By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
STRANGER TO 'STRANGELOVE'
I believe the model for Dr. Strangelove was Edward Teller, the "father of the H-bomb"not Henry Kissinger, as James Ridgeway states ["Manhattan's Milosevic," August 21]. This is not to diminish Kissinger's evil acts, but to indicate a larger American heart of darkness that emerged from 20th-century Fascism.
LE MISSED LE 'REVOLUTION'
In Michael Feingold's essay on the decline of musical theater ["But Unseriously . . .," August 28], he writes: "It's a safe bet that fans of Les Miz neither know nor care what revolution the characters are fighting (July 1830)."
While Victor Hugo mentions the Trois Glorieuses in Les Miserables, he also says that the revolution of which he writes was not that revolution. It was the failed "revolution" of widespread rioting in response to the death in June 1832 of General Lamarque, who had been vocal in his support for the rights of the lower classes. In all licensed productions, the dates are shown on scrims whenever the year changes, and the playbill gives the important dates as well. Thus, I was shocked to see this misinformation.
Michael Feingold replies: The sporadic street fighting of June 5 and 6, 1832, was not any sort of revolution. A surprising number of reference booksincludingThe Oxford Companion to Literature in Frenchassert that Hugo's characters battle on the barricades in the Revolution of 1830. The standard assumption is that Hugo's mind drifted back from the small riot to the major revolt preceding it. I'm gladLes Miz retains the Hugolian date, but since what accompanies it evokes a different set of events, the tiny point does the show little credit.
I was not surprised by the (hedged) confessions of pro-corporate trade bias of New York Timesforeign editor Andrew Rosenthal, as noted by Cynthia Cotts [Press Clips, August 21]. The claim that most consumers are not interested in human-rights abuses in countries where many large American corporations produce their goods is a smokescreen.
Recently, I served as the executive director of the International Forum for Aceh, an organization focused on widespread human rights abuses in Aceh, a province of Indonesia. Aceh is where big-time Timesop-ed advertiser ExxonMobil has lucrative natural gas operations. I wrote the Times numerous letters on the relationship between globalization and human rights abuses. None were printed.
Alisa Solomon has written the ultimate pro-Israel article ["Refuseniks," August 28]. Solomon shows us that in a country under constant attack there are demonstrations against state policies and people willing to engage in "selective refusal" against the draft. She even reports, "The army is following a policy of non-confrontation" toward draft resisters, "aimed at avoiding headlines." In other words, Israel's press is free enough to be a political factor, and the state is open enough to tolerate resistance in time of war.
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics
College of Staten Island, CUNY
POP GOES PLATO
Re Norah Vincent's August 21 Higher Ed column ["Feel This Book: An Anti-Deconstructionist's Delight"]: André Comte-Sponville makes Alain de Botton look profound. Rather than a refreshing shift, as Vincent suggests, I sense an onslaught of pop philosophy no less faddish than deconstruction in its heyday, set off by the surprise success of Sophie's World, and leading to a shelf of books with titles like Plato, Not Prozac!, Socrates Cafe, and Aristotle Would Have Liked Oprah. This is no antidote; it's another symptom.
Norah Vincent replies: I, too, abhor pop philosophy, but Sponville has found that elusive balance between gravity and accessibility. While I enjoy Alain de Botton, I think Sponville belongs in an entirely different, much more serious and laudable category.
Re Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson's "The Building of a Blacker Green Party" [August 28]: People remember Martin Luther King Jr. primarily for his "I Have a Dream" speech. Not many recall how he railed against U.S. aggression and worked for the struggles of poor people of allcolors against an increasingly corporate-influenced government. If the black community wants a stronger political voice, they are going to have to take a chance with the Green Party, because the Democrats will never give it to them.
West Queens Greens
I read Chris Nutter's article "Post-Straight" [August 14] with interest and more than a few chuckles. There was, however, something about this tale of hetero/homo assimilation that troubled me. Though I do believe that straights can and must find their niche within the gay community, I was disturbed by the self-serving motives that underpinned every account of post-straighthood. Must the impetus to don a tank top and kiss your same-sex friends be motivated by your desire to find a heterosexual partner or a job? I suspect that the truly post-straight moment can come only when straights go "gay" for the simple joy of it.
I'd like to commend Scott Seward for "Heard It on the X" [August 28], on the nü-metal phenomenon. For every attempt MTV, magazines, and Ozzfest have made to convince us that nü metal is supercool, Seward provided evidence that these bands, in fact, suck assyet their theatrics have us stuck to the couch. I applaud him for explaining why these clowns are so fascinating.