TOWERS AND TEARS
Editor's Note: Following is some of the initial mail received in response to the death of J.A. Lobbia, who authored the Voice's Towers & Tenements column.
This is only the second letter I've ever written to the Voice, which says something about the power of J.A. Lobbia. Obviously, a one-page obituary can list only a few of her good deeds. I'd like to add that though I never met her, she helped me resolve a landlord problem and keep my apartment. For a few years, I gave her office number to lots of folks in need of housing guidance. I knew she'd take the time to speak to them, which she did, serving as a one-person hotline. But it wasn't just the practical advice that made those who spoke to her feel better, although she saved many. It was the strength and encouragement we derived from the knowledge that there is good in this world.
Julie Lobbia was a towering conscience, a gifted journalist, and a wonderful person for those fortunate enough to know her (as I was as a housing reporter at The New York Times). Like the continuing light of an extinguished star, her radiance shines forever bright.
Long Beach, New York
I'm sure that many readers, like me, share your grief at the loss of J.A. Lobbia. She was quite simply the best reporter we have had covering housing.
John L. Hess
I was saddened to learn, via Wayne Barrett's lovely eulogy [December 4], of the passing of J.A. Lobbia. Her coverage of housing issues was unique, important, and will be exceedingly difficult to replace. But I hope you'll try.
The writer is a housing activist and was a press secretary for former New York State attorney general Robert Abrams.
I am sitting at my desk in central Illinois overcome after reading Wayne Barrett's tribute to Julie Lobbia. One thing that was not mentioned in the article is that Julie got her start at the investigative monthly The Chicago Reporter. It was something she was very proud of. In fact, I was introduced to her through an assignment she had to report on a birthing clinic on the South Side of Chicago. At the time, I had a one-year-old and was expecting my second child. I tagged along with my sister Mary Sue, who had been Julie's friend since high school, as the birthing authority. As a young mom with a beauty school education, my experience with Julie was typical of everyone's that I've heard recently. As was stated in the eulogy at her funeral, Julie made you feel taller, smarter, and funnier than perhaps you areand that came from her genuine regard for every person she met. What a loss.
I found Alan Dershowitz's diatribe against military tribunals ["Military Justice Is to Justice as Military Music Is to Music," November 27] laughable. Dershowitz writes: "I was not surprised to read The Wall Street Journal's editorial in favor of the Bush order. The Journal editors don't much like our constitutional system of justice, with its emphasis on procedural safeguards, exclusionary rules, and the right to a vigorous defense. They see terrorism as a justification . . . for ridding us of 'the excesses of the modern U.S. criminal justice system,' with its rigorous 'standards of evidence,' its 'exclusionary rule,' and 'the legal artifice of Johnnie Cochran.' "
I wonder how Mr. Dershowitz squares this with his October 13 New York Times op-ed piece favoring a national identity card, which gets at the very heart of Americans' right to privacy. That Mr. Dershowitz will promote one form of tyranny yet lambaste another shows, again, his hypocrisy.
Alan Dershowitz replies: That I wrote in favor of optional national identity cards in The New York Times and against military tribunals and mass detention of non-citizens in The Village Voice does not show me to be a hypocrite. Instead it shows me to be a person, unlike Mr. Weaver, who thinks about each issue separately. An optional national ID card, containing no private information, would not violate the right to privacy. It would merely eliminate identity theft and the claimed need for racial profiling.
THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC
I happen to be Jewish as well as a Marxist. The scurrilous cover illustration on your November 20 issue with the headline "Al Sharpton's Magic Act"showing Sharpton pulling the Star of David out of a hatinsinuates that black leaders manipulate Jews for their ends. This stands power relations in New York and the nation on its head.
You compound your reactionary message with a racist photo that accompanies Richard Goldstein's article, "Al Sharpton's Jewish Problem," showing him facing a large swastika. The article is about the problem Goldstein and many liberal Jews have with the militant struggles of African Americans for justice. Goldstein quotes prominent Jewish people to see if Sharpton passes the so-called "friend of the Jews" test.
Such a litmus test is profoundly racist. There are many whites, including some Jews, who must show in words and deeds that they oppose an institutionally racist system that oppresses and exploits people of color. It is we who have to earn the trust of those on the cutting edge of the struggle.
Editor's Note: The caption for the photograph of Reverend Sharpton facing a poster emblazoned with a swastika explained that it was taken during a recent visit by Sharpton to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.
MARGINS OF ERROR
Re Andrew Friedman's "From the Margins Erased" [December 4]: I worked in the World Trade Center until September 11. I want to let you know that I have seen the homeless man Carlos, mentioned in the article, who was reported missing from the area following the attacks. Years ago he used to sell things on the streets in downtown Brooklyn. He used to come through my barbershop sometimes on DeKalb Avenue. In late October I saw him crossing the street in downtown Brooklyn and hollered at him that I was glad he made it out. He said something like "no doubt." So he is alive!
GOLDSTEIN ON VISIBILITY PANEL
Executive editor Richard Goldstein will be a panelist at a program on "gay visibility" at the New School, 66 West 12th Street, room 510, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 6.
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