Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

We went kayaking yesterday on the bay. The snappers are running, and bait fish were madly jumping everywhere to evade them. Just afterward, the snappers themselves were flying out of the water in panic, a phenomenon explained when a cormorant surfaced, with a snapper in its beak.

Having life survive by eating life seems to me a major design flaw. It is the basic premise which also supports all violence and war on this planet. If all living things survived by ingesting inert matter, perhaps violence would never have been invented.

The idea that a fish lives for five years just to provide a human with sustenance for part of one day seems madly unbalanced. Charles Darwin stopped believing in God as a result of thinking too much about the digger wasp, which lays its eggs in the living flesh of a paralyzed victim. I don't think he needed to go that far; the entire spectacle of life living off life is enough to persuade me that no compassionate intelligence designed us.

On the other hand, I cooked a nice piece of red snapper Veracruz style tonight, with tomatos, capers and olives, so who am I to speak.

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

--Jonathan Wallace

Rogue State Part I: The National Missile Shield

Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for challenging the sanity of the very challenged administration of George W. Bush concerning its intention to deploy a "Missle Defense Shield" (code named "Unilateral Stupidity" by most people outside the military industrial complex), which is to replace the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), once considered the unassailable epitome of stupidity. But the records keep falling in the New World Order Olympiad of the Bushs' second reich.

Your characterization of the United States government, at the hands of its legitimacy-challenged leader, as a "rogue state" is not a mere matter of opinion, if I may opine. It is rather a case of correct definition and rare accuracy in the use of the English language. Having cut through the propaganda, you have turned the tables and made the tyrant (who keeps complaining about being the victim of bully states like North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and Cuba) a deserved object of ridicule.

Hail the Ridiculous! Hail King George the Second! (Not!)

Ben Price BenGPrice@aol.com

Dear Jonathan:

Well, JW...regarding your well-written NMD essay...I must say, you've outdone yourself! You have included just about all the "left-wing" arguments against a NMD that I have seen. Frankly, all the answers to each of your arguments would be equally exhaustive and comprehensive, but from a premise you exclude in your "logic" . I have come to the realization that simply detailing them (since it has been done) is a waste of time.

I guess fundamentally, the broadest answer to your attack on the rationale for a NMD is to point out that your argument is based on the same old tired (and proven false) propaganda that said MAD would be the end of us all. Your basic reasoning includes such fundamental flaws as foundation, that to challenge your conclusions is to accept your premise.

The pro NMD philosophy is based on the idea that we are only beginning the "technology age" and that ballistic missile defense is not only quite possible, it's a necessary tool to thwart one of the most current and powerful offensive capabilities an attacking enemy might employ.

Is NMD the ultimate defense? Absolutely not! And, I hate to torch all your "straw-man" arguments regarding the other ways a nuclear weapon could be delivered...(After all, they were so well written.) Those attack scenarios need to be addressed too, but that doesn't mean we should cease research, development, and employment of this particular defense.

The Anti-NMD arguments all assume that technology is stagnant, and that if we don't pursue this avenue of defense...the "bad guys" won't either. In fact, as you demonstrate, the anti-NMD argument assumes the U.S. to be the "rogue" state. We are the "bad guys" in your world. The anti-NMD argument requires that one accept the premise that the United States is the world's "Evil Empire." Curiously, though the anti NMD position "pooh-poohs" the premise of an anti-missile system, it also assumes that it will be successful, and that in succeeding it will destabilize the balance of terror that exists between America and the nations that are hostile to America. Socialists believe that the threat of annihilating a US. city and the capability to do so is sufficient to keep American foreign policy in check. Radical nation states don't have the conventional power to overcome US conventional forces. Many however, have developed the capability to launch a nuclear tipped missile at the US but do not have the resources available to counter NMD technology, and do not want to be forced to consider them.

