An Open Letter To David Mamet

12 03 2008

A decade ago, I attended a lecture you gave at Tufts University, during which you read a poem you had composed on a Dairy Queen napkin, during which I realized I was not to be a fan of your work. Or of poetry, if it was the kind of thing that made grown men think it cute to write on napkins.

You also mentioned that you think people write because they have “some pain inside that simply has to get out”, and then you left the hall with your wife, who was wearing the pelt of an entire polar bear,  and walked toward your car, where I assumed there would be a bordeaux and a radio that only worked when tuned to either NPR or nearsighted DJs named Ezra.

So reading your piece today was refreshing. And I also would like you to know that your appearance ten years ago may have helped push me towards the path you are on today, so I thank you for that as well.

I ask that you post another one of these some 12 months from now — I predict it will be less flowery, less theoretical, and include the words “reason”, “moonbat”, and “Lieberman”. You will also have played golf with Dennis Miller and Roger L. Simon, have read the Koran,  and have dressed down a coffee house employee whom you overhear calling Giuliani a “fascist”.




Bizarre Hate Coincidence? UPDATED: All better now! Anti-Semitic comments deleted, Anti-conservative bigotry and rape threat allowed to stay!

11 02 2008

(Scroll down for update) 

My previous post, an open letter to the production team of the announced Howard Zinn film and miniseries, asked whether they were troubled by his endorsement of Valdas Anelauskas’ book.

My post just prior to that linked to some shockingly hateful responses to a pro-Iraq op-ed that appeared in the Oregon Daily Emerald.

Now, a poster calling himself “Valdas Anelauskas” has dropped a despicable anti-Semitic rant… on the very same thread at the Daily Emerald.


We’ve either got a moby, who read my blog and decided to paint the commenters in a wholly undeserved light — which I doubt, as I had, oh, maybe 40 hits last week.


It was me. It was not.


It’s Anelauskas himself, and we’ve got some stars aligning over crazytown.

UPDATE: 2/14, 2:10p 

The Daily Emerald has deleted the anti-Semitic screed from Valdas Anelauskas.

But they also deleted my comment connecting Valdas Anelauskas to Howard Zinn. Other comments attacking Anelauskas were deleted as well.

Fair, as my comment would not have any context without his bile being present? No, fair would be to post “Comment deleted” in place of Anelauskas’ entry, and to leave other comments as is.

Also — hateful comments directed at the writer of the op-ed, who expressed a conservative point of view? Including one comment threatening rape?

Still there.

I would appreciate any help from others in contacting the Daily Emerald:,

Replying to Rage at the University of Oregon

8 02 2008

On February 7th, the Daily Emerald (independent student newspaper at the University of Oregon) ran the column “If you go to war only when you have to, it will be too late” by student columnist Deborah Bloom. The column reads as a relatively polite, though not terribly strong, statement of support for the Iraq war. A sample quote:

I think the imposition of democracy is necessary because our ideology, while not infallible, realizes the need for equality and recognizes the immorality of a murderous and aggressive military dictatorship.”

Sounds like a young, budding, political scientist. Comments? Let’s see…

Are you on drugs? Do you need a good fuck up the wazoo?”

“Go back to grazing with the other sheepocons, we Americans will get to fixing the problems your kind causes.”

“People like Deb’s parents graze off the misery, suffering and taxes of the American People, and get rich doing it. She is one evil bitch. Heh Deb, are you up for some waterboarding?”

Thanks for the contributions! Especially the threat of anal rape. My comments:


Democracy is not better for everbody? That sounds like you reject the concept of universal human rights, which formerly was considered a bulwark of the left.
You recommend Deborah take a class on Islam — I would gladly go through the Koran, Sira, and Hadith with you and Deborah, line by line. You may choose the translation we use.

David ”



Congratulations for thinking for yourself among what appears to be a rather vicious, uncompromising crowd with little interest in dialogue. I suggest calmly replying to those who treat you respectfully, and ignoring the others.


I’ve already been referred to as being “evil to the core.”

An Open Letter to Dean Smith of Harvard

3 02 2008

Steven Caton, Director of Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Steven Caton, Director of Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Shown wearing a kaffiyeh, in a photo from his faculty bio page:

(Scroll down for email responses from Prof. Caton.)



Dean Smith:

Harvard may wish to reconsider its appointment of Sara Roy to the position of “Senior Research Scholar” at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. A researcher should at the very least be accurate when the source is something that he or she has written!

Sara Roy, in an op-ed published in the Boston Globe on 1/26, claims that Gaza needs 680,000 tons of flour per day to feed its population, yet Israel only allows 99 tons per day to enter. About a decade ago, Ms. Roy published a paper estimating Gaza’s daily flour consumption at 275 tons.

Given that the 680,000 figure would mean each Gazan consumes approximately one-half ton of flour daily, I am inclined to believe that Ms. Roy deliberately submitted a slanderous lie for publication.

This is not the work of someone deserving of the title “Senior Research Scholar”. This is the work of a propagandist.

Update — 7:20p, 2/5

Dean Smith’s office responds:

I am responding on Dean Smith’s behalf to let you know that the following correction has been published in the Boston Globe:

“Correction: A column on Saturday by Eyad al-Sarraj and Sara Roy incorrectly said that Gaza requires 680,000 tons of flour daily to feed its population. It is 680,000 pounds, which means a reduction of 73 percent, not 99 percent, of flour allowed into Gaza.”


Christina McFadden

Credit to the Globe for the correction, and for not referring to it as an “error”. But will Harvard take any sort of disciplinary action against Roy, or examine her related work for other deliberate slander?

Update — 11:02p, 2/5

Dear Ms. McFadden,

 Thank you for the response.

This is a correction issued by the Boston Globe, however — does Harvard intend to issue a response of its own?

Update — 2:15p, 2/8
I would suggest that you contact Professor Steven Caton [Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies], as research associate appointments in the FAS are made on the recommendation of the appropriate dept chair or center director. Professor Caton’s email address is:
Christina McFadden 

Dear Professor Caton,

As per my exchange with Ms. McFadden below, will Harvard be issuing any sort of response regarding the Sara Roy letter?

As you are asking for a “Harvard” response, I will have to bring this up with the appropriate authorities. It is not a decision I can make on my own. I will try to get back to shortly.

Regards,Steven Caton

Update — 2:15p, 2/13

        Thank you for your patience. Here is my response, as you requested.
        Sara Roy contacted me when she realized her mistake, and at the same time informed me of the storm of criticism with which it was greeted. When asked what
she intended to do about the mistake, she told me that she was publishing a correction and an apology in the Boston Globe. It is my understanding, though I did not hear the program myself, that she subsequently was interviewed on NPR about the matter and repeated her correction and apologies there as well.
        As far as I am concerned, CMES has done what was necessary to attend to
an error and correct it. I am also of the view that Sara Roy has done all that is necessary to rectify what was a regrettable mistake. I consider the matter now closed.

Sincerely yours,

Steven Caton

Dear Professor Caton:

Thank you for taking the time to reply.The Boston Globe ran a correction, but not an apology — and Sara Roy certainly is not mentioned as being the source for the correction.

The concern is with this being referred to as a “mistake.” A mistake in judgment perhaps, but it is difficult to believe that the error was not deliberate, and as such, it is troubling that CMES does not share in the concern that the prestige its employment brings may be being used for activism and propaganda rather than research.