Letters to the Editor

Paglia and others sound off on Horowitz; Kant can't cure clinical depression; since when is Yale egalitarian?

By Letters to the Editor
August 27, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)
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My response to Time magazine's slander



(The following is a copy of a letter Camille Paglia sent to the editors of Time magazine.)

That the ever-platitudinous Jack E. White has called David Horowitz a "bigot"
is, of course, stupid and unprofessional but hardly surprising to the weary
Time readers who, like hikers confronted with a bog, must rapidly skirt
White's flatulent prose whenever it appears.


But that Time's editors allowed the sophomoric libel to pass raises questions
about the magazine's process of internal review: Was this simply a
late-summer slip-up (in which case Time will promptly admit it), or is there a
double standard for PC propagandists like White?

I respect the astute and rigorously unsentimental David Horowitz as one of
America's most original and courageous political analysts. He has the true
1960s spirit -- audacious and irreverent, yet passionately engaged and committed
to social change.

Although we are both columnists for Salon, I do not know Horowitz -- aside from
when I was interviewed on his radio show in California eight years ago. But
I regard him as an important contemporary thinker who is determined to
shatter partisan stereotypes and to defy censorship wherever it
occurs -- notably, in this case, in the area of discourse on race, which is
befogged with sanctimony and hypocrisy.


As a scholar who regularly surveys archival material, I think that, a century
from now, cultural historians will find David Horowitz's spiritual and
political odyssey paradigmatic for our time.

-- Camille Paglia

David Horowitz is a bigot, and the worst kind: He tries to defend
his racist attacks by trotting out his "black family."


As a black woman married to a white man, I say: Good luck! If Horowitz
cared what his family thought of his opinions on race, he would
have rethought his column. Horowitz says he earned the right to talk to blacks "honestly" because of the '60s. Personally, I don't care how many marches he went to, how much money he
dropped in a civil rights bucket, how many times he sang "We Shall Overcome"
with guest celebrities; Horowitz is not black, and he has no right
to tell me or any other person of color how to pursue issues pertaining to our communities. I would not dare tell the residents of Love Canal that they had no right or recourse against those
industries they felt had poisoned their communities.

I do not care what Horowitz -- or any other white person outside my husband,
in-laws and friends -- thinks about the African-American reality
in America. Get some character before you accuse White of character


-- Alice Huber


David Horowitz's column is harsh and blunt, but certainly not racist or bigoted.
I know statistics can be found to support whatever position one wants, and I
think Mr. Horowitz and the NAACP did a splendid job ferreting out supporting
data. However, his comments are fairly stated and depict his view of the

I'm not inclined to agree with this column. However, I am horrified by the obviously vicious attack by
Time magazine. It is possible to offer opposing views without using such
inflammatory language. That type of commentary simply fuels the anger and
hatred that all too often typifies racial relations today.


Race is such an easy "card" to play. How difficult is it to claim a person
is espousing racist views if you disagree with him? How can the accused disprove it
when every subsequent comment is merely considered another example of
bigoted thought? Until we can disagree about racial subjects without being
accused of racism, this social wound will continue to fester.

-- Susan Koopmans

What's appalling about Horowitz's whine to Time is the shameless extent
to which he expects to be treated with the interpretive generosity he so
vehemently denies those not of his kith. To say that it is impossible to argue that he is a racist is
for him to assume that his article was anything other than an irresponsible, baiting diatribe. Although I'm sure it's wholly apparent to him that racism doesn't exist, white people have done
all they could in a handful of years to institutionally modify hundreds of
years of oppression.


-- Terry Sawyer

I hope that Salon magazine will support Horowitz in his suit. It is about time someone took a stand
against the accusers who try to blame everything on someone else. If
they will look in the mirror they will see who is responsible for their
problems. If this mad trend of letting the real bigots dominate the press and
court system continues, we are all in real trouble. May God help our children.

-- Gerald Shepardson

Stillwater, Minn.

