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BULLISH ON EL TORO AIRPORT WATCH
Congratulations to Anthony Pignataro on completing 100 El Toro Airport Watches (El Toro Airport Watch No. 100, April 2). The Watches went beyond reporting the news or reiterating press releases from both sides. They exposed the desperate, sometimes comic attempts by the county government to give the proposed airport at El Toro a measure of respectability and responsibility. They went beyond pretentious technical jargon to tell us what noise measurements and flight capabilities really mean, challenging the conclusions reached by the county. They have contributed to the Weekly's exposure of county government beyond its keeping-things-as-they-are-and-let's-all-be-happy mode of governing.
As much as I would hate to see the fight over the reuse of El Toro continue, the reality is that it will. So here's to 100 more probing, poking, revealing and irreverent Watches.
-Hanna Hill, Irvine
RIOT COMMIE GRRRL!
I was saddened to read Rebecca Schoenkopf's article on Young Americans for Freedom's (YAF) demonstration at the Academy Awards ("Rat Boy Slim: How I helped resuscitate Elia Kazan," March 26). YAF members possess a keen sense of humor and are able to poke fun and even laugh at ourselves-unlike liberals. By inviting Schoenkopf, the Weekly's humor columnist, to our sign-making party for the demonstration in support of Kazan, we knew we were going to be ripped and the butt of jokes in her column. That's fine with us; we can take a little ribbing, quotes taken out of context, etc. It's just the comedy section of your paper; besides, nobody takes the Weekly too seriously.
The disturbing part of Schoenkopf's article was her describing the Weekly staff's delight in hearing that one of our members, whom she met at our party, was physically assaulted at the demonstration. Rather than take my word for what happened, I faxed to her a witness account from the National Lawyers Guild. It described how YAF members were surrounded by a mob of communist-banner-carrying demonstrators who shoved and elbowed us. Eventually, one of them broke a large wooden stick over YAF member Brian Marks' head and punched him in the face, breaking his glasses. Aside from the cowardliness of hitting him from behind, Brian has only one arm with which to defend himself. A female YAF demonstrator was also punched in the ribs. The police eventually arrested one of the communist demonstrators as he was fleeing the scene.
As smarmy as editors Matt Cocker [sic] and Will Swaim are, if they were attacked while demonstrating against a skinhead rally, I know of no YAF member who would take delight in their injuries or fail to condemn the attack. But then again, Schoenkopf's comments proved our point. Communists were a threat to Hollywood in the '50s, and true to form in 1999, liberals are always selective in condemning aggression. Before you make the obvious retort about the difference of how you, as liberals, would be the ones demonstrating against skinheads, YAF has physically demonstrated against a skinhead rally. We're for freedom-just like our name says.
-James Bieber, former California chairman, Young Americans for Freedom, Costa Mesa
Rebecca Schoenkopf responds: I apologize for getting a kick out of Marks' attack. And when my friends and I are beat up by counterprotesters, I am always quite outraged. But, truly, weren't you really just there to provoke the "Stalinists" in the first place? A letter from Chairman Brian Park suggested that you guys were fighting, too. He described y'all as "freedom fighters." Just which "fighting words" were you spewing?
Matt Cocker, er, Coker responds: How the hell did I get dragged into this? I hadn't even heard of a YAF attack until I read this letter.
While I enjoyed the humor of Schoenkopf's article, I must take exception to the slant she gave the Kazan issue. The protesters against his recognition seem to have two characteristics: a penchant for 20/20 hindsight regarding one of the most dangerous and complex periods in world history (the Cold War) and a profound ignorance of the actual facts of the case. These oh-so-hip, knowing attitudes prevalent today are possible only because we happen to have won this "conflict," a conflict that was often pursued against the protestations of the American left wing.
Kazan wasn't a communist when he went in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee circa 1954; he had broken with the party years earlier due to their rigid censorship. When Kazan was asked to turn in the names of Communists, the U.S. was embroiled in an ideological struggle against that very doctrine, all-out nuclear annihilation could happen on any day, and the armed forces of the Free World were on a hair trigger. Sounds like a no-brainer. On one hand, some indolent Hollywood types will second-guess him the rest of his life (you know the type-they throw all-knowing glances and tell you if it had been them, well, things would've been different). On the other hand, we're talking about remaining silent and possibly committing treason against the very nation that had allowed Kazan to rise up from an immigrant with nothing to a Hollywood legend. Like I said, it's a no-brainer. So let's not be so critical of Kazan. He did what he thought was right, and history has borne him out. The Cold War was a war that had to be won, ironically just so some soft, intellectually barren, elitist celebrity-types and other uninformed individuals could protest at the Oscars. Shouldn't we all read a book instead of subjecting ourselves to such a mutual masturbation fest?