as do the leaders of the four major Jewish student groups on campus.

The ZOA exaggerates the danger to Jewish students–that’s what the Bush Administration Office of Civil Rights (OCR) suggested in its investigation of the ZOA’s complaint. Maybe the ZOA knows about lots of stone-throwing incidents on campus, but its formal complaint to the OCR listed one stone thrown at one Jew–four years ago. Maybe it knows about lots of swastikas, but its complaint listed only one–in a toilet stall, with the words “Bitch Ass Asians” written underneath. I humbly suggested we did not need to make a federal case out of this.

As for Chancellor Drake, he has condemned anti-Semitism often, but the ZOA wants him to condemn particular statements made on campus by particular Muslim speakers. Does that mean he should also condemn the Christian fundamentalist yelling at students that they are going to hell? What about David Horowitz’s recent speech? I don’t want the chancellor monitoring the content of campus speech (and neither does the ACLU). Those who disagree with the MSU should say so, loudly and clearly–and they have. Universities ought to be defenders of freedom of speech, which means tolerating speech that is objectionable. That’s hardly an original idea, but it’s still a good one.


Come Home, Hillary Fans, All Is Forgiven

Brookfield, Wis.

How depressing to read the letter from Susan Kotar and Joan Gessler, who plan to vote for John McCain if Hillary is not Obama’s vice presidential choice [“Letters,” July 21/28]. Is Obama to pay for the sins of any man who may have discriminated against these two? Should women suffer through a McCain presidency and Supreme Court appointees because some voters cannot handle the fact that Hillary lost? Move on, ladies! Think with your heads and vote for the one who can make a difference in the lives of women–Obama. He’s not my perfect candidate either, but for the sake of my daughters and millions of others, I ask you to do the same.



In the August 4/11 “Noted,” L.F. Eason III’s first name was incorrect.