Polite demurral

I’m writing you from Orlando, where we just screened Divided We Fall for a packed audience, followed by a rich and intense discussion `Film, Sept. 27`. I read your review of the film afterward and found myself wishing you had been able to attend the screening.

Your impressions of the film are of course your own and I honor them, but I also want to tell you that after audiences watch the film (we have toured in 50 cities across the country so far) I see people inspired to tell their own stories – across racial and religious lines – and engage in courageous dialogue with one another.

It seems that the things you criticized in the film – my personal journey and my questions, my focus on the stories of Sikh Americans as a way to talk about America – are the very things that people value. And our interviews with Muslim and Arab Americans, other South Asians and Japanese Americans effectively pull the lens back from the Sikh experience to clearly answer the question you feel I avoided: No, it’s not a matter of mistaken identity; it’s about recognizing one another’s humanity and expanding the circle of who counts as “one of us,” as in the final words of the film.

I only want to share this with you in order to let you know about other people’s experience. And while I was disappointed the film didn’t make the same impression on you, I am very grateful for your review and your comments on what moved you.

Yours is a hard job, and I appreciate you listening to my thoughts.

Valarie Kaur, via the Internet

Sally was wrong

The problem I have with Hillary Clinton is I don’t understand how a woman who’s as smart as she is voted for a war that’s as dumb and wasteful as the war in Iraq.

I knew there were no “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq; I knew that war in Iraq was going to be a disaster. Why didn’t Hillary Clinton know?

Sally Field, when she won her Emmy, said, “If mothers ruled the world there’d be no goddamn wars.” That’s not true because Hillary Clinton is a mother and she voted for a war.

Sally, you’re a great actress but you were wrong.

Hillary Clinton has run a very savvy campaign. John Edwards, who also voted for the war in Iraq but apologized for it, can learn some things from the way she’s run her campaign. (And I think it is sexist that Hillary can spend $400 on a makeover and not get criticized for it when John Edwards spends $400 on a makeover and does get criticized for it.)

Wes Pierce, Orlando

Political reality

When does the film `The Kingdom, Film, Sept. 27` flash back to what happened 30 minutes earlier? Is it unbelievable that a person like Foxx (whether he’s an FBI agent, actor or auto mechanic) would joke with someone whom he considers his peer? What is insulting about the dialogue? You make these broad claims and don’t offer any details to explain.

Did you just fall asleep and hope you could write the review based on what you thought would happen? It seems to me that critics like you are bad-talking this movie for either being too Hollywood or not being enough of a genre film, a clear contradiction as far as I’m concerned.

Although I agree that the film doesn’t try to change the world, it was relieving to see individuals made out of otherwise stereotyped FBI agents, Saudi officials and yes, even former terrorists.

I think what The Kingdom sought to do was present the facts of our sketchy relationship with Saudi Arabia, the unavoidable bureaucratic nature of our justice officials and, eventually, the often gray (as opposed to black-and-white) realities of our presence in the Middle East and the hatred for Westerners that many have developed or been indoctrinated with. Be it over the top, this movie succeeds because it says things that other (more politically driven) movies aren’t saying, or are presenting with more single-minded frameworks.


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