Letters for the week of May 15-21 

What's wrong with playing the bad guy? It glorifies murderers and rapists, that's what.

Even Jesus visited hell
I see nothing wrong with playing the bad guy ("Jesse's Heroes," April 17). If people can't relate, it's because of the weight of the Holocaust: the innocent lives, their story, their descendants, the remaining survivors today ... all and sundry who will never forget, who will never let the world forget. But what happened, happened. It cannot be erased by looking at the war itself through the eyes of the Third Reich and its many fragmented, dizzying links. What would be the point of denying that perspective? And it has to be real, so if they say things that are in bad taste, or borderline misogynist, they are getting into the role ... unless bad acting is a better idea.

It's not breaking the mystic code of the cabala to visit the realm of your enemy, or even to visit the past and die in empathy with the fallen. I have many times projected my mind's eye and, dare I say, even my heart and soul into the sealed and crowded chambers where the vapors of Zyklon B caused the most horrific panic and the inevitable human pyramid to pile up. These are visions so hellish that no one has dared film a re-creation of the actual gassing sequences. Yet, they film the Titanic, we've seen Vietnam footage again and again, the Zapruder film countless times. What is the untouchable thing about these events, or seeing the view through the eyes of the other side?

I am not a revisionist or an apologist -- there's no time for denial and all that rot. I look forward to the reenactments' contributions to ongoing historical revelations, epiphanies, and important lessons. I still want to learn more. Even Jesus visited hell for three days. To see how the other half lives?
Ken Kaffke-Crawford, San Francisco

They might feel differently if they knew the victims
I attend UC Berkeley and, after reading your story, I was appalled. The men in the article choose to play the role of murderers and rapists. They contend that they are playing men who were honorable and well-trained. Imagine if we had groups today that reenacted scenes from Afghanistan or NYC where people played the Taliban or other terrorist groups. They could reenact the "glory" of bombing civilians, executing prisoners, or flying planes into buildings. I see little difference between the hate that is characteristic of both the Waffen SS and the terrorist organizations that plague our world. Both claim to be fighting for moral values and a bettering of their people. If grown men want to dress up and play soldier, I have no problems with that, but I wonder if they would still play Nazis if they had family members who were murdered by the very people that they seem to glorify.
Bryan Leifer, Berkeley

Ron Dellums led the fight against AIDS
While I commend John Iversen (Letters, April 24) for his engagement on the issue of global HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases, his perceptions on the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) are incorrect.

The Honorable Ronald V. Dellums' idea for the "AIDS Marshall Plan" is the foundation of the GFATM. Dellums first outlined the concept of the "AIDS Marshall Plan" at the PanAfrica Conference in Nashville, Tennessee on November 13, 1998 to an audience that included various African ambassadors. From that moment on, Dellums began a personal crusade to make the nation and the world realize that thousands of Africans were dying as a result of HIV/AIDS, and mobilize a united response to the greatest humanitarian issue of our time. Dellums was disturbed most by the ignorance on the magnitude of this tragedy that pervaded our society.

If the truth be told, the initial steps to implementing the "AIDS Marshall Plan" were not greeted with enthusiasm. The AIDS community, international AIDS organizations, and aid agencies believed an "AIDS Marshall Plan" would detract attention from programs that were inadequately funded and cause competition for limited resources.

Through his commitment and persistence Dellums raised the level of debate by discussing his proposal with experts, doctors, scientists, and activists throughout the world. Dellums also shared his idea of an "AIDS Marshall Plan" in a meeting with Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, who embraced the proposal and pledged his commitment to defeating the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

During the same period, Dellums' "AIDS Marshall Plan" became the substance of legislation that I authored to create an "AIDS Marshall Plan" for Africa. Dellums also discussed his "AIDS Marshall Plan" for Africa with Banking Committee Chairman James Leach (R-IA), who after a number of discussions, introduced a bill to address the crisis.

Once Chairman Leach introduced his legislation, I contacted him to suggest that we mold our proposals into a strong bipartisan bill. As a result, the legislation that I authored was incorporated with Chairman Leach's proposal into House Resolution 3519, the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act, authorizing the establishment of a global AIDS trust fund. Although Chairman Leach and I were primarily responsible for negotiating this legislation through Congress, Ron Dellums continued his work to rally support outside of Congress, helping to ensure that the bill was signed into law by President Clinton.

Dellums' earlier and subsequent discussions with Secretary General Annan ultimately led to the UN co-opting the framework set forth in HR 3519. The Global Fund was then presented to the world community as the GFATM. As you may know, on April 25, 2002 the GFATM made announcements of its first grants to countries in the developing world to fight these global pandemics.

Mr. Dellums was instrumental in raising awareness about the global HIV/AIDS crisis and in creating the GFATM. We must all continue our fight to eradicate these horrendous diseases. Together we will overcome the challenges we face as this unprecedented tool in fighting these global killers is implemented.
Barbara Lee, Member of Congress,
Washington DC

Correction
In Best of the East Bay 2002, the photograph that accompanied our item about the "Best Huarache" was not that of La Torta Loca at 3016 International Blvd. in Oakland.

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