Letters to the Editor

  • Wednesday August 6, 2014
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Keep leather fair intimate

The Dore Alley (Up Your Alley) street fair is the last of the primarily gay male events in the city, now that Folsom, Castro Street Fair, and Pride have been assimilated into the fabric of mainstream San Francisco. I hope that it is possible for organizers not to publicize Dore Alley to the non-gay press in future years. The San Francisco Chronicle 's coverage after the July 27 party was prurient and had an attitude of "you gotta see this to believe it." Just like we have banned busses in the Castro for tourists looking to be shocked by men holding hands, can we please try to avoid the kind of visibility that will attract voyeurs? The more exposure (pun intended) the event gets, the more diluted it becomes, and another great party goes away.

If Dore Alley is "the little brother of Folsom," as organizers said in the quote in the Chronicle, you have to remember that little brothers grow up. You have given up Folsom to the mainstream but can we please keep Dore Alley an intimate party for our community?

 

Phil Siegel

San Francisco

 

Number of nudists at street fair

At Up Your Alley 2014, at least 26 men and women danced naked on stage. But from reading the Bay Area Reporter and BARtab (July 31), some persons might not realize this. Still, I'm very grateful to Folsom Street Events, San Francisco Pride, Mr S, Gypsy, et. al., for nurturing freedom in the city.

 

Tortuga Bi Liberty

San Francisco

 

Putin is a man of peace

I strongly dissent from your editorial on Russian President Vladimir Putin ["Putin in the hot seat," July 24] : "Ultimately, the downing of [Malaysian Airlines Flight 17] falls squarely on Putin's shoulders." False. As Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com writes, "After days of hysterical accusations against Russia [from the Obama] administration ... intelligence officials ... conceded ... there is 'no evidence' whatsoever linking Russia to the downing."

Putin "used military action to annex the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine." False. Crimeans voted in a peaceful, monitored election to rejoin Russia, to which they had belonged for centuries before Khrushchev made Crimea part of Ukraine in 1954.

Putin is "a one-man wrecking crew against humanity." False. Putin is a man of peace. He staved off the Syrian war Washington was plotting. He sheltered Edward Snowden after the whistleblower revealed NSA spying on Americans and the rest of the world.

The U.S., not Russia, started the violence in Ukraine. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragged to a Ukrainian group in D.C. that Washington had spent $5 billion on their country since 1991. The cue to unleash protests came last November when then-President Yukanovych refused a U.S.-European Union ultimatum. In February, a phone call was leaked in which Nuland tells the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who should head the new government. Her pick was named prime minister. When the new rulers, who included neo-Nazis, trashed statues from the Soviet period and banned Russian as an official language, Russians in the eastern parts of the country got scared and moved to secede. Putin called for negotiations. U.S.-backed forces set fire to a building in Odessa, burning dozens alive.

Few Americans recognize Washington's drive to bait, weaken, and encircle Russia. In 1990 Soviet premier Gorbachev agreed to let Germany, divided since WWII, become one country. The U.S. promised in return that NATO would not expand to the east. The U.S. broke that promise. (Think of its treaties with the Indians.) Since 1990 Washington has surrounded Russia with bases. A pro-Western government in Ukraine could have cut Russia off from its crucial naval port in Crimea. When Crimea's secession nixed that possibility, Washington encouraged the new rulers to trample Eastern Ukrainians wanting out of the regime.

Russia under Putin actually trumps the U.S. in important matters of free speech and human rights. Pussy Riot's members were released after less than two years in jail. Chelsea Manning, by contrast, held for two years without charges, received a 35-year sentence for revealing U.S. war crimes. Russia ended the death penalty in 1996. A botched execution in Arizona last month took two hours, the victim gasping for air.

Yes, Russia's anti-gay laws deserve condemnation. But nine U.S. states have similar laws. Alabama makes "homosexual conduct ... a criminal offense." Utah forbids "the advocacy of homosexuality." Arizona mandates that "[no] district shall include in its course of study instruction which [portrays] homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle."

