DEAR EDITOR: Brav-fucking-O to everyone on staff at The Stranger. I would like to thank Josh Feit ["Sound Judgment," Sept 20] and Bret Fetzer ["Who, US?" Sept 20] for their comments on our nation's bloodthirsty ignorance.
Amanda, Capitol Hill
EDITORS: I wanted to thank Bret Fetzer for his article "Who, US?" If we were to believe the mainstream media, this attack came from absolutely nowhere, and had nothing to do with what we as a country have done in the past. The terrorists were just continuing the cycle of violence that America has helped to create.
Eric Anglada, via e-mail
TO THE EDITOR: I don't mind when The Stranger, or anyone else, takes potshots at my politics; it comes with the territory. But to flatly lie about what I've written is not only irresponsible, but proves the point that Josh Feit was trying to disprove: that journalists are better off sticking with facts ["Sound Judgment," Sept 20].
According to Feit, "Parrish... claimed the media's early speculation that Islamic radicals were behind the attack was irresponsible and racist." He then goes on to rail at length.
Feit is disingenuous throughout the article (for example, citing the "caution" of New York Times coverage that appeared the same day mine did, the day after I'd written it; I commented on Tuesday morning's TV content), but there are two major problems: Not once did I use the words "racism" [or] "racist," or any similar terms; and I didn't write a damned thing about whether media shouldn't have speculated that those responsible for the attack were Islamic. That was my published guess that day, too, although--as Feit admits at length--it was entirely circumstantial. (Though as it happens, most folks initially thought Timothy McVeigh was an Arab, too.)
My sole Seattle Weekly comment on the topic [concerned] NBC's fictitious claim that a particular Palestinian group had claimed responsibility. My other criticisms dealt with TV's careless use of "Islam" and "terrorist" as interchangeable words. That's like saying Christian = terrorist, after McVeigh. That's not racist; it's stupid. It's hardly sound judgment. And neither is Josh Feit ripping things that never happened, and calling it news. Of course, he hardly needs a crisis to resort to that.
Geov Parrish, Political Columnist, Seattle Weekly
JOSH FEIT RESPONDS: Here's what Geov Parrish wrote: "Speculation was rampant, on absolutely no evidence, that someone Islamic, usually Osama bin Laden, was responsible, but that speculation often broadly invoked 'Islam' as responsible...." Parrish goes on to conclude: "The rush to judgment was irresponsible." The point of my article was to show that the media wasn't being "irresponsible," but rather, was bringing a smart dose of context to the basic reporting. Parrish clearly wants us to think the media reaction to the September 11 attacks was racist: His article says that media speculation "broadly invoked Islam... as shorthand for 'terrorist.'" Obviously, Parrish was trying to argue that it's racist to use pejorative "shorthand" in describing an entire religious faith. But again, my point was to show that it wasn't "irresponsible" for reporters to bring Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic groups into the lens.
EDITORS: I was not upset with The Stranger's first response to the terrorist attacks against the U.S., when you, like the rest of the country, were caught with your pants down. Your commentary that first week was awkward, honest, and touching. But you really blew it with your pious apologies the week after [Letters to the Editor, Sept 20]. America has already been saturated with commentators falling all over themselves to describe how awful it all was. And here you come along, pouring out your personal accounts of how this "unthinkable tragedy" touched the lives of your myopic staff. I turn to The Stranger to get away from knee-jerk reactions and overwrought emotionalism.
Andrew LaBonte, Seattle
EDITORS: You guys have access to so many good artists who do work that can inspire. Why do you have to put a box-cutter on the cover of your paper [photo by Arthur Aubry, Sept 20]? It's just going to bum people out and promote fear. Sure, it's amazing that a simple tool like that was the straw that broke the camel's back, but it doesn't need to be shoved in our faces.
Anonymous, via e-mail
STRANGER: Your latest piece of cover art is unimaginably tasteless and offensive. You are absolutely evil. I pray for your bankruptcy; I pray that one day soon you may be able to feel compassion and cease spreading your self-centered and cynical evil. You betray not only your city but all of America.
Andrew, via e-mailEDITORS: I understand the concept behind your ghastly box-cutter cover: We were "unmade" by something we made. The box-cutter could be only a simple cutting tool, or it could be our own foreign policies. However, I'm pretty sure you would have made the point with a different image if, say, Dan Savage's mother had been the slashed and sacrificed passenger on one of those four planes.
Craig Liebendorfer, Seattle
EDITORS: Your September 13 cover was so beautiful and moving, it made September 20's cover all the more shocking. Brutal, insensitive, callous, cynical, cruel. If this was your intention, then congratulations!--you've done a great job. And your "New Column," "Ask the Taliban's Grand Council": Was that supposed to be funny?
Maggie Booviak, Seattle
DAN SAVAGE RESPONDS: The image on the cover of last week's issue was horrifying. It was meant to be. The rush to package the events of September 11 in safe and comforting images of flags and firemen and prayer services misrepresents the events and diminishes their horror. I believe the events of September 11 were so shocking and horrifying that we should, for a few weeks at least, remain shocked and horrified.
CRACKED AT THE SEAMS
EMILY HALL: Thank you, thank you for your important observations ["The Untold Story," Sept 20]. The media's relentless logo-and-slogan machine is an insult to our intelligence and a disgrace to the memories of the victims. The last time broadcast media was shocked into a respectful reverence was President John F. Kennedy's assassination; one would have hoped that the mainstream media could have treated recent events with an equal measure of dignity. "Our world just cracked open at the seams. We don't yet begin to comprehend what it means. As each passing day puts September 11 further into the past, it's critical that we don't get lulled into thinking that it can all be 'summed up' in 'greeting card sentiments.'" Well said.
Kent Pearse, Seattle
TO THE EDITOR: Last week, Leslie Smith-Duss wrote a letter [Sept 20] berating David Schmader for his "inability to set aside [his] usual snide, sardonic editorial voice when faced with the news of the terrorist attacks."
I am not suggesting that we start making World Trade Center jokes or trivializing the pain many people feel. But Schmader wasn't doing this. He was dealing with this tragedy while maintaining his voice and personality. Without his particular talent, Last Days, a column which regularly relates horrid occurrences, would read like Oprah. With Jon Stewart crying on The Daily Show and Dan Savage denouncing the relevancy of sex columns, someone needs to retain a sense of self.
Felisa, via e-mail
EDITORS: Please, oh, please--ask your copy editor(s)/proofreader to stop lowercasing the forms of "to be" in headlines. Just because "is" and "are" and "be" are short words doesn't justify their demotion to l.c. Have a look at any instance of "to be" in a headline from the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, and you will see it rendered correctly. Thank you.