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Views in brief

February 24, 2006 | Page 6

SW should do its homework
Free speech isn't the issue
Why criticize progressives?

Dems reject antiwar voices

IT'S BEEN clear for years now that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the American people's deep anger about the war. But recent decisions show that this is not just about stupidity. If you're really antiwar, the party doesn't really want you.

On February 13, Paul Hackett--an Iraq war veteran who's been a vocal critic of Bush and the Religious Right--angrily ended his campaign bid for the U.S. Senate. In a special election in 2005, Hackett narrowly lost the contest for a seat in the House, getting just under 50 percent of the vote in a Cincinnati district that had never given any Democrat more than 38 percent since 1974.

The writing was on the wall. If an antiwar candidate could have that much impact in conservative, southwestern Ohio, antiwar sentiment must be running deep. The Democrats welcomed Hackett with open arms. But when longtime politician Sherrod Brown entered the race, Hackett said, his friends Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) turned on the heat for Hackett to drop out.

Hackett blasted the party for undermining him, and for telling donors to stop funding his campaign. "For me, this is a second betrayal," Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me."

You'd better believe it. This is the same party that pressured Cindy Sheehan not to run for Senate in California only a few days before. Antiwar activists should have nothing to do with this sorry excuse for a party.
Pranav Jani, Columbus, Ohio

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SW should do its homework

NICOLE COLSON calls me "pro-war" ("The Horowitz witch-hunt list," February 17). Not true. I opposed the Iraq war in many talks and articles from 2002 onward. Some better homework, please.
Todd Gitlin, from the Internet

Nicole Colson responds:
Professor Gitlin is right that it was a mistake to label him "pro-war." The sentence in question should have been revised as follows: "Horowitz's list even includes former 1960s radical Todd Gitlin--who is best-known today for his harsh criticisms in liberal publications of the antiwar movement and its 'rejection of any conceivable rationale for using force,' as he wrote in Mother Jones."

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Free speech isn't the issue

IN THE wake of protests in the Islamic world over publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, many people have posed the question of whether newspapers here should stand up for "freedom of the press" by asserting their right to publish controversial material.

Those who paint the issue in these terms sorely miss the point. Every newspaper makes editorial decisions. In this case, the newspapers in question chose to publish cartoons that cannot be called anything other than racist. The portrayal of a caricature of Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban makes all Muslims, and by extension all Arabs, out to be violent extremists.

In a climate of racist hysteria against Arabs and Muslims, in which the Bush administration and the FBI rounded up hundreds of peaceful immigrants as a part of the "War on Terror," it takes no courage to publish anti-Muslim cartoons. In many European countries, where far-right xenophobic candidates get a substantial number of votes, and where mainstream candidates regularly capitulate to some of this anti-immigrant sentiment, these cartoons take no more courage than they would here.

To show the absurdity of this outcry over "freedom of the press", imagine if commentators during the McCarthyist witchhunt of the 1950s lamented the inability of cartoonists to publish anti-Communist propaganda. If the press is so free here, why don't they publish cartoons of ordinary Iraqis and Palestinians asserting their right to resist illegal occupation of their lands?
Julien Ball, Chicago

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Why criticize progressives?

AS THE son of a successful business owner, maybe it is impossible for me to truly understand the advocates of a true socialism. However, I consider myself a strong progressive who believes in economic fairness.

I sometimes do not understand your criticism of true progressives like Dennis Kucinich, as well as your disdain for proven liberals like Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, and magazines like The Nation.

I only read your paper because my Spanish teacher posts it on his office door, or else I wouldn't even know about it. I really want to understand your perspective. The problem is that I remain unconvinced that regulated capitalism is a problem. I see the perpetual failures of planned economies and see regulated capitalism as the least-evil alternative.
Ryan Tures, from the Internet

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