Week of October 24, 2001

I commend Brown for doing his research. Again, conveniently, he failed to mention the positive criticism of later productions. Kondoleon is utilizing a nontraditional structure in his writing, but it is too easy a potshot to dismiss someone who is consciously attempting to liberate himself from what have become standard theatrical conventions as unfocused -- Kondoleon is way too intelligent a writer. Something has not been working in American theater, and Kondoleon was attempting to address this. I don't feel he completely succeeded. I don't feel that most writing in Western theater succeeds at what it is attempting to explore, if it even gets that far. However, there is a powerful force at work in this script that surpasses the surface commentary on American domesticity -- a force driving us to recognize tendencies that put us at risk for a form of eternal damnation.

Perhaps it is the fact the Kondoleon is just not writing in a style that Brown has the patience for and, subsequently, he has difficulty critiquing the material.
Ted Gregory
Artistic Director
City Players of St. Louis

Paying the Price
Remember Saddam? I read and reread the article "Cleaning House" [Oct. 10], looking for something that wasn't there: the name of the person who was the cause of, and could immediately resolve, the problems in Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Remember him? He ordered the invasion of Kuwait and was poised to invade Saudi Arabia when we kicked him out. He could immediately end the United Nations sanctions by allowing inspections. He could have, over the years since the Gulf War, used some of his personal money to relieve the suffering of his people instead of building palaces with gold plumbing fixtures. Some of the reasons stated in the article why we are resented may be valid, but to print something on this subject without mentioning Saddam Hussein is ridiculous.
John Brangle
St. Louis

No one in Congress is willing to tackle these issues: Kudos to Safir Ahmed and the Riverfront Times for having the guts to tell it like it is. Most Americans are under the mistaken impression that Muslims who hate the U.S. do so because of the "American lifestyle" or "American freedoms" and other generalizations; just look at the "Street Talk" responses to the question "Why do they hate us?" As pointed out by Mr. Ahmed, there are specific, unambiguous reasons for their hatred.

This conflict will not be resolved until Americans ask some tough questions about our Mideast policies. I am not pleased, for example, with my tax dollars' being sent to Israel to oppress Palestinians. And it won't help to label me or anyone else who feels this way as anti-Semitic. I want what's best for the U.S. and the world, and I conclude that we have paid too high a price for our Mideast policies. No one in Congress is willing to tackle these issues -- and that has me worried.
Christian Stone

We'll always think differently: I heard a story a few years ago. A Westerner was in court in a Middle East nation for a traffic accident. He was sitting at a traffic stop when he was rear-ended. The judge found him guilty of causing the accident: He didn't belong there; the person who hit him was a native. If the Westerner was not there, the accident would never have happened.

I don't think we will ever come to an agreement concerning the rift between the East and West. We think differently. We always will. Safir Ahmed's article fails to mention that the last two wars fought by America were in defense of Muslims. He mentions the presence of U.S. troops in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia but doesn't mention that a repressive regime, Iraq, is the reason we are there.

He claims that the "grief of Baghdad hasn't shown up on our television screens." But the cause of Iraq's sanctions is a Muslim, Saddam Hussein. If Iraq had just lived up to its agreement with the U.N., the sanctions would be over. So the U.S. is blamed for the starvation, not the Iraqi leaders. If the Muslim freedom fighters had the best interest of their people in mind, they would go after Saddam to make him live up to his word. They would have united to fight in Bosnia, not waited for the U.S. and its allies to stop the ethnic cleansing.

The bottom line: If the country of Israel was eliminated and became Palestine, and all Israelis left the region, the radicals would not be happy until all Israelis were dead. It's not about fairness, it's about ethnic cleansing.
Robert Wilson
St. Louis

René the Destroyer
In her defense, she is an idiot: René Spencer Saller is ruining the music section of your paper. I am constantly annoyed by her boring Radar Station column, which becomes blander by the week. When she's not talking about Sexicolor, she is plugging some other generic no-talent act from the area, such as Colony or Mesh. If it isn't Sexicolor, it's Spitzie Q. West. If it isn't Spitzie Q. West, it's Jason Hutto. If it isn't Jason Hutto, someone else must have written Radar Station that week. In her defense, however, she is an idiot. It's obvious she doesn't know how to write anything worth reading. In the end, it all works out because it sucks equally as much as the bands whose ass she can't stop kissing.
Chris Boron
Belleville, Ill.

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