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Letters, Aug. 28, 1995

8 minute read
TIME

THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE

“Killing cultural funding will leave future generations with an educational, aesthetic and spiritual deficit far greater than the financial one we currently face.” LYDIA S. CLARY Bethesda, Maryland THANK GOD FOR ROBERT HUGHES. I have been waiting for an eternity for someone to blow out of the water the crackpot contradictions of Republican anticulturalists [COVER STORY, Aug. 7]. I wish more of us could slam with such verity and elegance. SYDNEY BARTON Chicago

ROBERT HUGHES’ ATTACK ON CRITICS OF the NEA and NEH has an all too familiar ring. In its partisanship and preference for diatribe over argument, it resembles much of what today passes for scholarship and sometimes art. While a case can be made for preserving the endowments, Hughes’ shallow, sneering polemic does it little justice. Indeed, the persistently ad hominem character of his essay only fortifies the impression of an intellectual culture too coarsened to be much worth supporting. Much more than the future of two federal agencies is at stake. STEPHEN H. BALCH, President National Association of Scholars Princeton, New Jersey

ROBERT HUGHES’ COVER STORY WAS JUST what we all needed to hear. Hughes is one of our most gifted polemicists. This is the kind of message the NEA, in its attempts to point up the “usefulness” of art, has so miserably failed to get across to the American public. I think most of us who work in the arts feel the ground slipping from under our feet day in and day out. As I write this, I’m looking across the street at the Metropolitan Opera House. Is it really too much of a stretch to imagine it 20 years from now being rented out for fancy dog shows and cattle auctions? BRIAN KELLOW, Managing Editor Opera News New York City

GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF THE ARTS breeds amateurism and fakery. It gives center stage to those whose only real talent is for moving in cliques and knowing how to get government grants. EDWARD STONE Brookline, Massachusetts

SUPPORT FOR OUR CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS is an investment in our communities. Eliminating those organizations will deny millions of Americans access to the finest that art and the humanities have to offer. This is ultimately a debate about the ability of Americans to have access to their culture. Your cover story reinforces the belief held by millions of Americans that as a nation we must make the investment to bring the best art to the greatest number of people. ROCHE SCHULFER, Chair American Arts Alliance Washington

THANK YOU FOR YOUR COVER STORY BY Robert Hughes. Nothing more clearly illustrates the incestuous relationship between the self-styled cultural elite and their claque in the popular press or better epitomizes how out of touch with normal Americans you people are. “What would Tocqueville have thought of today’s assaults on the fabric of America’s public culture?” you ask. Well, he would first have spent no little time scratching his head over the “culture” so described, and then he would probably agree that if this is “culture,” then America is better off without it. TIOMOID M. OF ANGLE Richardson, Texas

“PULLING THE FUSE ON CULTURE” IS A brilliant case for continued funding of the arts agencies-and more funding, not less. It passionately spells out the incredible shortsightedness and downright stupidity of those who oppose them. JONATHAN BOLT New York City

WHEN YOU KILL THE ARTS, YOU KILL THE soul of the nation. LETICIA SAINT-GERMAIN Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

ONCE AGAIN TIME HAS FAILED TO PRESENT anything approaching an objective view of the proceedings in our nation’s capital. Robert Hughes’ rantings about the Republican assault on the “arts” is more liberal drivel. To equate the pseudo art funded by the National Endowment for the Arts with Thomas Jefferson’s library or the Lincoln Memorial shows clearly the inability of the left to discriminate between junk and true greatness. DOUG KLASSEN Tempe, Arizona AOL: Ferd94

I RECOMMEND THAT THE CAPITOL AND all congressional offices be stripped of every piece of art and all members of Congress be prohibited from attending events at the Kennedy Center, National Theater and Ford’s Theater. J. FRANK SHROYER Fort Worth, Texas

I FIND THE ARTICLE BY HUGHES SELF-serving and self-aggrandizing. America is filled with special interests, including my own. When laws are enacted by the majority, should the minority whine? While I do not feel strongly about ending funding for the arts, I violently oppose spending dollars on cultural programs that are controversial. What is art to some is pure trash to others. If I am compelled to contribute, it will not be at the expense of my value system. SCOTT PETERSEN Olathe, Kansas

