Letters

After Amadou

Steve Brodner's illustration of a bullet-ridden, screaming figure on last week's cover was absolutely stunning ["The Anger This Time"]. I have saved it to my computer screen as a reminder that after Amadou, nothing will be the same.

Alyssa Alston
Brooklyn


Sisters in Grief

Reading Wista Jeanne Johnson's article "The Fire This Time: Animosity and Fear Follow the Verdict" [March 7], I was overwhelmed by the grief I have felt since the day of the shameful Diallo verdict.

Although I don't live in the U.S., I've been following the case since I heard about it on a trip to New York. It was absolutely incomprehensible cruelty against an unarmed man. As a resident of one of the former Soviet countries, I've seen so much injustice—but I think the case of Amadou Diallo is of high importance beyond New York and the U.S. It's about the value of a human being and about equality of people of all color—and those are problems for the whole world. The verdict shook my belief in people. And I'm very sad about that.

Thanks for sharing your feelings, Ms. Johnson. Through your article I could feel related to people who—like me—are offended by this verdict.

Kristine Birze
Riga, Latvia


Conned-versations?

I am writing to clear the record regarding Peter Noel's article "Blaming the Bronx D. A." [March 7].

The alleged accounts of a conversation between the Reverend Al Sharpton and myself concerning the trial of the police officers charged in the death of Amadou Diallo are completely fictitious. No such conversations took place.

Either Reverend Sharpton or Mr. Noel has intentionally and irresponsibly deceived your readers.

Robert T. Johnson
District Attorney
Bronx

Peter Noel replies: Revelation of a war of words between D.A. Johnson and Reverend Sharpton obviously is an embarrassment, especially if Johnson considered their conversations private. My sources have firsthand knowledge, and they stand by their accounts.


Moving Rhetoric

In Peter Noel's informative article "Blaming the Bronx D.A.," he writes: "[In] the Diallo case, Sharpton [and] other black activists . . . were upset by Johnson's tepid response after state appellate judges, claiming that the wave of pretrial publicity would make it impossible to find an impartial jury in the Bronx, moved the trial to Albany."

The Reverend Al Sharpton, who organized much of the pretrial publicity, is responsible for the trial of the four officers having been moved to Albany.

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


Slurring Your Words

"Bill Bradley's in a bind: He never fought the gooks. He never got captured by the gooks. He never was tortured by the gooks. The Democratic presidential candidate's problem these days isn't exactly his pedigree. . . . And it is Republican John McCain's scrappy gook-battling POW arc that enchants."

John McCain loves to use the word "gook." And, boy, so does William Bastone ["All the Wrong Moves," March 7]. Bastone enthusiastically uses the slur four times in the first two paragraphs of his article on Bill Bradley.

When backward street morons use racist terms like "nigger," "kike," and "gook," I'm offended. But when presidential candidates and members of the media blurt them out with hopeless abandon I'm more disturbed.

Using racial slurs to grab attention for your article is a cheap and lazy form of journalism.

Helen Jen
Manhattan


Yackademia

As a graduate student in cultural anthropology, I was pleased at first to learn of the Voice's new coverage of academia in Norah Vincent's Higher Ed column. Unfortunately, with each of Ms. Vincent's columns, I've grown increasingly disappointed. After three columns, I can hardly believe the Voice is wasting print on Ms. Vincent's misinformed and misanthropic rants.

What bothers me about Ms. Vincent's writing is, quite simply, its consistently nasty tone. In her first column ["Hop on Pop," February 8], she railed against "third-rate philosophers" who think too hard about "shallow amusements." In her second column ["Wedded to Orthodoxy," February 22], it was "henchqueers" with "narrow opinions."

In her third column ["The French Fried," March 7], she finally got around to writing about some aspect of academia she actually likes—even if it was Camille Paglia—but she still had to sneak in a few nasty lines about the "insipid exegeses" of scholars with whom she disagrees. Most academics I know are motivated by some kind of passion for their subject, by a vision of the world as it is or as it could be that moves them deeply and demands their attention. Ms. Vincent seems to be motivated by little more than bitterness and hostility.

Henry Goldschmidt
Brooklyn


Anatomy of Criticism

I read Norah Vincent's latest column with interest. I obviously do not think Americans ought to scorn European cheese, wine, cars, or philosophy, but I thank Ms. Vincent for reminding us that there are some North American thinkers who deserve to be considered as near divinities along with Foucault, Deleuze, and Derrida.

Vincent rightly calls to our attention Norman O. Brown, Northrop Frye, Marshall McLuhan, and Leslie Fiedler. She might have mentioned Kenneth Burke and Constance Rourke, as well. Among our native geniuses of the present moment worthy of study and respect I also would include Catharine A. MacKinnon.

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