Comparing Liberal and Conservative TerrorIn his April 25...


May 05, 1992

Comparing Liberal and Conservative Terror

In his April 25 letter, Roy F. Unger rode off into the sunset on splendidly high dudgeon about the destructive and shocking tactics of what he identified alternately as "liberal," "left" or "progressive" causes.

He was incensed when an anti-nuclear protester in Las Vegas smashed a crystal statue at the feet of a senior citizen named Ronald Reagan.

It is because America has rejected the liberal and progressive agenda, he asserted, that these "flakes" and "fanatic hippies" resort to such antics.

Let us give equal time, please, to the rain of outrages and desperation tactics loosed on America by the causes that occupy the political spectrum right of center.

While I personally do not condone statue-smashing as a catalyst for intelligent dialogue and problem-solving (such an act is symbolically violent and counter-productive), I nevertheless do understand the frustration of the young man who chose that route.

His was a dramatic attempt to call public attention to the infinitely greater institutionalized violence being perpetrated on society.

Every spring the supposed liberal press is remarkably silent about the large-scale anti-nuclear demonstrations held in the Nevada desert, just as it is remarkably silent about the useless nuclear weapons that continue to be exploded there, silent about the billions of dollars in cost, silent about the radioactive waste generated by the production of these weapons and about the permanently contaminated land left behind.

It's ironic that a sound as soft as breaking glass finally attracted attention.

However, for examples of the antics and tactics of right-of-center politics, we don't have to travel all the way to Nevada and watch thermonuclear explosions.

Closer to home we have the harder-to-detect fallout from the gutting of essential energy and environmental policies -- it will be a while before the poisons from these profit-driven decisions seep into our lives. And then there's genteel, white-collar violence such as the savings and loan scandal, an equal-opportunity mugger that will eventually assault all of us.

Most people probably felt badly when Ronald Reagan was jolted, albeit briefly, from his somnolence by the rude wake-up call in Las Vegas. However, do not argue that the liberal left holds a monopoly on assaultive tactics.

And do not mistake the thrashing about of random symbolic gestures for the death throes of liberal politics in this country.

As long as the conservative right pushes us closer and closer to the edge of the plank, the liberal left will be standing by to pull us back from the brink.

Adine Panitch


Growing Insensitivity Toward Others

Rodney King finds himself a victim for the second time inside of a year. The evidence on the tape and presented during the trial was self-evident. Was what we witnessed a replay of Dante's "Divine Comedy" or another example of Camus' nihilism and futility?

As a South African, I have witnessed many such beatings, most of which were wrought upon innocent victims. But never have I witnessed an onslaught so brutally executed.

Back home in South Africa, I successfully instituted three separate charges against police officers involved in beatings -- only to be hounded and threatened by their colleagues. In this instance, the whole court case and decision of the jury has left me, as I am sure it has left many others, numb and frightened. Whatever happened to "a jury of one's peers?"

I cannot express the feelings and emotions that fill my body, especially being presented with the ever- smug attitude of Laurence Powell and, to a lesser degree, Stanley Koon. I'm so angry that I find that I'm unable to cry. I relive these traumatic flashbacks of beatings every time I attend screenings of South African-themed films or those depicting the lives of slaves in the South.

What we are witnessing in our world today is a growing insensitively to the plight of others and those less fortunate than ourselves. This is the result of the "me, me" attitude. There is no way that any sane person with a modicum of decency could deny that Rodney King was viciously and brutally beaten.

Only the emotionally inept can remain calm or unmoved by the "not guilty on all counts" verdict. This is a sad day for all people of color.

Sharif Shah-bilal



As shocking and unjust as the Rodney King verdict appears to have been, the riots, violence and deaths that ensued will inevitably and unfortunately fuel the fears, hatreds and racism that may have prompted the brutality and the decision in the first place.

I believe that black leaders must speak out in the loudest and most unequivocal terms that rioting, looting, violence, deaths and destruction are not justifiable responses -- even if the verdict was dead wrong.

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