In response to Thulani Davis's "Black and Brown Leave Green" [November 20] on the "Fannie Lou Hamer reflex": It is encouraging to see current radical analysis based on a heroine and on one of the most critical of recent events. There is, however, one understandable misconception. The power system also has its control reflex.

Davis ends her article on a triumphant note: " . . . and in 1968, black Mississippians had their day." This refers to the Chicago Democratic Convention, where old-line racist delegates were replaced. But under the control reflex, this was not the movement's "day," although that is what the public was told.

Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party were under FBI surveillance in 1964, then by COINTELPRO, and worse. The White House systematically worked to control and destroy any grassroots independent action, especially by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In 1968 Dr. King was removed. Later Hamer and a few of us were momentarily tolerated in the newly created Loyalist Democratic Party of Mississippi, led by pro-war white liberals using safe blacks and manageable NAACP men who received War on Poverty money to fight the movement and build a control mechanism for the newly registered black voters. After Chicago, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party members were excluded from any power. In a final Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party effort in 1972, Hamer was defeated by the Loyalists in her bid to become national committeewoman.

In 1968 the movement was in the streets of Chicago, not in the bosom of the Democratic Party. Hamer's cry at the 1964 convention still thunders: "I question America!"

Reverend Edwin King
Jackson, Mississippi

The writer was national committeeman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party from 1964 to 1968.


I take issue with James Ridgeway's assertion in his Mondo Washington column [November 20] that the U.S. "drops bigger bombs on darker people."

Ridgeway writes: "U.S. propaganda portrays Al Qaeda and the Taliban as one and the same—a gang of dark-skinned subhuman monsters who must be squashed like cockroaches, by any means necessary. This is exactly how American propaganda depicted the Japanese in World War II—little yellow guys who lost their equilibrium at night. The white Germans, on the other hand, were viewed as just like us: clearheaded, tough, clean fighters."

First, anti-German propaganda during World War II was much more vicious than Mr. Ridgeway indicates. But more importantly, the United States and Great Britain carpet-bombed German cities, killing thousands of civilians. Marks of the war are clearly visible in most German cities today—an urban area with an intact medieval center is a rarity. The classic example of a brutal Allied attack was the firebombing of Dresden: U.S. and British planes dumped tons of bombs on the previously untouched city, burning thousands of civilians to death. It's also worth pointing out that the U.S. dropped plenty of bombs in Kosovo in 1999—on white Serbians. And during the Cold War the U.S. nuclear arsenal was aimed at the Soviet Union, whose inhabitants are overwhelmingly Caucasian.

Ridgeway's argument doesn't hold up.

Daniel Connolly
Erfurt, Germany


I applaud Sharon Lerner's extensive research and efforts in her well-written piece on the drug industry ["The Bayer Boondoggle," November 13]. However, as a pharmacist and a supporter of the pharmaceutical industry, I find her perspective interesting but one-sided.

Like it or not, the profit motive has been shown to be an effective way to get new drugs that we need to fight diseases. Twenty years ago, AIDS was a death sentence. The profit motive encouraged the pharmaceutical industry to invest billions of dollars in R&D to develop anti-AIDS drugs. Now there are 17 approved treatments for AIDS and 98 more in the pipeline. Thanks to the profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies, AIDS has become (to a large extent) a treatable condition like diabetes or asthma.

If the pharmaceutical industry's profit-making ability is shackled, disease sufferers will suffer along with the pharmaceutical industry shareholders and executives.

Corey Nahman
Valley Stream, New York


Re J. Hoberman's review of The Man Who Wasn't There ["Toy Stories," November 6]: The "lugubrious" Beethoven piece that Scarlett Johansson played in the department store and throughout the Coen brothers' film was the middle section of Beethoven's "Pathétique" Sonata, not the "Moonlight" Sonata.

The "Moonlight" Sonata was part of the score but not while Scarlett was playing. I was there on set and was her piano coach. If you are going to write about lugubrious Beethoven, you should get the correct piece.

Margie Balter
Los Angeles, California


I can't thank you enough for Andrew Friedman's "What Color Is Your Parachute?" [November 20]. It did an excellent job of describing exactly what flight attendants are going through right now. We feel unappreciated, taken for granted, and forgotten. But at least Mr. Friedman's article shows that someone is taking notice. I will be forwarding this piece to all of my unemployed and soon to be unemployed airline friends.

Theresa Mack
Delta Airlines


Props on bigging up Brooklyn and all, but Tricia Romano lost me when she suggested a local DJ "booms hip-hop not of the cheesy Jay-Z variety" in "Push Push in the Flatbush" [November 13].

What? Did she hear one of her perpetually scowling, pseudo hip, pseudo hip-hop fans/friends describe Jay-Z as cheesy? Jay-Z is the premier artist of the form. He is what Marvin Gaye was to soul, the Beatles were to rock and roll, and John Coltrane was to jazz. For Ms. Romano not to realize this proves that she should pick her topics more carefully.

Otis James
Nyack, New York


Re Jerry Saltz's article on the Guggenheim's Norman Rockwell retrospective ["Middle Americana," November 20]: A year ago I was temping at a real estate agency in Park Slope ("Not 'Brooklyn'—this is Park Slope," corrected my boss for the day), and the computer I was staring at had a rotating Rockwell screensaver. That's when I was reminded of how creepy and pedophiliac his work is.

Justin Silverman

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