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Letters: Nov. 4, 1996

12 minute read
TIME

THE MOST WANTED WOMAN IN AMERICA

“Despite what your data suggest, I pray that twice-divorced, unwed mothers like Lori Lucas are not in control of this election.” JOHN RYAN Long Grove, Illinois

I read with interest your cover story on Lori Lucas, who represents the critical vote for both Bob Dole and Bill Clinton in the upcoming presidential election [NATION, Oct. 14]. I would say to the Lori Lucases of America that the pursuit of happiness, peace of mind, life’s many (though sometimes hidden) blessings and the gift of love are all acquired or enjoyed without the help of the U.S. President. Democratically elected governments all over the world are incapable of providing these things. SAMANTHA VAN DALEN Port of Spain, Trinidad

You insulted the “typical” working woman of America by lumping her in a category with Lori. I’m not a sociologist, but I do not think the average working woman has an illegitimate child, has been divorced twice, cohabits with a man outside marriage, has $14,000 in credit-card debt and does not believe in God. Are both political parties really seeking Lori? Does Lori exhibit the family values that both parties preach? My wife is a Catholic, Midwestern working woman who has never been divorced, owes little on credit cards, has two legitimate children and earns less money than Lori but lives much better. Which party is desperately seeking her? I think you picked the wrong cover girl. MARTIN J. CONRY Amherst, Ohio

Finally, a true American hero on your cover–a working mother who gets up when she’d rather sleep, goes to work when she’d rather be with her son and makes ends meet somehow, someway. And she does it with little complaining, keeping her wits about her so she can make it through one more day. RHONDA BRITTEN Encino, California

If Lori would ask her boss for a raise, her common-law husband for more domestic participation and her father for more assistance in child care, she could eliminate some of the stress and chaos that plague her life. Lori’s story is predicated on notions of feminine servitude and amounts to self-inflicted bondage. It is doubtful that politicians can solve her dilemma. MARSHA I. FEIGIN New York City

Bob Dole, I am your worst nightmare. I am a single working mother with a voter-registration card. LINDA ANDERSON Mill Valley, California

You truly captured the spirit of the overstressed, overburdened, yet somehow still optimistic American working mother. By inserting the quotes from the various campaign pollsters and personnel, which contrast sharply with Lori’s life and problems, you pointed up the fallacy of political speeches and articles. All that matters is what politicians do. NORMA M. WASSERMAN New Rochelle, New York

Who better to select our national leaders than hardworking women who, like the candidates’ mothers, are willing to sacrifice and carry hope for those who will heed them, respect them and never forget them? CRAIG RADDEN HENDERSON Casper, Wyoming

“Desperately Seeking Lori” is one of the best journalistic pieces concerning the state of the family today. Clinton and Dole would do well to learn from it. JENI BOWEN Summerland Key, Florida

Lori’s story hit so close to home, it hurt. As a single working mother, I find that the daily stresses are compounded by being the sole provider and caretaker. And then there is the job insecurity, so prevalent in America today. You know your check-to-check living renders you only a few steps away from homelessness. I love my son with a fierce passion and only hope that the presidential candidates pay special attention to the needs and issues that really matter in the homes across America. ANNA NUNEZ Houston

Loved the article on Lori Lucas. It’s typical: she does the work of three men, gets paid for one. She has a mate who thinks parenting stops at conception. She can’t do much about the job, but she can unload the sexual parasite who doesn’t seem to understand he has to do his share just like other men! ADIE SHIMANDLE Lithonia, Georgia

I am surprised that neither Clinton nor Dole has found a solution to Lucas’ problem and that of millions of other women: hiring affordable domestic help. Surely the innumerable welfare recipients capable of working could provide the child care. That would give these women voters some much deserved free time and provide jobs for unemployed welfare recipients. WANDA ZAKRZEWSKI Chapala, Mexico

THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATES I was disappointed in your item “Who Says There’s No Difference Among the Candidates?” [CAMPAIGN NOTEBOOK, Oct. 7], giving sketchy coverage to other parties’ candidates for President. You included certain platform information without any development because you thought it would be entertaining. That is a technique a politician would use: take facts and distort them. You said these candidates will appear on the ballots of most states. Does that mean you are mocking the millions of Americans who feel that something needs to be done to drastically change the government’s corrupt practices? Making a joke out of those candidates who can make this country great is insulting. EITAN GAUCHMAN, 17 Champaign, Illinois Via E-mail

Except for a one-paragraph blurb that is supposed to describe Ralph Nader’s platform, you have virtually ignored or dismissed Nader’s candidacy. But I’ve seen surveys showing Nader with more support than Ross Perot, who has truly become the joke of this campaign. How about some real reporting on Nader’s quixotic attack on the two-party system? Save the coverage of Perot’s ramblings for the one-paragraph “amusing” blurbs. MIKE MYERS La Jolla, California Via E-mail

You did a journalistic hatchet job on Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne. You reported his views on drug legalization, but your editorial sneer has the effect of precluding any serious consideration of the idea. Have you forgotten that you once ran a cover story on this issue? Or that people like William F. Buckley, George Shultz and Milton Friedman share our support for some form of drug legalization?

The Libertarian Party has more than 170 people serving in public office. We are on the ballot in all 50 states, but all you can do is sneer. PERRY WILLIS, National Director The Libertarian Party Washington

WAS THE PRESS TAKEN IN?

