Letters

Autumn 2002
Dead Letter Office

To the editor:
I enjoyed Steven Malanga’s “Gotham’s Unrepresentative Representatives” [Summer 2002], in which you quote my congressman Anthony Weiner saying that “no one in my district is asking for tax cuts.”

I wrote three letters to Weiner last year asking for tax cuts. Why was it fair, I asked, for the government to spend more of my family’s money than we do? In 2000, we kept only 38 percent of our income; the federal government alone spent more than we.

Weiner never responded—not even with a postcard.

Thank you for providing my congressman with a forum to respond, belatedly and indirectly, to my correspondence. I now understand that Weiner thinks of me—a taxpaying constituent—as “no one.”

Mark Garbowski
Middle Village, NY

Oreos?!

To the editor:
Which “black” cops did Heather Mac Donald speak to [“The Black Cops You Never Hear About,” Summer 2002]? Officers who reject the idea of racial profiling are certainly in denial. No one forced these “oreo” cops to join the force. Until the police stop viewing every black as a criminal, we (people of African descent) will continue to see them for what they are: a gang. To the true black officers: keep up the good work and watch your backs: your back-stabber will most likely be an oreo. As for Mac Donald: do not try to write about the black community. Aside from what you were taught at home, school, and your community, you don’t know diddly about us.

S. Rameau
Via e-mail

To the editor:
Being African American, I was initially offended by Heather Mac Donald’s article on black cops. It seemed very one-sided. After rereading the article, I understood its message.

I agree that certain events trigger media swarms and prominent figures use the opportunity to get publicity for themselves, while other incidents go unnoticed by the public.

But there are bad people out there doing bad things—including bad officers who hide behind their badges. In my life, I have met many police officers. All but two have been very pleasant (one made racially degrading statements to me, and the other was just plain mean), but those two make it hard for all the others.

The article ignores the racism that exists in America: think of the murder of James Byrd. Still, not all incidents are racially motivated. Some folks are just mean.

I agree that police are being treated unfairly. For the most part, the police are brave men and women who risk their lives to make everyone else’s safer.

Uhuru Dawson
Via e-mail

Heather Mac Donald responds:
To write about colorblind cops who work tirelessly every day protecting the “good people” in no way denies that rogue cops exist. Listening to the mainstream media, though, one would think that such power-abusers are the norm. I sought to give voice to ordinary officers who believe fiercely in justice and the law.

It’s true that “racism exists in America”—practiced by all races, as S. Rameau’s letter attests. But I do not believe it is the dominant force in America, nor that it necessarily holds back those who stay in school, study, obey the law, and seize the opportunities our society provides.

Rant and Rage

To the editor:
What is the wellspring of Theodore Dalrymple’s great hatred of Virginia Woolf [“The Rage of Virginia Woolf,” Summer 2002]? Could it be his envy and inferiority, and his shallow, resentful cast of mind? She had more erudition, grace, and humor in her little finger than he will ever have in his entire body. It was not acquired through her “privileged” position, but through her own continuous and unrelenting study—erudition that Dalrymple, for all his purported defense of Oxford and Cambridge, seems to set at naught.

Among the many ignorant smears and outright lies in his article is that Woolf’s obscure feminist tract The Three Guineas is “a seminal text in universities.” Typically, Woolf’s writings are among those that one discovers for oneself. The fact that they are steady sellers, despite smear jobs like Dalrymple’s, is a testament to their literary staying power.

No amount of lies and ranting by idiots like himself will take away from Woolf’s genius and well-deserved popularity. If Dalrymple and his handlers had a scintilla of good judgment, they would give up the fight and embrace her as a worthy member of the Western canon—which she is, despite what they say.

Monarda B. Allen
Via e-mail

To the editor:
Theodore Dalrymple’s piece on Virginia Woolf was tonic. No English writer has a more inflated reputation; her fiction is feeble; her journalism—what the bores in the schools refer to as her “literary criticism”—is twaddle; her letters are insufferable. The woman was relentlessly full of herself. But nothing she wrote is as silly and feebleminded as The Three Guineas.

Mock on, Mr. Dalyrmple. The charlatans ruling the roost nowadays must be called to account.

Edward Short
Via e-mail

Theodore Dalrymple responds:
I am grateful to Ms. Allen for illustrating my case so convincingly. To judge by the effect that they evidently had upon her, Virginia Woolf’s books ought to come with a health warning.

The Last Womyn?

To the editor:
As Gen X–age women, we are getting tired of reading articles like Kay S. Hymowitz’s “The End of Herstory” [Summer 2002] that denounce and ultimately derail feminist goals and principles.

We are not angry with our feminist mothers. We are annoyed with our peers who think they speak for us in complaining that feminism is obsolete. Something went wrong with their education if they think the world was a better place when their only option was homemaking—a fine choice, if that’s what you want to do.

Non-feminists and antifeminists want to blame feminists for the work/family balance problem because they are easier targets than the real culprits: their husbands, who still refuse to do an equal share of the housework and child care. Some women accept living in an unequal relationship.

Hymowitz should acknowledge who made it possible for the young women quoted in the article to make the decision to have careers, work part-time, or stay at home: feminists. The core of feminism is about choice, and the right to pursue one’s life goals, whatever those are.

Laura Harrison & Lisa Moore
Stanford University

To the editor:
“The End of Herstory” is a wonderful example of solid writing and thought.

Wonderful also is the knowledge that another woman is alive and aware, who will write what she sees without being edited by Big Sister.

Lisa Wolf
Via e-mail

Kay S. Hymowitz responds:
Mses. Harrison and Moore give lip service to the idea that “the core of feminism is about choice,” but their ignorance of feminism’s continuing hostility to marriage and motherhood and their own barely hidden disdain for housewives (in “unequal relationships” with the “real culprits”) lead me to believe that they are examples of what Lisa Wolf calls Big Sister, more interested in policing proper beliefs and behavior than in accepting and facilitating individual choice.

Cuba Libre!

To the editor:
Theodore Dalrymple’s “Why Havana Had to Die” [Summer 2002] brought back memories of my childhood in the Havana of the 1950s, when, with my mother’s hand in mine, I would walk the streets he so eloquently describes now in ruins. I came from a solid lower-middle-class family; we were not rich by any means. My father was a photojournalist on the nightlife beat and worked long hours trying to make ends meet. But our family never felt deprived or poor—and never would have left Cuba if not for Fidel Castro.

Life there was good, full of a lively tempo and color I’ve never found again anywhere else. Our city was beautiful and clean; there was always a festival somewhere—from religious processions to the most profane of carnivals. We exiles still mourn our loss, and yet are happy that we were spared the experience of seeing our way of life die slowly around us. Still, nowhere feels like home.

Adrian Villaraos
Via e-mail