STRANGER: Just wanted to say that the "Urban Archipelago" piece was brilliant [Nov 11]. It's about time we liberals, progressives, and Democrats grew some fucking balls! It's unfortunate that by being in the "kinder, gentler" party we are vilified by the conservatives as being "pussies" or "girlie men." Why have we spent so much time worrying about issues that only affect poor, rural communities? They always vote for the conservatives! Forget trying to appeal to the "common man"; he voted for Bush! Forget compassion; it only gets us mocked. Forget bleeding heart liberalism; we need to learn how to play hardball.
STRANGER: This article is one of the most brilliant perspectives on our predicament and, in my humble opinion, should be distributed nationally. Since the election I have been unable to confront the future. Your article has changed that and has empowered me. Thank you from as deep a place as thank you can come from.
THE BITTERNESS WE BURLESQUE
STRANGER: Andrewsullivan.com is where I found a link to your feature, and much of what you say is indisputable. For example: There is a blue island in Alabama (Birmingham, Jefferson County), but it is dwarfed by red throughout the state.
I can identify with the bitterness that you burlesque in your feature--I've felt that about many of the places I know very well. One of the most bothersome is the political amalgam of Greater Atlanta, an engine that produced Newt Gingrich and the Contract ON America, and which produced Zell Miller, all with an urban panache.
Real enlightened self-interest at the polls, something that your feature certainly envisions, is long overdue. (I regret that you did not really tell the whole story on West Virginia's national exploitation, for example.) Your feature is engaging, and I'm sure many John Kerry supporters will benefit from it. I'm one liberal who is not terribly territorial.
A FLAWED PLAN?
STRANGER: Excellent idea until those ignorant red state rubes decide to withhold the food, water, energy, etc. that they produce from the Urbanists. And perhaps in an even more ugly scenario, refuse to accept the waste produced by those highly concentrated populations of progressive, right-thinking residents. Finally, they also might not be willing to allow access by the enlightened city dwellers to the cesspits that they control and the air space above, somewhat limiting the travel options of said residents. However, this may not end up being a problem since cities being the Edens that they are, who would want to leave?
Brian Welker SAD LITTLE PEOPLE?
STRANGER: I'm very sorry, dear ones, but tolerant and broad-minded are adjectives that could never be applied to you. Insular and parochial would do much better. Did you read about the writer from Slate (?) who went into red states wearing a Kerry/Edwards T-shirt and was greeted with relaxed indifference, but while sporting a Bush/Cheney shirt in blue states was the subject of spite and nastiness? Sums it up pretty well. It's time for people such as yourself to emerge from your coastal echo chambers and get in touch with real life. As an old New Yorker who's been back to the place quite a few times, you can have your smoke-free, increasingly precious, great oomphalos with its Nanny Mayor. Diverse? Try to find someone with red predilections in that city. Most hide because it's impossible to have a civilized disagreement with 99.9 percent of the blues.
Sad little people--so full of themselves and their petty grievances.
GIVE GOD A CHANCE
STRANGER: Andrew Sullivan's blog linked me to this fascinating and thoughtful piece. As one who grew up in an urban setting (Houston, TX), I found much in the essay to cheer about.
But its overall tone (sneering) and complete misunderstanding of people of faith baffles me. Is it not possible for you who write these pieces to get someone to explain to you something about God? Or better, just go to church some Sunday and you'll be amazed at the folks there who have different opinions but strong beliefs. One of your more-foolish statements casts God as a "man with a beard." No one believes that except those of you who have no understanding of religious belief.
Anyway it was a fine, though flawed in some places, piece and I'm glad Andrew linked to it.
Walter B. Funk
A TENNESSEE ESCAPEE
STRANGER: I was still feeling the sting of the neo-con victory, but last week's "The United Cities of America" issue made me feel a lot better. Having moved here from the red state of Tennessee, I greatly appreciate the intelligence and civility of the general populace--something that is sorely lacking in the south. However, I have to ask: What is up with the state-run liquor stores? The one by my house closes at 8:00 p.m., they're closed on federal holidays, and the selection SUCKS! Is there a reason for this? Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated.
THE STRANGER + STEWART = LOVE
STRANGER: Between you guys (your latest issue was BRILLIANT) and Jon Stewart, I may just get through this after all.
Lauralee Smith ACCOUNTABILITY? PRESIDENT BUSH?