Charles Krauthammer’s article “A Desecration of Truth,” stating that the press maligns Israel while giving Palestinians a free pass [ESSAY, Oct. 14], is a perfect example of tunnel vision. Has Krauthammer read the news reports over the past six months? The world press generally agreed that the opening of the Jerusalem tunnel was merely the spark that ignited long-smoldering flames of despair over years of injustice by the Israeli government against the Palestinians. Widen your vision, Krauthammer; take the long view of history and begin with the exiling of the Palestinian people in 1948. ROSE TRIGG Colorado Springs

Kudos to Krauthammer for presenting the novel idea that facts, not propaganda, should be promulgated by the press. Journalists who have no apparent problem sifting the wheat from the chaff on all topics–domestic and international–seem to suffer selective blindness when the subject is the Middle East. Israel is always in the wrong, the Palestinians always right. No matter that Israel is the only country in the region that is a democracy, with a free press, that 30-odd Israeli political parties express every shade of opinion from the far right to the far left, or that no political action in Israel goes uncriticized. Why then is the American press so quick to accept misstatements and unfounded claims put forth by the Arabs without so much as a demur? An honest review of all information emanating from the region is sorely needed. BERNICE TEPPER Hollywood, Florida Via E-mail

The essay by Krauthammer was certainly an eye-opener on the magnitude of media distortion in the U.S. How sad that we put our trust in a “free” press that routinely and overwhelmingly seeks to slant our perceptions, most particularly where Israel is concerned. Krauthammer is to be commended for his efforts to give us both sides of a situation, which is difficult enough without the arousal of undue sympathy toward a particular side by journalists (and their editors). PATRICE WELTMANN Buffalo Grove, Illinois Via E-mail

Krauthammer accuses me of having “parroted” Muslims’ charges that the “tunnel cuts under their compound” and their claim that the act was “a crime against Islam.” That is precisely what the Muslims did say. But either he didn’t watch the next several minutes of our news broadcast or ignored the remainder of the report. I added in my very next sentence that the “Israelis say they have touched nothing holy, merely a raw political nerve.” Elsewhere on World News Tonight, we made it clear that the Muslim claim was, technically speaking, ambiguous at best. I recognize Krauthammer’s license as a commentator, with a particular interest in this subject, but our job is to put such matters in context. On this occasion, I believe the facts show we did our job well. Krauthammer’s Essay is missing context both of the events in question and of ABC’s coverage of them. PETER JENNINGS, Anchor and Senior Editor ABC World News Tonight New York City

A PEACE THAT TERRIFIES

Afghanistan’s new rulers, the Taliban, may have firm notions about Islam [WORLD, Oct. 14], but I beg to disagree that calling for the imprisonment of women in their homes enforces Islamic law. Islam gives equal status to women and men. I invite Taliban clerics or any Islamic scholars to prove that Islamic law prohibits women from going outside the house to get an education or take jobs for their survival or for extra income. Allah gave equal rights to women 14 centuries ago, but Muslim men took them away.

The first teacher of every child is its mother. An educated, informed, visionary mother will raise a child like herself. But an imprisoned, uneducated and frustrated mother will raise a myopic, selfish and materialistic child. Misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Islamic law are contributing factors to the backwardness and downfall of Muslim civilization. It is never too late to correct the course. M. AMIR ALI, Managing Director Institute of Islamic Information and Education Chicago

BASEBALL SPITSMANSHIP

When the Baltimore Orioles’ Roberto Alomar spit in the face of an umpire [Sport, Oct. 14], baseball presented a perfect microcosmic example of the decline of American culture, from the loss of leadership, courage and reasoned authority at the owner and governing level to the loss of sportsmanship, work ethic and basic respect at the player level. In order to remain a fan over the past few years, I have concentrated on the game itself and avoided the surrounding drama. Now, however, there is no place to avert my eyes, for the nastiest scene yet has taken place right on the playing field. JULIA VINSON Marietta, Georgia

If I spit in my foreman’s face, would I be going in to work the next day? I don’t think so. JOE FONDE Langhorne, Pennsylvania

A baseball player spits in the face of an umpire and is permitted to compete in the play-offs. At the same time, a young child who innocently kissed a classmate is suspended from school for sexual harassment! Any suggestions on how to explain this one to the kids? DAVID K. HASPEL Los Angeles

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A FEMALE

Always searching for a glimmer of hope in the darkness, I was delighted to read of the new book Demonic Males [BEHAVIOR, Oct. 14] about research on the bonobo apes. Their female-dominated culture appears to be conservative in the truest and best sense. May they survive and prosper! ELIZABETH A. TEDFORD Cresskill, New Jersey

Re your story on the bonobo great apes, I would like to note that for the past 50 years I have studied the social behavior of monkeys and apes. Popular books on the subject, preoccupied with male power and violence, repeatedly underplay the central role of the female in human evolution.

The female has from the beginning been not only the nurturer but also the inculcator in the young of complex social skills, the key to evolution. The female selects a male high enough on the dominance ladder to provide protection, yet friendly and cooperative enough for the purposes of raising offspring–a nice combination. Talk about women’s wiles–the female arranges the circumstances to consummate the union, establish bonding and initiate ever increasing domestication of the male. Over countless generations under female tutelage, surviving offspring, male and female, became ever more intelligent and resourceful as well as more sensitive and compassionate. The female achieved this by example, persuasion and inspiration, not by dominance and violence. Clearly, it was she who created the mothering team–we call it the family, the hallmark of the human race. The virus of male violence remains, however, and there’s much to be done. Is she up to it? COLTER RULE, M.D. New York City

THE MOZART OF POETRY

Now that Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska has been awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature [Milestones, Oct. 14], one can hardly buy her poems in Polish bookstores–they are sold out. These days our life-style has changed; we scarcely have time for poems. It is sad that we need a kind of hype to get interested in the wonders of poetry. This Nobel Prize serves to remind us that it is time to strengthen our weak cultural awareness. MACIEJ FRANKIEWICZ Konin, Poland

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