Letters for the week of February 9-15, 2005 

Supporters of Judi Bari rush forth to defend her in the wake of Kate Coleman's book. And a bravo for Muslim arts.

"It's the Bomb," Bottom Feeder, 1/19

Maybe she deserved it
Will Harper says in his Bottom Feeder column of 1/19, "author Kate Coleman knew she was gonna get a lot of shit for her new book, The Secret Wars of Judi Bari." But it's not because, as Harper puts it, "People get mighty emotional about the late Earth First heroine," but because Coleman did a very poor job of researching, and ended up producing a book rife with inaccuracies, to say nothing of rumor and innuendo.

Harper says he rang up Coleman to ask her about "all the nasty things being said about her and her work." Bringing glaring inaccuracies regarding people, places, dates, and events out in the daylight are only "nasty" if you have an agenda that won't stand up to the truth. It is "nasty" to accuse someone of taking drugs when you have no evidence whatsoever, because Judi (before being debilitated by the car bomb that nearly killed her) had boundless energy and considerable stamina.

Coleman also lets the FBI off the hook way easy, excusing their "mistake" of trying to frame Judi, fellow activist Darryl Cherney, and Earth First. A jury of ten men and women in 2002 did not let the FBI off the hook and found them liable for violating Judi and Darryl's constitutional rights when they tried to frame them and Earth First, liable to the tune of $4.4 million in damages.

It's not that Judi's colleagues and friends "just can't take anything that's not totally laudatory of Our Lady of the Forest" (Coleman's moniker, not mine) -- quite the contrary. Judi stirred things up a lot in the activist community. There are many interesting stories to tell. Coleman, however, never called me or most other people who were close colleagues and friends of Judi's, nor did she attend the Bari vs. FBI trial, so she doesn't tell the stories accurately. To say fact-checking is inadequate is a huge understatement. It's the agenda.

I would say one has only to read the book to understand Coleman's agenda, but please don't give her right-wing publisher Encounter Books your money. Instead, see ColemanHoax.com and JudiBari.org and wait for Susan Faludi's biographical book about Judi and the bombing to come out next year. And pick up a copy of the national Earth First! Journal and see if you think EF is dead. Much more interesting reading than Coleman's book.
Karen Pickett, Canyon

Getting better than she gave
In your article, you recount that "Coleman says that she was heckled by angry audience members who yelled 'Lies!' and videotaped her." Her defensive reaction to the presence of a video camera (mine) exemplifies her loose relationship with Truth. In my experience (twenty-plus years of local public-access TV), most authors are genuinely pleased to attract the attention of local media, and to be considered part of the historical record.

In fact, as the video clearly shows, the locals, referred to by Coleman as "followers" and "acolytes," were remarkably polite. People mentioned the book's many departures from known truth (i.e. "lies") respectfully. Considering the astonishing "inaccuracy" of her tome, and its mean-spirited, condescending tenor throughout, Coleman was treated with vastly more civility than she merited!

It needs to be again noted that more than three hundred serious "errors" (lies, actually) have been carefully listed at ColemanHoax.com. Any serious discussion of this book must address this. It's amazing that a book that claims to be a "complex, complete" biography can go to print with so much misleading erroneous material. One can only conclude deliberate editorial intent to disinform.
K. Rudin, Ecotopia News Service, Westport

"Current Events," Billboard, 12/29

Bravo, mellow Muslims
I read the "Current Events" piece that Eric K. Arnold wrote on Remarkable Current and the local East Bay Muslim artistic expression. I am happy to see that Muslims are defining themselves outside of orthodox religious practice (which can't appeal to everyone). Bravo to Eric and the Express for the good coverage. These are the mellow Muslims we have been waiting to hear from.

There is no reason that the Bay Area should not be on the cutting edge in terms of cultural innovations that have global implications. The East Bay and Oakland/Berkeley in particular seems to be uniquely a place that is uniting all the races through quality cultural expression. Understanding between Muslims and Americans is definitely one of those vital necessities of today's world. I am tired of being manipulated to support war and the erosion of our Constitution based on disgusting stereotypes of Muslims that rule the media discourse. In a time of war and hostilities, cross-cultural understanding and tolerance are a serious strength that we have to take advantage of and build on if we wish to contribute to an end of hostilities in the world.

These most mellow Muslims deserve to steal the show from the demagogues who have been allowed to define Muslims for the rest of the world to date. Seems that the younger generation is continuing in its work to rectify race relations in a country whose history is marred with a racism that plagues us to this day. Bravo, Eric: keep your ear to the street, and bravo to Remarkable Current Anas, Stevie, Shaykh Yaseer, Tyson, and all. Keep speakin out and making good music! Keep it righteous inna di dancehall! PEACE.
Nate Collins, Berkeley

Our February 2 article about the hip-hop writer Jeff Chang misstated the date and time of Chang's appearance at Cody's on Telegraph. His reading is Wednesday, February 9 at 9:00 p.m.


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