Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

The Ethical Spectacle is an avocation, supplanting fishing as my principal extracurricular activity these past nine years. When I started, and for some years after, I spent as much as an hour or two a day working on it. Nowadays, around the fifteenth or the twentieth of the month, I start getting uneasy. Around 5 a.m. on a Saturday, I begin my essay, and try to finish it that day or the next. As the month ticks down, I go through my email looking at the essays people have emailed me for the issue. I leave the letters column (the most painstaking and repetitive task involved) for last, which is why sometimes it doesn't get done until after the rest of the issue is online on the first of the month.

Among the things I would love to do to improve the Spectacle: run more book, movie and theater reviews (but, despite my urging, people don't send this kind of content in, and once I have finished my principal essay, I rarely have time to write any myself). Update the Links page (it's an embarassment at this point, not having been been touched in several years). Solicit more articles on specific topics, rather than going with what comes in by email. Publish more conservative voices. Finally, a smaller, more easily attainable goal: write about some topics I've avoided for years, such as racism and abortion.

Still, I'm relatively satisfied with the fruits of my 5 a.m. efforts. Broken light switches may take months to get replaced around here, but the Spectacle always gets done.

The first issue of the Spectacle in January 1995 was visited by about 1800 people. It astonished me at the time that you could just put something on the Internet and people would find it and read it. Today, about sixty to seventy thousand people a month access some part of the 102 issues which are online. (In writing those words I realized that The Spectacle passed its 100-issue milestone, in April, without my noticing it.)

As you can see from the letters below, I am as likely to receive email about something I wrote nine years ago (like the Kent State piece) as about the essay I wrote last month. The relationship which began at the outset of 1995--I write something, you read it and respond (mostly kindly, even when you radically disagree), and sometimes send me your own essay--is, along with marriage, family and friends, the most important in my life.

I can be reached as always at jw@bway.net.

Jonathan Wallace

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will also respect that. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. This is in response to many of you who have expressed concern that spammers are finding your email address here. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with your name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.

amazing how ignorant you truly are.

Barry morgenstein

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I'll keep it short and sweet: I've read three or four of your essays already, e-mailed various links to other people, and have bookmarked the site. John Verkuilen

hello Mr. Wallace.

:i was searching the web for data regarding automatic weapons ban in the history of our great nation and my search delivered an article on your website that someone wrote back in 1996 entitled, Congressional Extremism and the Assault Weapon Ban. .my response is directed to the author of this article... was it you? if not, perhaps you can pass this letter on to the person who wrote thearticle. i find it sad and scary to continue finding so many people who have such dangerous views about gun control. seeing as you havestudied the Holocaust, you would have surely heard this statement before:"This year will go down in history. For the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future." -Adolf Hitler, 1935 now, i'm not suggesting that everyone who pushes gun control is anequal to Hitler, but one thing i have learned in my quest for truth and Biblical study is that there is an underlying motivation of evil tocontrol others - it has been for all of time. in contrast, God gives humans free will to do as they wish, which is also the fundamental design of our great nation. as an example, when Cain was confronted over his killing Abel, God did not ban stones, knives or whatevermurder weapon it was that Cain used, He punished Cain and justice was served.the writer of this article also claims that he "believes 'reluctantly'that the Second Amendment was intended to grant an individual right to own weapons." it seems funny to me that there is a "reluctance" tothis belief when the Second Amendment is quite clear in what it says,so i'm curious also as to why this writer is "reluctant" to believe something so plain.regarding "reasoned decisions" of the Supreme Court, just prior to the writing of this article, congress enacted the Clinton-Feinstein gunban, which bans the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic guns and clips holding 10 or more rounds. how is this a "reasoned decision" atall? this is a far cry from banning the ownership of an "Abrams tank"! just because Supreme Court ruled "the Second Amendment clearly permits Congress to make some reasoned decisions about what kinds of arms citizens may own," doesn't mean they are correct.i'd like to share with the writer a brief portion of an article irecently wrote entitled, " Is ANY gun ban Constitutional?":"One of the key reasons for the founding fathers' creation of the 2nd Amendment and placing it second on the l ist of the Bill of Rights, is hat they wanted to allow for the arming of common Americans so that if/when our own gov't would become overly corrupt creating a potential of ignoring its bounds as defined within the Constitution to the point of tyrannical rule, it would be very difficult for the government to overpower its citizens by force. Understanding this, it is easier to realize that if we the people are not permitted to own firearms thatare comparable to those of the US military (presumably under directionof the government), then the 2nd Amendment becomes practically pointless in this regard.Another key factor in our founding fathers' creation of the 2ndAmendment, is to make sure that it would be hard for any other country to attack and occupy America! What country would want to attack another country where every common citizen owns firearms and is a militia in and of itself? From conversations I've had with many history buffs, besides the natural borders of oceans this point hasalso been one of the key reasons that has kept America from being invaded. So here again, if we the people are not permitted to own firearms that are comparable to those of foreign military powers, then the 2nd Amendment becomes practically pointless in this regard as well ."so, what's the point of any gun ban really? whom does it serve? surely not we the people! it merely serves evil in its persistent pursuit of control. it contradicts the essence of an important basic fundamental principle of liberty and justice that we seem to hear lessand less of, "innocent until proven guilty." gun bans serve to rid wethe people of particular guns that are deemed as "unreasonable" for us to own and does nothing whatsoever to keep the criminal from having them. in other words, gun bans do not stop crime from happening.perhaps the most silly of all the comments in this article is, "Youwill never get me to agree that gun control is ineffective, that all weapons are equal, that Colin Ferguson could have done as much damageon the Long Island Railroad with a knife."first of all, gun bans would do absolutely nothing to prevent Colin Ferguson from obtaining any gun he wants illegally (ie: cocaine is illegal, but that doesn't seem to prevent anyone from getting it)!secondly, we now regrettably know from hindsight that a handful of terrorists can do tons of damage to the entire city of New York and toour entire country armed only with box cutters... which of course arguably wouldn't have even happened if either pilots or onboard security had some kind of "airplane safe" guns and/or the American public hadn't been dulled into believing that we the people need nothave concern about actually protecting ourselves! if this stunt hasbeen pulled 30 years or so ago, the terrorists probably wouldn't have even left the plane alive

