FOR CRAYON OUT LOUD!
Re "Who Decides Who's Black or Hispanic?" [April 9-15]:
Kudos to Nat Hentoff for exposing the weak underbelly of affirmative action in college admissions. As a person of mixed race I have been plagued by this issue throughout my lifefrom the time I discovered that Portuguese Americans like my mother were, according to the L.A. Unified School District, not Hispanic, to the case of my children, who are one-quarter Portuguese and half Filipino (itself a mixed race). I always wondered why white wasn't considered a color despite the fact that you can find it in a crayon box.
Keep it up, Nat!
Hentoff quoted Justice Douglas's opinion in DeFunis v. Odegaard in support of his opposition to the University of Michigan affirmative action program. It is worth noting that Douglas's opinion was a complex one. He felt the LSAT and other criteria for entry were not racially neutral. Therefore, he stated, "how far the reintroduction into educational curricula of ancient African art and history has reached the minds of young Afro-Americans I do not know. But at least as respects Indians, blacks, and Chicanosas well as those from Asian culturesI think a separate classification of these applicants is warranted, lest race be a subtle force in eliminating minority members because of cultural differences."
These other noteworthy comments of his on the problems with race-based affirmative action should be put in context.
Nat Hentoff, in his response to readers critical of his support of the war [Letters, April 9-15], writes that they do not address his stated reason for supporting it: that it is necessary in order to liberate prisoners from Iraqi torture chambers.
However, he does not address any of their reasons for opposing this U.S. invasionthe most important of which is that the number of Iraqis killed, injured, terrorized, made sick, hungry, and homeless as a result of it will prove to be greatly in excess of the number of those who might have been in danger of torture by the regime.
Upper West Side
Nat Hentoff replies:
Regarding Joseph Cocurullo's letter: But Douglas never changed his viewas he wrote in DeFunis, and as he told methat collective racial or ethnic preference violates the equal protection of the laws clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In the case of Richard Barr's letter: As one Iraqi who had been tortured said: Hussein killed and terrorized many, many more than the war did. And how does Mr. Barr know how many more would have been tortured if Hussein and his sons had remained in power for years to come?
RUNNING ON EMPTY
Re Ed Park's review of Better Luck Tomorrow ["Woo Tang," April 9-15]:
Thank God somebody was willing to scream a loud "Bullshit!" regarding all the hype this film is generating. Believe me, I don't go to films to not like something. But rarely have I seen a movie so pleased with itself and so completely empty, that I seriously believe that I couldn't be friends with anyone who liked this shit.
Of course the premise of overachieving Asian students with straight A's getting away with murder is interestingbut that's about it. Otherwise it's a mess of bad storytelling, convenient plot twists, and stupid camera tricks designed to make us think we'reseeing something far more accomplished than it really is. Not to mention the cheesy slo-mo (aren't we cool?) and hey-let's-spin-needlessly-around-the-action-and-add some-ultraviolence-to-the-mix.
Los Angeles, California
SCHLOCK AND AWE
Re Cynthia Cotts's "Moral Clarity" [April 2-8]:
Cotts did a thorough job of laying out the creative war vocabulary used by the Pentagon and, absurdly, by the mainstream press. I would just like to add two more phrases that the media have adopted and now throw around in liberal doses: Centcom (abbreviation for U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar) and shock and awe (the name given to the first initial hours and days of the bombing of Iraq). TV anchors sound ridiculous enough most of the time. Trying to sound like an army general just makes it worse.
LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND
Re Ward Sutton's "Please Read to a Dead Iraqi Child!" [Schlock 'n' Roll, April 9-15]:
This cartoon spoofing Laura Bush's literacy campaign is in very bad taste. Did you hear about the children that were being held in horrible conditions in a Baghdad jail?
Every time I see something in your publication like this I think to myself, How much lower can these people sink? Usually, I only have to wait a few weeks to find out.
Richard A. Salinas
RIDDLE OF THE SPHINCTERS
Re Richard Goldstein's "A Soldier Named Desire" [April 2-8]:
How nice to read Richard Goldstein as he fawns aesthetically over smoke rings and sphincters in Israeli photographer Adi Nes's portraits of Israeli soldiers, without any real mention of the most frequent victims of these "hunks with hard consonants in their names": Palestinian children, mothers, and fathers.
The closest we get to an acknowledgment of the true horror is no more than "the entangling occupation of the conquered territories," which makes "collateral damage" no longer seem a euphemism. In a more incredible reversal of reality, we get Nes's notion of sleeping soldiers on a bus appearing "like lambs to the slaughter." What a nauseatingly self-indulgent and myopic world Goldstein and Nes must inhabit.
Thank you for Richard Goldstein's "War Horny" [April 16-22]. It's the most down-to-earth anything I've ever read about the real cause of war.
Since it takes two different elements of nature to produce new physical life, isn't it possible that a combination of these same two different elements is mandatory for new mental lifeand as the obvious antidote to unbalanced testosterone (the real cause of war)?
In Ed Halter's "Radical Cheek" (April 9-15), the first two elements of director Wheeler Winston Dixon's name were inadvertently transposed.
In Hua Hsu's "Orienting the East" (April 16-22), the subhead should have identified the subject of the article as Richard Nisbett.
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