Fascism in the eye of the beholder

Letters to the Boston editor, May 22, 2009

Several statements in your editorial “Despot for Attention” missed the mark. You claim, for instance, that Dick Cheney was George W. Bush’s number-one thug. But I would argue that Bush was Cheney’s thug.

The term “plausible deniability” was hardly coined by the Bush administration, either. It’s been used by every administration in recent history. It was probably just easier for higher-ups to keep W. in the dark compared with other presidents.

You also state that Cheney is a fascist, and yet fascism includes government control of business and industry. During the Bush-Cheney presidency, the government was run by and for business. It would be more accurate to label the Obama administration as fascist. After all, it was Obama who fired the CEO of GM and is dictating business practice for the banks. Then again, I would hardly expect you to criticize your messiah.

What if it turns out that waterboarding actually saved hundreds or thousands of American lives? Nobody has proven that it didn’t. This administration has released a lot of information to our enemies regarding what we will and won’t do to ensure our safety. Why haven’t they produced proof refuting Cheney’s claims that our interrogations did in fact save lives?

David Flagg
Newmarket, New Hampshire

Censuring Severin
Thanks to the Boston Phoenix for spotlighting the events that led to Jay Severin’s suspension from WTKK. I was previously unaware of the circumstances that led to the restoration of serenity and sanity in that afternoon radio slot.

I, like the Phoenix staffers, recognize the importance of freedoms of expression. However, Severin has been doing more than simply expressing an opinion. He has acted as an inciter of hatred, and has done so while boasting of his certain authority to do so. Should WTKK decide to reinstate Severin, I intend to exercise my own style of individual expression — in conversations with the commercial sponsors of WTKK.

Mark S. Fuller

Phoenix editors object to Jay Severin calling illegal aliens “the world’s lowest of primitives.” And yet when Michelle McPhee and a great many police officers refer to criminals as “dirtbags” and “scumbags,” they raise no objections.

Attorney General Eric Holder insulted white Americans. Why was the Phoenix silent? Admitted bomber Bill Ayers spoke at Brandeis. Why did the Phoenix not object? Is his speech more protected than Severin’s?

Calling illegal aliens “primitives” does not “deny the basic humanity of Mexicans,” as your recent editorial claimed. Severin insulted illegal aliens as a special form of humans — unlike being called a “dirtbag,” which is not human at all.

The editors affirmed “Severin’s constitutional right to say what he said,” suggesting that just because he can say it does not mean he should. They claimed “his on-air presence does nothing to enrich or elevate public debate,” yet did not offer supporting evidence. I say, just because the Phoenix editors can write editorials does not mean that they should.

Roy Bercaw

Severin and his drive-time opposition Howie Carr both make a good living bashing others while being quite politically incorrect. However, even as Carr likes pushing buttons, he never really crosses the line like Severin often seems to do with relish.

His most recent remarks concerning illegal immigration, swine flu, and Mexicans was seemingly so offensive that he was taken off the air until WTKK decides what to do next. The radio station doesn’t have to bring him back. Severin doesn’t have a First Amendment right to a radio show, but only to his views. The on-air soapbox is a privilege.

I take everything Severin says with a grain of salt; surely some of what he says is meant to increase his ratings. And whatever the case, he has a right to spout his opinions. But Severin isn’t a victim of media bias. He is a victim of trying to increase his listeners in a stupid way.

Sal Giarratani

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