Richard Goldstein's powers of perception have always been acute, but he really outshines himself in "World War II Chic" when he notes that "women are virtually absent from Private Ryan."
A piercing, nay, even blinding, insight. It is, of course, a disgrace against both culture and history that Spielberg and company refused to pay the honor due to the women who stormed Omaha Beach and fought so bravely in subsequent battles. When, oh when, will this mindless worship of male hegemony ever end?
SWM Accepts Imperfection
So Richard Goldstein in ["World War II Chic," January 19] now criticizes an earlier generation of white straight males, because they were too busy winning World War II and saving the United States and the world to worry about their own imperfections! That generation "blithely relegated whole groups of Americans to abjection and chronic poverty... 'Allowed McCarthyism and racism to go unchallenged for too long'... and perpetrated a system that rewarded women in direct proportion to their embodiment of the word broad," says Goldstein.
And that generation helped secure American supremacy in the postwar world. (How horrible! We know how much more wonderful it would have been to have had a world run by Stalin and his successors, or Mao and his bunch.
Goldstein thinks it's absolutely awful that the post-Boomers seem to be emulating that generation in any way, shape, or form. Well, better to emulate them than those from Goldstein's generation of drug-addicted, disease-ridden freaks.
Richard Goldstein replies: Perpetuating racism and sexism are pretty serious flaws even fundamental, if you regard the Second World War as anything more than a battle for territory. But one consolation of worshiping your elders is that you don't have to deal with these issues in the present. As for women in combat films, at least they used to appear in the sex scenes. Now they are completely absent. Is this naturalism or a desire to "purify" the genre by confining it to men?
Nat Hentoff's column last week shows that alone among pundits today, he is his own man.
I nominate him for the 1999 Demosthenes Award as the one person from whom the truth as he understands it will be heard.
Pleasantville, New York
After reading Nat Hentoff's "The Trashing of Clinton's Women" [January 19], I got this eerie feeling that Nat's finger was too close to my anal sphincter. He's too funny.
So What, Nat?
Re Nat Hentoff's column "What's Happening to the Left?" [January 12]:
I'm against some of Bill Clinton's policies (bombing the Sudan and Iraq, sustaining the Cuban embargo, expediting capital punishment, among others).
So what? I'd much sooner have Bill Clinton in the White House, with all his supportable and opposable policies, than feather the caps of Tom DeLay and his culture-jihad crowd. I doubt those estimable figures are the friends of civil liberties Hentoff would prefer to see in power, despite the bouquet he recently tossed impeachment zealot Representative Bob Barr [The Washington Post, January 9].
Am I wrong?
Nat Hentoff responds: If a president can not be removed from office for sending his agents to threaten his disposable women lest they testify against him, then I suppose a member of the Mob as president could not be thrown out of office. Have you lost all faith in Al Gore already? As for the "bouquet" I tossed to Barr, I wrote in The Washington Post that the critics of Barr's appearance before the Council of Conservative Citizens neglected to point out that their target has a strong record on protecting the civil liberties of privacy and has worked with the ACLU to that goal. This devil has at least one redeeming quality.
Jason Vest's excellent article ["Rehnquist's Glass House," January 19] skillfully detailed how Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist may well have set the stage for Bill Clinton's current predicament. I have to thank Vest enormously for reminding us that one-third of the U.S. Senate did not want Rehnquist to become a Supreme Court justice at all, and that it was the then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Strom Thurmond, and the majority of the U.S. Senate who chose to ignore sworn affidavits of two eyewitnesses who stated that they had seen Rehnquist harass black voters, challenging their right to vote. I share Vest's indignation and alarm that the same Supreme Court justice appointed the lower court district judge who appointed an intensely right-wing, so-called independent counsel who started the impeachment ball rolling. And this same chief justice will be the one charged with exhibiting complete fairness to both sides during the impeachment. One can only be extremely thankful that the Republicans minimally outnumber the Democrats 55 to 45, and that a two-thirds vote is required to convict. Without that safeguard, and with what Vest has told us about this chief justice, there would be grave cause for concern for the survival of our president and the integrity of our democracy.
Kudos to J.A. Lobbia for the Baltic Street fiasco exposé ["Heartless Bastard," January 12]. I live on Cobble Hill, know the Baltic Street clinic, and have heard firsthand the anger the mayor's vindictive behavior is causing. The mayor should be recalled.
Due to an editing error, the name of a listings writer of the education supplement, Jazell Andujar, was spelled wrong in last week's issue.
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