I ask LBGTQs to shun the campaign against Putin. Washington is using us in a propaganda war. As the war heats up and flames lick Russia's border, Ukrainians are murdered. Washington doesn't care about human rights. Its script casts Putin as the latest embodiment of evil in order to break his country. If we follow the script, focusing our protests on Russia and grossly inflating its flaws, we destroy the chance of peace. We can fight for our rights everywhere without joining a hate campaign masking Washington's drive to dominate.

 

Jay Lyon

San Francisco

 

The hypocrisy of Gaza: Let us get real

We all sympathize for the civilian population caught in the crossfire in Gaza. However, the criticism of Israel in this conflict is driven by pure emotion and graphic imagery. It is lacking in any logic, clarity, historical precedent or perspective.

We all agree that every country in the world has a right to defend itself when under rocket or missile attack regardless of civilian casualties and that war is ugly under the best of circumstances. Yet so many cry "outrage" here.

Let us not let emotion blind us to the facts: Hamas started (and continues) to wage this war with firing of rockets and missiles (now 3,000) on Israeli civilians, launched from highly-concentrated civilian centers in Gaza, including schools, mosques, hospitals, etc. Israel has responded, in kind, trying to warn civilians via leaflets and telephone calls, but resulting in many civilian casualties nevertheless. Israel has said unequivocally it will stop responding when the rocket and tunnel attacks stop and peace is restored to Israel.

On July 15, the Israeli government voted to accept an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire, which was supported by the U.S., the Arab League, and others in the international community. Hamas in turn rejected the terms of the ceasefire, and continued to bombard Israel with at least 100 rockets during that period. Hamas has rejected or broken every ceasefire since then resulting in the death of Israelis and Palestinians. Yet the "world" blames Israel.

In every war since WWI, the civilian casualties have far outnumbered the military ones. But this does not make the response "disproportionate" or "immoral." In Iraq and Afghanistan, wars in which the U.S. was not defending itself against direct attack like is Israel, but was trying to eliminate a potential terror threat, there were over 120,000 civilian casualties. Where was CNN or the U.N. then? In 1962, when Russia was trying to deliver missiles to Cuba, the world came to within minutes of WWIII before any of those missiles were near launch capability. There are hundreds of other examples.

Hamas' charter and current speeches in Arabic are committed to Israel's destruction and a return of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank to Jihadist Islamic rule. That is why the majority of the Arab world is not as supportive of Hamas as the Western world and media. They know Hamas' true intentions.

When interviewed by the Western press, Hamas says it will "stop" when Israeli "occupation" and the "blockade" end. But Israel does not occupy Gaza. It left Gaza under world pressure in 2007 and was thanked with three wars initiated by Hamas and the smuggling of 50,000 rockets, and the importation into Gaza of concrete and steel from U.S., European Economic Community, and Israel " used for attack tunnels rather than the intended Humanitarian purposes.

Jews learned from WWII that when someone says they intend to destroy you, take them seriously. But the "world media" and the U.N. still do not blame Hamas, the instigator, who continues to fire rockets and missiles into Israel with the specific intent of killing civilians, they blame Israel for responding. I have heard from Israeli Jews and Arabs of the daily terror these rockets are inflicting. You just don't see it because it is far more potent for CNN to focus on graphic pictures of dead Palestinians than people trembling in bomb shelters.

So I ask all of you judging Israel from the comfort of your living room: What do you think America would do if subjected to rocket attacks from over the border? You know the answer: Our government would eliminate the attacks and secure the peace at all costs, regardless of civilian casualties ... so let us get real.

 

Richard Korb

Kensington, California

 

Kaplan draws praise from SF

I was at Oakland mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan's recent engagement party last month, a wonderful, joy-filled butch-femme soiree.

In recent weeks, Kaplan has helped secure a 10-year lease to keep the A's in Oakland. She is working with local garbage companies.

I sat next to an old woman who had been evicted from her Oakland apartment of 22 years and living in transition housing.

As the landlords, speculators, and supply and demand drive up San Francisco rents, the rents around BART stations in Oakland-Berkeley have risen, too.

Kaplan is honest, kind, accessible, and very smart. I wish she lived in San Francisco.

 

Jon Sugar

San Francisco