Letters to the editor 

'Mainstay,' 'The high price of free speech' and 'The bodies count'


Dear Cliff,

For 10 years The Supper Club has been committed to bringing boutique wines, heritage pork, local greens, wild line-caught fish, hormone-free beef, duck and poultry (WAY before it was cool) to a tiny storefront space on a side street. A single proprietor was so committed to changing the way people ate and came together in a small community that she pushed through alone, for a decade.

We've kept most of the same staff for more than eight of those years, a staff who really cares about what they do and are proud to be a part of a small independent business before they are extinct or eaten by the encroaching chain restaurants in the foreground.

And to its closing, after a good run, you grant it half a sentence to call it "quirky" and say that it closes at the end of the month (Grazing, March 21). Yeah, you're right, no one probably wants to know about the huge blow-out party this weekend with the renowned Cuban tenor Roberto Poveda. It's more important to read about the size of the ghetto burger at Ann's. Yeah, that's what we need! NEWSFLASH! Another HUGE portion of artery-clogging mystery meat – as big as a plate.

La Dolce Vita, if you will.

Just one of the many reasons I'll be glad to be done with the Atlanta "culinary scene" and all of its lame, mullet-wrap periodicals with reporters who don't report and journalists who have their finger on the pulse of nothing besides their big burger-eating fannies. You never cease to disappoint, but I can say now, with a giant electronic raspberry – shame on you.

– Michele Niesen; chef, owner, sole proprietor of The Supper Club; Atlanta


John Sugg has penned an attack on me that is full of inventions and distortions of my words (Metropolis, March 14). I would not mind his vitriol if he at least had his facts straight. He writes: "She basically said that any action by Israel – however horrific, violent and at odds with international law – was justified by the Holocaust." Will John Sugg show me where in my article I said anything to that effect? I made no such statement. I argued that in a chronology of incidents relating to the Arab/Israeli situation Carter fails to include anything of any importance happening between 1939 and 1947. The Holocaust is one of the primary events that makes many Israelis and Jews worldwide feel that a Jewish state is an absolute necessity. To write a book trying to advance the cause of peace and ignore this is to show either a total unfamiliarity with the situation or a terribly unbalanced view – or both.

Mr. Sugg says that I "make much of the fact that Carter's critics are 'being silenced' (so obviously untrue that it defies any response)." Could he show me any place where I said that? Carter claimed that people with his view were being silenced. I pointed out that he has appeared on every relevant show on television. I did argue that Carter refuses to debate anyone who criticizes his book. If Mr. Sugg could show me that that is wrong, I would appreciate it.

Mr. Sugg then goes on to argue that I am "an architect of silencing debate" because I supposedly tried to convince C-SPAN "not to air a speech Irving made to a Buckhead audience." Once again Sugg gets it all wrong. I told C-SPAN that I would neither appear "with" Irving, as they proposed, or want my talk paired with his. I do not debate deniers because, as we showed in my six-year court battle, deniers are, to quote the judge, "liars" and "falsifiers of history." They "distort" and their version of history is a "travesty." (Actually the judge was talking about Irving specifically but his comments can be extrapolated to pertain to all deniers.) I observed that C-SPAN had the right to air Irving anytime they want to. I just did not want to be paired with him.

Finally, in his ringing defense of "free speech," Mr. Sugg ignores the fact that I have been one of the leading critics of laws against Holocaust denial. I criticized Mr. Irving's incarceration in Austria and have spoken out forcefully, including on Al Jazeera TV, against the proposed EU legislation. All this is recorded on my blog, www.lipstadt.blogspot.com. Seems that is part of the story too. Free speech is one thing. Making up facts to fit your argument is what deniers do. I would expect more of John Sugg.

– Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D., Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Emory University

Have we been here before?

John Sugg's column, "The bodies count" (Metropolis, March 21) was very interesting, and I would like to offer my comments.

This country never learns from history, and it is doomed to repeat it over and over. In the early part of the 20th century we should have learned that prohibition doesn't work. By making alcohol illegal, we created incredible profit potential for criminals. This resulted in turf wars, drive-by shootings and killing of innocent people. Does this sound familiar? It should because it is exactly what our inept lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have created with the "War on Drugs."

In Vietnam we did the same thing the British tried to do to us in the 1700s. It didn't work for us just like it didn't work for them. The Viet Cong set traps, used improvised explosives, picked off our troops by sniping, and then disappeared into the jungle or general population. I shouldn't repeat myself so much, but does this sound familiar?

Now we are bogged down in another Vietnam-type situation in the Middle East. We are repeating the same mistakes over and over. Improvised explosives, snipers who disappear into the general population, suicide missions, etc. are killing our troops. Hmm ... sounds familiar.

Will our power-grabbing, money-hungry lawmakers ever learn from history, or are we doomed to keep repeating it?

– Johnny Carlton, Marietta


Great column (Metropolis, March 21). Bodies do count. I'm a veteran, as were most of the males in my family going back to the Revolutionary War. I am not against the military. I am not even against the use of the military when all else fails and we know what we are doing.

I do have a tremendous problem with Americans being killed and maimed because no one in the executive branch has the stones to say, "We were wrong; this is not working; we have our troops in the middle of a civil war. This is a time to withdraw. It's overdue." Bringing our troops home now, that's real patriotism.

– Peter Miller, Decatur

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