I believe it is important for newspapers such as The Village Voice to not only explore the issues, but also to let people know that there are ways for them to fight for their rights around the issues. There are organizations that are fighting against the policies Lee and Lerner wrote about that many of us are involved in, yet these were not mentioned. People who are curious about what they have read should have access to these organizations.

Reporters could encourage such activism by presenting stories about people not only as individual victims but as part of collective struggles. I for one don't stand alone. As a member of Community Voices Heard, I am active in fighting against the Bush plan and against other harmful proposals that are going through Congress.

I encourage people to join us in the struggle. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

Shenia Rudolph
Community Voices Heard


Nat Hentoff's May 21 column on Bernard Goldberg's new book Bias ["A Liberal Slant to the News"?] is rife with logical and ideological confusion. On one hand, reporters are "liberal" for supporting Clinton and Gore; on the other, Clinton and Gore are "tepidly centrist."

I agree with the assessment that the mainstream Democrats are "tepidly centrist." And I agree that the press is biased toward tepid centrism, as against the extreme economic plutocratism and social oppressiveness of the Republican Party's agenda.

Of course, this discounts the power of extreme right-wing talk radio, plutocratic television pundits, and the hegemony that the plutocrats have on the op-ed pages.

John Shaw
Seattle, Washington

Nat Hentoff replies: The problem is that those "liberal" reporters supporting Clinton and Gore are themselves "tepidly centrist." Mr. Shaw generalizes about op-ed pages. Some are diverse.


Thank you for Alisa Solomon's "Tipping Toward Hate" [May 21], which presented a rare, balanced perspective on the divisive American debate on the situation in the Middle East.

I believe that most Americans support Israel, while reserving the right to disagree with some of the things that the Israeli government has done—particularly in response to the recent waves of barbaric suicide bombings.

However, it is not helpful to impose a unity of belief upon American readers that is not even held by the citizens of Israel themselves.

Christopher Buczek


Jonathan Ames writes in "Ode to the OED" [VLS, May 7] that the 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary "goes for $995 and the one-volume 'compact edition,' which shrinks the print to the size of pinheads and comes with a hemispheric magnifying lens, costs $390." It is a small point, but unless there is more than one compact edition of the compleat OED, it comes in two volumes. The copy I have prints four pages to one, comes with the magnifying glass, and was bought used and in good condition for $90. Given the relative cheapness of the OED, it is not clear to me why anyone would pay the $550 fee to use the online version. Not only is the cost prohibitive, but the benefits Ames speaks of in having access to postings are contrary to what seems to me to be the OED's best use.

While other dictionaries have repeatedly jettisoned useful, though uncommon, words and replaced them with useless vulgarities, the OED had remained, along with a few older dictionaries, a fundamental resource for those who do not long to speak the language of the slum. For this reason, it is disappointing to read that the OED is apparently turning against its own purpose of documenting words of some endurance and the origin of those words, and has turned with the rest to documenting every faddish term.

It is not only that some of the new additions are vulgar, but that they were in usefulness nearly dead from the womb. Most of those cited by Mr. Ames I have neither used in print, nor heard in conversation. They may have some use for a metafictional novelist who wants a certain eclectic color to make his writing bizarre, but the rest of us will never need the spelling or the definition of "M**d**k."

John Wright


I read with interest Adamma Ince's Close-Up column on Bedford-Stuyvesant in your May 7 issue. Noteworthy was the absence of mention of our institution of higher learning. Your readership should know that a branch of Empire State College of the State University of New York has been located in Bedford-Stuyvesant since 1974.

Rudolph A. Cain
Diector, Bedford-Stuyvesant Branch
Empire State College


Re Michael Atkinson's allegation that George Lucas's Star Wars Episode II—Attack of the Clones was racist, and that Episode I was racist too ["Reproductive Rites," May 21]: Racial harmony was a virtue of the Old Republic. The Empire enslaved non-human alien species. The "good guys" fought against that.

Aside from content, Atkinson's notion that casting in the film was racist is absurd. Daniel Logan, who played the young Boba Fett and whose face was on all the "Asian" clones, is a New Zealander, as is Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett. Samuel L. Jackson (a black man) plays the part of a hero. Ian McDiarmid (who is white) plays the ultimate villain, not to mention that other white guy, Darth Vader [whose voice is that of James Earl Jones].

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