TO PRISON FOR A LIFETIME

ATROCITIES WILL BE SELF-PERPETUATING unless someone breaks the cycle. To execute Susan Smith [CRIME, Aug. 7], considering her age and her family background, would have perpetuated the crime she committed. The jury chose a path that offers hope for a break in the abuse-and-atrocity cycle. In years to come, Smith’s sharing of the distorted emotions that caused her to commit such an atrocity may prevent another from occurring. That is Smith’s destiny, that is her challenge, and that is her salvation. MARTIN KOPACZ Houston

WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING THE DEATH penalty if it is never used in brutal cases like Smith’s? Her two defenseless, innocent, loving children died at the hand of their manipulative mother. Not only did Smith lie to Union, South Carolina, the black community and the world, but she is also alive. If all those who suffered sexual molestation reacted the way Smith did, we would have an epidemic of infant murders on our hands ANDRE DUGUAY Raleigh, North Carolina

NOW THAT THE SMITH TRIAL IS OVER, I can’t help wondering what the sentence would have been if Smith’s original accusations had been true and a black man had been caught, tried and convicted of the crime. MARJORIE CLAUSEN Santa Barbara, California

OF MICE AND FAT

IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF THE PUBLICITY surrounding the so-called fat substance [SCIENCE, Aug. 7], an obesity-reducing hormone, fooled your readers into abandoning a prudent diet. Obesity is a life-threatening condition that has become prevalent in our country. Recently the National Center for Health Statistics reported that 34% of Americans exceed their ideal body weight by more than 20%. A quick-fix cure for obesity is a nice thought, but prevention of this problem is much wiser. ALEX HERSHAFT Bethesda, Maryland

SOMEONE IS GOING TO HAVE TO DO A better job than TIME did of explaining how this “fat-mice substance” is “weight-loss Nirvana.” As I understand it, after being given this new wonder drug, the mice ate less, exercised more and lost weight. This is not Nirvana. Had the mice eaten more, exercised less and lost weight, then we would have a reason to get off the couch and cheer. H. MITCHELL SCHUMAN New York City

WAR OF THE WORLDS

THE BOMBINGS WERE NOT JUST THE END of a merciless clash of cultures [V-J Day, Aug., 7]. They were also the beginning of a human crisis called the nuclear age, beyond the differences in cultures and nationalities. HISASHI YUKIMOTO Yokosuka, Japan

IF THE A-BOMB HAD NOT BEEN DROPPED, it is quite possible many of the people crying out against it would never have been born. The invasion of Japan would have cost an untold number of lives on both sides. Many of those who died could have been the parents of those now asking that the U.S. apologize for dropping the A-bomb. EDGAR S. SPIZEL La Jolla, California

ON SEPT. 27, 1945, AS AN 18-YEAR-OLD member of the 98th Division, I was among many who made a beach landing close to the city of Wakayama, Japan. From there we were transported by rail to Osaka, where I began a year of Occupation duty. The propriety of the use of the atom bomb to bring about the surrender of the Japanese will be debated endlessly. But one thing is clear: we encountered no resistance as occupiers because the Japanese, a people of great discipline and national pride, responded to the dictates of their Emperor. Had the Emperor asked the Japanese people to resist to the death the invasion of their homeland, they would have done so. And countless numbers on both sides would have died. Perhaps I am alive today because the use of the atom bomb brought the war to a speedy conclusion. CONRAD G. FOLLANSBEE JR. Wayne, Pennsylvania

THE ARGUMENT OVER WHETHER USE OF the atom bombs, as opposed to a full-scale invasion of Japan, actually saved Japanese lives is completely irrelevant. After 3-1/2 years of war, President Truman’s duty as Commander in Chief was very clear: to end the war quickly and save as many lives as possible . THOMAS E. TELL JR. Somerville, New Jersey Via America Online

IN THE MIDST OF MEDIA OVERKILL ON the Bomb, your articles stand out as models of evenhandedness. Congratulations on covering both sides of an awful event. JOHN SAFRANSKI Livonia, Michigan AOL: JohnS50718

WHILE THE INNOCENT PEOPLE WHO PERISHED in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have my heartfelt sympathy, I cannot help wondering how different history would be if President Truman had decided not to drop the Bomb. The hundreds of thousands who would then have died could have been Indonesians, Koreans or other Asians killed in a Japanese invasion. Hiroshima and Nagasaki remind us how innocent people become casualties of war-a war they may not want to support. At least the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped prevent what could have been the obliteration of humans on an even larger scale. CHANDRA DEWI KUMIA Jakarta, Indonesia

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