April 2011

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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. 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 do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with 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.

Dear Jonathan:

Three things occurred to me while reading the Spectacle's March Rags and Bones article. First, you state that Mayor Bloomberg has "some liberal beliefs, such as gun control." I would tend to agree that gun control is a belief, used in the sense of "faith." It's a certainty held by many, but based upon no evidence. All of the underpinnings have been knocked from under it long ago.

Second, as for hospitals, I can't be certain of all of the Tea Party folks' tenets, since I am not one of that group, but I can recognize a non-sequiter when I see one. You stated "the same Tea Party types want unrestricted guns and don't want anyone to be forced to have health insurance which would actually compensate the hospitals for their required treatment of gun wounds." Tea Partiers and a lot of others recognize that most firearm laws in this country are foolishness. However, lawful gun owners are as peaceable as anyone else (and are, statistically, even more law abiding than average). That means that they don't plan to be the ones causing gun wounds. Still, their policy on health care is dead wrong.

Third, you say twice in the article that the new ferment in the Middle East and North Africa is "vulnerable to being hijacked by the most violent and certain, as the Russian revolution was in 1918." Although a lot of people hold this view of the Russian Revolution, I'd disagree. The Russian Revolution was very radical, even from the beginning. (www.old-yankee.com/writings/chk2chk.html) However, since the more left-leaning leaders were in exile (Lenin in Switzerland, Trotsky in the Bronx, etc.), they had no chance to assert leadership at that time. The masses were not struggling for a new society that played by the rules of traditional diplomacy and continuing the war, and continuing other practices of the old regime, however. The masses were ready for more radical change, and that is why the Bolsheviks were able to lead the Revolution in that direction later on. It wasn't a hijacking, it was inevitable.

By the way, I love your idea of thousands, or maybe millions of Arabs and Egyptians marching peacefully into Israel!

Bruce A. Clark


I really enjoyed your article on Leadership from the Oct 98 edition of the Spectacle. I came across the article on line and found it resonated with many other things I’ve been learning on the topic. I was curious if your work was based off any particular articles or readings.

Elliott Peterson

This letter is in response to the articles covering the disaster in Japan.

According to the articles: “The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan’s atomic power industry.” Where have we heard this before? It never fails to amaze me that change always has to be the result of catastrophe. Whether it be Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian Tsunami or the terrible disaster occurring in Japan no government officials are ever held accountable with what only can be described as criminal negligence.

Rousseau's treatise on the social contract suggests that “individuals unite into a society by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by certain rules and to accept duties to protect one another from violence, fraud, or negligence.” {Wikipedia}. Hence the existence of government and the number one priority; protection of its citizens. Sadly this is happening less and less to the point where government is compromising {and hence forfeiting} the right to govern. The question before the Japanese people is: did your government fail to act in your best interests or was it compromised by self interest? Why must it be accepted that this is “business as usual” and “the way things are done”. When did governing stop including responsibility as a part of its makeup? Perhaps the Japanese people need to reexamine the character {or lack thereof} of it’s governing officials and put systems in place that prevent this type of negligence from continuing to occur. It is obvious from the revolutions sweeping the Arab nations that leaders chose to squeeze everything they could from their citizens until it was too late. Japan, now it is your turn to make change.

Joe Bialek

Dear Jonathan,

I just wanted to write and let you know that I read your Auschwitz Alphabet. I am awe struck by the words you wrote. I believe I am more shocked to read those words. I am a history buff, but I don't believe in official , or the history books. I usually search for first hand experience history to confirm the truth. Yours I find the truth, others I have found the truth. I find it in diaries, letters, etc but not official books. Napoleon Bonaparte said " History is written by the people who win the wars" I can't remember the exact quote.

My heart goes out to all the victims. I recently found a film, called "a Film unfinished". it is about the German Ghetto, this was a propaganda movie for Hitler. I cried my eyes out. I am part German (which I am not proud and I am English, that of course is nothing to be proud of either. knowing history and all.

I have grown up hearing, reading, watching. I know it doesn't end and won't end, as long as there is hatred and greed in this world. I live in a state of reality that most people, frankly can't understand. I speak the truth to people around me and they think I am crazy. The world we live in is a dual world, most people don't see the other world that is right there next to them. Everything is the world is the opposite.

I have reached a point in my life where I can no longer stand the pain I feel when others are suffering. All the turmoil I see in the world now is to painful for me. I have thrown out my television, I don't read newspapers. I know that it still happens, so I am still aware. I am guarded and keep a watchful eye, because I see it starting again. This time here in America. The trains, camps, police check points, and so much more I see. I am at a loss to know what to do, if the younger generations don't wake up. People are waking up from their slumber, there is hope.

My life fire to stop it from happening again is lit and I have been awake from my slumber for around 14 years now. I am fighting a personal fight myself with the big G. I say that because I no longer want killing done in my name, that is what happens when we pay taxes. I am headed to being a pauper because of this. But, I am sure it will turn around because I believe my purpose is to stop this from happening again.

Well, I am sorry this is so long. I just wanted to say thank you for writing this important piece. I have copied it to my computer, for my own personal reading of course.

thank you and peace to you,


Dear Mr. Wallace:

I recently came across your article Democracy and Capitalism while trying to do research for a lecture I had to give to my students on the relationship between the two. I would just like to say that it has been a long time since I read such a 'to the point' opinion piece regarding the topic. It was clear and concise and a read that deserved a second and third look. Oftentimes us academics are drowned in vague terminologies that allow for many a 'sensitive' issue to humbly slip under the guise of harmless academic opinion and argument. I admire a writer who is willing to lay things straight - most notably when it it clear, witty and to the point.

Well done and thank you

Kind Regards