He Doth Bestride the Narrow World…
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Reading E.L. Doctorow’s “Reading John Leonard” [Feb. 27], his lovely introduction to the collection of Leonard’s essays reminded me of the tag line of one of John’s first film reviews for the college paper, an appreciation of the 1953 Joseph Mankiewicz version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. After appraising the performances of James Mason, Marlon Brando and John Gielgud, Leonard ended thus: “And of course, it’s a competent script.”
Wow. The February 27 issue is the best! Readers protest in the Ron Paul “Letters” rebuttals; Todd Gitlin lays out how city governments suppress free speech; Trita Parsi shows us lurching down a dangerous path to war in Iran; Gary Younge outlines the scandalous attempt to rewrite history in Arizona; and Carne Ross wraps up with “A New Politics for a Disorderly World.” Well done, writers and editors!
The Death of Anti-Semitism?
Eric Alterman assuredly had his tongue in one of his cheeks writing about the end of anti-Semitism [“The Liberal Media,” Feb. 27] as evinced by the dearth of bigotry in reaction to Sheldon Adelson’s $10 million gift to the Gingrich Super PAC. Alterman notes that the media focus was on big campaign money, not on Adelson’s “ugly Jew” qualities. But if George Soros provided outsize funding for a candidate of the left, we know how he’d be portrayed—first by Fox and Limbaugh, then by all the others who report about Fox. Bigotry is not equal across the spectrum. It bends to the reactionary right much more often than to the progressive left. We can celebrate that, a little.
Drones: Murder by Video Game
I appreciated John Sifton’s timely and illuminating cover story “Drones: A Troubling History” [Feb. 27].The reason I find drones—and those who authorize their use, including President Obama—revolting is that the devices have not reduced civilian casualties. Despite Obama’s statement that drones make “precision strikes” that “have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that they have caused some 400–800 civilian deaths in Pakistan alone, 175 of them children.
John Sifton worries that drone killing may become automated—HAL with an AK-47. No, there will always be personnel to pull the trigger. In 1996 I saw two young boys playing a video game. They had somehow rigged the software so the bad guys couldn’t shoot back; it became a carefree massacre. It was so disturbing, I wanted to tell their parents. Those boys from the ’90s have grown up and, as we saw in the videotape of the Reuters press-crew slaughter, are firing without compunction.