RE: Taiwan, David Horowitz & MUGGER’s Heritage

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts.

Sparrow, Phoenicia,

Joe Checks In
Very interesting. I was out
of town for a few days and upon my return to New York what do I find but that
Public Enemy Number 1–Mr. Joe Conason–has published a column in the
9/1 NYPress. Needless to say, I had to read it, because if it’s
in NYPress it means you guys somehow koshered him. And, sure enough,
the man wrote a decent piece. Maybe he’ll rethink his silly stance on Madame
Hillary, and we can have some fun with him.

John Strausbaugh wrote an
interesting “Publishing” column last week about the David Horowitz-Jack
E. White flap. I think the most interesting point that’s been made–aside
from the fact that White is an ignoramus–is that when a public figure such
as Horowitz is libeled by a rag with Time’s circulation, he has
no effective forum in which to reply. Until the advent of the Internet, that
is. Now Horowitz can at least begin to disseminate his arguments. (After all,
Time would never allow him to defend himself in its own pages.) Luce
continues to spin in his grave.

Lastly, why don’t you
get Camille Paglia to do an occasional column for your paper? I don’t always
agree with her, but her “don’t give a shit whose feelings I hurt”
attitude would mesh nicely with yours.

Once again, NYPress
is the best.

Norm Rush,

Social Distortion
David Horowitz may not be
a racist–his controversial article in the Aug. 16 Salon and other
articles I have read by him do not seem to reveal an animus toward African-Americans
per se, but rather against individuals who are “unintelligent” (of
which blacks constitute a disproportionate number, according to Horowitz) or
discontent with the current social order (of which blacks constitute a disproportionate
number) or maladjusted (of which blacks constitute…). They threaten Horowitz
because they challenge his fairytale neocon delusion that we live in a basically
equitable, decent social system that is continually being unfairly maligned
by his dreaded nemeses, left-wing social critics who refuse to renounce their
radical pasts, and confess as Horowitz urges them to: We exaggerated the evils
of…[the American social system] and underestimated its decencies and virtues
and we’re sorry. (See Horowitz, Salon, Aug. 2.) In order to maintain
his delusion, Horowitz adapts a neo-social Darwinist position; thus the socially
disadvantaged are invariably depicted by Horowitz as characterologically
individuals who should be subjected to punitive measures by the
state–for the good of African-Americans themselves, Horowitz hastens to
assure us (he is no racist). If this is not a form of class bigotry, what
is it

Thus Horowitz must deny
the extensively documented fact that the criminal justice system is racist in
its effects. Blacks, he tells us, are definitely not oppressed in America. The
proof? There is no “black exodus” to other countries! Horowitz completely
ignores the impact on poor blacks in America of such factors as: the loss of
industrial jobs, the cutback of welfare and the growth of a prison-industrial
complex. From 1980 to 1997 General Motors alone cut out 296,000 jobs in the
United States. As industries relocate abroad to find cheap sources of labor,
and welfare is cut back, many of the poor who are left without decent means
of subsistence have turned to drugs.

At the same time the privatization
of prisons has created a powerful economic incentive to fill up the prisons–for
the most part with non-criminals who represent no threat to others. (Prisons
are one of the biggest growth industry in the United States today!) During the
past two decades approximately a thousand new prisons and jails have been built
in the United States–yet the overall crime rate has been falling since
1994, according to the Justice Dept.’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. In
1995 less than one third of persons entering prison were violent offenders
down from 50 percent in 1980. What has increased dramatically is imprisonment
for drug crimes. Poor blacks are fodder for this prison-industrial complex.
It really is irrelevant–except to Horowitz–what Jesse Jackson said
about crack arrests 10 years ago, or yesterday. The fact is that the war
against drugs is a war against poor blacks
, and it serves the interests
of many industries and groups in society. As former police chief Dr. Joseph
McNamara stated in the National Review (Feb. 12, 1996, p. 43)–typical
lefty mag, eh David?–”The drug war has become a race war in which
nonwhites are arrested and imprisoned at 4-5 times the rate whites are, even
though most drug crimes are committed by whites.” In the prisons, according
to Amnesty International, conditions are increasingly brutal. The use of “new
high-tech repression tools,” such as electro-shock devices and chemical
sprays, is now common, and there is “a widespread and persistent pattern
of police brutality.”

