Letters to the Editor

Jerry Brown swaps race politics for results; is it time to outgrow George Carlin?

Letters to the Editor
June 30, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Jerry Brown shakes up Oakland's black political establishment



Thank you for the honest article about Jerry Brown. Finally, someone
is not afraid to tell the truth -- that better life does not come from playing
racial identity politics but from actually doing something to create it.


I did not expect Salon to do a sympathetic profile of a mayor who goes
against the education establishment, especially one that is run by
African-Americans. If it was a Republican mayor doing the exact
same thing, Salon would've cast him as an unrepentant racist.

-- Mike Livshutz

The recent article on Oakland and the black political
machine was one of the most honest and refreshing articles on the
subject that I have read. I was becoming very concerned that even making
"observations" about black leadership, based on quantifiable data, was
just too painful for the African-American community to face. The reality is
that the African-American community is in denial about a general dysfunction that overtakes human beings when they come into power unchallenged. It can happen to any group. It is not just a
black phenomenon.


East Palo Alto, Calif., is a microcosm of Oakland. Blacks only need apply to
any position open in the city. Although the community is now about 53-percent
Latino, there are no Latinos on the city council, although there have been
two opportunities for the council to appoint qualified Latinos --
in 1993 and in 1999. There are no Latinos on any boards or
commissions. The city is totally broke. The redevelopment agency has
mismanaged the new shopping center project. The police department is a
joke, by far the worst in the Bay Area and the lowest paid. Poor judgment plagues this community.

Instead of the leadership reaching out to the Latino community, it
ignores them. Instead of mentoring the Latino community so that the
city will have leadership to draw from in the future, they are thinking
only of how much power they can control. It's typical job-program cronyism.
None of this serves the African-American community very well.

I believe that what Jerry Brown and others like him are saying is
that competency and character matter. Just being black
isn't good enough anymore; let's get results-oriented and stop hiding
behind the always angry, always in-your-face politics. Civility has to be
the cornerstone of a new cooperative political agenda.


-- Nelson Santiago

Why Tiger's dad can't be (or must be) a racist

According to letter writer Eric Oines, "racism is most commonly
defined by folks who work in the movement to fight racism as race
prejudice combined with the application of power. By that definition, no
black person ... can be a racist." This belief shows how much "1984" is
with us.


Ideologues have always attempted to redefine words in order to alter
our beliefs and perceptions, but this politically correct definition of
racism is offensively dim and, in fact, racist. Its promulgators want us
to believe, at bottom, that only white people can be racist. The
definition suggests that one can be racist in one geographic location
(where one can apply power), but not in another (where one is in the
minority and therefore powerless) with the exact same set of beliefs.

The original, commonly understood definition of racism (why should
we surrender the meaning of the word to those in a movement?) has
nothing to do with power. David Duke is a racist whether he is in
Louisiana or transplanted to Zimbabwe. Racism only requires power to
those who seek to aggrandize their own.

-- Michael Derman

Lewisburg, Pa.


Stand-up for your blights


There's not a public figure from any walk of life that does more to educate the country about hypocrisy, in all its varied forms. Carlin's message requires audiences to move
beyond the veneer of their own biases; if they do, they
appreciate the man's robust insight into the human condition in these
(or any other) times. While his celebrity may have already peaked,
Carlin's message is as piercing as ever. And, in these days of hyped-up
moral indignation he's a refreshing, powerful and necessary contrast.
He'd reject the label but I think he's been our best and healthiest moralist.

-- Tom DeLuca


As an old Carlin fan, I have to say that these days I am just that -- an old Carlin fan. I used to love his perspective, his presentation -- his humor was witty,
clever and, of course, very funny.

Not anymore. I have seen parts of the last few HBO specials he has done and have turned
the channel both times after about five minutes. Not only can I not watch
him with my kids, but I can't stand the tone he has taken with what I feel
are sacrosanct subjects -- Catholicism especially, but others, like the school shootings, in general.

I guess, for lack of a better definition, I have just outgrown him. I don't
know whether to be happy or sad about that.

-- Jon E. Dougherty

Jefferson City, Mo.


I found George Carlin's answer to the question, "You call this album 'You Are
All Diseased.' Who are you talking about?" particularly hypocritical.
When he became a corporate whore for the 10-10-220 phone company, he lost all
credibility he had as a cultural critic.

-- Jay Cagle

Raleigh, N.C.

David Berkowitz kvetches about Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam"

David Berkowitz is upset that people are being reminded about his past
atrocities? Too bad. People should never forget, and David Berkowitz should
never be allowed to leave his past behind him. I hope he is reminded daily
for the rest of his life about the pain and suffering he has caused so many


-- Ron Bray

Broken Arrow, Okla.

More best books of the century


I'm horrified that you included the recommendation of "Danziger's
Travels." Nick Danziger took favors from the Chinese in
exchange for supporting their brutal takeover of Tibet. His book has
only positive things to say about the Chinese presence in Tibet and is
scathing about that country's religion and culture. You might have at
least made mention of this section of his book, which otherwise is very

-- Kate Coe


It's about spirituality, not sports



Richard Rodriguez obviously hasn't watched the X Games. If he had viewed
even a few minutes he'd realize that the events in the X Games are sports
just as much as tennis, cycling, gymnastics or ice skating. It was nice of him to throw a romantic spin on the X Games, saying that "risking death" is what makes us feel alive. But please: These games
aren't life-threatening, they're just underappreciated and, for the most
part, unknown. ESPN is barely smart enough to know that while kids enjoy
watching ball sports, they also like seeing people who skateboard really well, or wakeboard, or ride their BMX bikes like no one else.

Don't buy the hype. The X Games aren't about adrenaline. They are about
excellence in sports that have gone unnoticed, or misunderstood.

-- Edison Carter

Sand Point, Idaho

Letters to the Editor

MORE FROM Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Joan Walsh Paul Shirley

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •