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Patriot Missiles

Posted 10/3/2001

I would like to express my thanks to Michael Anft for his Sept. 26 Media Circus column in which he intelligently, concisely, and (these days) bravely supported our right as Americans to criticize our government and question its actions.

I am sick and tired of hearing from people that you can't be patriotic or grateful for our freedoms while questioning governmental motivations or even discussing how we got into this situation in the first place. I am fully aware of the economic privileges I enjoy here, of the status I am afforded as a woman in this country, and of the many luxuries that are readily available to me. I am proud and grateful to be an American. However, that does not mean I am ready to throw my brain out the window.

Most of us are able to call ourselves American because at some point in our biological or national ancestry, someone came here as a political or religious refugee to escape persecution. Millions immigrated to this country to avoid being condemned for disagreeing with the powers-that-be. But suddenly, everyone is patriotic by default. Advertisers are including flags in their commercials because they're afraid to do anything else.

Hey, folks, the very freedom that everyone is so trigger-happy to protect includes the right to free speech. It is in our national blood to not trust the government, people! The framers of the Constitution understood how power corrupts people, but somewhere along the line we've been lulled into a false sense of security. So we rolled over while our government paid off millions to the Taliban for not exporting drugs. We didn't think twice when Bush refused to mediate between Israel and Palestine but all the while armed and funded Israel. We took a nap while politicians approved sanctions ensuring poverty and economic instability in Iraq. We flipped on the boob tube while thousands of people were left destitute and unempowered looking for a source of hope among the ruins. And now we're surprised the chickens have come home to roost? Oh, and guess what . . . your tax dollars have killed thousands of innocent people too. It's called "collateral damage" when it happens somewhere else.

And by the way, as long as you're handing out columns to any doof that walks along the street, can I have one too? I can only assume that's what happened with Joe MacLeod (Mr. Wrong). I mean, if you're going to take up space, at least have a point.

Emily Leffler
Baltimore

In his critique of media coverage of the tragedy of Sept. 11, Michael Anft bemoans the media's concentration on warmongering and healing and its failure to offer a broader context for the forces ultimately responsible for the tragedy. As an example of this he pointed to Scott Simon of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition as expressing smugness, boredom, and impatience with E.L. Doctorow, whose comments on ancient and postmodern cultural clashes Simon abruptly cut off to switch to a tape of the World Trade Center explosion. While there is no doubt that there was much room for improvement in the media's coverage, Mr. Simon, a Quaker pacifist, was the ideal narrator for these events. Working within the time restrictions of a two-hour, segmented program, he and his staff produced a narrative on the events that integrated the poetry of Seamus Heaney, the prose of Walt Whitman, speeches and songs from the National Cathedral service, and the wisdom of E.L. Doctorow. They understood better than most that art, history, and literature have much to say about clashes of narrative. Mr. Simon asked a question of his guest "in the one minute remaining" and then attempted to end the segment when that minute had passed. Mr. Anft misinterpreted the need to comply with the time constraints of a radio program as indicative of a neutered media. Apparently he thought highly enough of their selection to complain about its short duration.

Pauline Maki
Baltimore

PU
Ah, does Baltimore ever stink--take that however you wish ("You Smell That?," Sept. 19). But as a native of Philadelphia who's been here about 11 years, I've come to (mostly) appreciate the sundry scents B'more has to offer its citizens. You missed one, but it ain't your fault. The yeasty, hoppy aroma that wafted around Lansdowne from the old Heilmann brewery is alas no more. Having misspent most of my UMBC learnin' time (and my parents' money) at the old Lansdowne skateboard park (R.I.P.), I'll never forget the hot, humid May days when that smell would descend on us--the thick smell of Natty Boh before it hit the streets. Something akin to a carcass wrapped in a beer-soaked carpet. Not a pleasant smell, but one that literally grew on me, just as Mr. Boh grew on my palate (when they still made kegs of the stuff, right here in Charm City). Now the brewery is the Washington Bakery--good smells, but not the same. It kinda makes you sad. Thanks, City Paper. Thanks, Mr. Boh.

Oh, by the way, the reason Charles Village smells like doughnuts? There's a Dunkin' Donuts bakery commissary right across the street from the "Snapple Plant." Must explain the strange late-night craving for kiwi strawberry and a Boston creme.

Rob Nelson
Baltimore

How come you did not have the Best Place to Smell Bad Odors in the last Best of Baltimore issue? Or how about this: the Best Place to Smell Smart Alecks (of Steve)?

Leo Williams
Baltimore

Pain, Interrupted
I just saw Tim Kreider's new The Pain--When Will it End on his Web site and was a little disturbed to read that City Paper did not run the strip. Don't you think it is strange to exclude something that sums up what a lot of Americans are feeling right now, especially when these attacks were made against the basic freedoms we as a people hold dear? Now more than ever we need our individual voices. I would like to think that readers of City Paper can handle a simple comic strip, especially after the images that have been burned into our minds over the last weeks. Perhaps we need things like simple comic strips and humor to help make sense of it all. Tim, thanks for helping it make sense.

Brian Czarski
Baltimore

Editor's note: The strip in question ran in the Sept. 26 issue.

Here's to Us
Just wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your recognition. Selecting our McHenry beer as Baltimore's Best Local Beer for 2001 was certainly gratifying, and our brewers received a deserved pat on the back. Also gratifying was that you clearly understood what the product is all about--no pretense, simply straightforward local beer at a good price, Baltimore-conceived, -born, and -brewed. That goal has always been my objective at Clipper City, so it's nice to occasionally feel like your work is being perceived as intended.

Hugh Sisson

General partner, Clipper City Brewing
Baltimore

Comic Antics
I just wanted to let you know that the online column Funny Paper is much appreciated. Often, it's funnier than The Onion. I've been reading the same old dumb comic strips for more years than I'd like to admit and have often wondered the exact same things about The Phantom, The Family Circus, etc. Like, why, exactly, is the Phantom still around? And that commentary a few weeks ago on Mark Trail! ("I see a couple of men in the woods . . . they seem to be . . . bending over something.") I woke up everyone in the house, I was laughing so hard! Thanks, Funny Paper!

Sally Barry
Liverpool, N.Y.

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