Letters

CHINA SYNDROME

Re Nat Hentoff's columns on the situation at WBAI ["WBAI: Beijing Radio, New York," April 10; "Can WBAI Be Saved?"April 17]: As a longtime Brooklynite, a former supporter of WBAI, and loyal listener to many of the shows, with Democracy NOW! topping the list, my hopes for honest, informative, and hard-hitting news have been dashed.

Utrice Leid's arrogance, displayed time and time again on her own program before her disgusting behavior propelled her up into the new, absolutely anti-democratic WBAI hierarchy, is now taking on monstrous proportions.

WBAI has a proven track record. Its former staff must be restored, along with full freedom of speech.

Anya Achtenberg
Albuquerque, New Mexico


SHEEPISH REACTION

I live on the east coast of England. I have just read, and been stunned by, James Ridgeway's column regarding the foot-and-mouth crisis ["British Hysteria Fueled by Stupidity," Mondo Washington, April 10]. It seems amazing that I have to read a report from America about what's happening on my doorstep.

The general opinion here is that if extreme measures aren't taken, the disease will wipe out, almost to the point of extinction, every hoven animal in the country, decimating one of the most important industries in the U.K. Yet no one has attempted to educate the public to the fact that the disease isn't actually terminal. Thank you for giving voice to this.

Martin Evans
Hull, England


FIT BULL

As a member of the Fashion Institute of Technology community, I'm writing to express my outrage over Tom Robbins's cover story on FIT's president, Dr. Joyce Brown, and the renovation of FIT's presidential apartment ["High on the Hog," April 10].

The caricature that you ran on your cover was insulting to Dr. Brown and offensive to all of us at FIT—and its viciousness suggests motives that go beyond a well-meaning attempt to protect public funds. No one who read Robbins's piece failed to realize who was its real target: state comptroller H. Carl McCall, Dr. Brown's husband. It's hard to know which is worse: engaging in the politics of personal destruction by attacking Mr. McCall through his wife or the sexism of attacking a woman because of who her husband is.

The article was dismissive of the idea that the renovation expense may have been justified. Part of Dr. Brown's job is to promote the Fashion Institute of Technology to those who are in a position to help the school, and, like every other college president, she needs an elegant environment in which to do this. Perhaps the need for such a space is even greater at FIT because the currency here, unlike at other schools, is fashion, that ineffable combination of art and envy that drives an enormous industry.

It's expensive to renovate, furnish, and repair a 4254-square-foot apartment in one of the costliest cities in the country during a construction boom. It's also expensive to do this in a way that will allow Dr. Brown to promote FIT to those for whom fashion is a passion and a way of life. This expenditure is a wise investment because it will allow Dr. Brown to be even more successful in bringing benefactors to FIT. Although every college provides elegant surroundings for its president, most have the luxury of doing the work gradually, and most college presidents are not married to major political figures and therefore are not targets of the kind of misleading, unscrupulous, pit-bull journalism with which Robbins attacked Dr. Brown.

Rene Mathez, Professor of Mathematics
Fashion Institute of Technology
Manhattan

Tom Robbins replies: Professor Mathez makes several assumptions, all of them wrong. The only target was extravagant expenditures from the public purse. McCall's presence certainly made it more newsworthy, but I've written critically about similar spending sprees by leaders of other public institutions with no noteworthy political ties. Was the half-million-plus renovation worth it? The professor might ask his students and their parents, dozens of whom reacted with outrage to theVoice's revelation.


OFF ON THE WALL

In Lenora Todaro's article about the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Quebec ["McHemisphere," April 17], she writes: "The Canadian government, anxious about a reprise of Seattle 1999, has undertaken the largest security operation in its history. A new 10-foot-high, 2.4-mile-long chain-link fence (costing more than $30 million) now surrounds this already walled-in city."

This information is incorrect. The wall, which is made of chain-link fence above concrete abutments, doesn't surround Quebec City. It creates a passageway for the representatives to go through to the conference. And it did not cost more than $30 million! Total security for the event—including the wall, 6000 police, riot squads, and mounted police from all over Canada—will cost approximately that amount.

Lysanne M. Louter
Toronto, Canada


POOR MARKS

I think in the future I will follow Todd Kristel's example in his review of Bruce Springsteen's Live in New York City ["Used Cars," April 10] by not reading any of his articles but calling them worthless anyway. As Groucho Marx put it, "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it."

Beth Knight
Athens, Georgia

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