Schindler's Schmuck

Dear Editor:

U.S. Rep. Tom Coburn should resign from the Congressional Family Caucus.

I hope my views represent the conscience of more than 6 million Jews murdered in the holocaust, holocaust survivors, and the decency and human emotion in every individual.

As a concerned U.S. citizen, I am enraged over Oklahoma U.S. House of Representative Tom Coburn's recent comments criticizing the airing of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List on NBC ... Coburn's exploitation of this important movie for his own conservative, right-wing platform is the best reason I can think of for him to resign from the Congressional Family Caucus, where Coburn serves as co-chairman.

I believe the nudity, violence and profanity used in the film accurately portrays the horror of war. Coburn has taken these elements out of context. Should we ask people to stop watching documentaries on Third World nations because people are seen naked in impoverished, war-torn countries? To judge the elements of a program detracts from the message.

The message is clearly lost on Coburn. The district he represents in Oklahoma is probably void of a large Jewish population. You don't have to be Jewish to understand this film or the significance of the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia or the ethnic cleansing that happened so recently in Bosnia.

It does not outrage me to educate children under the correct supervision. Maybe if children learn about the horrors some adults create, we can prevent these crimes from reoccurring. This program was aired on commercial television and parents can make their own best judgment - without government interference - whether or not it is appropriate to watch.

The TV rating system was created by politicians such as Coburn who feel the need to regulate the rights of individuals to make a choice. It was rated TV M for mature audiences. Too strong for your children? Don't let them watch. There are at least 50 other cable channels with other programming available as well as an "off" button on televisions.

If Coburn was a Jewish prisoner of war under the supervision of Schindler, he too might be saved. Unfortunately, he will just remain "Schindler's Schmuck."

Daryl S. Toor
5003 Old Cask Way
Apex, NC 27502

Don't 'Naptown' Us

In today's mail I received an unfortunate combination: a subscription expiration notice from The Progressive Populist and a copy of the March edition highlighting on the front page an article by Phil Farrugio entitled "The Pods; Agitating in Naptown."

"Naptown" is an insulting term by which Indianapolis is sometimes denominated, and Mr. Farrugio, a transplant from New York City, set out in the article to belittle not only the city's general culture but various members of what he considers "the so called progressive movement here in Naptown." His bases for the latter thrust seem to be that (1) one local activist (not in the Alliance) supports the two-party system; (2) not everyone here was prepared to pursue Farrugio's exact strategy and tactics on campaign finance reform; and (3) fewer people turn out here for progressive demonstrations than in New York.

Many others, whether native to Indiana or transplants like myself, agree that the conservative dominance in Indianapolis can be stifling; we do not necessarily think, however, that insulting an entire city is an appropriate or a mature reaction. As for his disparagement of local progressives, I really find too little there to merit a response.

I suspect this is neither the first nor the last time Mr. Farrugio will use his pen to wound those with whom he could have made common cause. But I confess I was not prepared to see the pages of The Progressive Populist used to such effect. I believe your editorial staff owes an apology to Indianapolis and to those who struggle here for progressive causes.

Disappointed in you,

Pat McGeever
Alliance for Democracy, Indianapolis
6829 Chaucer St.
Indianapolis, IN 46220

Editor's Reply: The Progressive Populist is about presenting opinions and stimulating debate. We don't always agree with our writers, but we hope they're thought provoking - in your case, maybe anger provoking. I guess you know Mr. Farrugio. You might try cussing at him, to make him feel at home. Then buy him a slice of pizza (New York-style, of course) and resign yourself to the fact that some New Yorkers may move inland, but they never mentally unpack.

Throw out the TV

Joan Zwagerman's piece that advocated that we turn off our t.v. part of the time had a rather sad ring to it.

Television as an addiction is not a mere metaphor, it's a bona fide phenomenon. Television is truly used as a drug, a way of turning off your brain by allowing stimuli to wash over you while you sit passive and immobile on the sofa. Calling it crap and pablum and then advocating watching less instead of getting rid of the problem sounds like the rationalization of a true junkie.

I know all this from personal experience, for when I was a kid, my parents experimented with all kinds of schemes to get us to reduce TV watching. They took the channel switching knob off so that we could only get PBS. We found pliers. They gave us credits for a certain amount of TV per day. Family turmoil resulted. They got rid of the TV altogether. We got mad, then we went outside and got used to it. For several years we lived in a no-TV environment of quiet and conversation. Unfortunately, as my parents' lives became more stressful in the post-'60s slump in university employment, TV came back for use as an adult tranquilizer. Then, all was lost, and we spent as much time in front of the idiot box as anybody in America.

Kids today spend even more time in front of a cathode ray tube than we did, what with computer games and the move to computer-based learning in school. Get rid of the box altogether, come face to face with your own addiction to poisoned pablum, and save yourself the grief of coming up with complex schemes to limit your or your kid's access.

Perhaps a more true analogy is that television is like a fungus - if you have an infection and cure only part of it, it will in all probability spread back to its original extent.

To paraphrase the great environmental writer and seditionist Edward Abbey: Kill your television. Take it out back and shoot it or find some other way to destroy it utterly. Dispose of it properly, and don't give it a second thought.

Joe Franke
Portland, OR (No street address listed)
email: jfranke@igc.org

Don't Trust Kelly

I greatly enjoy reading The Progressive Populist, although because I had several books to read I just read my January edition today. One of the books which caused this delay was Toxic Sludge is Good for You. This book is subtitled "Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry," and was recommended by your magazine. You can well imagine how surprised I was to find the misleading and unrealistic article (which I have enclosed) ["Green Consumerism is Dead, Long Live the Green Corporation," claiming that corporations are adopting environmentalism] in the January issue of The Progressive Populist. Apparently, Marjorie Kelly of Business Ethics magazine either doesn't know what she is talking about or is a liar.

Sincerely, Paul Schwietering
461 Sanoma Ct.
Cincinnati, OH 45255

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