Hard Times

Magie Dominic's letter/essay ["No One Decides To Be Destitute"], which was featured on the cover of the Voice last week, was extremely moving.

The worst prejudice has always been against the poor, and the bias turns to backlash if they try to pull themselves out of poverty! Try to take a piece of the pie, will you? That's the dirty root of racism and sexism. I shudder every time I hear about the booming economy and the "strength" of the soaring stock market because I know there are millions of poor people's backs being bent providing that strength: the easily ignored minions of our society. The chasm between rich and poor continues to spread, and I wonder where our consciences are.

I am sorry to say things are no better here in Southern California. I look at the suits and the BMWs and wonder what they have that others don't. Then I hand the wrinkled dollar bill to the ashen homeless man and see that he has everything nonma-terial that they lack. I pray things turn around for Dominic and all the others who didn't choose to be destitute.

Erin Riley
Los Angeles, California

Full-Time Unemployment

Where is the relief for people like Magie Dominic who find themselves in an emergency situation and need temporary help? Since there is no system that provides prompt assistance in times of tragedy, Ms. Dominic is forced to live on a meager $118 a week. In a situation like that, most people would be homeless long before they could recieve aid and get back on their feet. People complain about the jobless being unwilling to go out and work, but just getting an aid check and food stamps sounds like a full-time job to me.

Jens Mcvoy

Missing the Movement

Nat Hentoff's column "Where Is the Peace Movement?" [May 11] has such a narrow scope that it really discourages people from organizing against the war powers in our country. Focusing only on the Democratic Party and the lack of antiwar demonstrations like those we witnessed in the '60s is off the mark.

The true focus in the '90s has to be the incredible number of grassroots organizations built to communicate and educate outside the corporate control of the media. The most organized antiwar voices are now heard through newsletters, Internet sites, phone trees, etc.

Americans get no information about antiwar demonstrations and movements in other countries. There is more information in European newspapers about these issues than in any American newspaper. It's not an American response that will be the next peace movement but an international peace movement that will stop the American fascists.

Sue Peters

Nat Hentoff replies: Since my column there has been more organizing around the country, but not enough yet to move Congress sufficiently. Nothing can move the empty president. For weeks now on both cable and commercial TV there have been many pictures of corpses and the maimed in Kosovo and Yugoslavia. Also in the newspapers. Nobody can say they do not know what's happening. To have an effective peace action we have to depend on ourselves because we are the major bombers.

Witches at War

James Ridgeway, in his May 25 Mondo Washington column, had a great item about Wicca worship in the military at Fort Hood, Texas ["Broomstick Soldiers"].

However, I would like to make a small correction. Within Wicca, male witches are not called warlocks. Warlock is a derogatory term (meaning oath breaker), which was applied to Wiccans by Christians. Wicca is a benign religion and should command the same respect as any other form of worship.

Ron Albury
Cincinnati, Ohio

Just Kidding

In J. Hoberman's review of Star Wars Episode IThe Phantom Menance ["All Droid Up," May 25], he wrote, "The Phantom Menace may strike even some kids as excessively cartoon-like."

As adults, we are obliged by society to translate life's harsh realities into more innocent and exciting versions for children to digest. Hoberman bemoaned the lack of sex and cartoonish violence in the movie. But if the violence were real, and the sex were hot, it would not be appropriate for children.

The Phantom Menace is not a well-done adult film. It is an extremely well-done children's film. It is a modern fairy tale, with a young child at its center.

Nick Gaffney
Lyme, New Hampshire

Criti Schism

Re J. Hoberman's review of the new Star Wars: Admittedly, the advertising blitz is nauseating. Nonetheless, is there a single profitable movie that The Village Voice critics deem worthy of their curmudgeonly and bitter approval?

The constant politicizing and anti-corporate dissent against commercial films wears thin. This is not a film review, it's a social-science thesis. The Phantom Menace is just a movie; lighten up.

David Sergenian

Hard Cell

As a defense lawyer in Canada, I read Jennifer Gonnerman's "The Supermax Solution" [May 25] with interest, especially her comments on the new policy of housing two grown men together 23 hours a day in a cell less than 15 feet wide.

Whenever injustices are inflicted against any group of people, it helps if the people inflicting the injustices can separate themselves from the victims (in this case the prison population) by viewing them as less than human. The reality is that some of the prison population soon to be moved to Malone, New York, and interred in the supermax Upstate Correctional Facility will have been wrongfully convicted, some will have been badly socialized, others will be mentally ill, and the vast majority will be nonwhites from the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

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