A CLOSE SHAVE
Re Sydney H. Schanberg's "Fear and Favor at The New York Times" [June 11-17]:
Great article. As a young reporter (well, not that young28) I find myself following this story with an unbelievable fervor. Why? Because since forever, I'd shave my head for an opportunity to work for the Times! And along comes this guy and, well . . . we all know what he did. But in doing what he did, news of the newsroom "culture" at NYT is coming out, and maybe it's not all I thought it's cracked up to be. But I'm still at a small paper, learning and loving to write. And I'll keep working hard to someday make it to a daily paper. But you know what? I'd still shave my head to work there. Only now, I really hope they take Sydney's advice!
Clifton, New Jersey
Re Thulani Davis's "Monumental Errors" [June 11-17]:
I was very disappointed by the feature article on the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. The tale of woe portrayed is simply inaccurate and based in part on a biased source. Moreover, the article fails to inform your readers of the significant progress the Washington D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation has made over the past few years.
Yes, the foundation has had to overcome obstacles, but building a national memorial is a very complex and lengthy process. Since the 1996 authorizing legislation, we have secured congressional approval for the Tidal Basin site, held a design competition that included over 900 submissions from 52 countries, and are now moving steadily through the multifaceted design approval process.
With a site and preliminary design secured, we are now focusing more attention on developing the full funding necessary to bring this important national memorial to fruition. With the support of the Ad Council, a growing celebrity team, and a dedicated executive leadership cabinet, I am confident we will reach our $100 million goal. Furthermore, bills to extend the memorial's authorizing legislation have already been introduced in the House and the Senate. More than 170 House and Senate members have also signed on to the foundation's Honorary Congressional Committee.
Finally, I applaud Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and its members for their continued leadership and devotion to building a national memorial to such a great man of the 20th century. They were the first organization to step forward to shoulder this burden, but it is incumbent upon all Americans to make the dream a reality.
LeRoy Lowery, III
The Washington D.C. Martin Luther King Jr.
National Memorial Project Foundation Inc.
Thulani Davis replies: Mr. Lowery uses the term inaccurate quite loosely. While saying my article fails to inform readers of the foundation's progress, he overlooks the fact that these items are all covered in my article.
THE MAORI, THE MERRIER
Re "False Grooves" [June 4-10]:
Michael Atkinson's review of Whale Rider is disgusting, and suggests he is either a smug racist or an arrogant xenophobe.
As a New Zealander, I could care less whether he liked the movie or not (as it happens, I didn't either), but his undiplomatic trivialization and crude ridicule of Maori culture (presumably something he knows nothing about) is downright unworthy of journalism.
Andrew Paul Wood
Christchurch, New Zealand
Michael Atkinson replies: Undiplomatic though it may be, the ridicule was directed at the movie, not Maoris. I'm glad you could care less.
Re Cathy Hong's "Close-Up on Ditmas Park" [villagevoice.com, June 5]:
The prices you are quoting for the purchase of one- to three-family homes are for at best cooperative apartments in the area. Single-family homes with four or more bedrooms are the norm and have a starting price according to recent advertisements of nearly $500,000.
Thanks for writing about this gem of a neighborhood, nevertheless.
Victorian Flatbush (a/k/a Ditmas Park), Brooklyn
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Nat Hentoff's series on Zimbabwe is only the tip of the iceberg.
The viciousness of the Mugabe regime cannot be underestimated. Nor can its role in furthering conflict in Africa be ignored. Mugabe's greed helped extend the war in the Congo as Zimbabwean troops were exchanged for mineral resources for the president and his cronies.
The farm invasions were not about land reform at all. In the past, white farms were taken only for the ruling elite, not for peasant farmers. It was about Mugabe getting his hands on hundreds of thousands of black voters who were outside government control. They were captured, tortured, and intimidated to ensure a Mugabe election victory.
It is shocking how those who were rightfully upset about apartheid ignore the excesses of a dictator like Mugabe. Their double standards are part of the reason that murder and torture in Africa continues unabated.
Author, Zimbabwe: The Death of a Dream
Executive Director, Institute for Liberal Values
Auckland, New Zealand
Please clone Nat Hentoff. Mail a fully mature version to New Mexico immediately; we need him here. Send several dozen to Washington, D.C., tooin fact, send them 100, enough to fill the Senate chairs with some actual backbone. Your prompt cooperation will be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, if you would mention to Nat Hentoff that he is much admired this side of the Mississippi, I'd sure appreciate it.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
To Nat Hentoff:
In my opinion, you probably are the most important newspaper columnist in America today. Your coverage of the tragedy neglected by the other mediaAshcroft's attempt to destroy the Constitutionhas energized me. I've never gotten involved in mass demonstrations before, but I now intend to see what I can do locally (in this Republican stronghold!) to get our citizens involved in a protest.
Thank you for not giving up.
West Caldwell, New Jersey
Congratulations to Voice writer Gary Giddins, recipient of two Jazz Journalists Association awards: Jazz Writer of the Year, for work in the Voice (his third win), and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Jazz Journalism.
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