No Draft, No Winds Of Change
To the Editor:
I was surprised that Sheelah Kolhatkar’s article [“Where Have All the Marchers Gone? They Feel Very Futile,” June 12] didn’t mention what seems to me to be the obvious reason why we don’t see the kind of massive mobilizations and protests that we saw against the Vietnam War: There is no draft. Simply put, Iraq doesn’t touch on the lives of the vast majority of New Yorkers, who see only the occasional image on the TV and that’s it. I realize that the baby boomers like to think they had only altruistic motives in resisting the Vietnam War, but the current lack of major activity seems to prove that the only reason there was massive action back then was because of the actual chance that any of them could have been sent to die in some awful jungle. What do people have to fear now? Nothing, really. So why do anything much in the form of protests, etc.?
To the Editor:
Besides what Ms. Kolhatkar has to say in her article, I think there are a couple of additional reasons that anti-war protests have had trouble picking up steam as compared to Vietnam-era protests.
Firstly, those of us who lived through the Vietnam-era protests remember the ugly spectacle of the children of the privileged spitting—occasionally literally—on those who were actually fighting and dying in the war. It took the form of outright hostility (“baby killers”) or condescension (“poor, misguided, brainless saps”). Some of the rhetoric of the current anti-war movement unfortunately comes perilously close to that.
Secondly, Vietnam War protesters, rightly or wrongly, believed that the Vietnamese simply wanted to claim their country back from the “Western imperialists.” You would have had a hard time selling anyone on the idea that after Saigon fell, the Viet Cong would set their sights on the United States. However, most people today (though clearly not all) have a better understanding of the global nature of the current threat. Few are under any illusions that all we have to do is pull out of Iraq and that will be that.
Thank you for the interesting and thoughtful article.
Blue Over Greenies
To the Editor:
Although I understand that change comes with the times—and The Times—I’m saddened to hear of the newspaper’s decision to rethink the Greenies [Off the Record, June 5]. A handful of years ago, my former editorial assistant took a job at The New York Times, and on one of my annual trips to New York, I visited her at the paper’s headquarters. She showed me a copy of the Greenies (I think this may have been forbidden, so she shall remain nameless), which praised a recent story of hers. It also lambasted several others and, specifically, explained how one reporter misused the expression “beg the question.” I never saw another set of Greenies, but I’ve never forgotten how to use “beg the question.” And though my staff has been spared the green pen (if only I had the time … ), we have never shied away from reviewing our work, endeavoring always to solve our “clusters of problems.” Credit for that goes to the Greenies. May its spirit live on in the new manifestation.
Editor in Chief, Oklahoma Today
Oklahoma City, Okla.
In a Wise Guys column appearing in the May 29 issue, Julia Gorin wrote that at a speech in Qatar, former president Bill Clinton “called for the conviction of cartoonists for practicing what we call freedom of speech.” The sentence was problematic in more than one respect. First, according to the report in The Daily Times, the Pakistani newspaper upon which Ms. Gorin based her observation, Mr. Clinton’s remarks were made in conversation with reporters in Pakistan, not while he was speaking in Qatar; and further, the article claimed that Mr. Clinton had called for the conviction of the cartoon’s publishers, not the cartoonists themselves.
The Observer regrets the error, and further notes that Mr. Clinton’s office disputes the Daily Times account and has denied the remarks were made in any context.