Everyone's entitled to his own opinion, including Horowitz and White.
Salon is wasting space on Horowitz's justification and rationalization of his
column. Horowitz is a columnist. I thought at some point, a columnist
would develop a thick skin. If Horowitz has a dispute with Time, have him do what everyone else does: Write a letter to the editor. If these two people want to squabble about their own points of view, let them take it to the parking lot and let them duke it out. Leave us out of their bickering.


-- Kris Elwood

Green Bay, Wis.

Plato not Prozac

As a former philosophy major, I
wholeheartedly approve of the application of philosophical self-examination
as a most useful tool in confronting life's disturbing questions. But as a
person diagnosed with atypical bipolar disorder, stronger on the depressive
side, I understand firsthand what poor relief the clarity of metaphysical
thought offers to a brain in the throes of a chemical imbalance.

Marinoff dutifully distinguishes between what might be termed "the
blues" and the existence of a chronic mental/emotional disorder, but the
point should be underscored. The comforts that the Socratic method may
bring to the mind are vastly mitigated when such illumination remains
shrouded in the pall cast by neural dysfunction, and no tool necessary to
the maintenance of equilibrium should be advanced at the expense of another.


-- David Seppa

Neither writer Christina Valhouli nor philosopher-therapist Lou Marinoff
seem to know very much about modern-day psychotherapy. "Plato Not Prozac"
describes a new movement that "uses philosophy instead of Freud as a basis
for therapy." Few psychotherapists today base their practice on Freud or,
as Valhouli suggests, have their clients lay on couches. (For the record,
Freudians and other psychoanalytically oriented psychiatrists are probably
the least likely to embrace Prozac and other psychotropic medications.)

Despite a lot of media attention on therapists zealously ferreting out real
or imagined childhood traumas, for the last 20 years or so mainstream
psychotherapy has increasingly emphasized personal responsibility and coping
with the here-and-now rather than dwelling on the past. Improving critical
thinking skills is a core component of cognitive-behavioral therapy and
other common therapeutic techniques.

Valhouli reports that the "course of treatment for philosophical practice
is usually short, a few sessions or a few months." Guess what? That's also
the case with conventional psychotherapy, unless you have deep pockets. In
the era of managed care, insurers put strong pressure on therapists to wrap
up treatment in six sessions or less. Even in pre-HMO times outpatient
psychotherapy was covered sparingly if at all, so the kind of endless,
ruminating therapy Marinoff complains about has usually been available only
to a privileged few -- the same few who can afford Marinoff's $100-per-session


To be sure, there's no shortage of bad therapists and banal psychobabble in
the mental health field today, and Marinoff's approach sounds interesting,
perhaps even worthwhile for some individuals. But Valhouli and Marinoff do
readers a disservice with their misinformed take on how psychotherapy is
really practiced today.

-- Curt Wohleber

Columbia, Mo.

Notre Dame psychologist George Howard notes, "If
someone is decomposing in front of your eyes, you
really need a skilled clinician, not a
philosopher, to deal with it." By this I suppose
that he means a psychologist or psychiatrist. On
the contrary, though, if the patient is "decomposing," he
needs a priest, undertaker or gravedigger.
Psychologists and psychiatrists can only be
helpful if the patient is decompensating.

-- Rev. Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, M.M., Psy.D.

As a philosophical counselor I would like to dissociate myself from
what is sold by Lou Marinoff as "therapy for the sane" or philosophical
counseling. One of the basic statements of the philosophical practice
movement was, and still is, that philosophical practice and
counseling is not therapy. Philosophers should not play therapist if
they don't have formal training as such -- see the constitutions and codes
of ethics of several philosophical practice organizations.

To be sure, the majority of philosophical counselors also do not stand
behind the attempted legislation of philosophical practice. Marinoff's
is the only one that has as its aim to limit professional philosophical dialogue as
counseling to those professionals approved by them.
It would be highly regrettable and moreover plainly wrong, if the
majority of philosophical counselors and practitioners would be
associated in the mind of the public with the Marinoff "therapy" and

-- Shlomit Schuster

Love those chips!