bernard baruch carman

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I found your website very very interesting. I read most of it. In the next paragraph I'll bring up one disagreement, but first I want to say that every other part of the site seems to me to be well thought out, logical, and beyond dispute.

The disagreement: On the Affirmative Action page, you directly contradict yourself. First "Problems that must be cured upstream cannot be solved downstream. " Then you say we should not lower the bar, but should "we should cast our nets as wide as necessary" to achieve racial parity. You don't even consider the possibility that there may not be enough truly qualified minority candidates, despite your Indian story above. The whole page would seem to promote support for programs like Head Start, improved schools, better families, rather than affirmative action at the college or work level.

Nate Smith

Dear Jonathan:

Thank you for the beautiful essay on Kent State. Your words made me cry.

Best regards,Jane Fenton

Dear Mr. Wallace:

In War and Law , you said:"The police force we need to arrest bin Laden is the U.S. military". But who will protect us from the military? The general who was in charge of air defense on 911 received a promotion, not a court-martial. Please see www.oilempire.us/standdown.html and www.oilempire.us/reichstag-fire.html

911 was the American Reichstag Fire ...

Mark Robinowitz

Dear Mr. Wallace:

In Natural Rights Don't Exist, you asked, "How can there be "self evident" rights?"

Imagine that you are an atheist but you can't openly express your non-belief because in doing so, your head will end up on a pole. The physical and mental distress and utter frustration that you would feel as you were forced to worship in a particular religion would not call out for you to say to the government, "I want to be an atheist," or "Shouldn't you let me be an atheist?" They would call out for you to say, "I am an atheist, and nothing that you do to me can take that away!"Have your head chopped off or live a lie. It's self-evident that neither way is acceptable.


Dear Jonathan:

It is a term increasingly I hear used in reference to them, but the gang in theWhite House are not mafia in the Sicilian sense of a popular hostility to law or government. We all are rather who oppose them: mafia, in that most honourable senseof meaning. The new mafia: everyone who stands against this Oily-garchy and the purveyors of death in whom Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld pledge their trust funds.We are looking at the eighth crusade, that is what I believe.A passage from Gibbon seems apt: "The enthusiasm of the first crusade is a natural and simple event, while hope was fresh, danger untried, and enterprise congenial tothe spirit of the times. But (it) may excite our pity and admiration; that no instruction should have been drawn from constant and adverse experience; that thes ame confidence should not have grown from the same failures; that six succeeding generations should have rushed headlong down the precipice that was open before them; and that men of every condition should have staked their public and private fortunes on the desperate adventure of possessing or recovering a tombstone two thousand miles from their country...the seven great armaments or crusades were excited by some impending or recent calamity: the nations were moved by the authority of their pontiffs, and the example of their kings: their zeal was kindled, and their reason was silenced, by the voice of their holy orators." (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire).But the crusaders did not reckon with the likes of the emir Shiracouh, who even faced with defeat said "Rest assured that not one of my soldiers will go to paradise till he has sent an infidel to hell".Do we never learn? No, says Hardy, "after two thousand years of mass, we've got as far as poison gas". Yet again history repeats itself through the old lie, as both tragedy and farce: Dulce et decorum pro patria mori.

regards John O'Driscoll

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just read Violence is Never Justified-- it turned up on a Google search.I disagree.

Four points.

