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December 15, 2006 | Page 12

Too hard on SW's review
Reds released on DVD

A job selling lies to teens

RECRUITER CHRISTOPHER Treichel will have to excuse me if I don't shed a tear over the fact that antiwar activists are making his job filling the ranks "so difficult" these days ("Wrong on recruitment?" December 8).

Treichel claims that we are "misled and misinformed," but in truth, that's an excellent way to describe young people who find themselves being lured into signing away their futures to the military by people like him.

Recently, WABC television sent several students, equipped with hidden video cameras, into 10 Army recruitment offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. What they found was a systematic pattern of recruiters lying to students in order to get them to join.

One student was told by a recruiter, "We're not at war. War ended a long time ago." Another recruiter told a different student that the chances of going to war "would be slim to none." Other students were promised that they could simply walk away from the military if they chan ged their minds after joining. And still others had recruiters offering to coach them on how to avoid failing drug tests.

Treichel claims that recruiters don't target the poor. Yet in 1995, Tom Wilson, a high-level official in charge of the Army's personnel department, said in an interview that the military targeted students "particularly in inner cities...I hesitate to use the term at-risk kids, but kids who would otherwise be called at-risk."

As for Treichel's claim that "college money is an absolute" for recruits, maybe he should do his homework. According to the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, "Two-thirds of all recruits never get any college funding from the military. Only 15 percent graduated with a four-year degree."

The Veterans Administration estimates that one-third of homeless people in the U.S. are veterans. But perhaps Treichel thinks they simply squandered away all the fabulous "opportunities" the military provided.
Nicole Colson, Chicago

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Too hard on SW's review

IN RESPONSE to Alessandro Tinonga's letter "Nothing funny about Borat" (December 1), it seems the question at hand is, "Is Borat a predominantly racist and backwards movie?" I am in agreement with Brian Jones in his review with an emphatic "no."

I think Alessandro is throwing the baby out with the bathwater and mischaracterizes Jones' review along the way. No one is saying Borat is a scathing attack on bigotry and should be held up as the most progressive movie since Salt of the Earth. And no one, especially Brian Jones, is saying that we should keep our mouths shut about the film's shortcomings.

But scenes such as Borat's speech to the rodeo crowd, where he clearly exposes the racism behind the war in Iraq, should be applauded. Other scenes, revealing the everyday bigotry that exists just under the surface of American society, should be encouraged.

Instead, Alessandro instructs people who want a good laugh and social justice to read "next to a roaring fire of Borat DVDs."

The role of socialists should be to raise the level of working-class consciousness to that of the most class-conscious in society. To turn mixed and uneven consciousness into class consciousness, socialists and progressives need to be able to relate to the good ideas, generalize them and fight against the bad ones. We can only do this in struggle, alongside people with all sorts of ideas about society and culture.

Calling for the incineration (a wildly reactionary image) and boycott of the most popular comedy in America--one that does have progressive points and messages within it--accomplishes none of this, and comes off as pedantic and condescending.
Brian Lenzo, Rochester, N.Y.

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Reds released on DVD

BEING THAT I'm locked up, I'm often behind on the news, so you folks may already know this: I just read that the 1981 film Reds was released on DVD.

I'm sure you folks are familiar with the movie, but if not, it's a biopic of John Reed, starring Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton. I think the recent (and overdue!) release of this film on DVD is very worthy of a review. I would offer to review it myself, but it's been more than five years since I've seen it.

I saw it before I was a Marxist, and so I looked at it differently then. It did prompt me to buy Reed's famous book Ten Days that Shook the World, which ultimately led me to read more about Marxism. What I recall from the movie was that Trotsky seemed to be portrayed as a manipulative nut, and, of course, that Bolshevism led to Stalinism. I definitely remember walking away with that thought, though I was taken with events enough that I read more on the subject.

I now have a much better grasp of Marxism and the Russian Revolution. I cannot wait to watch Reds again next year when I'm released, now with a different perspective.
Christopher Henderson, Low Security Correctional Institution, Butner, N.C.

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