Your anti-NMD argument would seek to nullify the US conventional military capability by rendering its employment too risky in light of a primitive nuclear missile launch capability. In short, you contend that an America with the capability of meeting any threat is a bad thing. You totally ignore the consequences of our enemy having the technological edge. This is somewhat consistent, since your argument considers the US to be the enemy.

Funny...after all your convoluted logic and anti-NMD spin, the basic raw sentiment involved is identical to your rationale that contends the Second Amendment should be removed from our Constitution.

Bob Wilson

Dear Jonathan,

This is a clear and frightening essay. I have been hanging low lately on political readings and education as I have felt so frustrated overthe whole process. (As with women's rights and issues, I was so passionate and involved long ago...) How do you remain inspired?


Dear Jonathan:

George W. is doing fine.

I checked..and so far, there's no stained blue dresses or ruined cigars. None of his staff has died under mysterious circumstances. So far, there have been no solicitations for donations from the Communist Chinese or "bimbo eruptions/ rape allegations.". The president hasn't tried to make the military more accessible by homosexuals, and he isn't renting out the Lincoln bedroom. Oh, and far as I can tell, Laura isn't under investigation for land fraud, nor has she opted to institute socialized medicine. There has been no bombings of aspirin factories to divert the press from sex scandals or perjured testimony in same. W hasn't parked Air Force One on the end of the runway at LAX and halted air traffic for two hours while he had a barber come on board and give him a $200 haircut, and he hasn't tried to fire the entire White House travel agency and put his pals in that job. I don't believe he has had his relatives come and live in the White House, and peddle $400,000 presidential pardons to Colombian drug kingpins in prison either.

On the minus side, there was a big media flap over one of his daughters ordering a beer I recall...but so far, that's been the only "scandal."

Bob Wilson

China and the Olympics
Dear Mr. Wallace,

I am a Chinese citizen and also a regular reader of your masterpieces. Your article Leadership is wonderfully inspiring.

But I can't agree with your opinions stated in article China and the Olympics. I know it is quite safe to write and disagree with you since you won't shoot me - I hope!

Just want to tell you that on July 13, a bunch of friends of mine were in a bar at Holiday Inn - an American-managed hotel, and watched TV live broadcasting. We were a bit nervous as we all hoped that China would be awarded the Games. However we were quite cool and I believe even China lost it, we could live with it. And after the announcement, we all cheered and toasted with each other, also the foreign guests in the bar. It was like a party and I enjoyed it a lot.

Then I saw a local girl (pretty sure she was a hooker) carried on her negotiations with a foreign guy and then they went out for celebration! Pretty cool, uh?

And now people are working hard and marching together toward the Games. It is a good thing for China and the Chinese people, as I firmly believe. And I will contribute to the success in 2008 with my own efforts.

I work for an American firm and last year I had a chance to talk with the Congressmen Delegation in Shanghai. The Congressman asked me what the young people China were pursuing or dreaming of, I replied it was money and sex. He smiled and said you were the same as the American youngsters. But when I told my mentor (who is an American) this he blamed me and said I was wrong. He said I got the sequence upside down and should have put sex before money - I agreed with him.

My mentor and also my best friend started working in China since 1984 and witnessed lots of changes in this country. We both believe that the country is getting more open and better in lots of senses.

I am not trying to argue with you and I know there are many things in China that I don't know or understand exactly. I am just an ordinary citizen and patriot. I believe my country is improving a lot and will become better.

Chairman Mao once said "Don't make a judgement before you find the truth", and I do think this is wise. So may I, as one of the new generation of Chinese, suggest you to come to China and find out the truth by yourself? I am sure this will help your study. If you have been to China long enough, I'd like to further exchange views with you, and hope this doesn't bother you.

Best Regards,

Name withheld

This correspondent didn't ask me not to use his name, but I decided not to, for prudence.

I replied to him:

Thanks for writing. I do not hear often from people in China and it is always of great interest.

