EDITOR: Are we to understand from Dan Savage's article ["... And Pass the Ammunition," July 4] that he thinks nine months of war on Afghanistan have stopped terrorism?
We all agree that some action was necessary in response to 9/11; but the war on Afghanistan neither destroyed al Qaeda, nor caught bin Laden, nor ended the rule of chauvinist religious thugs in Afghanistan. I remind Mr. Savage that we had and still have other options. We could stop bombing countries like Sudan and Afghanistan (which we did in 1998, on no evidence whatsoever). We could stop our decade-long bombing of Iraq. We could stop our financial and political support for military dictatorship and state terrorism in Israel/Palestine. We could, in short, stop our ongoing injustices which cause resistance around the world and create fertile ground for terrorism.
If we had accepted the Taliban's offer to extradite bin Laden to a third country, we'd probably have him by now. They asked to see some evidence, but our court-appointed president responded with lynch-mob logic: "We know he's guilty. Hand him over." That court-appointed president relies on the blind faith of people like Mr. Savage, especially those who consider themselves progressive with regard to their own issues but become reactionary and racist when confronted with issues outside. Perhaps Mr. Savage should avoid issues of politics and stick to fuck tips.
Edward Mast, via e-mail
SAVAGE: No hate mail from me. I am 100 percent in agreement.
Finally, a rallying cause for the left/liberals instead of autopilot antiwar protests. Why don't people realize that this is not Vietnam, it's World War II?
Thanks for speaking for me so well.
Rachel Teplow, via e-mail
SAVAGE: Yes... uh, Dan. Uh... sure you weren't a bit angry at the Nation for not including you in their recent "Attack of the Homocons" issue?
So, uh, I guess you're saying that the lefties aren't, like, you know, rocket scientists? No, they're "brain dead," "smug, dishonest lefties at Seattle Weekly," "dopes," and the like? You think it would be nice "if the left refrained from sticking its collective head up its collective ass this time."
Clever, Dan, clever! Certainly not smug on your part! But... speaking from my "dishonest" perspective... sure you don't have some other agenda goin' here? Like, you know, uh, positioning yourself in Log Cabin Republican territory now that you've gained a little of that longed-for national notoriety?
I'd be happy to, uh, you know, poke a few holes in your recent [article] "God Bless America... And Pass the Ammunition," but you certainly don't want to acknowledge any shades of gray in this complex world now that you've, you know, found your market niche. And ridicule is so much more... marketable!
Glenn Reed, via e-mail
SAVAGE: Since you're probably going to get a ton of hate mail about this [article], I thought I'd shoot you a note to tell you how spot-on I think you are. I'm pretty much your classic lefty on most issues, and I think you've identified the only way that the left can take back its agenda in a way that actually makes sense. Let's concede the war (duh, it happened) and start focusing on the troubling lack of a post-war plan for [Afghanistan]. They're going to need billions in aid to put the country right. I don't think they're going to get it from this government. Which means that they'll start fomenting nutcases that'll come back in another 20 years to try to blow something up. It almost happened in Europe post-WWII. Hope someone listens to you.
Peter, via e-mail
STRANGER: Dan Savage says that "Peace and Patriotism" are a mutually exclusive pair post-September 11, and that only the brain-dead would think otherwise. Leaving aside the question of which of the two is more important to keep if one has to be tossed, I'd say peace and patriotism are indeed compatible, and that it's the sex-columnist-turned-editor's PAP smear campaign that lacks neural vitality.
Fortunately, Bret Fetzer comes out with neurons firing in his counterarguments on the facing page ["Not So Fast," July 4]. While Savage, David Schmader ["Better Than the Worst Is Good Enough For Me," July 4], and others harp on the unremarkable assertions that there really are aspects of America worth defending, and there really are bad guys out there who really are out to get us, Fetzer is more to the point: If the knee-jerk response of "get them before they get us" means entrusting, of all people, George W. Bush with the power to reduce other countries to rubble, killing and harming countless innocents in the process, all because the Bush administration and obsequious American media (which Savage seems to have joined) say future evildoers live there... then that's putting our trust where it doesn't belong.
When Savage calls the Bush Doctrine ("Get them before they get us") a "necessary evil," he's got it half right. What if we applied the same doctrine to all law enforcement? The police would say, "We killed him because we believed he would kill people in the future. And we had to blow up his whole neighborhood to do it." That's how war is under the Bush Doctrine. It's still wrong.
Lance Scott, via e-mail
SAVAGE: Great article on the Left being out in left field on this war, especially its failure to press for assistance in enacting a Marshall-like plan. The Right can also be faulted for this oversight, but it would sound better coming from the Left, especially if put to rhyme. Thanks for starting the chant!!
Phillip B. Rosenfeld, via e-mail
EDITOR: Dan Savage's assertion that you can no longer be a pacifist and a patriot is equivalent to saying that if you don't think as he does, you're anti-American. Dan, there are lots of people with ideas that one may strongly disagree with; they do not thereby lose the right to be patriotic, even if in your eyes they're being inconsistent. To claim otherwise is McCarthyism, plain and simple.
There may be dancing in the streets of Baghdad if Saddam is toppled, even if by outsiders. But does anyone reading this doubt that an American takeover of Iraq would motivate more terrorist actions against the U.S.?
Kent Pearse, via e-mail
SAVAGE: I'm a gay liberal civil libertarian Democrat, and I understand that we have a duty to defend civilization, democracy, and the lives of our countrymen against terrorism, and I understand that the current source of the terrorism is radical Arab Islam. But I have so many friends who just persist in closing their eyes and muttering the same old tired cant about the sins of America and blah, blah, blah. I just feel like screaming, "Don't you get it? It's 1938! It is 1938, right here, right now, and you guys are playing the part of Chamberlain!" Count me in with Churchill.
I cannot tell you how much it helps to know that there are people like yourself and Christopher Hitchens who are not afraid to look this war in the eye and call things by their right names, and to realize that we didn't start the war, and that our choice is not between peace and war, but between surrender and victory.
Mark O'Bannon, via e-mail
SAVAGE: I read your article and noted that your birthday is October 7, which is also my birthday.
Alex Fryer, the Seattle Times
DAN SAVAGE RESPONDS: Oh my God, Alex, that's so totally cool that we share the same birthday. Libras rule! It's a great birthday, because it's usually still summer, you know? And it's not so close to Christmas, like other fall birthdays (November, December) that people try to give you a combo b-day/x-mas present, you know? The only drawback was in grade school, really. Kids in a new grade are only just getting to know each other in early October. It was those March-April-May kids who had it made, don't you think?
CLARIFICATION: In Megan Seling's All Ages Action column ["Underage At City Hall," July 4] we implied that Seattle City Council President Peter Steinbrueck voted the wrong way at a June 25 committee meeting. Steinbrueck did not attend the June 25 meeting.