I Witnessed

As an eyewitness to the TWA Flight 800 tragedy, I would like to thank Robert Davey for following the story ["Flight 800's Last Stage: The Four-Year Investigation Ends, the Mystery Endures," August 8]. It has been an unpopular story for most newspapers, but The Village Voice, through Davey's continuing coverage, has had the courage to tell what needs to be told. Davey has shown bravery, dedication to an open press, and the tenacity to stick with a difficult story.

I am just one of hundreds of witnesses who need not theorize about the cause of the crash. Those of us who were there that night remember all too well what we saw with our own eyes—TWA Flight 800 was knocked from the sky by two missiles. There are 755 statements from eyewitnesses that tell the story. Yet the National Transportation and Safety Board interviewed only one eyewitness during the hearings.

Many eyewitness statements were either challenged or denied by the NTSB investigative committee. Accidental witnesses and average American citizens though we are, we were there. Though the hearings that concluded last week found that there were no missiles, we know what we saw.

Please keep up the good work. And thank you for being one of the few places in the American press where truth is still printed.

Lisa Perry
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York

Candidate Debate

Every time I read an article like Peter Noel's "The Uncle Tom Dilemma" [August 22], it makes me cringe. I am a woman who has worked for decades as a volunteer for organizations that exist for the purpose of uplifting the underprivileged among us—many of whom happen to be African Americans like me. But I am also a Republican candidate for Congress who hopes more blacks—and New Yorkers in general—will open their eyes and ears during the current election cycle.

When the relationship African Americans have long had with the Republican Party is misrepresented in articles like Mr. Noel's, the credibility of people like me is being subtly attacked—with insufficient cause. The implication is that we are outsiders who don't care about black people in general and that black people are (or should be) monolithic in our needs and interests.

Blacks have actively participated in the Republican Party since its birth in 1854 on an abolitionist platform. Remember, it was Republicans who authored the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves and the 15th Amendment that guaranteed all races the right to vote.

In the 1960s, more Republicans than Democrats voted for the monumental civil rights legislation, which Democrats speciously take complete credit for. At that time, Ed Brooke, a Republican from Massachusetts, was the only black senator. And it was his Republican colleague, Senator Everett Dirksen, who led the floor fight against the segregationists to make the Civil Rights Act the law of the land.

Lest we forget, almost all of the lawmakers who defended segregation were Democrats. How then have Democrats been able to hog all the credit for the civil rights movement?

As an African American and a Republican, I can assure you there is no "Uncle Tom Dilemma" in the GOP. The real dilemma is the one facing the Democratic Party as more people of color are being attracted to the GOP message of individual liberty and greater opportunity.

C. Adrienne Rhodes

You Must Remember This

Re Nat Hentoff on Joe Lieberman ["The 'Miracle' of Joe Lieberman," August 22]: A native New Yorker, I often return home, and the Voice is always a regular read during those times. I enjoy Nat Hentoff's work and almost always agree with him, but this column seemed to miss the point.

Hentoff complains about Lieberman speaking out against Clinton as "the conscience of the Senate" and then voting against conviction of impeachment. However, this was the attitude taken by some Senate Republicans (along with former presidents Ford and Carter). It was not inconsistent and certainly not an abandonment of principle. Many members of Congress thought Clinton was wrong but conviction was too harsh a penalty.

Indeed, it is not that Lieberman did what he did, but that he was able to do it. His background and reputation put him in a position to be the "conscience of the Senate," however awkward that position might be. And human beings—not just saints—invoke God. This does not make Joe Lieberman a hypocrite—only more human.

To those who find this kind of "political" move infuriating and disgusting, get over it! This is like Captain Renault in Casablanca when he says, "I am shocked—shocked—that gambling is going on in here!"

Nick Noble
Southborough, Massachusetts  

Nat Hentoff replies: As Senator Lieberman told Robert Kaiser of The Washington Post (February 13, 1999), he delivered that condemnation of Clinton in order to give other congressional Democrats the cover to say " 'I agree with Joe Lieberman.' And it seemed to help." He told Kaiser, ". . . we were in danger as a party." He gave the speech to protect the party.

Rhythm Nation

After reading Lina Katz's article "No Dancing Allowed" [August 29], about a law prohibiting dancing in New York City nightclubs, I was incredulous. From what I understand, Mayor Giuliani is telling the public that despite the traditions that make his city famous, the cabaret law makes an almost necessary part of New York nightlife illegal.

As a woman who grew up in rural Kentucky, New York has always seemed like a haven of freedom to me. Dancing is practically forbidden in my hometown. It is as if dancing is thought to be dirty and cheapening of the soul. However, dance is the sheer joy of moving in the way one feels to a beat. Dance is a huge part of popular culture that will not go away. As Katz notes, this law was established when the city waged war against jazz clubs in the 1920s. What good came of that?