STRANGER: I'll have to start by apologizing; I could only read about the first page and a half of the "Urban Archipelago" article, for the main reason that the person(s) who wrote it are full of shit. The reason why you lost the election for the second term in a row is because as much as you like to think that you are correct in your views and your positions, you couldn't be more incorrect, and the majority of voters regardless of their zip codes have finally started to realize this.
You are correct that the citizens who chose to live the "urban" lifestyle do have a lot in common with one another; the problem is that what they have in common increasingly are negative attributes. Drug abuse, alcoholism, STDs, gang violence--what wonderful gifts the urban dwellers share. It all basically boils down to one word, ACCOUNTABILITY. These days, liberals would much rather make others accountable while conservatives still choose to be accountable. And before you right me off as some backward-ass country fuck, let me tell you that I have always lived in cities. I am involved in an interracial marriage and I was a single parent for close to 10 years. So by your stereotyping I should be a liberal I guess, but I'm not. If anything, I become more and more conservative every day. And the reason why, you ask? Back to that same word, accountability. Show me a government-run health care system, and I'll show you an emergency ward where people have to wait up to 10 hours for treatment. I lived in Canada for a lot of years so I know what I'm talking about.
And what of your comment about the red voters being rubes and hatemongers. All of those servicemen from rural backgrounds that gave their lives or were injured to free other races than their own--hatemongering at its worst! Intolerant Christians, tell me which of the Ten Commandments, other than maybe the first, you disagree with. The United Christian Children's Fund, and the Salvation Army, two organizations dedicated to helping the less fortunate with NO strings attached. Hateful! Your problem is that you've been spouting the same shit for so long you've actually convinced yourself its true, and what angers you the most is that more and more Americans are seeing you for the liars you really are.
BEEP! BEEP! GOES THE SHORT BUS!
STRANGER: I'd like to thank you for continuing to prove why the ignorant racist liberal elitist freaks of the East and West Coast will not be allowed to determine the long-range survival of America. More than ever, the American left has proven itself to be the Islamic-loving, European-humping enemy of our country.
You are led by rich European-influenced scumbags from Hollywood, elitist self-serving sycophants from New York, and ball-less bastards from Boston. You are drunk on the hippie dream, clueless of the world, cavorting with international Islamic terrorists, and willing to sell your mothers to a death camp for a short-term feel-good back rub.
You live in broken-down, crime-ridden urban squalor. It's been proven that in every place that voted for John Kerry and the Democrats, schools are failing, crime is high, and domestic violence and broken families abound. Child molesters have the shortest prison terms, the fastest repeat-offender rates and the most abysmal tracking systems in the nation. Black and Latino drug and crime rates are up while their level of income has dropped. This is the so-called America you bastards wanted to foster on us? Kiss our red asses!
Liberals have never freed a single person from bondage. You have screamed Free Tibet for years without results, the Chinese fascists of Beijing laugh at you. Your gutless way of life is the manna for freaks, murderers, international tyrants, and madmen. You scream anti-Semitism in our universities, anti-Americanism to our youth, and anarchic fascism to your European friends.
You support keeping blacks, Latinos, and Asians in political bondage. You call them too stupid to stand for themselves, too incompetent to educate themselves, and too weak to live without the help of a Socialist state. You mask your hatred of Arabs under the banner of protesting a war long overdue to destroy despots long in need of a knife in the back. You are sand-sucking yellow-belly birds of cowardice.
You are angry because the whole country won't roll over and die for your weak, pathetic, perverted, archaic, liberal theology. We the majority don't care. We're sick of you, we're sick of your socialist dreams, and we're not lying down and taking them any more.
STRANGER: For two weeks I have been listening to pundits say that the Democratic Party needs to "reframe" its message, but I hadn't heard a single suggestion for how to do that until now. Your idea of an urban identity politics should have liberals all over the country asking themselves, "Why didn't I think of that?" Especially those floundering in the small "blue" oases of vast red states. I hope you will repeat your argument over and over until the DNC hears you--and I will do my part. Thank you!
HE'S PROBABLY READ THE BOOK OF REVELATIONS
STRANGER: At 55, I suspect I am outside of your standard demographic, but the front page of your current issue caught my attention and drew me inside to the election stories. Thank you so much. I went through the whole batch, and they have brightened my perspective substantially. All were wonderful. Pity that George W. Bush doesn't read.