Letters 

"Please have a less biased reviewer than Kelly Vance evaluate political films."

Lost in the Congo

Undiscouraged by Kelly Vance's negative review of the new film Lumumba ("Correct to a Fault," August 8), we went to see it anyway, and found it not only truthful, but also emotionally compelling. We hope that readers of the Express will not be deterred from seeing the film by Vance's evaluation.

Vance laments that the film is "an uninviting piece of work" and that its makers "skimp on the personal details." Vance compares the film unfavorably with those of directors like Spike Lee and Oliver Stone, who sensationalize the political dramas they depict. But the film's concentration on political history, without pandering to Hollywood's requirement that every film about a political movement overdramatize the personal lives of its protagonists, is what makes the film powerful.

Unlike Vance, we four viewers did not find the representation of Lumumba's personal life to be banal or boring. On the contrary, Lumumba's relationships with his wife and children were quite sensitively portrayed. But even if this film had only portrayed Lumumba's political and historical reality, that story in itself merits wide viewing.

We would appreciate it if you would have a less biased reviewer than Vance evaluate political films.
Raymond Barglow, Pam Montanaro, Laurie Baumgarten, Michael Barglow, Berkeley

Another Scottish Plot to Disrupt American Society

There's something repulsive about the way you parade Gallo's Thunderbird and Night Train products as evidence of evil capitalism ("Strange Brew," August 1). The assumption you unconsciously embrace is that blue- collar African-American consumers should be pitied, not marketed to. I can't imagine you sneering at a single-malt whiskey for appealing to the snobbish aspirations of yuppies -- because we all know, don't we, that single-malt whiskies are so, so superior to Thunderbird. Except I bet plenty of Express staffers would find a glass of Thunderbird more enjoyable than a shot of single-malt if they didn't see the label. Your kind of trashy snobbishness just reinforces the status quo you so proudly claim to reject.
Brian Coyle, Canyon

In Ralph We Trust

Thanks for your interesting article ("Praying for Good Government," August 8). If you're keeping tabs, I vote against any sort of "prayer" or even "meditation" or silent time before any public meetings. This starts to erode that wall of separation between state and church (notice first choice there). This country was founded on that principle, and even though our Interim Pinheaded President is pushing for this faith-based approach, it is abhorrent to me and other like-minded citizens.

Yes, I voted for Nader in '96 and '00.
Barry Gantt, Oakland

Closet Christian?

Instead of "clutching" their Bibles, John Pillitiere and Don Taylor should read them ("Praying for Good Government," August 8). Especially Matthew 6:6, where Christ told us to pray, not in public, but in our closets.

I'm sure that Mr. Pillitiere and Mr. Taylor are sincere, but people who pray in public are not following the word of Christ.
Terry D. Oehler, Oakland

It's a Dog's Life

I was just writing to make sure the author, Emily Wilson, knows about the situation with pit bull fighting in Richmond ("Pit Bulls Need Friends Too," July 25). Currently twenty percent of the total number of pit bulls in America are in Richmond. They are bred to be fighter dogs, kept on short leashes and starved, and occasionally released into fields where they chase feral (and domestic) cats, or basically anything that moves. The pit bulls are forced to fight to the death, where big money is usually at stake.

This is a grave problem that needs to be seriously addressed, or at the very least exposed, both for the safety of Richmond residents as well as the dogs held in captivity. The way these animals are being treated says nothing about the "true" nature of pit bulls but does reveal the way they have been used by people for their own sick reasons.
Polly Zavadivker, Berkeley

Dazed and Confucius-ed

I read your story ("7 Days," August 8) mentioning me and my challenge of the citizenship of Ignacio De La Fuente and therefore his qualifications to vote, run for, and occupy public office on the Oakland City Council. Or anywhere else in the USA. Your attribution to "one City Hall source" "knows his citizenship is indisputable" doesn't show who that "source" is nor the basis for that remark, but tries to verify Iggy's citizenship without proof. BS! You have become part of the spin. Shame on you! Abuse of "freedom of the press." I had several things revealed to me that convinced me that he was not a citizen, but he was so well wired in with his buddy, state Senator Don Perata, that, as he stated in a TV interview: "Don't worry, my friends will take care of me."

At a luncheon group I used to belong to in San Francisco I met a man whose business card proclaimed him to be a high official of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. I told him about my suspicions of the non-citizenship of Iggy, as I call De La Fuente, and he said he would check it out for me, quietly. He later told me that in searching the records twice he could find no record of De La Fuente ever even getting a green card, much less any US citizenship. He said, "There is no file." He did tell me that De La Fuente was a constant thorn in the side of the INS in that he came over and blustered and made problems for them while advocating for other Mexican nationals who were having problems with the INS.

I personally do not care if he was a citizen or not; he was not eligible to run for that office for other reasons, and the facts were never publicly disclosed.

I got a kick out of your calling me eccentric. Shakespeare said in Much Ado About Nothing, "Happy is he who overhears his faults, and can put them to a mending." I will try to be less "eccentric," but I revel in what you call my "eccentricity." I have found the truth in Emily Dickinson's line: "Assent and you are sane, dissent and you are dangerous and handled with a chain."

Your paper would be well served to have a weekly quote from Emily Dickinson, a nice introduction to civility for some of your adherents, God bless them. Confucius said, "If you put me between two coolies, from one of them I will learn something." His wife responded: "I wondered where you got your education."

See you in eccentric circles.
Ron Zimmerman, Oakland

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