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Heartbroken Narcissist

Nasreen Atassi should hope that her article “Searching for San Diego’s Sea Turtles…and a Job” (Cover Story, April 30) will not be read by anyone in San Diego County who is in a position to hire. What a steaming pile of dreck to foist on your readers during the worst economic downturn since the Depression: a job search by someone who hates both workers and working. Good luck with that.

Combined with self-awareness, narcissism is probably a healthy thing, part of a personality’s defense mechanism. I would cop to it. On the evidence of her article, though, it sounds (reads) as if she floats through a field of highest self-regard with no anchor of self-awareness to keep her down to earth where the rest of us plebes dwell.

Does she have the tiniest idea how offensive some of her random thoughts are to anyone who has to work for a living? Whatever happened to respect for those who work? Myself, I love my job, but I say that people who hate their jobs are still contributing to something outside of themselves, to the larger society. Likely they are also working for the benefit of some person outside themselves. They’re likely not living at home postgraduation, bumming money from their parents, thinking of marriage as a way to avoid work, or quitting job after job while offering nothing but disdain for anyone who…well, jeez, for anyone period: if you’re working, you’re a whore in business drab, and if you’re not working, you’re a sushi-nibbling trophy wife. Nice. Thanks, Nasreen! What is it you do to support yourself again? Oh, that’s right, you keep quitting.

I wouldn’t wish Ms. Atassi’s obnoxious presence on any city, so I won’t shriek at her to go back to San Francisco, but in over 25 years of reading the Reader, I’ve never felt such animus toward any writer based on a single article. Please don’t make her a part of your stable of contributors — the others don’t deserve to have to share any column inches with a spoiled, contemptuous hack. John Brizzolara, Barbarella, Ollie, Josh Board, Naomi Wise, Ed Bedford — my favorite Reader writers and first-person narcissists all — all have something that Nasreen Atassi lacks: heart, probably a broken one. I hope she finds hers before she writes another word. Until then, I’ll pass on any article with her byline.

Neil Allen

Many Missed Points

D.S. writes back (Letters, April 30) and begins his response to me with the stupid and pointless assumption that I “spent many sleepless nights to write to the Reader.” No, D.S., it doesn’t take that long to construct a well-researched and concise criticism of your insipid blather.

He writes off my accurate, irrefragable accounts of actual events involving the Border Patrol, in which the methods he suggests in his original letter were employed, as “outdated information,” even though I meticulously placed them in their historical contexts. As if historical facts become outdated! I didn’t say Pancho Villa attacked New Mexico yesterday! D.S. then backpedals from his original argument by saying he won’t cite examples of drug-war violence, but it’s happening “very close to the United States.” From the sound of his first letter, I thought the cartels were firebombing New York City.

He may have gotten me on the reason military enlistment numbers are up. I should’ve mentioned the economy before bonuses, but that’s a red herring — and it’s so small, he’d better catch and release. What militarization of the border comes down to is something he mentions: political will. Unfortunately, he thinks the only political will that matters is that of a small sector of U.S. citizens and not the global community. He compares the failure of the low-intensity-conflict militarization of the border in past decades with the failure of the Vietnam War by blaming it on lack of force. Does he forget the vehement unpopularity of that war in the U.S. and the overwhelming support the Vietcong were afforded over there? He then calls for a Desert Storm approach to seal our border. Yeah, chavalitos, “that” Desert Storm — the most lopsided victory in modern warfare. Like we’re Kuwait, and a bunch of Saddams are attacking us to clean our toilets and pick our oranges. Buena suerte, D.S., on getting unilateral support from the U.N. on that one!

D.S. goes on to let us know he’s a high roller. He’s happy to pay five bucks a pound for produce. Well, good for you, pelotero! But most Americans can’t. But that’s not the point, anyway. Once again, he fails to demonstrate the insight to read into the larger framework of this conversation: the produce thing is just the first domino! The entire economic infrastructure of this hemisphere was built upon and continues to exist because of a dependency on cheap labor — from the plantations and missions to now, and if there were no undocumented workers, the system would utterly founder! That’s the similarity between you and me, D.S. We are willing to enslave people to support this system that makes lesser-class citizens of our fellow humans because you and I have no choice! Neither of us seems to like it. Perhaps that’s another similarity. Our difference lies in our notions of freedom. I believe everyone who is honest, righteous, and willing to work deserves to be free of want no matter what cosmic fortune has determined where he or she happened to be born on this planet.

You, by your willingness to turn this blessed nation into a militaristic police state, have acquiesced your freedom without even realizing it.

