Letters to the editor

Readers welcome Stanley Crouch. Plus: White guilt doesn't help; will the Internet make you lonely?

Topics: Canada, Republican Party, Joan Walsh

Can the GOP change its colors?
BY STANLEY CROUCH
(02/18/00)

Stanley Crouch does anything but. The man is stand-up. I bought “The All-American Skin Game” after reading about it in Salon, and the man makes so much sense that you wonder how he’s lasted this long. He calls for bravery, and we haven’t had many brave politicians in a long time. Kudos.

– Fred Houts

Thank you Salon.com for inviting this articulate and thoughtful man to participate. His article on the future fate of the Republican Party is the type of fair and balanced view that many of us, disgusted with the political process, have been praying for.

– Kymberlyn Toliver-Reed

Stanley Crouch, like David Horowitz, asks us to look not to what the GOP is but what it could be. I personally would love to support a GOP that stands for less government. However, one votes not for what a party might be, but for what a party is right now, and the fact of the matter is that the GOP behaves in Washington not as the party of rational economics, but as the party of corporate welfare, religious intolerance and gay-bashing.

People like myself are not going to support the GOP in the near future on the mere hope that this will change.

– Maynard Handley

Cupertino, Calif.

South Carolina poll scandal
BY JAKE TAPPER
(02/19/00)

South Carolina is apparently the banana republic the Confederate states each would have become had they won the Civil War. The elections aren’t run by the state, but by the political parties? Who can apparently rig them any way they want to, by not opening polls? Shouldn’t someone go to jail for this? “We just couldn’t get volunteers” doesn’t seem like a very good excuse for violating people’s voting rights.

If South Carolina wants people to believe in the New South — and if the GOP ever wants people to believe it’s not just out for the rich and the white, offering whatever religious extremism it needs to buy itself some oomph at the polls — then this kind of thing will have to end. It doesn’t surprise me that an empty suit like Bush had to resort to this to win this primary.

– Daniel Berger

Confessions of a former self-hating white person
BY JOAN WALSH
(02/17/00)

Joan Walsh writes : ” … school integration, affirmative action and other civil rights measures were implemented — mostly at the expense of poor and working-class whites.” 0ne of many studies that Walsh might read is published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which concludes, “Contrary to the stereotype, whites use government programs more than blacks or Hispanics, and are twice as likely as minorities to be lifted out of poverty by the taxpayer money they get.”

Moreover, since most of those who have benefited from affirmative action are white women, thousands of white women have been lifted from the working class into the middle class by a program which, as a result of media propaganda, is perceived as a black program.

– Ishmael Reed

White liberals have created a space for themselves to act in order to alleviate themselves of guilt. They join the Peace Corps, they donate to charities, they volunteer at soup kitchens. But they have a serious unwillingness to give up the white privilege cards they have been dealt.

People of color need a place to discuss the issue of race without the fear of backlash from the white community. The reaction of “now they know what it feels like” doesn’t stem from revenge, but the fact that white people simply don’t understand what it means to grow up colored in this country.

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I do agree that infighting has seriously degraded the elimination of racial injustice in our system. I do not agree with white people assuming colored racial identities. Colored identity was fought for through hard work and bloodshed. It gave people of color a voice in our political system. It’s not right for white Americans (whatever their racial background) to assume colored identities because it makes them feel included in the suffering of colored people. They can stop being colored whenever they want.

– Antony Chang

Having grown up on Chicago’s South Side as a white kid in an all-black neighborhood, the first thing I learned from the boys on my block was respect for who you were. At no point did I ever let a slight about white people go unchallenged. “White people couldn’t dance.” I could. “White folks couldn’t play ball.” I did. “White folks were afraid to come into the neighborhood.” I wasn’t. I lived and fought there. And I learned at a very young age that by defending my “race” I gained respect. Nothing irritated my friends and me more then seeing some pinheaded University of Chicago do-gooder walk into our crumbling classroom and talk about “understanding” the plight of black people” with voices that dripped with fear and condescension. If these people were guilty, we hadn’t a clue what they were being charged with. And to be blunt, we didn’t care.

The people in my neighborhood were poor but proud. So was I. And for this, I was invited into homes and introduced to parents, invited to dances, encouraged to scour the neighborhoods of that mystical place. For you see, what we all realized early on was that it wasn’t skin color, it was class.

