Letters

NADERITES AND NADER WRONGS

Nat Hentoff ["What's Next for the Left?" July 10] writes that "Ralph Nader ran for president to shake up the Democratic Party, and that's the job ahead, with or without Nader." I believe this calls for some qualification. Any forthcoming intra-party victories for those maverick progressives who remain within the Democrats may be an index of success for Greens and others organizing outside of the two-party system. But given the long-established trends that raised the Clintonoid DLCers to prominence in the first place, God help us if they are the only such index. Yes, the wish to influence the balance of forces within the Democratic Party was one of Nader's motives, but it was not his only campaign aim. His repeated warning to the major parties was that they must either "shape up or shrink down."

Shaping up seems to be the only scenario Hentoff can contemplate when it comes to the Democrats. Despite his support for Nader's candidacy in 2000 and his continuing sharp words for "the soulless New Democrats," I fear Hentoff is hearing echoes of "Happy Days Are Here Again" when he declares that "only a regenerated Democratic Party . . . will make democracy work for millions of Americans." Any such "regeneration" would be superficial unless the Democrats are truly willing to tear themselves away from the corporate feeding trough, and I'm not holding my breath.

The road that Greens have chosen of building a viable third party from the grassroots up may be long and daunting, particularly in view of the long-standing collusion between the two major parties in restricting access to the ballot and the mass media. But our conception of "the job ahead" is, to paraphrase Hentoff, that of making democracy work for millions of Americans, with or without a regenerated Democratic Party.

Ronald MacKinnon
West Side Greens
Manhattan

Nat Hentoff replies: The challenge for the Greens is, as MacKinnon says, "long and daunting." But how long are the many millions of Americans who are uninsured medically and whose children go to bed hungry supposed to wait? If the Greens can show clout at the polls next year, or in four years, that will be fine. But if not, what is the alternative to a Democratic Party regenerated by voters like MacKinnon and myself?


NO MAN IS AN ELLIS ISLAND

Norah Vincent, in "The Liars Club" [July 10], claims that Joseph Ellis's classroom lies "hardly matter," largely because his "professional reputation—and the high quality of his work—remains unblemished." This claim is blatantly false. Ellis is a college professor, and his "work" includes the things he says in the classes he teaches.

Ellis lied to his students—the very people who have the most right to expect the truth from him. For him to emerge professionally unscathed would be an outrage, because such an outcome would be an open admission that Mount Holyoke College doesn't care about the accuracy of its professors' lectures—and of course, the Norah Vincents of the world don't care that Mount Holyoke doesn't care.

James Grimmelmann
Seattle, Washington


THE TEMPEST AT TEMPLE

I read Bakari Kitwana's piece "Uncivil War" [July 10] with profound disappointment and amazement. As a graduating student of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, I am outraged. The article is a proliferation of wild and unsubstantiated charges and innuendo, intended to mask the fact that Temple has been pressured into removing Dr. Joyce Ann Joyce as chair of the department with only one year left on a five-year contract that has been contested in a court of law.

That is the real story here! No amount of feminist rhetoric can rewrite the record. Still, perhaps the most nonsensical and reprehensible part of this—the latest unfortunate attempt to smear Molefi Kete Asante and his groundbreaking theory of Afrocentricity—is the outrageous assertion that "no one else in the university signed off on" AAS Ph.D.'s. This serves only to bastardize the department and the degree that I and others have worked so hard for. The truth is that there is a uniform, university-wide dissertation process, which is governed by the graduate school.

Finally, I daresay that even Nate Norment [the new chair of the African American studies department] would challenge the veracity of Kitwana's characterization of him as an "old-guard" Afrocentrist.

Dr. Pamela Yaa Asantewaa Reed
Adjunct Professor of Journalism
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


BANKER RANCOR

On behalf of the management, employees, and directors of Liati Group, LLC, I would like to express our firm's disappointment with the July 10 article written by Wayne Barrett titled "The Banker Who Broke the Law." The article contains numerous inaccuracies about our firm, and I'd like to provide the facts.

Liati is a boutique investment-banking firm that provides specialized financial services to public authorities and corporations. The firm's staff is composed of highly skilled professionals with extensive experience.

The firm's board of directors is composed of a mixture of business leaders and distinguished public servants. The board provides the firm with strategic oversight and advice.

Mr. Barrett inaccurately describes William C. Thompson Jr.'s relationship to the Liati Group. Mr. Thompson has been a member of the Liati board since June 1999, and he has contributed significantly to the firm's strategic direction. He is not an employee of Liati.

As a candidate for public office, Mr. Thompson has made his tax returns public. The income reported from Liati is related solely to his duties as a member of Liati Group's board of directors.

Mr. Barrett also makes several inaccurate statements about my tenure as first deputy comptroller of the City of New York and my departure from that position. Beginning in March 1994, Mr. Barrett made accusations against me in the Voice alleging improprieties in my securing a loan to purchase a condominium apartment on the west side of New York City. He has recycled these accusations in other articles since that time.

The New York City Department of Investigations has never contacted me to question me about anything having to do with this loan. In addition, I was never questioned by any federal agency that may have looked into this matter.

These facts clearly indicate that, whatever Mr. Barrett's opinion, the relevant authorities found no material improprieties. This matter is completely closed.

Finally, Mr. Barrett alleges that I "ducked" him in his preparation for this article. In fact, I made several calls to his home, his vacation home, and his office. The fact that we did not speak was not a function of my failure to return his calls.

