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We, the Lotus Eaters
Thanks to Hal Crowther for his latest column on "Weapons of Mass Stupidity" [June 4]. I have tried not to be derogatory to our fellow citizens, but one must be also frank about the dumbing down of political discourse in the United States. Your comparison to American Idol is apt because we are in a constant state of idol worship more so than the Israelites with their golden calf. We instead spend hours in front of the boob tube and if we read, we consume junk food rags created by the ilk of Rupert Murdoch.

I believe both you and Michael Malone are right. The polls both reflect public opinion and they create public opinion by suggesting what people should think. When serious thought is a rare commodity, the media very easily molds people's thoughts.

I believe the lying and greed of this government and its big business cronies will eventually be understood. How soon this happens depends on our ability to face reality that includes our copious sins.
Bill Gural
Durham

An angel at his table
Hal Crowther describes the demise of reason ["Weapons of Mass Stupidity," June 4] but undermines his credibility with dismissive statistics: "70 percent believe in angels, 60 percent in literal, biblical, blazing Armageddon, and more than half reject Charles Darwin." (Hal's supercilious view of angels reminds me of Christian fundamentalists railing against the witchcraft and magic of Harry Potter.)

In Christian theology, angels are defined as "intelligences without bodies." I can not guess the "lineaments" of these putative creatures but I trust there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in Hal's philosophy. Or, in my own for that matter ...

The faithful who built the Medieval Cathedrals--the intellectual and artistic leaders of the Renaissance--all believed in angels. Although scandalous to "narrow-minded reason," these celestial beings (of questionable origin) have crystallized courage and inspired soaring artistry. On the other hand, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Hitler, Attila the Hun, Stalin, Bloods and Crips are unbelievers all.

Why believe?

Having made their Mephistophelean bargain, they know better.

They know "the bottom line." It is carefully calculated in lucre and cadavers. I do not know.

Perhaps loving regard for "The Transcendental Other" (even if "The Transcendental Other" is "only" an act of moral imagination) is the best antidote for solipsism and megalomania. It's a tough call: In the rarefied atmosphere of unprincipled rationality, philosophical deconstructionism and mock multiculturalism, perhaps the solipsists and megalomaniacs are "right."

In the past, Hal has criticized pornographic internauts--idlers responsible for more than half of all Internet hits. I wonder: Would the world be a better place if these voyeurs sought glimpses of heavenly bodies--however theoretical or imaginary--rather than Pam Anderson's T and A?
Alan Archibald
Hillsborough

Questioning authority
While I suspect, or at least hope, that the numerous flaws in Mr. Speck's reasoning demonstrated in his letter of June 11 will be brought to attention by other readers, I can't resist pointing out at least one.

Mr. Speck says that our armed forces cannot be expected to stop the looting in Iraq with so few soldiers available. What he fails to address is why there are so few forces there. As it is now clear that there was no imminent threat from Iraqi chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, there was no reason for the Bush administration to hurry to invade without first building international support for such an attack. Our own generals have been warning for a long time that overseeing Iraq after the war would require a long-term commitment of a substantial occupation force. If President Bush had not lied about his reasons for invading, such a force could be there. By occupying Iraq, we have taken responsibility for the security and well-being of the Iraqi people.

The Bush administration cannot continue to justify its own failures in Iraq (and at home) by reminding us how much nicer they are than Sadaam Hussein. That's really not much of an accomplishment, even if it is just about the only one that they can claim.
David Levine
Chapel Hill

Correction
In Byron Woods' ADF review in the printed edition of our June 11 issue, the last sentence was accidently left off. The sentence read:

The weekend's "Program B" places their classic Day Two on one side of the scales. On the other, Duet for Six, currently billed as Pilobolus' answer to La Ronde, a look in on relationships of differing thermal values, and Star-Cross'd, whose stellar--or was that bat-like?--acrobatics were well received when the work premiered last month in Connecticut.

We'll see. And then say.

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