I was a new-leftist in the
late 1960s, though too young then to be a leader–I was 16 in 1968. I do
agree with David that the new left made serious mistakes: by the late 1960s
it had assumed many of the authoritarian and elitist qualities of the old left,
and it participated in the apotheosis of violence and hatred exemplified by
the leadership of the Black Panther Party. But 30 years later I cannot console
Horowitz and admit that the 1960s left “exaggerated the evils” of
modern industrial society–if anything we underestimated its corruptness.
In addition to the horrors cited above, who would have imagined back then–to
take just one example–that one of the best minds of our generation, David
Horowitz, who wrote with such compassion and prophetic indignation about the
oppression of the poor and the vulnerable, would soon become a shameless apologist
for social inequity and class privilege? How did you come to lose your heart,
David? Why?

Seth Farber,

No Animal Cracking
This is in response to last
week’s letter from Brian O’ Hara, of R&R Productions (“The
Mail,” 9/1).

I salute the “latent
thespian” whom O’Hara so fiercely and bitterly criticized for writing
to “The Mail” (8/18) in order to denounce O’Hara for murdering
gerbils. Judging by what I’ve seen in many films that use animals, I believe
the thespian.

O’Hara sounds pitifully
arrogant, sadistic and egotistical. Only that type of person could be such an
ignoramus as to say that all species other than humans are: “…stupid,
vicious creatures with no mercy, no remorse and no love.”

Anyone who has companion
for animals knows and enjoys their compassion and love. They know how ingeniously
resourceful they can be in many situations, and how helpful they can be to other
pets in the house…and all on their own! And this is a microcosm of what happens,
also, in the wild.

If O’Hara thinks he’s
“superior” to other species, why does he imitate “inferior”
beings? He gives examples of animals who attack other animals. But these are
carnivorous animals who, if hungry, eat vegetarian animals.

Decent, civilized, evolved
people respect the right of animals to live on this globe unmolested.

E.P. Albertine,
Long Island City

Soup Bones
Re: George Szamuely’s
piece in “Taki’s Top Drawer” (9/1), I haven’t seen so much
nonsense written about China in a long time. You commend the Chinese for acting
with restraint over Hong Kong. Yeah, you would too if you were going to get
what you wanted anyway in a few years without doing anything. And they’ve
kept their promise to let Hong Kong keep its own government “for the most
part.” Well, except that they’ve made the Hong Kong courts subservient
to Beijing, so that the mainland can overrule any decision they don’t like–such
as lawsuits that go against relatives of top Communist leaders, as they’ve
already done. Just small things like that. They don’t consider that going
back on any of their promises to let Hong Kong keep its autonomy. You see, George,
the Communist leaders don’t understand rule of law the way you and I do.
They interpret it to mean “might makes right.”

As far as Taiwan goes, you’re
out of your mind. Taiwan is an independent state. It is not part of China, and
it’s none of China’s business what the Chinese in Taiwan do. You call
China’s behavior “mild”–yeah, like military sorties over
the Taiwan strait. The Chinese are prepared to be very accommodating to Taiwanese
businessmen in return for recognition of their ultimate sovereignty over
. Gee, who wouldn’t go for that? We’re tired of living under
our own leaders, with one of the most powerful economies in Asia. We want to
be under the thumb of a corrupt, authoritarian dictatorship with an appalling
human rights record. I can’t remember now why we fled China in the first

You seem to think there
is nothing to fear from North Korea. I can tell you that the Japanese, among
others, do not share your view. The fact that ordinary people are starving in
North Korea says nothing about their military capability. You are incredibly
naive if you think that the dictators and military leaders who control the country
and its resources are not well fed.

As for your assertion that
the U.S. is set to undermine China, you made that up out of whole cloth. Bill
Clinton has put on a revolting show of self-abasement to appease the Chinese
in order to keep trade relations humming. He has sold out Taiwan–Madeleine
Albright publicly rebuked them for President Lee’s “state to state
relations” remark. The Chinese know what a lying ass-licker Clinton is
and pressed that to their advantage, refusing Clinton administration apologies
over the Belgrade embassy bombing and denying the U.S. landing rights for military
planes in Hong Kong. If the Chinese do attack Taiwan while Clinton is in office,
I wouldn’t be surprised if he sides with the mainland. What a pig.

