Thank you for the Voice's section devoted to people missing or killed in the World Trade Center attacks ["For Whom the Bell Tolls," September 25]. I have begun to recognize many names and faces of those affected just from walking around the city and seeing the posters multiple times. Numbers like 5500 are difficult to comprehend, but it's really just one plus one plus one. The Voice added significance to all those "ones," even if we did not know them personally.
I wish I had more time to mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks, but I'm still working on these: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Vietnam, Chile and Central America, North American Amerindians, and so on. Get back to me in a millennium or two.
Re Wayne Barrett's "The Emperor's New Praise" [September 25]: Before we really lose our minds and declare the mayor king, let me point out that the reason Rudy is great now is because for him there was always a war in New York Citywar against the squeegee menace, "quality-of-life offenders," Brooklyn museums, sex shops, public school chancellors, police brutality activists, AIDS housing activists. . . . These are just a few of the casualties of the Giuliani administration's eight years in office.
We're not seeing some sort of divine transformation in the twilight days of his tenure as mayor; this is less about Giuliani rising to the occasion than it is the occasion sinking miserably to his level. Now the only difference is that it really is war.
Paul Andrew Lucre
I'll give Robert Christgau the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was not actually looking for old albums that can be read as predicting the World Trade Center attack and America's current state of tension in "Ghost Dance" [September 25]. Pontificating on Patti Smith and Motörhead's connections to September 11 is just too navel-gazing, too self-satisfied, and as such I must be misreading a critic whose opinions I usually respect.
If Christgau really wanted to find catharsis through the language of music after the World Trade Center's destruction, perhaps he should have thought about finding music produced in its wake. Look on street corners or subway platforms for musicians, as they are surely now playing with grief in their hearts. Go to coffeehouses, punk shows, and tent revivals. Sit in on a rap cypher (like the one of which I was part a few days after the bombing) and listen to people create off the top of their heads descriptions of the terror and its effects on all of us. Maybe Patti Smith did trump Nostradamus, but wouldn't Christgau and Voice readers be better served by looking for today's Woody Guthrie?
HOME SWEET HOME
Thanks for Lenora Todaro's "The Perils of Protest" [September 25]. She raised the most important question of these tense times, a question yet to be addressed by the government or most shocked Americans: Why were we attacked? Why are we such an enemy in the eyes of some that they would celebrate this terrible act? In moments such as these we should be asking this question, even if the answer shows the disturbing possibility that in some way we are partly to blame for this tragedy.
It did not surprise me that Jerry Falwell would make such an asinine statement against certain groups as he was quoted as saying in Michael Gerber and Jonathan Schwarz's "What Falwell Really Meant" [September 25]. Remember, this is coming from a man who crusaded against a purple Teletubby because it carried what he perceived to be a purse, thus making it a gay character. Falwell is right up there with the Taliban clerics who would like to deprive humankind of its right to live free. If there is anyone who is anti-American, it is Jerry Falwell!
In "Losing Their Faculties" [September 18] Hal Cohen notes that faculty unionization efforts occurred three decades ago, but were "quashed" by the 1980 Yeshiva decision by the Supreme Court. Actually, faculty unionization campaigns in private universities had ended after 1974, when faculty members voted decisively against unionization at the first two high-ranking institutions at which National Labor Relations Board elections occurred, NYU and Syracuse. Unlike Cohen, most of us believed thatfor all the limitationswe had a lot more influence on the way the university worked than would be the case under collective bargaining. I rather think that my colleagues on balance continue to believe that we are not voiceless wage slaves.
NYU Professor Emeritus of Economics and Public Administration
Thank you for Nat Hentoff's reasoned piece on the availability of non-embryonic stem cell research ["The Stem Cell Clashes," September 11]. Though I have been a lifelong opponent of abortion, it is not the destruction of a few divided cells that worries me. After all, many theologians differ greatly on when a fetus becomes viable, a fact that pro-lifers tend to try to bury. However, with the greatest respect toward the sick and disabled of the world, for some of us disease is not our worst nightmare. Rather, it is the future scenario described by Professor Neil Postman, who in his book Building a Bridge to the 18th Century proposes the possibility of a societal model in which at birth we will all have a clone started for us, to be kept alive and used piecemeal for spare parts as age and illness necessitate.
My point is, of course, that we are on the verge of being able to artificially create real human life. As a society, we have many decisions to make with respect to that possibility. A country that began the glorious leap to its present economic and political height partially from the backs of a whole race of humans kept as chattel should know this better than most.
While I am grateful to Hentoff for bringing alternatives to our attention, I would dearly like to see us postpone those decisions until we have reached a point where all life produced in the natural way is held sacred. That may take some time.
The photograph on page 62 of last week's Voice was miscredited ["Houses Divided," October 2]. It should have been attributed to Crissie Ferrara.
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