Roots Hoots

If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Robert Christgau [Consumer Guide, March 23] prefers for most hip hop to be as ignorant as he is about our band, the Roots. Until now, he was a hero of mine in the writing world, but I can't help but read between the lines of his remark that "maybe they've gotten more intelligent." Can't he just say that our shit is dope, and give us the fucking "A" we deserve? He is on some "Rolling Stone gave 'em four stars, Spin gave 'em a 9, and everyone is riding the dick, so I'll go against the grain and roast 'em" trip. I refuse to believe he listened to our album more than three times before passing judgment. It seems that all rap niggas must be dangerous and brainless in order to get his stamp of approval.

?uestlove (Ahmir Thompson)
Drummer, the Roots
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Robert Christgau replies: There is no worse critical sin than panning (or praising) something to be different, especially with a band as likable in principle as the Roots. I have listened at least seven or eight times to each album. Only the third reaches me— just don't like the keybs. Sorry.

Fiddle- Faddle

Dennis Lim, in his review of The Red Violin ["A Life on Strings," June 15], describes as "ridiculous" a scene in which someone "heroically saves the instrument from a Cultural Revolution burning."

Don't laugh. I lived in China and taught at a Chinese university. A friend and colleague told me that during the Cultural Revolution one of his students denounced him for owning a violin. The violin was found and destroyed; my friend was sentenced to be "re-educated."

Those who wish to control thought and create a new and better human spirit fear music and try to eradicate it.

George Jochnowitz
Professor of Linguistics
City University of New York
College of Staten Island

Dennis Lim replies: I wasn't making light of violin burning, or of the Cultural Revolution for that matter. As depicted in this overblown film, the events were ridiculous.


I am a survivor of 17 years of battering and 30 years of domestic violence of one kind or another. After reading Karen Houppert's "Victimizing the Victims" [June 15], I am glad I'm not a resident of New York City. I can't imagine how much more traumatized both mother and children must be when children are taken from women who are trying to protect themselves and those children by the very agency that's been funded to "help" them.

When I finally became strong enough to leave my husband and sought help from a domestic violence shelter, my daughter was grown, and there was no issue of whether she could be taken away from me for "failure to protect."

And people continue to ask, "Why did you stay?"

Name Withheld
Los Angeles, California

Cheap Shot

I was shocked to see the Voice cover stating "WOMEN ARE EASY" in big, bold letters [June 8], with an explanatory line below in quite small print. Can't you come up with something creative and eye-catching without relying on archaic gender stereotypes that guys snicker over, but that make women feel like shit?

Kaerensa Craft

Go Vest

Thanks to Jason Vest for having the intelligence to recognize truth and the courage to uphold it ["Human Shields for Clinton," June 15]. His article hit the target exactly (without use of any Apache helicopters, I might add)! As a Greek-American, my experience with this region— and with the appallingly misguided foreign policy of the U.S.— fills me with disgust and anger at how NATO (read the U.S. and Great Britain) has railroaded a small nation into giving up its sovereignty.

Given most Americans' lack of knowledge about the region, the Clinton administration knew they could get away with murder, as long as it had a good media spin. But there is more here than meets the eye. Why is Turkey's ethnic cleansing of Kurds ignored, with some Kurdish leaders declared terrorists by the U.S., while the K.L.A., which has committed similar acts of ethnic cleansing against Christian Serbs, is lauded as a group of freedom fighters?

Mary Frangakis Clark
Baltimore, Maryland

Jason Vest's "Human Shields for Clinton" was a breath of fresh air amid the "stenographers for the government" journalism that pervaded the reporting on Kosovo. Thoughtful, honest, well-argued, and eminently rational.

Marios Agrotes
Albany, New York

Liberals Pressed

Jason Vest had lots of words but absolutely no solutions in his article "Human Shields for Clinton." The problem with American liberals is that they lead cushy lives outside the jungle of the real world.

Three members of my family were "cleansed" by the Serb army in ways too horrible to describe. Diplomacy doesn't work with murderers!

Nadja Drago

Insurance Adjustments

Re: Sharon Lerner's "Uncovered Sex" [June 15]: I guess insurance companies think paying for childbirth is cheaper than using practical measures to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. I think if they did cost analysis for childbirth and health care until these babies become adults, they'd realize it's cheaper to pay for the pill. So what if women use the pill for contraception in pursuit of sexual pleasure? I don't see how a man's sexual satisfaction, as in the case of Viagra, is more important. NOT!!!

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