Email to Peter Aspden:
I wonder if you're aware of how deliberate and insidious the process has been. In the early 1980s the Reagan administration tried to get through Congress legislation to weaken what is sometimes called the law of deception — revising key factors in the FTC's criteria to make it harder to prosecute false advertising. The Congress then resisted, but the Reagan FTC made its effort to accomplish the deed anyway by redefining its criteria administratively. The result is that from 1915 through the 1980s you have an impressive development of decisional law (court cases) elaborating and defining false advertising, but thereafter the courts had to deal with a somewhat muddled terrain — and as a matter of law, I ceased having the ability to follow those developments. At any rate, thanks very much for your right-on column, including the delicious phrases describing how ad men "suck[ed] the blood from the momentous happenings around them, turning them into fatuous slogans and inane jingles." Those lines recall to me how at the height of the vietnam War, I would find it maddening to hear on the radio that one could "Double your pleasure, double your fun, with Wrigley's spearmint gum," and a thousand other inanities, while [upwards of four million — a number I only learned somewhere in the last ten years] people were being murdered in Southeast Asia. Kind regards.
Earlier today, in response to a piece by Clare Bayard for Iraq Veterans Against the War titled "Healing from Empire: Anti-War Veterans Redefine Veterans Day," I sent this email to IVAW:
I'm about halfway through the article on redefining Veterans Day and just want to say I'm thankful for you and your work. You're doing some of the most impressive and important organizing that I'm aware of. In particular, with reference to the mention in the article of the silence of politicians regarding the wars, I think if this isn't intentional it certainly feeds into accustoming the public to the endless war policy, and your breaking the silence is critically important. So thanks very much, and please keep it up. This is among the most important forms of national service anyone is doing at this time.
I also write because you mentioned women vets working on solidarity projects with women in Iraq and Afghanistan. You probably already know about this, but in case not, I want to mention that NY-based MADRE, another of my favorite organizations, has small-scale but meaningful projects helping women and families in both those countries. One of the projects involves safe houses helping women escape from gender-based violence. I thought you might like to connect up with or at least find out more about these projects if you're not already familiar with them.