Letters to
We get a lot of letters, and publish some of them in this column, "Backtalk," edited by Sam Koritz. Please send your letters to backtalk@antiwar.com. Letters may be edited for length (and coherence). Unless otherwise indicated, authors may be identified and e-mail addresses will not be published.

Posted January 9, 2002

Antiseptic Solution

This is in response to Christopher Deliso's column from January 4, "On Names and Power: Imagining Macedonia": First of all, it was a good surprise to see someone talking about such an interesting subject. But there's something here I think I have to take issue with. You write: "For the names of countries... there can be no neat and antiseptic solution" and that "national names are never expressive of fact." If I'm under standing you correctly, you consider it "antiseptic" to even try to distill any true meaning from a country's (or person's, for that matter) name. What I consider "antiseptic" is, looking in the Webster's dictionary, saying, "Hmm, says here it's pronounced ma-suh-DOE-nee-uh, so I guess that must be it," and not thinking about it any further. It's interesting, because just below the main page's link to your piece that day, was a link to a column by Nat Hentoff (on what he called "enforced patriotism") which contained the following quote from a New York City school board member: "Requiring students to blindly repeat the [Pledge of Allegiance] is no different than the Taliban requiring children to memorize the Koran and repeat it by rote, without understanding why or what they are saying." Likewise, our names, more and more, are becoming nothing more than random assemblages of sounds, devoid of any supportive meaning. It's not something to celebrate.

~ Daniel Basken

Christopher Deliso replies:

Thank you, Daniel, for your thoughtful comments. Perhaps I was not clear enough; when I state "there can be no neat and antiseptic solution" to the name issue, it is somewhat rhetorical. Of course there can be – if proposals like the ICG get considered. The tendency towards scientific fact in (re)naming is, as I argued, a sign of our times. Yet even the most earnest would-be namers can squeeze only a few of the facts in. The current example, Macedonia, shows this clearly: "Northern Macedonia" tried to define the country as per its geography, whereas "Republika Makedonia" relies on ethnicity. Neither of these has the elusive magic of "Macedonia," however. The worst thing about well-meaning interventionists is that they take themselves seriously. Do you know that famous town in Wales, the one with the record for the longest place-name in the world? I believe that this name (which expresses very precise and detailed fact of the town's location) was dreamt up by a jovial prankster, for a laugh. For if it really was accuracy we were after, there would be nothing at all – and certainly no entire country – that could survive under the tyranny of one name. To appease truth, that name would have to be infinite, at the very least, a historical narrative, an endlessly burgeoning tale that would exhaust and destroy anyone who dared to utter it.

India and Christianity

[Regarding Justin Raimondo's column January 4, "India's 'Amen Corner'":]

Thank you for a very interesting commentary. One very interesting thing that I have learned about India and Christianity is that the Indian states with the highest literacy rates are those which have a large Christian presence (in Kerala dating back to St. Thomas the Apostle). Of special note might be the much higher rate of literacy for women in areas of Christian influence – probably fewer dowry murders too but I have not researched that one.

~ Lisa S.


[Regarding Scott McConnell's column of January 1, "In the January Chronicles":]

I think a clear borderline is to be drawn between faith and religion, or the church as an institution. While the church has always worked for the enslaving of the minds and lives of people in order to keep them under control, faith has always been the greatest blessing for every human being. It is to be made clear that original Christianity had nothing to do with that which the church made it look like centuries later. True faith is what the church is afraid of. I do not really wish your children or the children of humanity to retreat from faith. That would be a catastrophe and we can see a part of this catastrophe in the west. We can see the moral and spiritual poverty that is raging, ... people looking for the meaning of life where it is not to be found, ... families breaking, ... people selling their freedom for money, ... people disillusioned and embittered about their world, failing to see or appreciate all the beauty of it. We see a life without faith, which is itself a life without taste and beauty and a life without love. Faith was never connected with anything external. Faith has nothing to do with a mechanistic vision of the world – and a mechanistic vision of the world is what the church has to offer. [Jesus] ... never meant us to become slaves. He had no church and no state in mind when he told people they should trust only the highest authority. Yet this highest authority is not the clergy and not the politicians, it is also not an idolized image of anything – the highest authority is nothing but ourselves. Faith is inside, not outside. So is truth and so is God. The rest is the road to slavery.

~ E.N.

The Restoration of Christendom

[Regarding Scott McConnell's column of January 1, "In the January Chronicles":]

Concerning point D) – the restoration of Christendom: This is a well-defined theological position in some circles, and is becoming increasingly influential in conservative Christian circles, and has for some time. The reason is that it is plain that in the modern secular state, the state has displaced God, and has only room for tame gods and tame churches. Secular Humanism has always said that one of its chief purposes is the overthrow of "superstition." Any Christian who reads what the secularists, statists, and globalists say about his faith understands that there are only two ways to peace between Christians and the secular state: death or victory. This only requires a nodding acquaintance with public statements and actions by modern humanists and the path taken by the modern state, in which the Church is seen as a "community resource" = state property = arm of the reeducation/police state. Now there are four basic ways this conflict can work out: 1) The secular state is triumphant, reducing the world's religions and cultures to arms of the almighty global state and stamping out any backward and recalcitrant elements who seek to preserve their own religions and way of life. 2) Some sort of non-statist, free culture emerges in which the state decides to let people be rather than become everyone's god. 3) The Church gets it together and, with God's help, against great odds, etc. takes over. 4) We continue on the path to 1) until Christ returns from Heaven with the flaming fire which shall destroy His adversaries.

~ Phil C.


[Regarding Christopher Deliso's guest column of January 4, "On Names and Power":]

Why don't you write about Macedonia was divided in 1913 between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece? We Macedonians should be the ones angry with the Greeks because after the occupation in 1913 they took our land away from us. Why are the Greeks angry with us Macedonians? I personally don't think they are angry, they are just terrified that their lies will no longer fool the rest of the world and everyone will find out just how much they have lied to keep Macedonia. They changed all of the toponyms and names of the people in 1926. In 1913, they even changed the name of the part of Macedonia that they occupied and called it the New Territory, then Northern Greece and now recently it is back to being called Macedonia. Also, in 1936 they suppressed the Macedonian language. And now the Greek government has the audacity to try and force the Republic of Macedonia to change its name to something else.

They really show their ignorance when they insist that Greek and Macedonian is the same language. True evidence, if we are Greek, then why don't the old people in Aegean Macedonia speak Greek? They only know one language and that is their mother tongue, Macedonian. The names of the farms still have their original Macedonian names. These names for some unknown reason were never changed. These same names have been in existence for hundreds of years. And the families that work these farms are the same for hundreds of years.

~ I.L., the Macedonian

Raw is War

Here is what I read today [January 5] on your website:

News Flash: Deposed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has escaped from his mountain hideout in Afghanistan on a motorbike, according to unconfirmed reports....

Why do I feel that Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden will show up on the World Wrestling Federation's Raw Is War telecast in the near future? Do these guys really exist or are we chasing some conveniently placed phantoms? How about a steel cage main event at Wrestlemania with Omar and Osama against Stone Cold Steve Austin and Olympic Hero, Kurt Angle? The winners will take on Gorgeous George Bush (Junior and Senior) who will be led to the ring by their manager, David Rockefeller. To keep things "honest," the special guest referee will be Dr. Henry Kissinger. I think we have all been suckered with 9/11 and the Afghanistan war and I grow weary of all of this nonsense. If you want reality, you may as well watch pro wrestling....

~ PJC, Jersey Shore

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us