October 3, 2007
I would like to personally apologize to Mr. Estrin [“Art = Life = Politics,” Letters, September 26]  for flag waving and handing out leaflets. I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Parris for using Nazi-like tactics. I would like to apologize to Mr. Greene for being a motherfucker. I would also like to apologize to Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP) for giving the other perspective of the Rachel Corrie accident. To the members of the VTJP, I am sorry I showed up at Peter Schumann’s exhibit.
I am, however, quite confused about the Nazi statement. I am a member of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND). Does that seem quite hypocritical, or is that just my view?
It appears to me that VTJP would like to have only their points of view heard in Vermont. I am sorry, but I have an issue with this. If VTJP really wants peace, they need to be willing to hear what members of the whole Vermont Jewish community and pro-Israel community have to say — not just the Jewish members of VTJP.
I still feel that VTJP is missing the point of what upset many people in Vermont’s Jewish and pro-Israel community. The Art Hop was not the appropriate venue for Mr. Kovel to be speaking. That is very clear in my mind because both sides of this debate are quite upset about what happened. Maybe VTJP will one day understand what was so upsetting about this speaker. L’shalom.
Neirman was a protestor at Peter Schumann’s Art Hop exhibit.
HOP OFF BALANCE
The Art Hop issue [“Peter Schumann’s Art Hop Exhibit Sparks Controversy,” September 12]  is not about censorship. Art Hop should show any art offered to it. The more practical question: Should the Art Hop schedule purely political events? I think not.
If the Art Hop becomes a platform for political lectures, some people will then choose to distance themselves from this event. Next year, do we get an anti-abortion lecture and film? How about the political candidates running in November? Should they be scheduled for campaign speeches?
The Art Hop administrators have shown themselves to be competent event administrators, but they have also showed themselves to be not competent enough to organize fair political events. In the show that caused all the uproar, there was no attempt to present a balance of views. I made a disturbing piece of art that responded to what I believed the outcome would be of enacting an “Overcoming Zionism” policy. This piece was not included in the show because I “submitted after the entry due date.”
I think that there are many people in this community who have criticisms of Israel and concerns for the tragedy in Palestine/Israel. But linking these criticisms with the desire for the destruction of the Jewish state (the overt point to the Art Hop lecture) overwhelms any creative discussion.
KNOW OUR ROLE
In light of the incident at the 2007 South End Art Hop as reported in Seven Days [“Peter Schumann’s Art Hop Exhibit Sparks Controversy,” September 12] , I would like to clarify the Peace & Justice Center’s role in providing fiscal sponsorship to various community groups.
The Peace & Justice Center (PJC) is a 28-year-old, statewide nonprofit organization that works on the interconnected issues of economic and racial justice, peace and human rights through education, training, advocacy, nonviolent activism and community organizing. For more than 20 years, the PJC has provided fiscal sponsorship to community groups and projects whose work fits within the scope of our mission. Current fiscal sponsors include: American Machine, Big Heavy World, Inter-American Center for the Arts, Sustainability and Action (CASA), Circles for Peace, VT Committee on South Africa, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, VT Peace Train, VT Pride, VT Says No to War Coalition and Vets for Peace. These community organizations and projects are all committed to grassroots organizing and civic engagement. With fiscal sponsorship, the PJC provides a way for groups to receive grants or other donations that need nonprofit status. The PJC does control how the money in our account is spent — it must follow Internal Revenue Service guidelines — but the PJC does not monitor or control the day-to-day work or actions of these groups. The PJC had no part in planning or implementing the Bread and Puppet exhibit at the Art Hop. The PJC supports free speech and the right of people to express themselves artistically. Simultaneously, we acknowledge the extent to which the events at Art Hop exacerbated an extremely tenuous situation. The Peace & Justice Center is reaching out to all parties involved in this local conflict in hopes of supporting dialogue and action that moves in the direction of peace and justice.
Chaudhry is the executive director at the Peace & Justice Center.
THE NOTORIOUS K-I-D
In response to the letter from the Winooski man complaining that the police are abusing their power [“Power-Hungry Police,” Letters, September 12] , I have to disagree. In fact, we’re talking about a police force that is being outwitted by gangs of elementary school kids.