Finally, you assert that
if Taiwan “slips away,” Tibet and other provinces will follow and
that will be the end of China. Well, for your information, George, Taiwan slipped
away 50 years ago. You really should get out more. I’m sure the Tibetans
would be happy if Tibet seceded, but that is impossible at the moment. I’m
not aware of any other province in China that has the slightest inclination
to secede, so I think the scenario you describe is extremely unlikely–as
in, forget it.

Joe Rodrigue,
New Haven

Slamming The “Drawer”
Lately I’ve enjoyed
George Szamuely’s articles almost as much as I do Alexander Cockburn’s.
Before Cockburn came on board I mostly hated your newspaper, with its special
mix of right-wing polemic, journalistic gossip and yuppy egocentrism. Now I
find the mix much wider and sometimes, as with Cockburn and Szamuely, quite
interesting. Szamuely’s recent trenchant critiques of American cultural/economic
and military/political imperialism vis-a-vis Western Europe, in the Balkans
and now toward China are especially unusual and valuable.

However, while I can appreciate
exaggerations or eccentricities of view that help journalists stake out unpopular
(but correct) views in popular and effective ways, I think Szamuely’s “The
China Syndrome” column (“Taki’s Top Drawer,” 9/1) goes too
far, not in his criticism of U.S. policy in Yugoslavia or Asia, but in his apology
for the policies of the Serbian and mainland Chinese leaders. Speaking of the
U.S. bombing of Serbia, for instance, he writes: “The ostensible reason
proffered was the supposed abuse of Albanian ‘human rights.’”
Forgetting for a moment the intentional U.S. obfuscation of terms like “human
rights,” can’t Szamuely argue that the U.S. is hypocritical, self-interested,
imperialist, wrong, etc., in its Serbian intervention without qualifying Serbian
oppression of ethnic Albanians as “supposed”? Everybody knows there
was nothing “supposed” about it!

Such apologies for nationalism,
in my opinion, are just pig-headed and undermine his efforts to rally opposition
to U.S. imperialism. Similarly, he argues that the U.S. would be happy to see
China weak and divided, the better to exploit its resources, and that China
actually faces decomposition, like the Soviet Union, with potentially catastrophic
consequences. These are important arguments, and reflect the thoughts and fears
of Chinese mainland officials. But rather than set them out and discuss their
relevance, he (unintentionally, I think) plays into the hands of the worst elements
on both sides by urging the mainland government “to stop Taiwan’s
drift toward independence. Threats alone will have no effect… China has to
show its readiness to use force now.”

Well, where to begin? First
of all, this misses the point. The threat to China’s unity on the political
level (Communist Party’s monopoly of power) and state level (China has
huge regional economic and linguistic differences) comes not from an “independent”
Taiwan seeking “state-to-state” relations (we’re talking here
about words only, as Taiwan has been independent in fact since Mao took
the mainland and Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT fled to the island under U.S. protection).
Rather, China’s unity is threatened by the social/economic changes occurring
in China under the CP’s own guidance. As the Soviet Union under Gorbachev
and Tiananmen Square showed, a “Communist” party introducing capitalism
sooner or later is likely to shatter. Not the independence but the inter-dependence
of Taiwanese, mainland Chinese, Japanese, European and U.S. businessmen is what
constitutes right now the greatest threat to a unitary Chinese state. What kind
of state are we talking about? Socialist? Social Democratic? Capitalist? We
may have our own opinions about what it ought to be, or can be, as historical
circumstance must limit the choices one way or another, but surely the Chinese
people need to be given a chance to decide this question for themselves. This
is the issue, and it is especially poignantly raised in regard to Taiwan. This
is not only because the 22 million “overseas” Chinese on the island
have created a rich entrepreneurial society that mainland Chinese envy and despise
at the same time, and not just because over the last 10 years they have established
a thriving democracy (enriched by tensions between native Taiwanese and KMT
“mainlanders”), but because there are unresolved issues involved in
both societies that date back to Confucius.

A man like George Szamuely
should understand that at stake in China is not whether Marx was right or wrong,
or whether the Communist Party can or should survive, but the future of a very
large part of humanity, of its values and self respect. This is profoundly a
question of culture, and, yes, of democracy. Echoing the jingoistic posturing
of corrupt Communist Party bureaucrats over the use of force, or worse, the
use of force itself, will not resolve these conflicts, but deflect any consideration
of them, and further threaten the security of all the Chinese people.

Kenneth Wiland,