Letters for the week of October 9-15, 2002 

Kudos on the bylines, but the 9/11 essay hurt; tofu is dangerous; Heraclitus is no excuse; and Baty needs to get out more often.

Name that target
Congratulations on finally adding bylines to 7 Days items (September 18). Now we know whom to thank for eloquently getting something right. Not to mention whom to hold accountable for lobbing a poorly researched hit piece or for parroting some developer's propaganda. Hope this accountability means that we'll be seeing less of the latter.
Michael Katz, Berkeley

The horror was bicoastal
This letter regards Chris Thompson's article, "9/11: Get Over It" (Sept. 11).

I was born and raised in New York City and have been fortunate to have a life here in the Bay Area while maintaining my connections and spending time in NYC. I read your article, and I felt progressively dismayed. Your piece had the effect of minimizing the truly devastating horror and loss of this day. It served to alienate those of us out here who are left with the agonizing attempts to find some fabric that we can sew together; to make some sense of what has happened to us in this last year; and to have the space and time to grieve the loss of friends, family, and loved ones.

The actions of our government are indeed a separate article, as are disastrous occurrences of history. These very real issues, however, do not diminish the fact that this tragedy is not separated by the coast where one happens to reside. I believe the feeling heart knows no coastal boundary, and that the beginnings of any change can occur only when individuals recognize and honor that we are all truly connected to one another, and not separated by drawn boundaries.

So, I do get up in the morning and go to Peet's for coffee. And I work, and share dinner with friends. And late at night, I sit up quietly, waiting for the ache to ease, and deeply appreciating those who have the quiet kindness to recognize this.
Name withheld by request

Billions die for tofu
Andrew Murray, extolling the virtues of tofu, consoles himself that when "the tofu arrives at the table ... I haven't harmed any animals." ("Trompe L'oeil Tuna," September 18). Wrong. How does he think tofu is made? Tractors plow, plant, and cultivate soybean fields, crushing countless billions of insects. The combine that harvests the soybeans does an even better job, slicing and dicing additional billions of critters. Billions more are extinguished for the processing, packaging, shipping, and refrigerating of the tubs of tofu.

Humans kill and maim animals in virtually everything they do and with every product they consume. Did Murray drive a car to the restaurant? If so, he crushed thousands or millions of insects or smaller forms of beings on his way to the restaurant, and poisoned additional thousands or millions with the toxins from his tailpipe during the same trip.

Even if his concern is only for cute mammals, there are many ways that he, you, and I cause them suffering. Hunters are the favorite target of scorn for animal-rights activists, yet the number of mammals they kill is a tiny fraction of the number killed by automobile drivers.
Mark Johnson, Berkeley

Let Hanson eat grapes
In Jonathan Kiefer's review of war-oriented literature in the October Books Pullout ("What Is It Good For?," September 25) he suggested that in Carnage and Culture, conservative author Victor Hanson "anticipates, defuses, and tosses back" progressives' rebuttals to his defense of militarism. Kiefer suggests Hanson "knows plenty about war," because he quoted Heraclitus, and he is a sixth-generation grape farmer rather than an ivory tower intellectual, none of which confers authority concerning the issue at hand.

The average Central Valley "grape farmer" owns a multimillion-dollar agribusiness and waxes philosophic in far more elite circles than the average Fresno State University professor. Further, the war ethic in Heraclitus' age would have denounced our air raids of civilians as beneath civilized people.

Hanson's main point is that "great" civilizations throughout history asserted themselves militarily. Yawn. Progressives do not deny this. Their views are embodied in the Geneva Convention and the rise of the UN after World War II. Contemporary methods of warfare force us to progress beyond such barbaric ways if we wish to conserve anything. Heraclitus' belief that "war is the father of us all" is not a legitimate rationale for the present US attempt to thwart international moral conduct and law. This same belief motivated Hitler and Mussolini. By this kind of myopic thinking, why punish rapists? After all, if we go back far enough, forced sex by dominant patriarchs was also the father of us all.

Hanson and his views go to the heart of the matter. The minority who enjoy life at the top tiers of the existing system have a stake in legitimizing and conserving it. The vast majority of the world's people have a stake in progressing beyond it.

Kiefer also suggests that Hanson's views irk supporters of multiculturalism, defined as those who argue the equal value of all cultures. Rather, Hanson affirms the main claim of multiculturalism: that the superiority of a culture has as much to do with force than any inherent value in the culture. For example, the proliferation of Christian and Islamic culture rode on the back of imperial invasions. Hanson confuses multiculturalism with relativism. Along with the likes of Socrates, multiculturalism would have the dominant values be confronted by alternatives in an open dialogue and debate.
Keith A. Law, Oakland

Gnat King Baty
I read the recent article on Chris Baty's ill-fated groupie trip to the Weezer concert (Metronome Diary, August 28). It sounds like he learned a good lesson. I found it ironic that a guy who writes for the Express had no idea where Concord is. "Concord, it turns out, is the strip mall next to Pleasant Hill." Maybe Weezer and its touring staff sensed Chris was merely a gnat, who really had no business accepting handouts from musicians he truly couldn't care less about. If Chris wants to snuggle with a rock star, he should contact Pamela Anderson for some tips. As for Rivers Cuomo finding it uncomfortable having backstage parasites stare him down, this is quite common anywhere. I suggest Chris Baty get busy on MUNI or a New York City subway and stare some folks down. That might clear up this issue in a matter of minutes.

Charles Slomovitz, Concord

Editor's note
The City will no longer run in the Express.


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