When my bike was stolen from my front door in broad daylight, I went to the police. The apathy I encountered let me know there was no hope of ever seeing my bike again. “We’ll let you know if we see it,” I was told.
Word on the street is that there are well-known “chop shops” that run steady businesses. Word from a local bike repair guru is that there are “notorious” gangs of elementary school kids stealing bikes. Notorious. Kids? Yikes. I was robbed. This was my only transportation. That bike is irreplaceable to me.
When I was listening to Mr. Bush’s recent speech about his commitment of resources to the safety of the people of Iraq, I couldn’t help but feel a little selfish. What about my own feeling of safety in my home state of Vermont? We have opened our doors to people from around the world. To the chronically homeless from across the country, Burlington is “the best place to be in the summer.” To parolees up and down the East Coast, Burlington is the place to go for “leniency.” Seems like this is a demand for more resources.
The image of Burlington, Vermont, with its sailboats and fine dining, is in stark contrast to what is happening on the street, where syringes line sidewalks and people can’t feel safe from elementary school kids. Big-city crime has become a reality in towns throughout Vermont. And yet, funding for the police charged with maintaining public safety has not grown with the increase in population.
If the police are helpless, where does that leave citizens? Does it lead us to the “I Spy” from the man whose fixie was stolen from his porch on Willard? Does it lead us to complacency? What is the plan for the future? What is the notorious elementary school kid going to be when he grows up?
TOON RACE TABLEAUX
This week’s strip by Ted Rall [“Modern Civil Rights: Which One is Worth Marching For?” September 26] portrays incredible ignorance, and through that, perpetuates the racism I assume he disavows.
The “Jena Six” symbolize how racist U.S. society continues to be. Simplifying the situation in Jena to a bunch of black students beating up a white kid is a twisting of the truth worthy of Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. When black students in Jena decided to sit under the “white” tree for lunch, nooses were strung up the next day. Those responsible were dismissed as “pranksters,” but when black students protested, the Louisiana District Attorney threatened to “ruin their lives” with a stroke of his pen. That weekend, a young black man gets beat up at a party by white students. Next, a white man threatens black students with his gun, and was never held responsible. Instead, the black man who wrestled the gun away in self-defense was charged with theft. How does it reason that young black men (tired of being pushed around) who beat up a white student are charged, not with assault or battery, but with conspiracy and attempted second-degree manslaughter? On top of this, the trials are being held by all-white juries selected from all-white jury pools. This is no justice but Jim Crow justice.
Of course Seven Days has every right to print this comic, but if they truly want to be an alternative news source, they should read up on the issues before printing thoughtless articles, editorials or cartoons.
MoveOn.org’s ad “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” accuses the general of “Cooking the Books for the Whitehouse” and claims that he is “a military man constantly at war with the facts.”
Predictably, the White House and right-wing Bush supporters are feigning outrage. “Like the men he commands, (Petraeus) is risking his life to protect our freedoms here at home,” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote on the National Review blog, “The Corner.” While it’s true that our soldiers are risking their lives in Iraq, they are not fighting for “our freedoms here at home.”
The tragic fact is that the men and women who joined the U.S. military with the honorable intention of defending American freedom are being misled by a dishonorable commander in chief who is actively engaged in the destruction of our civil liberties.
Our soldiers are fighting and dying for a president whose attacks on our freedom since 9/11 include illegal surveillance conducted inside the U.S. by the Pentagon, illegal wiretappings, and FBI agents engaging in illegal call-tracking efforts that violated the privacy of millions of Americans. They’re fighting and dying for a president who has eliminated the writ of habeas corpus, which is the main protection against an abusive government.
Our soldiers are fighting and dying for a president whose only goal is to keep them fighting and dying until he can toss the remains of his ignoble war into the lap of his successor.
Has the general betrayed us? “Ask the infantry and ask the dead.”
Walter F. Wouk
• In a story that ran in last week’s issue [“Hawks and Doves Flock Together at Norwich Peace Conference,” September 26] , Seven Days incorrectly spelled Norwich University President Dr. Richard W. Schneider’s last name. Also, the university is not the oldest military academy in the country. It is the oldest private military college.
• In a recent “Inside Track” column [“The Pollina Possibility,” September 19]  Seven Days incorrectly identified Gen. David Petraeus. He is commander of the multinational forces in Iraq.