We forgive you,


STRANGER: The impression I got from Josh Feit's article is that he is very afraid of what Sherman Alexie represents ["Sherman's March," Feb 20]. I don't think he is so angry about what Sherman said at the march on February 15. He is not really angry about how Sherman said it. I think he is angry about Sherman being Native American and HOW dare someone who is Native speak out at all? HOW dare Sherman represent a Native view in front of all those marchers! We MUST have someone who thinks, speaks, walks/talks, and looks like Josh, maybe, stand up there and say all the right things the way Josh would have done!

Josh's whining is based, I would bet, on the threat he felt while listening to Sherman. Sherman has always struck me as a truth-sayer. Sherman has a certain subtle and disquieting way of getting to the truth. I was disgusted with Josh's whiny and fear-filled manner of attacking Sherman and I hope one day that Josh will find forgiveness toward Sherman. Josh might one day be able to forgive Sherman for BEING Native.

Victoria Redstarr, Nez Perce Tribe


JOSH FEIT: The next time you go looking for the dumbest person, just go look in the mirror. It must really piss off all of you nihilistic creeps that this antiwar movement is growing by leaps and bounds, and is, along with the French, undermining the U.S. war effort. And there is NOTHING you can do about it!

Jim, via e-mail


STRANGER: Just read Feit on Alexie and the protest. And part of Pollack's article. You guys make me sick. Do you forget that the world is real? When people die, they die. Dead. Is that too complicated? Should I explain further?

You sit back and pretend you are journalists. [You] apply your sophisticated and oh so snide little magnifying glasses to people who are out there, actually experiencing their lives. Too bad for you.

Just a Former Reader, via e-mail


JOSH FEIT: Yes, I agree--cornering a few less-informed protesters and then mocking their inarticulate responses to your interrogation IS "intellectually dishonest." So, after calling bullshit on this shallow journalistic practice (often employed by smarty-smart white men like me and you, I can't help but notice...), why did you proceed to do exactly that? I agree with you on a basic point: Speaking out for a good lefty cause is NOT an excuse for intellectual sloppiness. Josh, you are clearly well informed on these issues, and some of your criticism was valid (in my opinion). I ask you, however, to honestly consider this: Is there a way you could insist on intellectual rigor without resorting to childish "nyah-nyah" name-calling ("dumbest protester," "moronic," "biggest boob")? I've heard Sherman Alexie speak in other venues, and he is anything but "dumb" or "moronic"--he is perceptive, warm, angry, and, yes, very funny. Second (and more important), for a white journalist to use his pulpit for the purpose of deriding the intelligence of a First Nations man is enacting a familiar, historical, and deeply problematic discourse.

Jason Toews, via e-mail

Thanks josh

JOSH FEIT: Finally, someone who has a clue. I am also against starting this war, for the reasons you stated.

The story illustrates for me why I do not attend these rallies. Thank you for a well-written article.

Sean, via e-mail

thanks again

JOSH FEIT: Wow. Thanks for reminding me that I can be antiwar without buying into the antiwar package.

Jim Stoicheff, via e-mail

lefty energy

JOSH FEIT: Nice article. I am in shock of the left's protesting an Iraq invasion, and wondered if anyone on the left recognized the bizarre comments and rhetoric being used. You did a great job exposing the irrational thought processes of the left, which confirms my suspicion.

My suspicion is that the dope-idiot protesters who say "I didn't make this sign" are really using these events to protest conservative ideology.

Why not protest the brutalization of Middle Eastern people? Why protest their liberation? Where is the outrage for oppressed people? The left's energy is directed toward causes where they are able to somehow criticize the current administration. If the cause cannot be used to attack Bush, then the cause is ignored. That's why you have people protesting who don't know shit about what they are protesting. Nice job.

James, via e-mail


JOSH FEIT: If all involved in the antiwar movement were as intelligent and thoughtful as you, perhaps it would pick up some steam where it actually counts. There are quite a few folks (and, more importantly, visible, outspoken folks) who seem oblivious to the fact that Saddam Hussein is about a million times more fucked up than George Bush could ever be. You point out the true problem with our rush to war--many Americans and Iraqis alike will die if this war takes place, and the logic behind it is spotty at best.

Aaron, via e-mail


STRANGER: Thank you for carrying Mr. Pollack's article, and please thank Mr. Pollack for writing it ["Just Shut Up," Feb 20]. FINALLY! Someone with the stones to tell it the way most of us really see it (his taking Christopher Hitchens down a notch was just a bonus)--more, more, MORE NEAL!

AZM, via e-mail


STRANGER: So Neal Pollack wants everyone with an opinion on the war to "just shut up"? Does this include him and his puerile screed that wasted exactly how many trees?

News Flash for Neal: Nihilism isn't cool beyond freshman year in college. Go to your room, Neal. When you've learned to communicate like an adult, we'll call you down for dinner.

Steve Nesich, via e-mail


STRANGER: Neal Pollack has a wonderful way of churning up ideas about writing. His commentary is thoughtful, closely argued, and funny. It is the best of the pieces you ran regarding the rhetoric surrounding the war.

Pollack's shtick has been as gadfly in the literary world. Perhaps that's why he was asked to write his commentary. He's smart but doesn't take himself too seriously. In this article, he is working the snot-nosed angle far enough so that he is (I think) intentionally over the top. Still, it seems important to recognize that his writing, which acts as if it comes from outside the mainstream, is in the company of the very writing that has become the signature of several literary darlings; for instance, Dave Eggers (Pollack's editor/publisher), David Foster Wallace, and even Jonathan Franzen tend to overwrite as a way of being funny too. The Stranger itself seems like a family of overwriters. And, for that, they are funny. I get it. I like it. I am entertained. And I also learn things along the way. But still, it is a humor that is very calculated and self-protecting: It talks about serious things and weighs in with staunch opinions, but it constantly reminds its readers that it is not taking itself too seriously.

Pollack's commentary on some of the writing surrounding our current march toward war is informed, complex, and sophisticated--and certainly more persuasive than the explorations of rhetoric exhibited by Christopher Frizzelle and Josh Feit in the same issue.

John Peterson, via e-mail


STRANGER: Christopher Frizzelle must be scraping a very empty barrel of topics if he must resort to petty carping about Poets Against the War [Feb 20]. It is a great and important thing that the number of voices raised by this call to write is being used as a "vast petition." And "momentum," "keeping on," and "sending a message" all seem important in this time. The magnitude of response to Hamill's call is compelling and accomplishes much in inspiration for those of us reading these poems. "Poetry makes nothing happen" is not true simply because Auden says so.

To me, the most alarming thing is not the www.poetsagainstthewar.org guidelines for submission (no pro-war, hate-filled, or obscene poetry), which seem reasonable. The most alarming thing is Frizzelle's pretension to define what is and is not poetry. He echoes First Lady Laura Bush's "poetry should not be used for political purposes." Frizzelle confuses a matter of taste--his dislike for the poems themselves--with the right to define poetry for us all.

Jack Weinberger, via e-mail