• U.S.

Letters, Mar. 4, 1996

8 minute read
TIME

LIVING WITH THE AIDS VIRUS

“HIV-positive or not, Magic Johnson is a great role model. There is a lot that we can learn from his life.” ERIC TCHEPANNOU Darmstadt, Germany

I COULD ALMOST HEAR THE ROAR OF THE crowd as I read your cover stories on Magic Johnson’s triumphant return to pro basketball and the new drugs for treating HIV [HEALTH, Feb. 12]. I also heard a cruel cry of denial: Magic can play; new drugs are here; not everybody gets sick. But AIDS is not over. The losses aren’t decreasing. Although I find inspiration in new pharmacological wonders and Johnson’s ability to use his talent fully, I can’t look at the good fortune of a few and forget the suffering of far too many. DAVID RAMBO Los Angeles

THANKS FOR THE WONDERFUL PORTRAIT of Johnson and his smile on your cover. His grin lights up a room, and his story lights up the heart! The virus he has seems not to have altered his physical health or his attitude toward life–so different from some of your recent cover subjects, the arrogant, the greedy, the obsessed and the corrupt, who are suffering from “viruses” of mind and soul. I decry the appalling and widespread ignorance about AIDS that kept Magic too long from the things he does best: playing great basketball and making folks smile! Give us more real heroes! ANN B. CHAPMAN Savannah, Georgia

AS A GREAT LOVER OF BASKETBALL, I ENJOY watching a legend play. Although Johnson is respected by many and retains much of the skill he once had, the facts are still there. He’s infected with one of the worst viruses known to the human race. All it would take is a bloody nose or a small cut and someone else might wind up paying for Johnson’s mistakes. To those who point out we deal with this type of thing every day, I agree. However, there is a great difference between the casual contacts of normal life and high-impact sports. BRIAN PUSKAS Kearny, New Jersey Via E-mail

MAGIC JOHNSON’S SMILE IS MORE THAN warming. It tells me that there is a ray of hope that we are intelligent people after all. Welcome back! PETER FRANKLIN Sudbury, Massachusetts Via E-mail

AT FIRST, READING ABOUT JOHNSON’S return to basketball, I was terribly concerned. Then I realized that he possesses the courage and fidelity we need to conquer the prejudice and pain that HIV inflicts upon us. I certainly admire Johnson and hope we can all learn from his commitment to living a normal life. KIMBERLY-ANNE BERNHARDT, age 17 Geneva

ARE WE SUPPOSED TO FORGET HOW Johnson contracted the virus just because he has a bright smile and is not gracefully retiring from basketball? He brought this affliction on himself by having unprotected sexual intercourse with countless women. Not everyone reveres a person simply because he can dribble a basketball. How about giving us more thoughtful examples of real role models who have contracted AIDS through no fault of their own but are coping with this devastating scourge? DAN MEHDI San Diego

SEVEN YEARS AGO, WHEN I WAS 16 AND suffered with leukemia, I had a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I chose to visit my favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and meet my hero, Earvin (“Magic”) Johnson. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me and my recovery to meet him. He spoke with me in the locker room, and I had my picture taken with him. Beforehand, I was nervous, but he took control of the situation and made it comfortable. Afterward, I felt as if we were friends, that I could just call him up and chat. His charitable contributions to the world make him much more than a great ballplayer; he is also a great human being. His desire to show himself and others that he can compete on the highest level is truly inspirational. DAVID ROSNER North Bellmore, New York Via E-mail

CHEMICAL TIME BOMBS

MISSING FROM YOUR ARTICLE ON PLANS to destroy the U.S.’s decaying stockpiles of chemical weapons [NATION, Feb. 12] was coverage of the concerned citizens in affected communities who have been active on this issue for 12 years. The Chemical Weapons Working Group is an international coalition of citizens’ groups in the U.S., the Pacific area and Russia that are working together to advocate safe disposal of these hideous weapons. The Army has the capability today to eliminate the risk of continued storage of its aging, leaky M-55 rockets by draining the nerve agent from them and storing it in safe, airtight bulk containers. Unfortunately, the Army has been more interested in pushing forward its incineration program than in protecting the safety of our communities. I live near Richmond, Kentucky, the site of one of the Army’s nine chemical-weapons stockpiles, and am therefore very concerned about their safe, prompt disposal. MELISSA TUCKEY Berea, Kentucky

