Letters

CONSUMER GRIEF

Re the article "Day of Attunement" by Richard Goldstein [September 4-10]: 9-11 does have the potential to stimulate introspection, but it seems irrelevant to compare its potential significance as a holiday to that of Yom Kippur. Americans' focus on commodification and consumption, the foundation of our capitalist society, will prevent such reflection and confuse whether this commemoration is about resolving feelings of grief or "feeding the appetite for war without end."

While some may be able to avoid the "glop" that is sure to surround the anniversary of 9-11, for the majority of Americans, this anniversary will be no different from any other day of national remembrance because of the emphasis society places on consuming rather than feeling. Most of us will respectfully partake in a moment of silence and then continue on with the rest of the day, consuming grief like the commodity it is by purchasing a commemorative edition of a magazine or buying a pair of red pants to fit the red, white, and blue theme instated at the office for the day.

Maybe if one could see past the stars, stripes, and memorabilia it would be evident that the real issue is not Americans' inability to reflect as well as Jews do on Yom Kippur. The larger problem is Americans' dependency on consumption and the way commodification's false portrayal of mourning as patriotism and fear as grief controls our emotions and actions.

Erin Donovan
Parsonsfield, Maine


IN HOMES BEGIN RESPONSIBILITIES

The squatters Sarah Ferguson writes about ["Better Homes and Squatters," August 28-September 3] are parasites and have absolutely no rights to the property they are effectively stealing. Property rights cannot be made legitimate simply through possession—the result is chaos and a sort of legal relativism akin to frontier justice. Their hypocrisy is also astounding: What a marvelous epiphany it must be to realize that your children need something more permanent to live in than a tent. Congratulations, it's called responsibility, and it's the basis for the property rights that squatters choose to ignore in the first place. I say let 'em buy the properties for a buck (or whatever the owners want for them), but nothing is free. Hippies indeed.

Jeff Curtis
Toronto, Canada


PHOTO-SENSITIVE

I was very pleased with Sarah Ferguson's thorough research on the recent changes in the squatter movement. As a tenant in one of the 11 buildings, I have been misquoted and seen our story misreported several times. Ferguson's article was the only coverage I have read that relied on facts and real history, rather than hearsay and rumor.

However, I can't understand why the Voice chose to use models rather than real homesteaders for their cover picture. It sure didn't do much for the Voice's credibility. The New York Times is publishing a magazine spread on us in a few weeks and they seemed to think we were photogenic enough.

Ellen Kessler
Manhattan


PUBLIC-IMAGE POET

In the controversy described by Thulani Davis in "Slam Queen vs. Inaugural Poet" [September 4-10], I must take Wanda Coleman's side. Readers need to realize that Coleman's opinion does not represent the opinions of Maya Angelou admirers.

As a poet, I feel Angelou has become less of a perfectionist in her work, and more of a celebrity. Detractors of Coleman's review are upset because they feel that Coleman personally attacked Angelou. But let's be honest: Angelou's fans have put her on a pedestal that makes her untouchable. To many, she is more a savior than an inspiration. Even if Coleman did attack Angelou personally, as James Fugate argues, she has the right to do so.

Shane Allison
Manhattan


A CRITIC CENSORED

Re Thulani Davis's article "Slam Queen vs. Inaugural Poet": Wanda Coleman is right—and brave—and it's about time. I had my own run-in with the kind of black publishing censorship Davis writes about when I turned in an assigned review of Queen Afua's Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit (New York: Ballantine Books, 2000) to Black Issues Book Review. Without anyone bothering to notify me or ask permission, my reasoned critiques were either reworded or deleted and the copy editor's clearly positive opinions inserted. It took a long time to get a response to my cry of outrage: "Gee, I was extremely busy and just didn't have time to get in touch with you. Sorry."

Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Manhattan


MISSING EDWARDS

Nat Hentoff is entirely correct in pointing out that all patriots today sorely miss former representative Don Edwards in the Congress ["The Soldier of the Constitution," August 28-September 3]. Were Edwards in Congress today, he might even take the step that I think is now warranted—of introducing an impeachment resolution against the president. Impeachment is not only for crimes in the traditional sense of the word. Impeachment is also an appropriate remedy for a president who has gravely violated his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. If Bush, with Ashcroft's help, hasn't done that, then the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is meaningless.

Harvey A. Silverglate
Boston, Massachusetts

CORRECTAMONDO

In the August 28-September 3 Mondo Washington column James Ridgeway writes: "[Steven Hatfill] also served in a South African unit called the Selous Scouts, which tried to overthrow the newly independent government of Zimbabwe." They were actually a Rhodesian Unit, not a South African unit, although some South Africans did enlist in the Rhodesian Defence Forces. The Scouts, along with two other special units, participated in the bush war against anti-government insurgents. It is also true that the insurgents finally forced a political compromise by which the new country was born. However, the Scouts and other units were disbanded as a result of the election that followed the compromise. No military units from the old regime continued to fight after Zimbabwe was established in 1980.

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