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Slacker Friday | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Slacker Friday

Four things to look at this week.

1) “Think Again: Inequality and America’s Antiquated Politics

2) From Dissent, “Something about Christopher

3) From The Nation, “The Problem With Peretz“ (And how happy must this make Marty? “A record number of Muslim workers [were] complaining of employment discrimination, from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.”)

4) I guest edited the Forward’s op page this week, and solicited this fine (but badly titled) piece by Cabalist Matt Duss, “Some Zionist Groups Stoke Fear Of Islam for Political Profit,” and Shai Held, “Daring To Dream With God,”

Now here’s Charles:

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc:

"Got my work clothes on for love and sweat and dirt/all this holy dust upon my face and shirt."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Growlin' Dog" (Harlem Hamfats)—Once again I forgot to dip into my campaign funds, pay for a bunch of bowling, and then use what was left to buy a billboard in Delaware telling people how much I love New Orleans.

Part The Only—My usual NPR gig brought me to Oklahoma City this week. I spent the morning at the extraordinary memorial that has been built on the site of where the Alfred Murrah Building once stood. It is something I can recommend to every citizen of this country. Come here. Stand by the reflecting pool. Look at the stark, lovely chairs, each of them representing one of the 168 people that Timothy McVeigh murdered out of his twisted, moronic interpretation of what this country is all about. Think about what Americans can do to each other.

(And, not for nothing, but the Oklahoma City Memorial is so moving that it convinced me that the best thing that could be built at Ground Zero in New York is nothing. Screw your real estate values. That's a gravesite. Make a park.)

The event was 15 years ago last April. Did anyone notice a conspicuous anniversary package on any of the major networks, on your local news? Did any major politician give a speech? Did anyone put on their "NEVER FORGET" T-shirt and parade around? Oklahoma City has become lost in the din of what happened on 9/11, but it's not just because one event was so much bigger than the other, and it's not because of the fact that what the country did in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was so far more garish than what happened in the wake of the bombing here. (Remember? Bill Clinton told talk-radio people that they might want to modify their sales pitches to the lunatic fringe, and Rush Limbaugh told his audience that Clinton was preparing to round them up.) The reason "Oklahoma City" is not the iconic event that "9/11" is because, while the Oklahoma City bombing was no less of an attack, it was something that a couple of Americans did to their fellow citizens, and we don't like to admit the fact that there is a barely bridled wildness at the heart of our modern politics, and we certainly don't want to admit that there are politicians on the American Right playing footsie now with the people who bring guns to public meetings and who wear that same "Tree Of Liberty" T-shirt that McVeigh liked to wear.

We don't want to admit it, so we excuse it, concocting cowardly rationalizations and rhetorical amnesia. It simply ought not to be acceptable political dialogue in this country to talk about replenishing trees with blood, and locking and loading, and Second Amendment Solutions. People who employ such rhetoric should be listened to and then shunned by the body politic, not valued for the enthusiasm that they bring to campaigns, or the spice they bring to the political scene. I want those people to come here and shut up and think about the logical consequences of what they are proposing as an interpretation of the country's history and as a vision for the country's future. Come here, the lot of you. See what can happen.

Stephen Carver
Los Angeles
Dr. A: loved the review of Hitchens' book. It seems to me, not personally knowing the man, that his life seems to have become an example of the truism: Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. Based on your review, I will be reading his book. I wish him well in his fight against cancer.

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