While the economic development of China and its participation in world trade is generally a good thing, much depends on the way it is handled. Globalization done WTO-style, without democracy, potentially contributes to a widening gap between rich and poor and a system in which the extreme poverty and voicelessness of those at the bottom of the ladder becomes institutionalized and permanent. Although Americans like to believe that China, as it trades more with other countries, will become more democratic, world trade and democracy do not necessarily go hand in hand. Latin America in particular has given us examples in recent years of non-ideological, commerce-loving countries such as Pinochet's Chile, which were undemocratic and in fact quite murderous to dissenters. If the West's goal is to sell more products to another billion people, then awarding China the Olympics made sense; but if our goal (as I believe it should be) is to urge China to establish some basic civil liberties and human rights protections for its citizens, then the Olympic decision sends the wrong message, that this is not necessary.

It will be very interesting to see what happens in the years to come. I very much appreciate your kind words about the Spectacle.

Mike McGlothlin on Justifiable Violence
Dear Jonathan,

Mike McGlothlin's "Justifying The Justifiable: An Argument for Legitimate Revolt" is interesting for avoiding the Gandian, Jesus style pacifism and arguing as did America's revolutionaries against the British empire that there comes a time when, according to reason and moral judgement, people are not only justified, they are compelled to use force to escape the soul and life constricting forces of tyranny. Having grown up in a conservative, God-fearing but lower class family, getting uppity against the Man or the boss or the reverend, or just about anyone was always discouraged. I am certain that if my parents had been American colonists they would have sided with the king. Which explains some of the tensions that arose in my maturing years.

I am, never-the-less, conflicted and admit it. Mike McGlothlin presents just the kind of rational argument I'd want to be persuaded by. It is systematic, offers a step-by-step rationale, and has blind alleys that prevent easy recourse to revolution on simply emotional grounds. More than I expected, my Christian upbringing kicked in and had me questioning not the logic or the argument, but the soul of Mike McGlothlin's critique for the justifiable use of revolutionary violence. As I consider the contrasts in the streets of Genoa, Italy, where fascist police employed masked provocateurs (there is video of them freely entering and leaving the police offices during the protests) who inflicted property damage on shop keepers and other working people in the city to justify their Darth-Vader uniformed brethren's bludgeoning and chemical attacks, and finally murder of peaceful demonstrators, I am left conflicted and wondering. Frankly, by the arguments Mike McGlothlin makes, we are fast approaching, if we have not already reached, the point where violent overthrow of the tyranny is justified. Ironically, the violence of the tyrants is what makes this truer than ever.

Which motivation will win me over remains to be seen. As a pacifist by choice, I admit that choices can be altered. Not by desire. I am a committed pacifist by desire. I could be almost anything by choice. Choice implies pain, so it will be a matter of pain avoidance, I suppose, for most people. When revolution becomes less painful a choice than the tyranny, all manner of choices will be made. Tyrants have reason to fear the unforseen consequences of their excesses.

Ben Price BenGPrice@aol.com

Jonathan... I just read your Bess article after seeing the posting on PUBLIB. Many thanks for this information. I'm doing a filtering workshop in September and this is good information.

The financial viewpoint (as opposed to the censorship/filtering viewpoint) is very important to pass along. I think librarians can get tied into only the latter view, and neglect to look at the actual marketplace - from your article, it seems that N2H2 is suffering from the technology bubble bursting along with so many other dotcoms.

Patricia Froehlich
Public Library Consultant

Dear Jonathan:

Am a long time reader (even a contributor once long ago). Something has been churning around in my head for a long time about the Israel/Palistinian situation.

I have no dog in this fight. My perspective, being neither Jewish nor Arabic and having only news reports to go on, about the thing is that it's all about land, in the final analysis when you break it all down to its simplest components.