Liz Krieger needs counseling for her addictive behavior, not anti-Olestra
legislation. Contrary to her assumption, I believe most people can keep
themselves from eating entire bags of Doritos, especially when to do so
risks serious illness. Krieger's problem is along the lines of an
alcoholic who can't resist having a drink too many rather than that of an
insufficiently protected consumer. Get the woman some help,
and let the rest of us who can control our eating choose what we want to
put into our bodies.

-- Christine Hoff

Extracurricular class


While many students, particularly the "haves," may have
been blissfully unaware of the class differences during the school year,
not all of us enjoyed this luxury. After all, our work-study jobs took
up many of the free hours during which we might otherwise have been volunteering,
playing intramural sports or hanging out with friends. When it came
time to apply for the best summer jobs and internships, even the ones
that actually paid money (the nonpaying ones were out of the question),
we did not have the same impressive range of extracurricular activities
as our wealthier peers. Without such summer experience, we also found
the best post-college jobs out of reach (and this was during the
recession). Our books were used or borrowed, our clothes shabbier, our
dorms barer, and many of us had to move to less safe quarters off-campus
because living on-campus cost more. We stayed at school while our friends
traveled during spring break and at Thanksgiving, and we never ate out.
And we worried about returning to Yale each fall if the financial aid
office did not come through.

While the vast majority of wealthier students did not make an issue of
the differences in our backgrounds, their mere assumptions and
expectations proved constant reminders of the class divide at Yale. I
wouldn't change my Yale experience or my choice to attend, but I was
never under any illusions about class being absent as a factor in my
life there.

-- Charlotte Brooks

I am a recent Columbia graduate living in Forest Hills, Queens, with
my equally middle-class boyfriend. We're thrilled someone bothered to express how difficult the
post-graduation transition is when you're bombarded with the obvious
class distinctions.

Having gone to college in New York, it's even worse.
After four years of living in the academic enclave of Morningside Heights
(straddling Harlem and the Upper West Side), now those of us who can't
afford (or have too much middle-class guilt) to pay $1,800 for a closet in
Manhattan have moved to the outer boroughs, where we make our own
way in spacious, untrendy and unvisited neighborhoods.

It's hard not to feel cheated when we're surrounded with 22- and
23-year-old alumni pals who live in West Village/Tribeca/Chelsea one-bedrooms
that Daddy subsidizes. We have acquaintances whose work
pay is merely an allowance, since there's no rent (and obviously no loans)
to take care of. Then we remember how great undergraduate school was, how blessed we are, and
how $85,000 for a couple under 25 is pretty impressive outside of New York. In
the end, your real friends don't care how much your parents make or what you file
on your income-tax return -- or whether you belong to the Yale Club.

-- Sandra Angulo

Feingold's new gimmick


Why does Tapper adopt a smarmy tone in this article? Why is it a
"gimmick" to discuss the influence of soft money on legislation? Why
does Tapper call Feingold "naive" even though he has been a senator for
more than six years?

-- Ian Golder

Berkeley, Calif.

If we want Congress to be less beholden to corporate interests, lawmakers
are the ones who have to kick the habit. It's like the drug war: The lobbyists are
just selling it because we're buying it.

-- Tse-Sung Wu

San Francisco

"Head On"


I found it odd that Daniel Mangin refers to Australian characters not of Greek
descent as being "white" -- the implication being that Australians
of Greek heritage are something other than "white."

Hey, in a perfect world, none of that would matter. But let's at least
get our definitions right. Greeks are just as Indo-European as any
Aussie, Brit or German. If Mangin doesn't think Greeks are white, what
racial category would he place them in? Ironically, Mangin seems to share the attitude of the "white"
Australians in the movie who refer to Greek-Australians as "wogs."

-- Jim Morekis

Savannah, Ga.

Basketball diary



Robert Wilonsky's dismissal of "Oz" as a "homosexual rape show for
curious straight men" reads as if he saw 10 minutes of the show once,
two years ago. "Oz" is about power and how it is wielded in a closed
environment. This theme is explored through the lives of dozens of
characters, men and women, straight and gay, all ages, all
nationalities. It is a fascinating, compelling drama, by far the best
on TV.

-- Cathy Atkins

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