REUNIFICATION OF CHINA

YOUR STORY “TODAY HONG KONG, Tomorrow Taiwan” [WORLD, Feb. 12] should have been titled “Taiwan–the Goose with the Golden Egg.” Taiwan invested heavily in China and contributed greatly to its industrial modernization. If China attacked Taiwan, a war would break out. China might not win in a crunch, and the free world might side with Taiwan to condemn China’s aggression and brutality. The outcome of such an engagement would by no means be predictable, but the economy of both sides would certainly suffer. For mainland China, it would be like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. CHI-MING LIANG Bethesda, Maryland

TAIWAN’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN March will be the first time in Chinese history that a leader will be elected directly by the people. This will bring an end to an era of dictatorship. Taipei officially agrees that Taiwanese and Chinese have shared a common heritage for the past 5,000 years. However, this does not mean that Taiwan wants to be part of the communist regime that currently rules the People’s Republic of China. The world will watch closely as tension along the Taiwan Strait continues to build. JUNG T. TSAI Elizabeth, New Jersey

THE TAIWANESE DESERVE A RIGHT TO decide their own destiny, free from threats. If the majority wants to unite with mainland China in the future, this should be done in a peaceful way, not brought about by missiles. Hong Kong will be gone in 1997, and Macau in 1999. Where is justice if Taiwan goes too? RENG R. LIN Manlius, New York

CHINA’S THREATS JUST SHOW ITS INSECUrity and selfishness. The Chinese are foolish to believe Taiwan could never rise above the shadow cast by mainland China. The Taiwanese are doing better than China ever thought they would. EMILY CHEN Rancho Palos Verdes, California

HANOVER PARK RESPONDS

YOUR REPORT ON A TRIPLE MURDER IN Addison, Illinois, referred to Hanover Park as “a drug-infested Chicago suburb” [CRIME, Dec. 4]. Our village has a level of crime below that of many neighboring Chicago suburbs, and the number of arrests for drug offenses does not support the statement that this is a “drug-infested community.” All municipalities wrestle with crime, and Hanover Park is not dissimilar to other places in having isolated problem areas within the larger community. You should not have published such a broad, disparaging characterization of this village. SONYA A. CRAWSHAW Village President Hanover Park, Illinois

KEEP ON TRUCKIN’

YOUR ARTICLE ON THE GROWING POPUlarity of sports-utility vehicles [BUSINESS, Feb. 5] should have noted that the British-built Range Rover was the first of this breed and, since its 1987 introduction in the U.S., has been the gold standard in the field. We therefore are one foreign manufacturer that set the pace. We are not among the foreign firms that were caught off guard and are trying hard to “catch up” to U.S. companies. WILLIAM E. BAKER, Vice President Land Rover North America Lanham, Maryland

YOU SAID THAT CARS HAVE GROWN INDIStinguishable from one another and that consumers buy a luxury car in order to say, “I’ve got mine, and I’m rich.” Then you noted, “A Volkswagen Golf or Ford Escort said nothing whatsoever” about its owner. I couldn’t disagree more. These vehicles say loud and clear that their owners aren’t foolish or shallow enough to waste $30,000 to $50,000 on a facade vehicle and that their drivers absolutely do not have a $100 silver garden trowel waiting for them at home. DOUG ELLIS San Diego Via E-mail

ELVIS TURNING OVER IN HIS GRAVE?

I WAS ASTOUNDED TO READ THAT ELVIS Presley is in “permanent residence” at Forest Hill Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee [NOTEBOOK, Feb. 12], in your item, “Pardon My Dust,” about the final resting place of famous rock musicians. The bodies of Elvis and his mother Gladys were moved from Forest Hill Cemetery to Meditation Garden on the grounds of Graceland Mansion on Oct. 2, 1977, where they remain to this day. Thousands of visitors file past the graves every year, as they tour the home of “the King” of rock ‘n’ roll. RUTH SHALLER New Smyrna Beach, Florida

WAITING FOR GODOT

THE FLAT TAX, THE ROUND TAX, THE pointed tax; it’s all the same to me [NATION, Feb. 12]. The American public again awaits its Godot. We had our Ross Perot, and now Steve Forbes. Who will be the next flavor of the month? RICHARD J. BLACK Long Beach, California

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