Letters

WAYNE DROPS

Regarding Wayne Barrett's article "A Readers' Guide to the Good Stuff From 'Rudy!' " [July 18]: No fact is reported correctly in the short passage that Barrett has labeled "Chapter 16." In the course of one sentence, Barrett incorrectly reports my previous position in city government, incorrectly attributes a quote to me (which appears to be fabricated in any event), and incorrectly describes certain policies I have discussed on behalf of the city administration.

It is hard to understand how so many mistakes could be made in one sentence. Indeed, these factual errors raise disturbing questions about the accuracy of both the article and Barrett's book Rudy! in their entirety.

Anthony P. Coles
Deputy Mayor
Planning, Education and Cultural Affairs
City of New York

Wayne Barrett replies: Tony Coles caught me! He was senior adviser to the mayor, not special adviser. It wasn't I, however, who attributed the quote to him; it was Lilliam Paoli, who was so highly thought of by Rudy Giuliani that he named her commissioner of three different agencies. It was also Paoli who described Coles's policy opposition to job and language training for welfare recipients. Coles, by the way, did not respond to my requests to state his own position during the reporting of the book.


CLASS CORE FARE

Nat Hentoff attacks me as well as multiculturalism in his July 25 column in order to endorse Herman Badillo's imposition of a core curriculum on the City University of New York, including introductory U.S. history ["Misguided Multiculturalism: Our Historical Illiteracy"]. Does Hentoff realize that this policy emerged without faculty consultation and that it is part of Badillo's reactionary restructuring of CUNY?

The concept of a core curriculum has been controversial since Harvard embraced the elective system in the late 1800s. As knowledge and the canon expanded, traditional core curricula seemed rigid and survey courses seemed superficial. Today most colleges have distribution requirements under which students choose courses to explore general areas of knowledge. In an increasingly interrelated world, simple formulas for learning are anachronistic.

Consequently, none of the top 55 U.S. colleges and universities mandates U.S. history. This does not denigrate the study of history but suggests that there are many histories worth studying. It does not deny the value of learning U.S. history but suggests that our nation's story can be examined in many ways. It does not reflect the decline of standards but suggests that mastering concepts is more meaningful than memorizing facts, and that, particularly in the U.S., college-level inquiry should be open and voluntary rather than closed and compulsory.

Joanne Reitano
Professor of History
LaGuardia Community College
City University of New York

Nat Hentoff replies: My column did not mention "memorizing facts" about American history. It focused on mastering concepts of the causes of the American Revolution and its successes and failures since. Professor Reitano ignores the fact—as cited in my column—that most students are ignorant of the developing history of these essential concepts. That is the fault of their teachers. And that ignorance is why Malcolm X used to tell me the study of U.S. history is necessary in order to change its future. I did not attack multiculturalism—just an insufficient use of it in this case.


A SNITCH IN TIME

As a retired special agent for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, I am writing in response to Tom Robbins's article "The Con and the Mayor" [August 1]. Robbins did an excellent job of summarizing [mob informant] Michael Lloyd's history and present plight in not having received commutation of his sentence. I have known Lloyd for over 30 years. It is unbelievable that he is still in jail, much less in solitary confinement! Governor Tom Ridge should act immediately on the unanimous recommendation of his Board of Pardons and the urgings of not only Mayor Rudolph Giuliani but a number of federal prosecutors.

Criminals who have committed murder and other violent crimes have struck far better deals with the government, having done far less to deserve them. Lloyd has been directly responsible for saving a number of lives and causing the arrests and convictions of numerous serious offenders. These well-documented efforts should have been rewarded. Thank you for your efforts to expose this injustice.

Russell W. Thomas
Roxboro, North Carolina


BASTARDIZED COVERAGE

In "'New York Times': Slur-less" [Press Clips item, July 25], Ward Harkavy wrote that the Times gave insufficient coverage to Hillary Clinton's alleged anti-Jewish slur. Of course, the Times was disingenuous in its claim that the story wasn't getting much press play; the question, however, is whether the story merits coverage. Harkavy suggests a double standard because in 1984 the Times covered Jesse Jackson's infamous "Hymietown" comment. He overlooks the key difference: Jackson was accused in 1984 of something he said in 1984. Many believed the comment spoke volumes about his emotional disposition and his qualifications to be president. Clinton is being accused of a comment she allegedly made over a quarter of a century ago.

John Jones
Manhattan


THE STATE AND HATE

Re Chisun Lee's article "Did Hate Kill?" [July 18]: The brutal killing of Amanda Milan was a bias crime. We need better federal, state, and local bias crimes legislation and we need enforcement of that legislation.

As a Green Party candidate for Congress, I've proposed a constitutional amendment banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. As a gay man, I refuse to forget that transgender people were at the forefront at Stonewall in 1969. We must remember Amanda Milan—and the human rights struggle of transgender people.

Dan Wentzel
Manhattan

 


CORRECTION

A statement in last week's Press Clips column incorrectly referred to the Internet site on which complaints first surfaced about the Contentville Web site. It was the Online Writing List (OWL).

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