Monster magnet

Jennifer Gonnerman's "Million-Dollar Blocks" [November 17–23] was interesting, pointing out that the prison population comes from decidedly black and poor areas in most of the nation's cities.

Would the Wall Streeters and Madison Avenue types be as quick to send their own to pest holes? When Frankenstein created his monster, didn't he become afraid of what he had spawned?

Muriel Simmons-McCord
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Fahim, Annan, and Carter

Re Kareem Fahim's obituary of Yasir Arafat [November 17–23]: Arafat's greatest sin was his duplicity of statements: one of peace given to the always gullible American left and Europeans, who wanted to think he was the next Gandhi or Mandela; the other of war and revolution, urging the Palestinians to dedicate their lives to a cause that was pushed further and further from reality by the very violence that he preached.

Fahim has joined Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, and others who attempt to whitewash Arafat's sins and leave the world with the impression that he was merely a failure. This begs the question: When Ariel Sharon dies, will people similarly attempt to mask his sins?

Michael Levy
Upper East Side

Up for debate

In promoting abortion rights groups, Sharon Lerner demonizes her opposition ["Grim Specter of Things to Come," November 17–23].

Why can't she just debate the issue instead of attacking those with different views? Christian-bashing does not prove any part of her argument against restricting abortion and is unseemly in a classy paper like the Voice. Arlen Specter was quoted saying he would lead a filibuster against any pro-life judicial nominees; with such a litmus test, he could not give a fair hearing to potential candidates. Would Lerner protest if someone who has promised that no pro-abortion candidates would ever get past him chaired this committee?

Paul Reszel
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Sharon Lerner replies: Arlen Specter never said he would "lead a filibuster against any pro-life judicial nominees," nor has he said he wouldn't let anti-abortion candidates get past him, as you imply. As I point out in my article, he has said the opposite—that he would not base his decisions on a nominee's stance on the issue—and he voted to confirm the appointments of Supreme Court justices Thomas, Scalia, and Rehnquist—all of whom oppose the right to abortion.

Sister act

That sure looks like A.S. Byatt in James Hunter's review of Margaret Drabble's The Red Queen ["Soul to Seoul," November 3–9]. Sure, she and Drabble are sisters, but c'mon!

Siobhan Leftwich
Owing Mills, Maryland

Our literary editor replies: Rest assured, Siobhan—it's Drabble's gaze that greets yours.

Balk of ages

Re Anya Kamenetz's "On the Move" [November 10–16]: So the 18- to 29-year-old age group favored Kerry over Bush, 54 percent to 44 percent. What about those in that 44 percent? Are they stupid? Ignorant? Unenlightened? I suspect they watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music.

It makes me think that progressive young Democrats just don't have real jobs or families yet. If you asked people over the age of 40 when they made their worst choices, they would say in their teens or early twenties.

Democrats just need to grow up.

Anthony Lowham
Lander, Wyoming

The crying game

Re "Voices From the Wreckage" [November 10–16]:

God bless Sarah Goodyear. While the election didn't bring tears to my eyes, her piece sure did: true passion and an expression of strength, not fear and whimpering. Maybe progressives really can regroup and win this fucking battle!

Jeffrey Abelson

Again with the F-word!

Thanks to Goodyear for a beautiful and inspirational bit of prose this week. I am ready to get up, dust off, and stand tall. Fuck these guys and their supposed hegemony. See you at the inauguration.

Kevin Baier
Stuyvesant Town

A tear in the fabric

I want to thank Laura Conaway for her thoughtful article on the politics of gay marriage ["Queering the Election," November 10–16], but must respectfully disagree with her conclusion. If one thinks that the Bush administration is just another bunch of Republicans, Conaway's no-compromise stance makes sense.

If they are, as I fear, a more radical threat to the fabric of American democracy, it does not. In addition, we should remember that the greatest victories of the civil rights movement were won by those like Dr. King, who captured the moral imagination of the American majority by relating the plight of African Americans to deeply felt American values. More radical civil rights activists often decried King's compromises. We need visionary compromisers, not just visionaries or compromisers, to win our country back.

Tom Banks
Greenwich Village

Don't blame Ralph

I am in complete agreement with Laura Conaway. The attitudes of those states that have banned civil unions and gay marriages are constitutionally irrelevant and firm opposition to them is necessary. However, I'm disappointed to hear blame placed on independents like Nader for "throwing" the 2000 election. This assumes that the Naderites and other independents would have voted Democratic had Nader not run. I assume that the majority of people who vote outside the Republican and Democratic parties do so because, like myself, they are voting for the candidate they truly support and want to see in office. In this election, many of the reasons I heard to vote for Kerry were cast in a negative "So Bush doesn't win" form rather than "Because I agree with Kerry's arguments" or some other positive comment. I did not vote for Kerry or Bush because I don't share the values of either man. My vote cannot be considered a vote stolen from the Democrats because I do not support the politics of either party. It is disturbing to hear nonparty voters labeled "quixotic" and "immoral" when they are merely exercising their rights and upholding their values—a position familiar to gay marriage advocates. If we continue to give our votes to a two-party system that doesn't support our values, we may not have any other option.

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