Letters

Lindsay Waters
Executive Editor
Harvard University Press
Cambridge, Massacusetts


Rude Awakening

So the Knicks are allegedly rude to sportswriters ["Full-Court Press," Jeff Ryan, March 7]: As these athletes are overwhelmingly African Americans and these reporters overwhelmingly are not, I wish your writer had included some acknowledgment of the sorry state of race relations in New York City and its possible impact on the Knicks' locker room.

This insight would have been particularly appropriate at a time when the Diallo verdict is being interrogated for various meanings. Moreover, as confrontations on highways daily remind us, poorly paid (mostly white) police officers often are irritated in the presence of minority men in expensive cars. Could a similar race-class dynamic be operative in the Knicks' locker room, where multimillionaire black athletes confront poorly paid reporters? Just asking . . .

Gerald Horne, Fulbright Scholar
University of Hong Kong


Officers from Hell

Peter Noel's article on Spanish-speaking New Yorkers getting short shrift from the NYPD ["'Speakie Spannie?'" February 29] was a welcome and troubling exposé of the status quo in the department.

In most precincts, if you're not a white male and/or part of the old-boy network, access is severely limited, except to the front desk Officers From Hell who have graduated from Scream 101 and who seem to revel in degrading or ignoring community members.

As an elected officer of the Seventh Precinct Community Council (and a community board member), I have to make appointments to meet with incompetent Community Affairs officers who should be ensuring good relations between the community and the NYPD. As a woman, I can't walk upstairs to their offices, while white males who are not members of the service seem to roam the building with impunity.

Too often, Community Affairs officers are hooking up favors for their white male cronies, and don't want to venture out and deal with residents in the mostly minority areas of the precinct north of Delancey Street where I live. We're a mosaic—every shade and ethnicity. To some police, we're the trash of the neighborhood.

While some white male members of the Lower East Side community have instant access to precinct commanding officers, it took another activist and myself over 100 phone calls to 1 Police Plaza to have a meeting with the CO of the Seventh Precinct.

I have documented this pattern and practice of exclusion and notified the highest levels of the NYPD, from Commissioner Safir on down. They have done nothing to ameliorate the conditions, and provide equal access for all.

Where's CPR?

Marcia H. Lemmon
Lower East Side


Clubland

Karen Cook's article "Eco Action" [February 22] misled readers about the dispute between the Sierra Club and a small faction among the members in New York City. Readers wouldn't know from the article that State Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Figueroa agreed with the club that the former leaders of the New York City Group engaged in serious misconduct. That's the core issue at hand, but Cook ignored it.

Although Justice Figueroa characterized the decisions of the former group executive committee as "active wrongdoing," Cook neglected to tell that to readers. Readers wouldn't know that what the article called a "handpicked" slate was actually elected by a strong majority of the New York City Group members in an election with the largest turnout, by far, in the Group's history. With their ballots, the Sierra Club's New York City members said they want to put the fractious past behind them and get back to work protecting New York's environment.

The club is going to carry out Justice Figueroa's order meticulously, so that an elected slate of officers can lead the Sierra Club's New York City Group.

Rather than being distracted by factionalism, New Yorkers want to put our energy to work cleaning up the Hudson River and fighting to end the air pollution that sears our children's lungs.

Stuart Auchincloss
Chair, Atlantic Chapter
Sierra Club
Manhattan


Napoleon the Pig at Princeton

I appreciated Nat Hentoff's column on Professor Peter Singer ["Doctor Death," March 7] and think Hentoff was, if anything, too soft on him. It seems to me that the president of Princeton University is running around intellectually naked while the tailor he hired to make him a fabric of ethics is sewing stale air.

In addition to echoing the Nazis, Singer apes George Orwell's Animal Farm maintaining that "All animals are equal" and soon progressing to "But some animals are more equal than others." Do we really need a real-life version of this fairy tale with Peter Singer playing the role of Napoleon the pig?

Perhaps the most frightening thing about Singer is that his mild manner masks a totalitarian ambition. Truly, Singer's utilitarianism is in Singer's totalitarianism, since he feels he has the wisdom to decide who should live and who should die, and he will decide for us what we can do with our money and what activities will be eliminated because he perceives them to be bourgeois wastefulness.

In time I am sure Singer will be viewed with the same disdain we hold for the Joe McCarthys and Billy Sundays of the world. That time cannot come too soon.

Robert C. Speth
Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington

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