Michael W. Geffrard
Manhattan

Wayne Barrett replies: Liati filed a U-4 form with the National Association of Securities Dealers listing William Thompson as an employee and specifying his "employment start date" as May 14, 2001, and his registration category as "GS"—the abbreviation for general securities representative. Asked during a taped interview with theVoice whether he was now employed by Liati, in addition to his role as a director, Thompson said, "I am working at Liati on an irregular basis." His tax returns would not reflect this additional employment since it only began three months ago, though he did say that he was not receiving any additional compensation from Liati beyond his director's stipend, as I pointed out in the article. The only article I ever wrote about Geffrard's bank and other financial manipulations actually appeared in April 1994, and he resigned eight months later, after a probe by the comptroller's counsel confirmed that he had "falsified" documents in the transaction. Apparently unaware that targets are rarely questioned in criminal investigations, Geffrard ignores the fact that everyone around him, including his wife, was questioned. Geffrard does not offer a scintilla of evidence to challenge my reporting that the comptroller and the Department of Investigations found wrongdoing. His letter implicitly confirms that the U.S. Attorney's Office also conducted a probe, though it is certainly true, as I reported, that he was never indicted. Without going into the details, Geffrard's attempt to evade answering any pre-publication questions of mine while pretending he was willing to talk certainly appeared to me to be an act of duplicity, one of the worst I've experienced in 23 years at theVoice.


I'LL TAKE MANHATTAN

After reading J.A. Lobbia's "Warning: Gentrification in Progress: A Case Study in Displacement on Elizabeth Street" [July 10], I must say that I am appalled at one of the statements made by Jay King, a penthouse tenant in a building being gentrified. While discussing the forcing out of old tenants with rent-controlled apartments for new tenants with higher rents, King said: "I don't think living in Manhattan is for everyone. I'm sure there's loads of upcoming young stockbrokers and lawyers who travel an hour or more to get to Manhattan. What keeps lower-wage workers from that kind of commute?"

I'd say it's pretty damn obvious why people with lower wages don't make that kind of commute. To them $3 daily for subway fare is a concern. But I don't know you would care, Mr. King, since you seem to be very happy living in your new penthouse apartment in the trendy part of town.

Next time try to think past yourself and have some compassion for others who have it a lot harder than you do.

Joanne Schweitzer

Manhattan

DISORIENTED

Re "Warning: Gentrification in Process": Good article, and a fair portrayal of the rampant gentrification that is going on in lower Manhattan. The Voice should include more of these kinds of pieces. I'll be reading J.A. Lobbia in the future.

In response to the comment by new penthouse resident Jay King that "the Orientals we have here are very clean": Yes, we are the "Orientals" of King's Fu Manchu dreams. We are like the greedy Jewish sewer rats of Nazi propaganda films.

I am glad that there are such prejudiced assholes to remind us that we must unite behind a common cause.

Robert Chin
Manhattan


BUDDHA PESTS

Carol Cooper's "Guess Who's Coming to Dharma" [July 3] was a precise and pithy commentary about the obstacles people of color born in the U.S. have interfacing with a Buddhism heretofore dominated by the Caucasian bourgeoisie. As a mixed-race man of working-class origins, I studied both Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in my younger years, and the thinly masked social myopia and hostility Cooper describes were hardly rare. What especially surprised me was the apparent antipathy white mainstream Buddhists had to interacting socially with Buddhists of color, whether born into the faith or converts. Among the rare exceptions is the sort of engaged Buddhism taught by Thich Nhat Hanh, who is referred to in the article.

I recall one "dharma talk" given by a Tibetan lama at which an African student was coldly told that his continent was not "ready" for Buddhism. Nor should we overlook the tremendous social distance between the Buddhism of Asian Americans and immigrants and that of the white upper middle class, which is so trendy nowadays. Not feeling welcome in such a neo-yuppie aristocracy myself, this blue-collar-origin yiddishe/Boricuan mutant opted for the more welcoming climes of—believe it or not—Hinduism. But that's another story . . .

Ganesh S. Durgadas
Albany, New York


CUTTING REMARKS

I've always known that the press can take a one-sided view of events, especially when politics are involved. However, especially in light of recent events, I find myself particularly sickened by Ward Harkavy's March 13 article about poor Wayne DuMond ["The Castration of Wayne DuMond"], a man who was convicted of a brutal rape in Arkansas.

To read Harkavy's report, DuMond was not granted a fair trial or a pardon primarily because the victim was a distant relative of ex-president Clinton. Now this man is in prison in Missouri awaiting trial on one murder and considered the prime suspect in a second! I've never been a fan of Clinton. But in Harkavy's zeal to condemn him, he overlooked the reality that Wayne DuMond is a dangerous individual and a threat to society. I find such reporting irresponsible.

Kimberly Lovegreen
Tampa Bay, Florida


UNCOVERED

Jerry Saltz's enthusiasm for "The LP Show" at Exit Art ["Cover Me," June 26] was, as they say, infectious. Unfortunately, while the exhibit sounds terrific, Exit Art did not come up "with an idea for a show that is so simple no one ever thought of it before."

A year and a half ago, the University of New Mexico's Art Museum in Albuquerque mounted an almost identical exhibition of LP covers from the '40s through the '80s as part of a three-month multimedia show. Granted, the New Mexico show's selection of LP covers (which was drawn in large measure from my collection) was smaller; still, it covered a very long museum wall.

Lee Bartlett
Placitas, New Mexico

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