Letter to the Editor
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Ohio: Unfair and unbalanced
What's the matter with you? The Ohio recount ["The Case of the Ohio Recount" by Rick Perlstein, December 22-28, 2004] was not fair. It was not fairly conducted. The county elections boards did not follow the procedures. Two counties where the 3 percent sample did not match the original results declined to conduct the full hand recount, as required. Many other counties did not randomly select the 3 percent of test precincts, as required.
Instead, they carefully chose test precincts that would let them off the hook for the whole hand recount. None of the 92,000 spoiled ballots was reconsidered. No answers were ever given for why Warren County was locked down. How can you publish a whole story and neglect to mention these things?
Thank you for your funny, catchy, smart horoscope [Rob Brezsny, Free Will Astrology]. I lived in New York for a couple of years and since I left and came back to Paris, I often check it. The reason? I am not crazy about horoscopes but yours represents for me New York's spirit, if one does exist. This "you better stop crying on yourself and start doing things . . . " touch is refreshing and, I have to confess, sometimes good to hear . . . so happy New Year and keep on.
I find it somewhat ironic that a few paragraphs after urging the reader to join the ACLU ["Cloud Over the Constitution," Liberty Beat, December 15-21, 2004], Nat Hentoff appeals to the legacies of Tom Paine, whose most famous pamphlet consisted largely of an extended quotation from the Old Testament to the effect that if God disapproved of ancient Israel's desire to have a king, then the American colonies didn't need one, and of Martin Luther King, from whose name has been deleted the usually included title "Reverend," which went far in defining the Reverend King's basic approach to urging African Americans to gain the equality that had hitherto been denied them. It is clear that these two spiritually oriented leaders had little in common with the ACLU, which now pursues a mission of expunging all spirituality from American life. It would be a betrayal of all that I hold most dearmy faith and my loyalty to freedom under a government limited by the divinely inspired Constitutionto support the ACLU.
Very telling piece by Nat Hentoff on the Columbia documentary ["Telling It Like It Is," Liberty Beat, December 29, 2004-January 4, 2005]. It's like watching the institutionalized contrarianism of liberalism tear itself to shreds.
When we're all struggling to build our elitist power bases by espousing the most anti-U.S. views, we fail to grasp this as the very reason we alienated the voters who grow our food and build our cars in this country.
Upper West Side
Nat Hentoff is not fully honest in his article on Columbia Unbecoming and the controversy over Middle East studies at Columbia. His time would be better spent looking into the David Project, the organization that produced the pseudo-documentary. On its website, the David Project asserts that it was formed "in response to the growing ideological assault on Israel. We train people to be proactive in their Israel advocacyto counter the unfair and dishonest discourse in our universities, media, and communities." What a joke! I'm sick of victimology by oppressors. There is no assault on Israel in the United States. We pay for its existence. Criticism of the Israeli government and Zionism are perfectly fine. If some students or some well-funded David Project is offended, then they should rethink their political positions. That's the problem.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Nat Hentoff replies: Criticism of Israel and Zionism is indeed fine. I have done it myself, more than once. The problem at Columbia is not with the David Project, but whether students in the classroom have the right not to be bullied and silenced by professors who are anti- or pro-Israel.
I agree with Rick Perlstein on the "closing the barn door after the cow is out" ["The Case of the Ohio Recount," December 22-28, 2004] premise, but we cannot ignore the very real and massive voter fraud that occurred in this election and in the 2000 and 2002 elections, and the fact that the majority of the e-voting machines are owned by staunch Bush supporters and are programmed in secret, are not auditable, and leave no paper trail.
Re Tristan Taormino's Pucker Up, December 15-21, 2004, on the plight and depiction of transgender males to females in the pop media:
A question that always pops into my head is "What responsibility does a transgender person have to tell a partner in a dating situation?" Being a rather naive person, I have been surprised in the past when the attitude of the people involved was "What's the difference?"
While I respect and believe the feelings of those who describe themselves as transgender, to me there is a difference. Given the differences, I would rather keep those relationships platonic. But who gets to choosethe person who considers herself just as much a woman as one who is biologically so, or the potential partner in such a relationship?
San Francisco, California
Surprisingly, Law & Order: SVU did a superb episode last year with a very realistically passable trans woman. It was most notable for the courtroom scene explaining the biological model for transsexualism.
And don't forget the superb 2001-02 series The Education of Max Bickford, with a very inspiring trans woman portrayed by Helen Shaver. They dropped her after eight episodes, but those were eight great portrayals.
Chevy Chase, Maryland
In Generation Debt, "Sex and Money" [December 22-28, 2004], Francine Russo writes: "Besides her daughter's child, she has six other grandchildren through her four stepchildren. 'Seven grandchildren,' she says, 'and not a single one of their parents can afford to pay for their college.' "
Then don't have kids! This entire series of articles has pissed me off. How did the country whose self-reliance ethic allowed it to become the greatest, richest, highest-quality-of-life society in the history of earth devolve into such a group of helpless, desperate, self-pitying whiners?
Ft. Myers, Florida
I want to thank you for your series Generation Debt. I'm not necessarily happy to discover how many people are suffering just to make ends meet. However, it is nice to know that I am not alone in this struggle. The similarity in experiences shared within our generation is amazing to me. I'm a cultural anthropology graduate. Since I've graduated, I have been unable to find anything that has to do with my degree. I feel that it is as much my fault as the university's and my high school's. I feel betrayed. I work three jobs. One is full-time to pay the bills, one is for exposure in research, and one is to further my anthropology career. My boyfriend, who has no college experience, earns double my income. I sometimes think, why did I even get this education? Having an education does seem prestigious, but prestige will not pay for my rent or put gas in my car . . . and vacations? Right. Being poor has lost its charm. About a decade ago.
I just read your article on women, but how about older women who went back to school to get a better job and then in the end still have a huge student loan, a pre-teen child, and just turned 50 years old? There are no jobs available out there when you get older, but the bills are still there to be paid. The system needs a huge and deep intervention on our behalf or . . .
New York City
In Eva Yaa Asantewaa's review of Music and Dance of the Jewish Wedding: Bukharan Wedding [January 5-11], the phrase "whose eye-popping costume changes alone were worth the price of admission" refers solely to Tamara Kattayeva, not to the entire group of women performers.
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