Letter of the Week

Morality play

Rick Perlstein's "Mourning in America" [November 3, villagevoice.com] is right about the way lies have been told to support the Bush campaign in Ohio and shift the vote. In particular, getting the anti-gay proposition on the ballot was calculated to make people vote on the basis of so-called "moral values" even when they were actually angry about the massive loss of jobs here.

That said, the fault also lies with Kerry's campaign and its refusal to defend gay marriage. Rather than mounting an ideological challenge to the right wing that could have provided a new set of ideas for people on the fence—that gay marriage is a civil right—the Kerry campaign settled for a religious rhetoric that strengthened the framework of "moral values." Why vote for an ex-altar boy with a newfound religious consciousness when you can get a genuine born-again politician?

Pranav Jani
Columbus, Ohio

Rough rider

Great piece by Rick Perlstein ["It's Mourning in America," villagevoice.com, November 3].

It does feel like "civic death" for Bush to be in office for another four years, but I guarantee he'll be the fall of the Republicans for the next 50 years that follow. It's not something that you want to hear, but this is Junior's destiny—to oust his family and its cronies from America for good. It will be a rough four years.

Atlanta, Georgia

But Teresa's so hot

Re "It's Mourning in America": It's over already. We lost. It's time to stop bitching about the past and start planning for the future. Let's find a candidate this time who isn't an aging hippie. A candidate who has actually held a job or two at one time and who doesn't have a questionable military service record. Let's find a candidate who decided to forgo nailing that trophy wife who bad-mouths the careers of others, and most of all, let's find a candidate who doesn't choose a wet-behind-the-ears running mate who prefers Comedy Central to CNN (may I suggest Zell Miller for a running mate next time around?).

Emmett Morgan
Dallas, Texas

Fundamental differences

Perlstein's definition of "lie" is simply anything he does not wish to be true ["The End of Democracy," October 20–26]. As regards his fantasies about Christian fundamentalism, I suggest that Perlstein do a little research about what Christians actually believe, as opposed to reproducing caricatures current among the denizens of Manhattan.

John Schuh
Lake Dallas, Texas

The philosophy of Al

Re James Ridgeway's "The Dream Is Lost" [villagevoice.com, November 3]: No, James, the dream is not lost—just momentarily forgotten. We in America want our oil and money and toys at whatever cost to others, and Bush catered to this lower common denominator and we fell for it. The cycle will revolve. Our own American demise as a global power and commercial exploiter will be balanced by European and Asian good sense. They will see that we have lost our way and point it out to us to keep the world in balance. It has always been this way in history. Once a civilization becomes more affluent, it dissipates, spends its resources and the goodwill of the have-nots, and loses its "power" or surface popularity. It will swing back. Be assured of it. The laws of physics, chemistry, math, and historical precedent show it. When we spend most of our resources and have to depend on others, then we will come off our ideological nonsense and become more humble and humane.

Al S. Morrison
Sculpture Springs, Texas

Tell us more about the Massachusetts episode

Is Ridgeway saying only Christians have morals and want their children raised in a moral, fair, sensible, and ethical environment?

If you look at the blue states on the election victory chart, you should be able to recognize several of them as laughingstocks for the geographical majority of the country.

I lived in California. I visited New York. I oversaw workers in Massachusetts. I wouldn't want my children raised in any of those environments. The Kerry blue states represent the fringes of our society, and have more to do with the manias of living in heavily populated areas than with high numbers of sentient voters.

True, the younger voters were bent toward the left. But that will change as they gain more education and life experience. The more learning one has, the more likely one is to vote Republican.


Betty Hall
Montgomery, Alabama

Good grief

"The dream has become a nightmare," writes Ridgeway. "The dream of a secular, liberal democracy is lost."

I am not a Christian with an ideology of a theocracy for America. However, I do have values and morals that have nothing to do with religion. I voted for President Bush for one major reason. He is right on the war and many other issues—taxes, education, health care. I am not worried that the Christian right is taking over the country. Your article shows that you do not recognize that the majority of Americans are like me, not tied to liberalism or conservatism. There really is a core to America that keeps your far-left side and the far-right side from taking over. This is Good. By the way, secularism and ultra-liberalism are not the ideal, just as Christianity and neoconservatism are not the ideals. Belief in the wisdom of collective humanity matters; dignity for life and dignity for death matter; loving your fellow man matters; decency toward and respect for every citizen matters.

Quit trying to impose your belief about what is wrong with the rest of America and you will find the "peace and love" you yearned for in the '60s.

Rebecca Foust
Perrysburg, Ohio

Lone ranger

Amy Guthrie's "Your Misery Is Their Profit" [Generation Debt, November 3–9] is right to disclose the handsome profits that financial firms make on student loans. But the focus of that article may be the symptoms rather than the disease. The disease is annual increases in higher-education costs of more than 8 percent, or twice the rate of inflation, over the past 25 years. Schools have funded these tuition increases by taking undue advantage of student access to almost unlimited taxpayer-backed loans. As tuition goes up, schools "give" their students "financial aid" in the form of federal loans. Congress must create incentives for the schools to keep tuition increases at the level of inflation so that students are not saddled with high five-figure or six-figure loan debts.

Steve Sale
Washington, D.C.

Cheat the parents

Thank you for the Generation Debt articles. I hope that you continue the theme with a story about the expectation for some of us to help our parents in their retirement. (What a farce that expectation seems, when we can barely make ends meet!)

Lara Brown
Chicago, Illinois

No degree—and lovin' it

Amy Guthrie writes, "Over a dozen other lenders, private and public, are also sharing the profits of your misery with bankers."

Her tone is telling. "Your misery"? As though it's not their own fault somehow? This is how capital markets work. If there's debt lying around, some smart person is going to figure out how to make money on it. Everyone who has student loan debt made a choice to go to college. For most of them, it was probably the wrong choice, but they made a choice nonetheless, and for you to pity the poor, downtrodden, aimless college grads is an insult to those of us clever enough to opt out of the Big College Scam.

Scott Wickett
Fort Myers, Florida

Shanks for nothing

Re Sharon Lerner's "The President vs. the Pill" [October 13–19]:

Lerner really strikes a chord. As a 20-year-old NYU student, I am regretfully (but consistently) exposed to the hypersexuality of my peers. And unfortunately, the perpetual companion to this hookup culture is a lack of responsibility: not only for one's own body and choices, but for the partner in crime as well. After having heard from a friend with both herpes and a clear conscience about her unprotected sex last weekend, there is no doubt in my mind that our adolescents need not be taught about chastity, but safety instead.

Whitney Shanks

Quiet, please—we want our noir

I appreciate Michael Feingold's review of Spatter Pattern [October 13–19] and wouldn't have gone had I not read it. The play was very moving occasionally, but only because of Peter Frechette's performance.

The characteristics of noir I anticipated were not in this play; I wouldn't have even called it noir had I not read the review. For me, noir has a sinister romanticism to it; there is always something hypnotic and quietly menacing and attractive at the same time. This had none of that. Except for peeling paint in the fleabag rooms, it didn't even look noir. All that moving around of sets ruined the atmosphere—it was loud, and the actors were all loud.


Patrick Mullins
West Village

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