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Jim Murray

A Good Word for Munich, Minnesota

November 06, 1987|Jim Murray

We pause now for a word from our sponsors . . .

Dear Mr. Murray,

This letter refers to your column in the Sept. 6 Sunday edition of The Los Angeles Times, "Answering a Call of Terrorism Still Scary After 15 Years."

I am a 22-year-old German-born economics and journalism major at Cal State Long Beach and a former Munich resident, and it goes without saying I was very much intrigued by the subject you broached. As every journalistic tyro is taught right off the bat, the written word wields a much greater clout than anything slurred on the airwaves, so I believe that this response to your article is a timely one, despite the fact it has been five weeks since it appeared in print.

On reading some of its content, I was shocked, exasperated, even outraged, and some of your allegations simply cannot go uncommented.

I wonder what sort of bias sneaked up on you and prompted you to garnish your account with polemic allusions to the notorious Nazi episode of German history. To me, such slanted, opinionated, fairly offensive interjections serve no useful purpose except to suggest to a California audience . . . that events in present-day Germany are hardly separable from, and easily tie in with, the Hitler despotism, and that an observer as discerning as the reporter cannot help but make it known to everyone.

Cosell's remark about the Third Reich and Povich's reply are quotes--but was it the Arabs who killed Jews during the Third Reich or was it 'they' in the first place? Tasteless as the comparison is, it is only understandable, albeit hardly excusable, as an overture to the anti-German barrage that ensues.

Whether lax security personnel were actually trying to make up for their previous blunder by barring journalists I cannot contest, but the barricading cops and the barking chief of police, in their demeanor, clearly smack of the hostility that is obviously to be incited in the unsuspecting reader.

You are right about the appearance of those little powder-blue suits but I choked on my hearty laugh about their pansiness when I noticed the malice it leads up to. I admire your ability to see through people's attire and bless your readers with such mind-boggling observations. What a pity you did not detect the swastika that I am sure everybody wears tattooed on their armpits over there.

I am also full of commiseration for well-meaning journalists that are tormented by some stalking rascal on the loose, that when doing so likely anticipated what would be written about this incident 15 years later. It appears, however, that Hitler's specter must have done an even more terrific job in haunting you, in fact so effectively that you could hear it jeer at embarrassed government officials and hover over airfields (the city's correct spelling, incidentally, is Fuerstenfeldbruck). What other dimension other than a stench of agitation does this add to the story?

What really eludes me is your strange logic throughout the article. First those sinister Germans make decisions that lock a massacre in place, then they are praised to high heaven for not yielding to terrorism, for righteously fending off those eight haters, for not letting them hijack the Olympics. But did they really do it, though, didn't 'we' see to it that the cancellation of the event was not permitted (7th paragraph from the bottom)?

I have not witnessed the atrocities and cruelties perpetrated during the Nazi regime's pernicious rule. Yet I am very much aware that the memory of this time must be handed down to all future generations so as to exhort them never to let this happen again. Bigotry and xenophobia will never be driven off the face of the earth completely but my peers and those in the generation before us have grown up in a democracy, and for every reactionary, there is one hundred fiercely committed to preserving it, however imposed it may have once been.

We have learned that fairness is a prime virtue in a democracy. Animadversion is not . . .

I cannot see how out-of-place conjecture could be of service either to your readers or to those striving to cope with the onerous legacy of an excruciating past.

NORBERT P. WAIBEL

There used to be a Noel Coward song, "Let's Don't Be Beastly to the Germans." It was never my intent to be beastly to the Germans or to reopen the Nuremberg trials. What I was trying to do was to evoke a mood and a somber recall of a melancholy day in all our lives. I know the whole world shares the blame for Hitler but, for heaven's sake, so do the Germans. As reader Waibel himself points out, this time in history must not be swept under the rug in the interests of not offending anybody today.

Mr. Murray,

Trash bags, swastikas, pile of Teflon, hot air balloon, big bag, clowns, screaming cats, lumber jackets and so on and on?

You forgot some other things native to Minnesota:

They have clean air to breathe.

They don't have to lock their car doors driving to and from their trash bag (Metrodome) as one does to the Coliseum.

They can drive down their freeways and miss all the fun one has dodging bullets.

They have the highest percentage of high school graduates in the country, you would miss those athaletes in California who can't read, let alone write.

They don't have 32 murders on a weekend.

They don't have those wonderful gangs, which Minnesota doesn't allow.

They have lumber jackets. My father wore one and so do the doctors at Mayo.

How would you write about (all that)?

J. PAGNETTE

Sounds boring to me. It's a good thing you got that funny ballpark or nobody'd know you were there.

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