Elephant trap

Re Sarah Ferguson's " 'The Streets Belong to Us' " [villagevoice.com, August 4]: I offer a simple word of caution to those who hope to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with Bush at the upcoming Republican convention: They are setting a trap for you. If you let ego control your planning and execution, you will play into their hands. You will be kept at bay under the ruse of a terrorist threat and if your demonstrations in the street turn violent, they will use it accordingly to frighten the country and scare voters back into their camp. It is better to re-create the world's protest at the beginning of the Iraq war. Amass in overwhelming numbers each evening of the convention and hold a peaceful vigil on issues that Bush and the Republicans are running from. This is not as exciting, fun, or cathartic but it will be powerful and effective.

Richard Young
Eugene, Oregon

Rage of consent

George Smith's piece linking reality TV to U.S. torture of P.O.W.'s in Iraq ["That's Entrail-tainment!" The Essay, August 4-10] asserts: "That prisoners in Abu Ghraib didn't have a choice in humiliating punishments meted out by Americans is only a trifling distinction."

Really? Consent is a "trifling distinction"? Smith may make one hell of a TV critic, but he's an utter failure as an ethicist.

Matt Cornell
Los Angeles, California

Freedom of choice

"That's Entrail-tainment!" fails to mention two points where George Smith's comparison between shock "reality" TV and Abu Ghraib utterly disintegrates—the first being the deaths at Abu Ghraib, which the press seems to be conveniently ignoring, and the element of choice involved in participating in such game shows.

David Auerbach
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Land of Canaan

Re Chisun Lee's "Civil Rights Rollback" [August 4-10]:

The strongest argument against racial profiling post–9-11 is not a civil rights argument, but a national security argument. The flip side of racial profiling is lower security against people with white skin. It thus provides the opening Al Qaeda needs to deliver its next big-ticket item. The diabolically innovative Al Qaeda may plausibly use the Internet to recruit a Caucasian "E-Z Pass" team for the much anticipated sequel to 9-11.

I saw Al Sharpton and Jerry Falwell debate this issue on Hardball. Sharpton made the Magic Johnson "fake black/pass white" argument against profiling, to which Falwell said, "Duh, it's hard to find a white suicide bomber." But Al Qaeda's webcast decapitations seem so perfectly tailored to do just that—find, seduce, and recruit a team of Columbine-style white lunatics in America or Europe to pass through a ready-made security loophole.

And what about the still-invisible money trail? Is it likely there are no white people anywhere in the world financially facilitating (and profiting from) Al Qaeda's operations?

If racial profiling works as well against Al Qaeda as it has against the drug trade . . . need I say it? I support an equal and comprehensive anti-terror policy. No American should put white privilege above our national security.

Canaan Parker

Meanie man

Having read Baz Dreisinger's recent article on Beenie Man ["Zagga Zow!" July 28-August 3], I am greatly disappointed that there is no mention of the rampant homophobia in his music. The man advocates killing gays.

While his beliefs may indeed be cultural, as he claims, I'd hope that the Voice wouldn't support an artist like this, but rather would use its name and diverse readership to incite action.

Lizzy Rosenshine
East Village

Baz Dreisinger replies: Dancehall's homophobia is more than its bête noire—it's the most shameful chapter in the genre's history. Beenie Man himself recently issued a public apology for participating in this kind of rhetoric—which is absent from Back to Basics. On account of their talent and their otherwise well-minded messages, Beenie and many other dancehall acts deserve both the benefit of a fresh start and the opportunity to come correct.

And the healing has begun

Rachel Aviv's "Reader, Heal Thyself!" [Education Supplement, August 4-10] expressed my own disenchantment with literary academia. By sifting the minutiae of literature, literary academics succeed only in erecting an irritating smoke screen of spurious detail before the emotional and philosophical muscularity of great fiction.

Let us declare ourselves unashamed to be hopelessly romantic readers—readers brave enough to be in thrall to the luminous power of literature.

The romantic reader refuses to apologize for being moved by the glorious alchemy of words strung together like pearls, the intimacy of holding the elderly and brittle spine of your favorite novel, and the singular sweetness of mingling souls with the author for hundreds of your most treasured pages. The romantic reads, still and forever, with the wide, beautiful eyes of the 10-year-old introduced to the Chronicles of Narnia.

Perhaps the conundrum and ultimate futility of literary criticism is simply this: How could being the critic of a book hope to compete with being the simple reader for whom the book was written? Long live the romantic reader! Long live the exquisite pleasure of reading!

Tara Greer
West Village

She hate 'She Hate Me'

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