Dana Settles
Danville, Kentucky

Re Lina Katz's article on the dancing ban in New York City clubs: I am disgusted by this "restraining order" that Ugliani has decided to re-enforce. What is it—he thinks he can't dance, so therefore no else can? Look, Ugliani, David danced before the Lord with all of his might, and Psalms 150 tells me that since I have breath, I am to dance in praise, so I will be exercising my right to freedom of religion by joining in the Million Mambo March with the rest of my brothers and sisters. Arrest on that!

Kandice Corbett
West Hempstead, Long Island

Thank you for Lina Katz's article. I knew something like the Million Mambo March would happen one day; I've been praying for something like this to hit the streets. I tried so many times to get people together to protest the ban on dancing, but Giuliani makes it so hard.

I went to a small bar one night about three years ago to get my groove on and the guy told me and my girlfriend not to dance. He pointed to a sign—and to my amazement there really was a sign. This happened a couple of times. I felt like crying, and this is a rare thing for me to do in a public place. I love to dance. I've been going out in this city for over 10 years and enjoying my ritual physical and spiritual rejuvenation. Let me move my body if I feel the beat. How dare Giuliani. I will be there for the march. Let the rhythm hit 'em.

Leonard Posso


Cynthia Cotts should not impugn the integrity of a man who, as President Clinton noted, has done so much to "save the children of this country from the horror of drug abuse" [Press Clips, August 22]. Cotts's contention that Partnership for a Drug-Free America chairman Jim Burke has been paying the media to "lace its content with anti-drug messages" is flat-out wrong. Under Burke's leadership, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America has created more than 600 anti-drug ads over the past 13 years without paying a cent to anyone to run any of them. Until 1998, we relied solely on donated time to run our ads; since then we also have proudly been part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, coordinated by Barry McCaffrey and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Partnership donates ads used in the campaign; we receive no funding for our role in this effort.

Perhaps worse than the attack on Jim Burke is Cotts's implication that over the years nothing has changed and no progress has been made in the fight against illicit drugs. In fact, we have made great strides: The use of all illicit drugs is down 44 percent since 1985; use of cocaine is down 69 percent since 1985; and there are 11.4 million fewer regular drug users in America than there were in 1980.

Richard D. Bonnette
Partnership for a Drug-Free America

Cynthia Cotts replies: I stand by my account. As Bonnette testified to Congress last February, the Partnership grew desperate in the early 1990s when the media balked at running anti-drug ads pro bono. After concluding that "we would need to pay for media exposure," Bonnette said, "McCaffrey and we at the Partnership came to Congress seeking support." In 1997, Congress gave McCaffrey the OK to pay for media exposure. Bonnette's claim that "we receive no funding" is disingenuous. As I reported in The Nation in 1992, the Partnership receives major funding from legal drug manufacturers. Tobacco and alcohol money is now taboo, but pharmaceutical foundations continue to bankroll the "anti-drug" campaign.  

Flip Clips

Each to his own, but how could Jockclips [Paul Lukas, August 22] be so harsh with kindly old Bob Murphy—a Mets icon for chrissake? Tagging the veteran announcer with a "litany of flubbed play-by-plays," "lengthy pauses while he coughs up a lung" (yeek), and "frequent spoonerisms" is as off the mark as it is chilly. With the team since day one (1962), Murphy is seen (heard) in this corner as a consummate pro who calls a good game. Some of us actually find his gravelly voice engaging, much as we do his homespun style and punctuated phrasings. Jockclips' derisive noting of a "nostalgic" description of Cincinnati—"your shoes shined, your hat blocked, and a good bowl of chili, all in 30 minutes' time"—misses the charm of such an aside. Maybe "Clips" would prefer a quick tattoo, your tongue pierced, and a double latte . . .

John Stravinsky
Bellport, New York

Memory Lane

In Michael Feingold's review of The Man Who Came to Dinner ["Looking on the Whiteside," August 8], he stated that because of my size and booming voice I have been often mistakenly cast in Zero Mostel-type roles, and then went on to say I was better at playing the victim.

In his 1993 review of Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Feingold wrote that I "recall the glory days of Zero Mostel" and went on to say that he hoped to see me one day in Rhinoceros! Call me neurotic, but I couldn't resist. And I can't wait to see his review of The Producers! Love and kisses.

Nathan Lane

Michael Feingold replies: Since people completely replace their cells every seven years, that was a different Michael Feingold reviewing a different Nathan Lane. Anyway, it proves that even a critic can learn something in that length of time.


Due to a transcription error, Peter Noel's "The Uncle Tom Dilemma" (August 22) incorrectly reported that New York City Council member Una Clarke had "chided" Magic Johnson for not getting involved in the controversy surrounding the fatal police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The Voice regrets the error.

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