Letters to the Editor 

Week of January 23, 2002

After the meltdown

Thank you to Chris Thompson for putting together the pieces of the Pacifica meltdown ("War & Peace," January 9) and, hopefully, rebirth, but many would describe the debacle not as a "sad spectacle of a community in search of its lost relevance," but a reclaiming of democratic principles where issues as to relevance and purpose can be resolved through healthy and lively debate, rather than through heavy-handed dictatorial fiat.
Tom Miller, Berkeley

Realtor check

Your piece on Marie Bowman ("7 Days," January 9) allows me to see how diminished are the efforts of neighborhood groups when up against developers, politicians, and the media.

Blake and Sacramento neighborhood groups, both residents and businesses, have worked hard to have a voice. We have attended design reviews, zoning and housing authority meetings, walked the streets to petition to preserve our single-family neighborhood, and attempted to meet and reason with the Outback developer, Ali Kashani. Our issues of too high, too dense, insufficient parking, etc. have barely been heard; in addition, our part of Berkeley already has sixty-six public housing projects.

We could use additional support, and I wonder if this question might be addressed: Why don't Realtors become engaged in the overall issue of high-rise housing in Berkeley when their bread and butter would seem to be the single-family home and the quality of life in this city?

You twice printed a portrait of Kashani showing him heroically with a hammer in hand. The other should depict him extracting money from the public coffers.
Nancy Wilson, Berkeley

A shout out

I just read the complaint letter about Anticon ("Letters," January 2), and it is preposterous. They are a totally original hip-hop band. No, they don't rap about pimps, cars, and money. They rap about real things. They do have some strange sounds, but all in all they are a great band. I saw them for the first time at Rasputin's about a year and a half ago, and I fell in love with them. They are now my friends, and I am the Berkeley representative for them. Which really shows how dedicated you get to this group. When I read about how Eric Arnold felt about this band, it really got to me. If you've only been to an Anticon show, I can understand that you didn't think they sounded that good. They've only been around for three years or less, and I know this will take time to get their performance all the way together. This is my advice: Go out and buy Anticon (Giga Style), listen to it, read the lyrics, and you will see how good they really are. To Anticon and all the devoted fans, a shout out.
Rebecca Lord, Berkeley

Continental divide

It was a pleasant surprise to read in the theater review department of your January 2 issue a fair assessment of the disastrous impact of the First World War on the French population and the French economy ("Troy Story"). France was the unfortunate battleground on which the early 20th century's two major contenders for world domination, England and Germany, chose to fight it out. According to the Encyclopedia of First World War, 76.3 percent of those mobilized on the French side were counted as casualties against 35.8 percent of the British side. Although the late engagement of the US forces in the war was decisive, the casualties on the US side were 8.2 percent of the mobilized.

The part of Drostova's review dealing with the impact of the War of 1914, as it is commonly referred to in France, becomes a bit hazy when, following Eugene Weber, she links it to the humiliating beginnings of WWII on French soil. Although the magnitude of the destructive nature of the Nazi regime was far from being perceived and understood as it is now, there was a very strong anti-fascist movement in France.

Giraudoux, for all his insights and dramatic talent, was more attuned to the sensibilities of the conservative French diplomatic corps, of which he was a member for thirty years, than to the left. Jean Giono is not only a veteran of World War I, which he chronicled in his novel Le Grand Troupeau (The Big Herd), but an ecologist before the term was used and an apostle of small is beautiful. He was a consistent pacifist and served a prison sentence at the beginning of WWII. Conscientious objection was not recognized as a protected form of speech in those days. As far as Simone Weil is concerned, her statement about German occupation being preferable to war makes sense only if one shares her view that suffering is a means to achieve spiritual unity with God, with all vagueness associated with such notions.

These caveats do not diminish in any way my esteem for the skill with which Drostova dealt with these very sensitive issues.
Pierre Aubery, via the Internet

Chronicling life in Berkeleystan

Your 7 Days article (January 16) on the resignation of Judith Scherr, the editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet, was quite interesting. Having moved back to the East Bay four months ago, after spending the last decade on the Peninsula, I was interested in the attitudes expressed in the local East Bay free papers. Frankly, the BDP should more honestly be called the Berkeley Daily Taliban. Its front page and letters section features endless pacifist anti-war drivel. Having been an anti-war activist in the protests against the Vietnam War in the late '60s and early '70s, I still maintain what I consider to be a progressive attitude on politics. However, the "bend over and spread 'em, here comes Bin Laden" masochistic attitude that frequents the Daily Taliban is quite disgusting. There seems to be a brain-jerk notion in parts of Berkeley that the US government can do no right, and that the terrorists can do no wrong. Hopefully, the new editor of the BDP will present a more balanced news and editorial viewpoint.
James K. Sayre, Oakland

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