And I think in that light, the Israelis are clearly the aggressors, using various "ruses" (the naming of a village as a Palistinian guerrilla stronghold) to annex by inches (villages./settlements) what they can no longer get by brute force (open war) because of world spotlights on the region.What the motivations art base are, I have no idea, but suspect are economic in nature. Likely Israel feels it must expand to survive economically, or at least politically.

If I am correct, then a very telling way to illustrate this is to do a year series of colored maps of the region (starting in 1946). Each player in the region would be assigned a color (Palestinians - red, Israelis green, Egyptians - yellow, Jordanians - purple, ... and so on.) The map would be colored according to the best estimate of who controlled what.

If my perception is true, then a clear picture of Israeli land aggression will be seen as continually growing at the expense of its neighbors. If it turns out that what we read of Israel only practicing self defence, that will clearly so as well. In any case, it should serve as a great clarifier of the situation for those of us who are merely unwilling observers.

Gosta Lovgren gosta@SwedesDock.com

Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dear Mr. Wallace:

Have you read the Amnesty International report on Mumia's case? I'm from Philly, so I get a lot of heat about my adamant support for Mumia. I've actually been meaning to update my own Mumia site.

It can be accessed here:


In your short written piece on Mumia Abu-Jamal, you state that he covered the MOVE boming. You may want to fix this, because what Mumia covered was the MOVE standoff in 1978, which is seperate from what happened in 1985 when police bombed the MOVE headquarters. Mumia had been incarcerated for three years when that happened.

There are also many more compelling facts about the case that can be stated.


Everything else
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just discovered your spectacle site and am impressed, mainly because I happen to agree with just about everything you say. I am a college professor and teach a lit and film course and do plan to use some of your stuff in class--by requiring students to read it online. My immediate question is, who are you? I haven't been able to find any information about you yet, but need it for class. Please let me know. Thanks.

Jon Wallace JONW@graceland.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

This is way off topic, but you may be able to help me.

I too remember watching the Million Dollar Movie as a child, I can still hear the beautiful music that played as a night skyline of New York was shown at either the beginning or end. I would love that old (I guess it was 30s or 40s) skyline in my home but have been unable to find it. Do you by any chance have any sources?I would appreciate it greatly.

Laura Igarteburu igarteburu@aol.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Good content.

I will be adding you to our links section in September and to my new site ethicalpension.com when it is launched.

Chris Morgan

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Up until the past few months, nearly all childhood vaccines in America contained mercury in the form of the preservative Thimerosal (49.6% ethyl mercury by weight). Thimerosal-free vaccines are available for most immunizations at this point, but the FDA allowed pharmaceutical companies to "phase out" their mercury vaccines, allowing tens of thousands more children to be exposed to this extremely toxic substance.

The amount of mercury to which infants and toddlers have been exposed is staggering: by the age of two, those children whose well-intentioned parents adhered to the vaccine schedule have received as much as 237 micrograms of mercury. To justify this egregious assault on the developing nervous system to those as young as four HOURS old (in 1991, an additional Hep B vaccine was added to the schedule on the day of birth), the FDA has chosen an interesting rationale: if the total amount of mercury exposure is spread out over the entire period from birth to 2 years, the DAILY EXPOSURE RATE does in fact fall within the EPA's recommended "safe" exposure level for adults of .1 mcg/kg per day (no safe exposure rate has been established for children).

This is analogous to the person who consumes a case of champagne on New Year's Eve hoping to maintain a slight buzz through Thanksgiving. It defies logic that the nearly identical symptoms of autism and mercury poisoning can be chalked up to coincidence given the multiple overexposures to mercury that Amercan children were subjected to. In 1980, the immunization schedule consisted of 8 vaccines: in 2001, there are 22. The autism rate has soared accordingly: the incidence rate in California has increased 1,000 % in the past 20 years and similar alarming figures are being reported across the US and the UK. The FDA and American Academy of Pediatrics would have us believe that the autism epidemic is a genetic epidemic coupled with better diagnostic tools. Any parent of an autistic child can tell you that the symptoms of mercury poisoning (Mad Hatter's Disease) are far too profound to necessitate any better "diagnostic tool" than living with a child whose nervous system has been drastically altered -- altered to a point where many parents describe their child as simply "not there anymore".

