September 23, 2019

Letters to the editor: Tom Tugend, Hillary Clinton, Wexler’s Deli and more

Truth From Tom Tugend

In these times of unfettered narcissism, especially among current political candidates, it is inspiring to read Tom Tugend’s thoughtful essay exploring his war history and the question of heroism (“Looking Back at War on Memorial Day,” May 27). His point that “hero” is a much overused word and that almost anyone who has ever been in uniform can be referred to as a hero speaks to the troubling tendencies in our society to glorify what is unremarkable.

As a French child survivor of World War II, I am certainly grateful that American infantry regiments fought along with the First French Army to liberate France during that bitterly cold winter of 1944-45. They, too, were “following orders,” but, thankfully, on the side of freedom and humanity.

Tugend’s examples of real heroes were individuals not following orders, but following their conscience and willing to take enormous personal risks to save innocent lives. In my own case, Soeur Saint Cybard, the Catholic nun who hid me for nearly a year in a small school, was heroic, and in 2010, she was honored by Yad Vashem as “righteous among the nations.”

Ultimately, it matters that we use words accurately. Tom Tugend has done so consistently as a journalist. Would that there were more like him. He certainly deserved to be on the front cover of the Jewish Journal.

Josie Levy Martin, Author, “Never Tell Your Name”, Montecito

Like Tom Tugend, I had a problem convincing others in the U.S. Army that I was a Jew. When, as a draftee during the Korean War, I asked the company clerk of my basic training unit at Camp Atterbury, Ind., for my pass to attend a seder, he informed me that the executive officer wanted to see me. That officer, a first lieutenant of German-American background, noted from my record that I was born in Germany and demanded to know when I became a Jew. I replied that I was born a Jew. His response: “Don’t give me that sh–. I’m a German and I wasn’t even born there. You tell me you were born in Germany and you’re a Jew. Make up your mind — what are you, a German or a Jew?”

He would not believe that you could be both German-born and a Jew, and he made me get a written note from the regimental chaplain that it is possible. After much anxiety, I found the chaplain, got him to write the requested note and only then obtained my pass. 

Peter L. Rothholz, Santa Monica

Required Reading

The article by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson should be required reading for every religious school teacher and discussed at their teachers’ meeting in August (“Judaism as World Wisdom,” May 27).

Jeff Kaplan, Los Angeles

Some Choice Words About Hillary

In response to Rob Eshman’s column, I was not able to make it to Wexler’s Deli to argue with him, so I will argue by email instead (“Politics and Pastrami,” May 27).

He described Hillary Clinton as “a brilliant woman with deep experience and a long record of accomplishment.” Those first two descriptions are basically correct, but the third is questionable. Most of her accomplishments seem to consist of intimidation of enemies, cover-ups, compulsive lying, and (a more recent revelation) an amazing ignorance of computers and basic email procedures.  

There is no doubt in my mind that a Republican couple who had been responsible for even half the viciousness and corruption that the Clintons have been involved in would be considered the scum of the earth by Democrats. The idea of having them back in the White House is extremely scary. Of course, Donald Trump might be even worse, but … 

Marc Russell via email 

The primary lesson in winning presidential election contests in 2016 has been (and will be) the use of zingers (e.g., Low Energy Jeb, Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted and Crooked Hillary) and one-liners (e.g., “reduce income inequality”). The use of zingers and one-liners has gained more votes than the use of detailed arguments relating to policy goals.   

How can Hillary Clinton combat and utilize the aforementioned tactics? One thing is for her to give credit to Marco Rubio for calling Trump a con man, and then refer to Trump as Con Man Donald as often as Trump refers to her as Crooked Hillary. She should ask voters if they would buy a used casino (or some similar questions) from Trump as much as she should appeal for votes on the basis of her experience and actions.

To defeat Trump, she will have to authentically conduct a campaign that relies as much on the aforementioned factors as on the important elements of clearly stating achievable policy goals; justifying her integrity; and getting the Democratic base, anti-Trump Republicans and independent voters to the polls.

Marc Jacobson, Los Angeles