1. You say: "Men who have engaged in violence are not fit to rule us." We stand on the shoulders of the great men and women who preceded us, including George Washington and Alexander the Great, and even the early cavemen who probably had to kill others in their day to protect their wives, children and food from marauders and thieves. If it weren't for them, I doubt if we'd have liberty, ethics or even language today. Just when or where do ethics start? Once the human race develops agriculture,towns or libraries? Within safe and secure walls? Once all the murderous thugs have been eliminated? Cooperation and benevolence do enable material progress, but material progress also enables benevolence and cooperation.Violence is justified to prevent murder, coercion, oppression and many other circumstances.

2. I suppose you'd repudiate Marx who advocated that the poor and oppressed should rise up and overthrow their oppressors. You'd also repudiate Lenin and Stalin who engaged in violence on a large scale. While I don't agree with their systems of central planning and elimination of dissenters or anachronistic segments of society, I do agree that revolution and wars of liberation are justified, granted that there is a slippery slope towards anarchy and aggressive expansionism.

3. Is abortion violence? Based on the liberal views expressed by your"The Usual Suspects" article previews on your main page, I assume most of your members are pro-choice. If I asked a visitor from another planet to guess where liberals and conservatives would fall on abortion, I suspect they'd guess liberals would be anti-abortion rights (aren't babies cute and lovely), and conservatives would be pro-abortion rights (just another mouth to feed). But somehow, today's edition of liberals approve of enacting violence on human offspring in order to what? In most cases, truth betold, to enable a woman to pursue her current life plans. Granted, a kid isa burden (a dependant), both as a fetus and a lifelong son or daughter.But "Violence is Never Justified" is your argument. I suspect in future generations, liberals will be pro-life, in much the same way that Southern bigots and German Nazi's had to die out for those segments of society to become reformed.

4. By taking such an absolutist point of view, you are taking the easy way out. Very anti-intellectual. The true heavy-lifting starts once you've accepted that violence is necessary in some circumstances, when you are then required to carefully analyze each situation. That takes brain-power. Other all-or-nothing errors from throughout history: prohibition against consumption of alcohol, exterminate all Jews, only good Indian is a dead Indian. I'm not saying there are no absolutes, but many are the by-products of perverted utopianism and a blind eye to human experience.

Mike Tulig

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Hi-Your Auschwitz alphabet was great. i was doing a school report and it helped me out a lot. keep up the good work. Amanda H.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you for helping all of us bear witness to what happened here.

M Reed.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

The problem with the article on Zyklon B is that Zyklon B COULD be interpreted to have had a valid use.

I agree with you, but since the point is practically redundant I'd recommend either adding in the Banking partnerships or deleting parts that do not hit as solidly as you want them to. Here's the potential refutation of the I. G. Farben incrimination.

Much was made of the bills of lading for deliveries of this fumigant at the Nuremberg Trials. It is reasoned that most of the concentration camps used Zyklon to kill vermin and fight disease thereby reducing the camp death rates. Other camps, designated by experts as exterminationc amps used the same Zyklon to kill inmates and thereby increase the camp death rates. *Therefore, deliveries of Zyklon to Dachau was beneficial and humane while delivery of Zyklon to Auschwitz was criminal*/ http://www.stormfront.org/revision/ff5zyklonb.html

Why even give them a hole the size of a molecule to squeeze out of when the rest is airtight.Great articles, you guys. Thanks!

Rainbow Sally

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thanks you for compliling the Alphabet. I have found the section on Language particularly helpful.

Thanks Joanne Intrator

Hi,I read the Auschwitz ABCs and I cryed at the horror of it all. But, I also cryed because you state you no longer believe in God because of your research on the holocaust. I am not Jewish, but I my ansestors on my mothers side came from Poland. Poles were also persecuted. I don't understand how you can be so pessimistic about God when you are here. So many died, yet you live and you doubt. Why?


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you for this resource. Believe it or not, it has strengthened my faith. Ironic in the face of hopeless.

Thank You

Judith Lucas

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Hi, I have a couple of things to ask you about your God statement at the end of your very interesting alphabet.1. Have you read the book in the Bible Exodus? The story of the Jews in Egypt. God delivered them from Egypt, and He dilivered them from Auschwitz too. Yeah, they suffered and millions died, but that is no reason to say that God is evil, doesn't care, or just doesn't exist! When God says it's time for His children to come home, they have to go.2. What about the creation of the earth? Not the Big-Bang crap, becauseif that happened, then there wouldn't be earth, there would be a bunch of space rubble. No humans, no animals, no nothing.So, there's some food for thought. Have a nice day sir.

Jessica Moritz

Dear Mr. Wallace:


Tamara Calnan

Hello, i am a sophomore in high school. In english class we are required to do a research paper on world war II. I chose to do this concentration camp as my topic. Thank you for doing this webpage about Auschwitz, it really helped me understand many different titles.

Sylvia M.