– Courtney Wayshak

“Good Friday is dead”
BY MARGARET SPILLANE AND BRUCE SHAPIRO
(02/18/00)

As a compromise-minded Unionist I found it disappointing to read Bruce Shapiro and Margaret Spillane lay the blame for the IRA’s latest bout of petulance on David Trimble’s intransigence. Most moderates here recognize that Trimble has already displayed courage and skill in persuading the conservative element of his party to enter into government with Sinn Fein. If Sinn Fein was in fact committed to the democratic process, it could easily have helped Trimble move forward by offering some conciliatory gesture on the arms issue. Tragically, all we got was some last-minute semantic doublespeak, followed by the inevitable blame-the-Brits invective.
Gerry Adams has since struck a more measured tone, acknowledging his own party’s role in the breakdown of the process, but he can and must bring a more tangible offering. The Ulster Unionists feel they have made a leap of faith in advancing to their present position, and expect a similar movement from the IRA. If that need isn’t recognized and attended to by Sinn Fein, then the political leadership of Unionism will revert to the Democratic Unionist Party, which was, of course, opposed to the Good Friday accord from the outset.

– Tom Parr

Lonesome Internet blues, take 2
BY SCOTT ROSENBERG
(02/18/00)

Scott Rosenberg tries to discredit the Stanford study on the Internet and loneliness, but the study makes some very good points. Yes, they privilege other forms of human contact over e-mail, but perhaps with good reason. A quarter of the e-mail I receive is spam, another quarter of it is random forwards and of the remaining 50 percent — e-mail from family and friends — the vast majority are 100 words or fewer and contain mostly minor details or plans to make plans. Rare is the e-mail that approximates the pleasure and depth of a letter, meeting for a drink or even a 15-minute telephone conversation. E-mail is human contact, but all too often it’s the most cursory and sloppy form there is.

While online merchants are possibly lifesavers for people who live in remote rural areas with no other decent source for books or records, it’s a shame that so many people in urban areas, where we’re isolated from our next-door neighbors and afraid of people who smile at us on the street, let dot-com megastore shopping replace a trip to the community bookstore. Real contact with people we encounter by chance, not just by choice — the grocer, the bookstore clerk, the record store guy, the woman behind the deli counter, the person across the hall — is vital to our understanding of the places we live and the people we are.

– Chelsey Johnson

Thanks for the revealing analysis of Norman Nie’s latest research. He has benefited from outrageously uncritical publicity via public radio and it’s time somebody put his work under serious scrutiny.

If anecdotal evidence means anything, my personal experience contradicts Nie’s conclusions. Yes, I spend a lot more time on the Internet than I used to, but no, I don’t spend less time interacting with real human beings because of it.

Since Nie refers to the value of “community participation” in his study, he should realize that the Internet enables more of this than any other medium. I spend more time sending e-mail to public officials, news organizations and civic-minded membership groups than I ever did before I went online. The only activity that takes more of my Internet time than sending e-mail is reading incoming newsletters and publications (like Salon) so I stay abreast of community issues and news.

I wonder why Norman Nie didn’t consider this kind of citizenship participation in his study? Does he have an axe to grind, as the article suggests?

– Jon Koppenhoefer

I wonder if they have managed to separate the issue of workaholics from the issue of Internet users. There have always been workaholics, even before the Internet, just like books and libraries have had bomb-making info long before there was an Internet. Why is it that the world seems to have forgotten how screwy people were before the Internet made it easier to see how screwy we all are?

– Barry McKinnon

The Whole Nine Yards
BY ANDREW O’HEHIR
(02/18/00)

So Andrew O’Hehir finds it frightening that this movie would have been funnier were it more Canadian … that’s funny. A lot of the really good comedy in the United States is starring, produced or written by Canadians. Who else knows how to poke fun at Americans in a way that Americans understand?

– Savana Burke

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
BY WHITMAN MCGOWAN
(02/18/00)

Sometime in 1968, I heard Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on the car radio in rural Maine at midnight doing “I put a spell on you.” I shivered for 30 minutes. I thought “Who is this guy?” Later, I went to a record store in Providence, R.I., and asked for anything by him. The hippie help sneered that they wouldn’t have anything by a guy with a name like that! So much for the sensibility of H.P. Lovecraft’s hometown, I thought. Now, after his death, the appreciations for Screamin’ Jay include the names of some of his albums. I will check them out on the World Wide Web.

– Richard R. Fay

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