Letters

Endorsement Check

In your endorsement of Ralph Nader's presidential bid ["A Green Light for Nader," November 7], you write that "safeguarding abortion rights is not about the Supreme Court, but about maintaining feminist activism," and cite me as someone who argues that "access to reproductive services has actually declined under Clinton, because the movement that established them has waned." You must be confusing me with Barbara Ehrenreich. In my rather too many Nation columns about Nader, I argued that the many nominations and appointments made by the president not just to the Supreme Court but also the federal appeals courts, as well as to the offices of attorney general, head of the FDA, and hundreds of other positions, have had a great deal of effect on abortion rights and access. It's true that a vibrant pro-choice activism is key, but to dismiss the importance of the entire legal and governmental apparatus surrounding abortion strikes me as quite mad. I doubt very much that Ralph Nader would treat his own constitutional rights so lightly, and I said as much in my Nation column.

Katha Pollitt
Manhattan


Ralph The Righteous

Re Nat Hentoff's post-election article "Ralph Nader Keeps Democracy Alive" [November 21]: Which is sadder? Nader's sanctimonious self-righteousness or the pathological inability of his supporters to admit their error? Contorted analysis can't disguise their vanity and folly. To gain a cheap rush of moral purity, they may have poisoned the wells for us all. Typically, they are unwilling to acknowledge any responsibility.

Well, we knew from the start that responsibility wasn't quite their thing. Let the rationales roll on. Greens, go down.

Bob Campbell
Maplewood, New Jersey


Pro-Choice Hentoff

Thanks to Nat Hentoff for an inspiring and well-written article defending the only true choice we had for president, Ralph Nader.

Todd Marino
Chicago, Illinois


Cheerleading For Gore

Some unnamed Voicestaffers sum up their dissenting November 7 editorial cheerleading for Gore ["Nader: Unsafe on Any Issue"] by urging not only a vote for him but also a cautionary "movement to make him do what is right," tacitly acknowledging his longstanding tendency to do what is wrong.

Too bad there was no such movement to stop Gore and Clinton from ramming through NAFTA, betraying lesbians and gays in the military, destroying welfare, and choosing a running mate who backed curbs on affirmative action in California. Reagan and Bush could only dream of doing these things: Clinton and Gore accomplished many of them.

Contrary to the dissenters, the Voicegot it right when it said, "Gore and the machinery he represents will never get us anywhere we ultimately want to go. The only way to achieve real equality is to build the left."

Mike Gill
Manhattan


Absentee Ballots

To AFL-CIO president John Sweeney and anyone else "seething" over the election ["Dark Victory," Richard Goldstein, November 21]: Instead of whining about Ralph Nader and the 2.6 million people who voted their conscience, why not focus on the 50 million voters who stayed home? They're the reason Gore lost.

Rob Wendt
Brooklyn


Borrowed Times

Ah, the advantages of the erudite Michael Feingold's long and lovely memory! I was very pleased to see his acknowledgment of my play about Alice James, Signs of Life, in his review of Susan Sontag's play on the same subject ["Sick of Fancy," November 21].

Signs of Life, which is included in my play collection, Signs of Life: Six Comedies of Menace, published by Wesleyan University Press, has been consistently produced and taught for the last 20 years. It has as its central refrain a tea party peopled with historical figures—as, apparently, does Ms. Sontag's much later work. This, needless to say, is the kind of artistic "coincidence" that keeps writers grinding their teeth into the wee hours.

Sometime in the mid 1980s, Ms. Sontag asked to borrow a copy of the Samuel French edition of Signs of Lifefrom me, and—as a very flattered, young (well, younger) playwright—I sent it to her. I have not read or seen her play Alice in Bed (tolerance has its limits), and since the works are apparently very different in other respects, I make no representation as to her play's provenance (who can say which beat of the fork scrambles the egg?). But I do have a confession of my own to make.

I just noticed with some surprise that one of the chapter titles in my recently published biography, Truly Wilde: The Unsettling Story of Dolly Wilde, Oscar's Unusual Niece is . . . "Dolly in Bed."

Perhaps this recognition from me will inspire a similar one from Ms. Sontag—or perhaps, at long last, she'll simply return my borrowed playscript.

Joan Schenkar
Manhattan


Preservation Hall

In response to Lara Pellegrinelli's article on Jazz at Lincoln Center ["Dig Boy Dig," November 14]: It's very hard to maintain the integrity of the music under the kind of harsh scrutiny Wynton Marsalis has received. I don't envy Marsalis at all. I've seen Jazz at Lincoln Center many times, and he has had white musicians in the band. Bassist Ben Wolfe is only one.

As a jazz musician, I think what's really in question here is the integrity of the music. Many of Marsalis's critics would like him to include fusion/smooth players in his concert series. This is totally against Marsalis's philosophy of what jazz is, based on jazz traditions. If Jazz at Lincoln Center is going to be about preserving the jazz tradition and art form, performers of fusion and instrumental pop should not be endorsed in those veins of music. Imagine, if you will, Kenny G. at Lincoln Center.

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