Finally, let’s all cut the B.S. and quit acting like anyone knows the exact percentage of U.S.-origin weapons in Mexico. D.S. goes on a diatribe about the Department of Homeland Security (which he seems to vilify like the swine flu) whose number is 90 and derived from tangible, verifiable information. (Although, as the Reader points out, it is based on a sample — but not such a random one.) Then he equates a different DHS report on possible future sources of domestic extremism with a call for putting veterans on “radical watch lists.” The slopes of this guy’s arguments are so slippery, I bet there’s a Piso Mojado sign in front of them.

The Fox News report putting the number of weapons at 17 percent has more holes and doublethink in it; I bet D.S. sent it to them…hmm, Don Shanity, perhaps? Anyhow, like all conflicting calculations by parties with different vested interests, the glorious goblet of truth lies somewhere in between. And given the sources of both figures, as well as the fact that there are as many as 6000 commercial gun stores on the U.S. side of the border (3 per square mile) and 0 in Mexico, I’ll bet my bottom peso the actual number’s a bit closer to that of DHS.

All of this misses the point once again: given the fact that, since the Cold War, we have been steadily exporting far larger amounts of weaponry each year to the rest of the world, including dictators as vile as Pinochet and Somoza, and are now far ahead of any other nation as the world’s chief arms exporter — we, as citizens of the country with far more beneficial and virtuous talents and contributions to offer history, should, at the very least, be ashamed.

Bryan Varela
via email

Raising The Wrong Bill

I enjoyed “Church on Sunday?” (Cover Story, April 9) by Matthew Lickona and found it to be interesting. I must say, though, that there is some misinformation, perhaps just a name mixed up with another name. In the paragraph “By Whose Authority Do I Speak for God?” there is reference to a Pastor Bill Britton in Springfield, Missouri, who raised a man, whom Britton refers to as his father, from the dead the night before in a service.

I would like to clear the record on this. Pastor Bill Britton from Springfield, Missouri, is my dad, and we never had anyone raised from the dead in our church, most specifically Britton’s father, as he has been dead for many years. There was no reference of date when this trip to Missouri was taken. I would be interested in the author’s sources. Britton died in 1985 in Riverside, California. Perhaps this is simply a wrong name inserted into the story. There are a few other Bill Brittons (none in Springfield, Missouri), and my dad was often confused with Bill Bright, one of the founders of Campus Crusade for Christ. If this story of the man raised from the dead was metaphorically speaking, it was not clarified as such.

For the sake of my dad’s memory and ministry, I would prefer that he is not credited to the story in your recent cover article. Please follow up with a correction.

Becky Britton Volz
via email

Matthew Lickona responds: My source for this story was Father Jon Braun, who visited Pastor Bill Britton in Springfield, Missouri, in the early ’70s. I contacted Father Braun with regard to your concern, and he replied: “The story is exactly as printed. The most I would grant is that it is possible that he said, ‘He died last night and was raised from the dead.’ I can perhaps understand Ms. Volz’s concern, but I am not mistaken.”

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lallaw May 13, 2009 @ 3:41 a.m.

Dear Neil Allen of Talmadge, in re: Ms. Atassi's cover article of April 30, 2009. I find the need to slightly mangle a well-worn portion of verse: me thinks you doth protest too much. What could have possibly set you off to pen that vivisection of this author, both as an author and a human being? The article documented Ms. Atassi's struggle to extricate herself from her own predicament of joblessness, semi-hopelessness, and ennui...likening it to the sea turtle that can't seem to leave the warm water effluent of San Diego's treatment plants even though it too knows it doesn't belong. At least that is what I read in that article. I saw none of the unpleasantness you complained of.

I was entertained and bemused when I read it and it reminded me of that time I think many people go through, that period of life post high school (sometimes post college) but before the heavy hand of adulthood gives us a shoulder tap, when we still aren't sure what we want to be when we grow up. Or if we can grow up and grow away. We know we have to, and we want to be independent, but something - either a lack of frontal lobe development, low blood sugar, or fear - something holds us firmly in place. Both longing and loathing the comforts and security of childhood we can't seem to leave. Again, much like the misplaced sea turtles along our shores.

Could you not read her own self-loathing for her lack of motivation and direction? And it is she who seemed to despise the idea of marrying simply to have a purpose, as I recall. Furthermore, I would point out that she is doing at least one thing constructive: she is writing; writing well, and getting paid for it! I didn't pick up the intentional slacker in her tale. I could be wrong, but the article had more of a calming and sober effect on me as opposed to inspiring a call to arms against a presumed malingering post pubescent!

With all due respect, you were a bit hard on the gal and it makes me wonder if you have a 20 (or 30)-some living in your basement who thinks the delivery job you got him at Pizza Hut is beneath him while he steals your loose change left on the dryer. Even wayward sea turtles deserve a little love...and a second chance.

Lisa A. Leitter La Mesa


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