A thousand hurrahs for yourWilliam F. Buckley interview (6/9). With it, NYPress has even more thanever placed itself as the polar opposite of the VillageVoice'sextremely limp, one-dimensional cartoon-1960s marijuana-left jingoisms (or isit jisms?).
Dann Thor Karma, Manhattan
Muslim Diet, Christian Grace MUGGER: Since your tripto Memphis your column has lacked its usual edge. It must be all that pork youindulged in in that town. Rejoin the battle and take no prisoners, please. We'recounting on you. Let the world know about the real Hillary Clinton and the truthabout those pompous ass-pricks at The New York Times. And do stay away from thepork. Ask Mrs. M. to switch your diet for a while. Beef fajitas for desperatemoments. In your Q&A with WilliamF. Buckley last week, John Strausbaugh asked Buckley: "Can I ask a Nearer,My God question? I was raised Catholic, educated by the Jesuits and I cameout a complete unbeliever. How do you know there's a God?" Mr. Strausbaugh:Being exposed to the Jesuits did it. There you were in an environment of anutter Christian optimism that counted on human endeavor more than on divinegrace. Their model of the man of Natural Religion was a Christian gentlemanwho did not need grace, miracle or revelation, and was made virtuous and justby his own good nature. But you were lucky. If you had hung out with the samebunch from the 60s on, in addition to being a nonbeliever you would today bea Marxist and you would probably be dead, killed in the Sandinista war in Nicaragua.You also asked: "It clearly was a question of much more import at somepoint in the past than it is now. If you didn't believe 500 years ago, you wereout of luck. Are we just going through a phase where belief, faith, religionhave been moved out of the center of life, and might become more central againin the future?" You are so right. It was indeed the contribution of threemajor-league bastards: Rousseau, Descartes and Locke, the so-called Enlightenment,cemented by the French Revolution, with the emphasis on "French."Their insane drivel became an "anthropocentric humanism" that todayis nothing less than a religion. Solution: What the worldneeds is a new humanism, a "theocentric" or integral humanism, whichwould consider man in all his natural grandeur and weaknessin the entiretyof his wounded being inhabited by Godin the full reality of nature, sin andsanctity. I'd be happy to supply more details, but I don't want to overstaymy welcome.
Marco Oliva, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
McCarthy's Ghost Joe McCarthy, had he lived,might have won a Hero of the Soviet Union medal for his inept handling of theissue of Communist influence in the United States ("William F. BuckleyJr. Q&A," 6/9). No matter how Bill Buckley tries to alter the historicalrecord, the drunk from Wisconsin did more to help the KGB than all those Britishschoolboys recruited in the 1930s. How? Because he createdsuch an intense paranoia about Communism that the people who betrayed the UnitedStates were able to do so with ease. Are we really supposed to believe thatHarry Bridges, Dashiell Hammett and Zero Mostel posed a great and ongoing threatto the U.S.? McCarthy's witch hunt merely harmed Hollywood and shunted progressivesout of the labor movement. The real spies were mostlygreedy military men selling signal intelligence. John Walker was a white supremacistselling so many secrets to the KGB that he carried them home in duffel bags. McCarthy began his careerdefaming the Army for interrogating S.S. men after the Malmedy massacre. Forthe historically ignorant, S.S. units rounded up and killed nearly 100 U.S.Army prisoners during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. They shot them, thenwalked around kicking them in the testicles to see if they were alive, thenshot them again. McCarthy said the Army used torture to obtain the killers'confessions, and made it a cause celebre. He ended his career by attackingthe Army again. Not satisfied by defending Nazis, he accused the Army of harboringcommunists. Which it didn't. And he was ruined for it. When right-wingers bringup old Joe, they forget that the greatest harm he did was not to Soviet intelligence,but to the U.S. Army. My next point: Sen. Clinton?Get used to it. Rudy Giuliani isn't getting a clear shot at anything. Rick Laziois the least of his growing problems. Peter King, a man who is neither shy noran accomplice of the Pataki/D'Amato wing of the party, now thinks senator mightbe a nice job. If Newt Gingrich couldn'tbully King, Giuliani, who has no power over him, has no shot at it. Giuliani's problem is this: He shat on everyone in his way. Unfortunately for him, one of those people wasGeorge Pataki, who seems blessed with the demeanor of Ron Howard, an intelligencejust shy of Bill Clinton's and the patience of Michael Corleone. While Giuliani looks greatat a distance, up close he's far from an ideal candidate. Minorities might supportHillary Clinton in record numbers. Maybe Giuliani saw Patakias a soft touch. Well, Rudy's about to find out the hard way he isn't. Hell,like Al Gore or Bill Bradley wouldn't give Pataki a job? He needs George W.a lot less than George W. needs him. Pataki, despite the bleatingof Mitch McConnell and the national GOP, is going to put Rudy in his place andget away with it. Why? Because Rudy is an asshole and everyone knows it. Also,because his see-no-evil, give-no-pay-raises attitude toward the NYPD will hurthim on both ends. Imagine the day when Hillary Clinton gives a nice big hugto Pat Lynch, PBA chief, when he delivers their endorsement to her. Then she'llhold hands with the Diallo family. Then, when the Feds move to appoint a monitorfor the NYPD, Giuliani's war on crime at any cost will blow up in his face. All Pataki has to do isexplain this nightmare to the national GOP, and you can see why Rick Lazio,who isn't routinely booed by crowds of African-Americans or referred to as yourfavorite 1930s dictator, might be a better candidate. Don't forget, despite allthis carpetbagger nonsense, Hillary Clinton can travel upstate with clean hands.She may like Manhattan, but she doesn't have the reflexive contempt upstatersand downstaters have for each other. She can say, with true honesty,that she'll consider the whole state, since she's a new arrival here. Do youthink anyone in Syracuse thinks Rudy isn't a downstate guy? Please. The wholeargument is silly when people move from Pakistan and Iowa to become New Yorkersdaily. If Hillary Clinton wants to learn our folkways, fine. Hillary has her flaws, butRudy isn't going to bring up Filegate without returning to his largely blownWall Street cases and Sukreet Gabel. Imagine Hillary Clinton reminding peoplethat our Mayor is the kind of man who would force a daughter to tape her mother.A little too close to Linda Tripp, isn't it? The difference between Rudyand Hillary is that all of her problems have been debated for years. Rudy'shaven't. From Cristyne Lategano to the harsh criticism of his tactics as U.S.attorney to federal oversight of his police force, there are many potentialnightmares for his Senate campaign. His campaign could collapselike a house of cards over night, with or without a shove from his enemy Pataki.And there Pataki will be, telling his fellow Republicans that, yeah, Rudy lookedgood from a distance, but I told you guys there were problems.
Stephen Gilliard, Manhattan
He's One of ThoseKennedys? In the shooting-fish-in-a-barreldepartment, criticizing hapless Patrick Kennedy ("MUGGER," 6/9) abouthis verbal acuity is, well, rather simple sport. Surely you know that the Houseof Representatives is packed with morons on both sides of the aisle, simpletonsnot exactly brimming with wit or even coherence. Patrick is just one among many.But then there's that last name of his, and I suppose the temptation is difficultto resist.
Harley Peyton, Santa Monica, CA