I Witnessed

As an eyewitness to the TWA Flight 800 tragedy, I would like to thank Robert Davey for following the story ["Flight 800's Last Stage: The Four-Year Investigation Ends, the Mystery Endures," August 8]. It has been an unpopular story for most newspapers, but The Village Voice, through Davey's continuing coverage, has had the courage to tell what needs to be told. Davey has shown bravery, dedication to an open press, and the tenacity to stick with a difficult story.

I am just one of hundreds of witnesses who need not theorize about the cause of the crash. Those of us who were there that night remember all too well what we saw with our own eyes—TWA Flight 800 was knocked from the sky by two missiles. There are 755 statements from eyewitnesses that tell the story. Yet the National Transportation and Safety Board interviewed only one eyewitness during the hearings.

Many eyewitness statements were either challenged or denied by the NTSB investigative committee. Accidental witnesses and average American citizens though we are, we were there. Though the hearings that concluded last week found that there were no missiles, we know what we saw.

Please keep up the good work. And thank you for being one of the few places in the American press where truth is still printed.

Lisa Perry
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

Candidate Debate

Every time I read an article like Peter Noel's "The Uncle Tom Dilemma" [August 22], it makes me cringe. I am a woman who has worked for decades as a volunteer for organizations that exist for the purpose of uplifting the underprivileged among us—many of whom happen to be African Americans like me. But I am also a Republican candidate for Congress who hopes more blacks—and New Yorkers in general—will open their eyes and ears during the current election cycle.

When the relationship African Americans have long had with the Republican Party is misrepresented in articles like Mr. Noel's, the credibility of people like me is being subtly attacked—with insufficient cause. The implication is that we are outsiders who don't care about black people in general and that black people are (or should be) monolithic in our needs and interests.

Blacks have actively participated in the Republican Party since its birth in 1854 on an abolitionist platform. Remember, it was Republicans who authored the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves and the 15th Amendment that guaranteed all races the right to vote.

In the 1960s, more Republicans than Democrats voted for the monumental civil rights legislation, which Democrats speciously take complete credit for. At that time, Ed Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts, was the only black senator. And it was his Republican colleague, Senator Everett Dirksen, who led the floor fight against the segregationists to make the Civil Rights Act the law of the land.

Lest we forget, almost all of the lawmakers who defended segregation were Democrats. How then have Democrats been able to hog all the credit for the civil rights movement?

As an African American and a Republican, I can assure you there is no "Uncle Tom Dilemma" in the GOP. The real dilemma is the one facing the Democratic Party as more people of color are being attracted to the GOP message of individual liberty and greater opportunity.

C. Adrienne Rhodes

You Must Remember This

Re Nat Hentoff on Joe Lieberman ["The 'Miracle' of Joe Lieberman," August 22]: A native New Yorker, I often return home, and the Voice is always a regular read during those times. I enjoy Nat Hentoff's work and almost always agree with him, but this column seemed to miss the point.

Hentoff complains about Lieberman speaking out against Clinton as "the conscience of the Senate" and then voting against conviction of impeachment. However, this was the attitude taken by some Senate Republicans (along with former presidents Ford and Carter). It was not inconsistent and certainly not an abandonment of principle. Many members of Congress thought Clinton was wrong but conviction was too harsh a penalty.

Indeed, it is not that Lieberman did what he did, but that he was able to do it. His background and reputation put him in a position to be the "conscience of the Senate," however awkward that position might be. And human beings—not just saints—invoke God. This does not make Joe Lieberman a hypocrite—only more human.

To those who find this kind of "political" move infuriating and disgusting, get over it! This is like Captain Renault in Casablanca when he says, "I am shocked—shocked—that gambling is going on in here!"

Nick Noble
Southborough, Massachusetts

Nat Hentoff replies: As Senator Lieberman told Robert Kaiser of The Washington Post (February 13, 1999), he delivered that condemnation of Clinton in order to give other congressional Democrats the cover to say " 'I agree with Joe Lieberman.' And it seemed to help." He told Kaiser, ". . . we were in danger as a party." He gave the speech to protect the party.

Rhythm Nation

After reading Lina Katz's article "No Dancing Allowed" [August 29], about a law prohibiting dancing in New York City nightclubs, I was incredulous. From what I understand, Mayor Giuliani is telling the public that despite the traditions that make his city famous, the cabaret law makes an almost necessary part of New York nightlife illegal.

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