By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
I spent a year teaching math in the Chicago Public Schools. On their first day of high school, most of my students were unable to add whole numbers. To make matters worse, administrators told me that gross student misbehavior was merely "creative noise."
Gay people have a huge stake in making sure our schools work. Educated people understand the true meaning of diversity. Uneducated people call us "faggot." Yet despite obvious failure, the Democrats, as embodied by President Clinton, point to Chicago as a model of school reform. Democrats claim superiority to Republicans on issues like the Employment Non- Discrimination Act and hate-crime laws. Yet 30 years of Democratic Congresses failed to secure passage for these laws.
Never mind that gay people rarely face the kind of discrimination that other minorities have faced, and that strict enforcement of current laws would serve us as well as hate-crime laws. Democrats are lousy on the critical issue of education and effective on issues that matter little, like ENDA and hate crimes.
Republicans like Governor Bush, on the other hand, speak of the "soft bigotry of low expectations." After the hell I endured in the public schools, this speaks to me. I have a strong social conscience that cannot be bullied by the empty policies of the Democrat left. Now ask me why I'm a Log Cabin Republican.
Charlie Mehler, Former President
Log Cabin Republicans/Chicago
Richard Goldstein replies: Democrats in Washington and Albany have voted overwhelmingly for antidiscrimination laws, while Republicans have consistently blocked them. As for this writer: he's oblivious to the reality of job discrimination against gays, and he doesn't see the need for hate-crime laws. If you side with gay conservatives, this is what you'll get: a smile from the "educated" and a cold shoulder to oppression.
Hats off to Richard Goldstein, who has it exactly right about the new "gay friendliness" of the Republican Party.
Here's what gay Republicans should do: write in former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan in the primaries to show the party the kind of candidates they could support. And then vote and work for Al Gore or Bill Bradley on election day.
The writer is the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee
The 'Blot' Thickens
When I saw the September 14 Voice with the headline "NYU: A Blot on the Village" emblazoned on the cover, I felt an immediate urge to respond that the university adds greatly to the economic and cultural health of the community and that it's not all about money. As a graduate student at NYU, I know that the young adults who enroll at school year after year contribute tremendously to the life of the Village. In short, your cover message came across as overblown and intolerant.
As for Lenora Todaro's article, there were numerous inconsistencies in her argument, but one glaring and overarching problem. It doesn't make much sense to defend the Village, a highly eclectic community, by making what amounts to a call for conformity.
On the other hand, NYU can hardly be considered just one more kooky neighbor, and it is reasonable to ask at what point the collective will of a community ought to take precedence over private privilege (assuming the will of the entire community is known). After he had refused interview requests by the Voice, NYU spokesman John Beckman entered the fray in the Washington Square News on September 20, calling Todaro's article "nothing more than an unbalanced, personal screed, the impact of which is somewhere between laughable and irrelevant." The arrogant tone of this quip makes one wonder whether Beckman has similar sentiments toward valid community concerns raised by Todaro, PR efforts notwithstanding.
Lenora Todaro's cover article on NYU was ridiculous. Is the Voice only asking that NYU design better-looking buildings? The real issue is how NYU is perpetuating the systematic segregation that has bulldozed minorities and women out of economic opportunities on its construction sites.
Workers from these communities black, Latino, and Asian have been fighting with students and community groups since 1997 to hold NYU responsible for sponsoring this racism. The question I have is: how can a rich, cultured educational institution that takes pride in being open and liberal say that it is not responsible for the blatant racism that workers meet when they attempt to get work on construction sites that are owned by NYU? Obviously, this was not a question that the Voice was contemplating in its ivory tower.
National Mobilization Against Sweatshops
Lenora Todaro replies: I argued against monotony (a.k.a. conformity) and for a harmonious streetscape in which architectural styles are in relationship to one another. The Kimmel Center would not make the neighborhood more "eclectic" in any distinctive way. Mr. Eng addresses a manner in which NYU's economic and intellectual might is used, one of many issues involved in its relationship with the city. I hardly think design is an ivory tower concern, however, as it affects everything from workers' rights and potential environmental hazards to psychological ease or unease on our streets. Try telling the people in the horrific housing projects in East New York that design doesn't matter. Washington Square and 14th Street belong to all the people of New York, including those Mr. Eng is fighting for, and it would be a shame if Mr. Eng didn't see the threats to their public spaces as "real."