The FDA and the vaccine manufacturers who used Thimerosal in their products must attempt to fix what they have broken. Aggressive research efforts must now be made towards finding both the genetic susceptibility factors involved and treatments to reverse mercurial damage to the central nervous system. The attached information further details this astoundingly under-reported story. The mainstream press continues to focus repeatedly on the fact that the non-Thimerosal MMR vaccine cannot be linked to autism rather than educating the public on what most certainly CAN be linked to autism. I urge you to bring this to the attention of parents who unwittingly allowed their young children to be injected repeatedly with the most neurotoxic non-radioactive substance known to man, mercury.

Rita Shreffler and Angie L. Williamson
Springfield, Missouri

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Jonathan,

I logged on to your website with the intention of just seeing what material was "out there", and I have been going through your "alphabet" one letter at a time for the past 90 minutes. I CAN'T tear myself away. I am the Artistic Director of the Jewish Community Alliance in Jacksonville, Florida. Each April we do an educational show about the Holocaust for the commemoration of Yom HaShoah. We generally do "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" or "The Diary of Anne Frank". I have the children of the JCA who perform in the shows study the Holocaust starting in January. Each child has to give up certain "priviledges" during these months of study like going to the movies, eating sweets, drinking sodas, riding their bikes etc. so they can begin to feel a little bit of what their character may have felt. Each child is required to write a letter to the person he/she is portraying to form a relationship. Not that we will ever be able to really feel what these people felt, our goal is to have the children care enough about these people that they become passionatly involved in educating people so that the world never forgets the Holocaust.

I will refer the children to your educational and very insightful website. Thank you for doing what you do.

Shelly Higgins Hughes

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Kudos, not Kapos for your Auschwitz Alphabet. I just finished re-reading a book that I read 30 years ago in college, _I Cannot Forgive_ Escape from Auschwitz by Rudolf Vrba. It was in paperback at the time and long forgotten until I became intrigued again and finally found a copy. The comment on god was particularly "dead-on" and this is the philosophy I developed after reading of the atrocities. Hopefully, the nefarious beyound imagination events of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, never be stamped out by the history revisionists, religious fundamentalists or the sands of time.

Thanks again for your work.

Shelby Sherman ssherma1@midsouth.rr.com

Dear Mr Wallace:

I am an Italian Web journalist, I work for a famous italian Internet portal. I wrote not long time ago an article about the holocaust literature and during my trips around the net I found your sensible and interesting alphabet.

I just want to thank you for your work, I would just like to tell you that you made me feel closest to all the people who found death by other human beings. Sorry if I took too muche of your time, best regards

Diana Letizia dletizia@caltanet.it

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I've just finished to visit your site (which I discovered in the italian version by Isabella Zani at http://web.tiscali.it/alfabeto_auschwitz/) and read ''What I learned from Auschwitz''. I'm 27 and all I know about the Shoa comes from books, movies and newspapers. It's a little bit difficult for me to express my feeling now (expecially in english!) but there are some issues I would like to discuss with you about some of your ''learnings'' from Auschwitz. Before that I want say to you: thank you. For what I've read. Today I've learned a lot by reading that article. I promise, of course if you like that, to write you back my impressions about some of your suggestion such as that there is no God and that Genocide si alway with us. I need only some day to expresse my ideas in a correct english. Hope to come back soon

My personal regards

Andrea Spasiano a spasiano@caltanet.it
Naples, Italy

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you, I think.

I'd read all this sort of stuff before I guess but I'd forgotten about it.

I've always been an armchair anti-nazi. After visiting your site I'll take care not to sink deeper into the cushions.

Andrew Wilkins awilkins@euronet.nl