An Angry Response to Our ‘Alex’ Disclaimer

Dispatches from Belgrade

No, indeed, you cannot confirm anything written by Alex. I’m sure you could have displayed your disclaimer in an even bigger font, with flashing lights and the “Lost in Space” robot waving its arms while screaming, “Warning! Warning! Warning!” But at least you put your disclaimer before the article. Good job, CNN. Oops, I mean, Mother Jones.

Truly disgusted,
Dan Vukadinovic


Alex’s Postings: Serb Propaganda?

Dispatches from Belgrade

To the Editors:

“Alex” in Belgrade seems to know little of what his brave countrymen have done in Kosovo. Why don’t you send him an e-mail detailing the mass graves, rapes, and forced deportations? He might dismiss it as “NATO propaganda.” But satellite images and 600,000 Albanian refugees offer compelling proof of serious crimes against humanity committed by Serb forces.

Not to say that I’m a big fan of NATO propaganda. But I’m not sure that delivering unfiltered Serb propaganda is much of a service to your readers. How about exercising your responsibility as journalists to question all sides and present a factual view?

Are the citizens of Belgrade suffering? Absolutely. But they are suffering because their leaders were unwilling to grant basic human rights to the Albanian majority in Kosovo.

I can’t help but wonder whether you would have printed a letter from Berlin decrying the nightly bombings when Allied troops were liberating Dachau.

Neff Hudson


Kosovo — Blame the West?

MoJo Wire Kosovo Coverage

[You have published] some rather surprising comments and articles: either the Serbs are the nasty ones, or the Kosovars, or both. I don’t think you can blame the present situation on history. The blame lies with the West, which, even before Tito’s death, started to destabilize Yugoslavia by forcing free-market capitalism upon it. This led to increased unemployment as more and more companies were forced into bankruptcy. The welfare state was systematically dismantled. This destabilization made it much easier for old antagonisms to be stirred up. The money spent so far on this war could have been used to provide jobs for the people of Yugoslavia. This, however, would not have provided profits for the military-industrial giant in the West.

John Spink


An Unfairly Portrayed Town?

An American Sweatshop

All I had to do was read the description of Beattyville, Kentucky, and what this man had to say about the people of Beattyville to come to the conclusion that both Mr. Boal and your magazine are invalid. Mr. Boal should have at least checked his facts before printing them. I have never been in the factory mentioned in the article, but, because of the off-the-wall description of Beattyville, I really cannot give any credence to Mr. Boal’s article or any magazine that would print such a piece of garbage!

John Howerton
Beattyville, KY


Dear Editor,

I was shocked by your magazine’s lack of truth and taste in “An American Sweatshop” by Mark Boal. I am from that small town of Beattyville and I found little truth in Mr. Boal’s description of my town. According to him, Beattyville is less a town than a three-light strip bordered by aluminum shacks and a pine forest. He also felt it necessary to mention moonshine and marijuana as the chief economic activities. Was such a description necessary in an article that was meant to publicize poor working conditions in a factory that just happens to be on the outskirts of that town? I’m afraid Mr. Boal fell into the trap of using stereotypical ideas — not proven facts — in his writing. We do not need a “big city magazine” wrongfully portraying our culture. I think Mother Jones and Mark Boal owe Appalachia an apology. I challenge your magazine to come to Beattyville and compare our positive attributes to the negative. We deserve some praise for the good things we have, make, and do.

Megan Thomas


Responses to the Colorado School Shooting

The Columbine High School Shootings

To the editor:

Hello. I’m an 18-year-old college student and I became really upset and angry when I heard all about the shootings in Littleton, Colorado, through the media. I understand the anger resulting from this situation for those who lost their family members, and I naturally sympathize with the families of the innocent students who died.

But no one seemed to think about the families of the two boys. And no one seemed to care about what could have gone so wrong to make them do what they did. Obviously, they were in great need of help and I’m sad and angry that no one tried to help them. Something like that should never have happened. If people would care and make an effort to help rather than turning their backs and ignoring it … then something like this could have been avoided.

My heart goes out to all of the people who were affected by this … but it truly goes out to Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris more than to any others. I think the media has shaped this story to make Eric and Dylan look like complete monsters … but they are human beings, just like everybody else, with hearts and minds. I hope that the true problem will be pointed out … not what Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did, but what their environment was like to cause something like this.

Clint McMurray
Mt. Pleasant, MI
I live in Littleton, Colorado, and teach political science at the Metropolitan State College of Denver (Metro). I greatly appreciate your efforts to prevent truth from being a causality of this war in Yugoslavia. I wanted to share with you some thoughts on the terrible events of the past few days.

Tom Paine, when commenting on Burke’s complaints about the brutal behavior after the taking of the Bastille, wrote eloquently about the origins of the murderousness of the Parisian mob:

“They learn it from the governments they live under, and retaliate the punishments they have been accustomed to behold. The heads stuck upon spikes, which remained for years upon Temple Bar, differed nothing in the horror of the scene from those carried about upon spikes at Paris: yet this was done by the English government. It may perhaps be said, that it signifies nothing to a man what is done to him after he is dead; but it signifies much to the living. It either tortures their feelings, or hardens their hearts; and in either case, it instructs them how to punish when power falls into their hands.”

President Clinton, in his speech to the nation Wednesday evening, said the following:

“We do know that we must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons. And we do know we have to do more to recognize the early warning signs that are sent before children act violently.”

Note the operative emphasis on the resolution of conflicts with words, not weapons. How odd when this articulate phrasing is compared to the stark reality of pictures of an Apache helicopter or of a burned-out shell of a building. How odd when compared to the stark reality of diplomacy based upon coercion and threats. How odd when compared to the carnage inflicted on a column of refugees by American planes.

One also wonders what kind of words President Clinton would have our children use to resolve conflicts — the words of NATO, perhaps? Words like “entirely predictable” or “inevitable” come to mind within the context of NATO briefings. Or should “collateral damage” be preferred? Maybe children need “assets” to protect themselves from harm. Words based on Shaw’s dictum, “Ask no questions and you will be told no lies,” seem to be the preferred mode of governmental communications. After all, what does “the credibility of NATO” really mean, perchance “government by terror”?

Shaw also pondered the destructiveness of his age in Man and Superman, written in 1903, before the horrors of World War I:

“In a battle two bodies of men shoot at one another with bullets and explosive shells until one body runs away, when the others chase the fugitives on horseback and cut them to pieces as they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes, shews the greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of the vanquished. Over such battles the people run about the streets yelling with delight, and egg their Governments on to spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter, whilst the strongest Ministers dare not spend an extra penny in the pound against the poverty and pestilence through which they themselves daily walk. I could give you a thousand instances; but they all come to the same thing: the power that governs the earth is not the power of Life but of Death; and the inner need that has nerved Life to the effort of organizing itself into the human being is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient engine of destruction.”

While one may take issue with the Shaw’s cynicism, common sense might well agree with the thrust of his message pertaining to the “power that governs the earth.” After all, is not President Clinton “clever enough to be humanely disposed”? There are lessons to learn and villages to save.

The continued bombing and destruction of Yugoslavia is a mockery of those children at Columbine High School. The only difference between NATO and those young men who killed their fellow students is that NATO possesses a “more efficient engine of destruction.” Are there not innocent lives being lost in Belgrade? Are there not families feeling the terrible agonies of needless violence? Where are the pictures of their grief? Where is the compassion, the pleas for comprehension?

Are kids really mean and cruel or are they too well taught?

Jim Cole