Re "The Black Holocaust" [Nat Hentoff, January 1016]: I can't understand why Hentoff and others claim that Sudan and Darfur are such a crisis—unless they just can't resist a good public relations campaign. Stop reading the U.S. press and do a little research. The rebels in Darfur are run by the CIA as a way to get a civil war started in Sudan, which will make a U.S. or NATO intervention seem necessary. We saw this in Kosovo. Look who is running the public relations for the Darfur rebels. Why are people saying that genocide is taking place in Darfur, but not in Iraq? Since 1991, more than 2.3 million Iraqis have died as a result of U.S. policy, and more than 3 million have fled the country. Is that not genocide?
University Park, Maryland
Cop to it
Re Sean Gardiner's "Suspects as Usual" [January 1016]: The NYPD "dirtying up the victims." Please, get real, and get the facts. None of the five officers involved in the Sean Bell shooting had ever fired a single shot in the line of duty. Obviously these fine officers felt that their lives were at risk. These so-called victims were far from angels; if I just read the local newspapers, I would believe that they were choirboys. These men had criminal records longer than my arm, and they antagonized the cops with their vehicle. Instead of allowing the Queens District Attorney to conduct a fair and thorough investigation, media hounds like Al Sharpton make accusations and assumptions. Officers put their lives on the line every day, and if they fire their guns, it's because they feel that their lives are in danger, and that's good enough for me.
When the Mollen Commission was created in 1992 to investigate police, things were going very badly for the NYPD. To refresh the memories of those who would like to forget, here is a little snippet of the commission's findings: "As important as the possible extent of brutality is the extent of brutality tolerance we found throughout the Department. . . . This tolerance, or willful blindness, extends to supervisors as well. . . . This is because many supervisors share the perception that nothing is really wrong with a bit of unnecessary force, and because they believe that this is the only way to fight crime today." Despite many officers' criminal behavior, their personnel files repeatedly showed that they had "met standards," and they thus avoided scrutiny altogether. Officers who were caught lying were not disciplined and were taught by supervisors how to present false testimony in court. The police commissioner back then was no other than Raymond Kelly. And though Commissioner Kelly eventually was forced to acknowledge how bad things were, nothing really changed. It's January 2007 and there is an uncanny feeling that the RAND Corporation is yet another Mollen Commission, whose recommendations will also fall by the wayside.
Jeff Baird (retired NYPD)
Cortlandt Manor, New York
Am I supposed to be impressed when you publish letters (deservedly) trashing your cover stories? As if somehow acknowledging your shortcomings makes them OK? Cut that shit out. It's even more pathetic than articles about candy addiction in The Village Voice.
Wolfe in cheap clothing
I read Felix Gillette's article about Tom Wolfe ["Has Tom Wolfe Blown It?," January 1016 ]. What a jerk this guy Felix must be! " . . . rescue Tom Wolfe from the maw of obscurity?" Who the hell is Felix whatever-his-last-name-is? (Nice name, btw.) Tom Wolfe is one of the greatest American writers of our time, while his attacker, this "Felix" guy, comes across as a catty, bitchy, arrogant, and uninteresting writer. Felix, a suggestion for you: Stop trying to impress readers with your boring and trite delivery.
Los Angeles, California
Is it a slow news week or is this nonsense some sort of postmodern joke? Gillette uses Wolfe's tactics as his own bid for Wolfe-style infamy? Do you think Wolfe is going to feel anything but tickled pink by all the publicity you give him? Don't you realize that you only encourage the old man by putting a big caricature of him on the cover? The Voice may be the only publication that cares about some op-ed in that most pretentious and self-satisfied of papers, the Times. If I wanted to know what some wealthy, overeducated, elderly Upper East Sider felt about architectural renovations, I wouldn't read the Voice to find out. Wolfe isn't the one seeking fame via the defamation of another—Gillette is.
Tom Wolfe has earned the right to editorialize about any topic he chooses, however boring it may appear to some of the writers at the Voice. The real question is, Why are you devoting such a long article to basically calling Wolfe a self-aggrandizing old fart? Gillette come off as impertinent, vindictive, and juvenile.
I enjoyed Tom Wolfe's op-ed piece in the Times; it was informative. I enjoyed no less Gillette's oedipal commentary in this week's Voice.
That Wolfe's civic profile may be a prod for his continuing literary profile has little relationship to the merit of his literary work. The requirements for survival in the New Yorkcentered world of American publishing involve the same jockeying for primacy, ergo alpha attitude, and ergo sales found in any other professional arena. Equating Wolfe's self-promotion skill with his writing skill devalues the notion of art as indistinct from commodification. Self-promotion is pointedly calculated, while writing is accessory to otherwise recondite vision. Wolfe's attraction to irreplaceable and historically resonant structures is an understandable embrace of the concrete, his respite perhaps from persistent and courageous exploration of the ephemeral elites, privilege, morals, accountability, and anarchy at the end of empire which constitutes his own art. Gillette has, of course, completely unadulterated motives for lancing those of Wolfe. I'll be keeping an eye out for his novel. Kill the Father works for me.
St. Louis, Missouri
Those of us who can see the immense benefits of landmarking and historic districting are thrilled that Wolfe has chosen to use his fame, sympathy, and talent to shed light on these contributions. Without them, we would not have the view from the Brooklyn promenade, nor thousands of well-built and well-designed buildings that range from charming to majestic.
It seems a slim thread from which to hang your argument that he is seeking controversy. If historic preservation is so marginal, why would an attention-seeking writer choose such a topic in the first place?
I've been an avid reader of Greg Tate's articles since the early '90s, but "Eulogy for Black Caesar" [January 39 ] made me want to shout. Tate's mighty words capture the very essence of what James Brown was and still is as a human being and musical artist: an object lesson in pride and survival. Brown made it in this often mean world despite the damnable odds.
San Francisco, California
Correction: In last week's issue of the Voice, the photo accompanying Catherine Wigginton's "Hire Education" was miscredited. Mark Hartman was the photographer.
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