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Letters, October 2010 

A Sculpted Bone to Pick

To the Editor:

Thanks for the generous spread on the history, culture, and culinary delights of my hometown, Saugerties. Peter Aaron’s piece [“Cool and Quaint: Saugerties,” 9/10] was well written and comprehensive, as always, but I and all the other members of the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour—which the article misrepresented—have a bit of a sculpted bone to pick with him.

The two-day tour, which successfully completed its eighth annual run on August 14 and 15, is not affiliated with any galleries—not Half Moon, which has been closed for several years, or P. Fox, or the Image Factory, or any others. The tour is solely about offering free, self-guided visits to the home studios of nearly 40 working artists who live within the precincts of the town (and of the two artists mentioned in the relevant paragraph, only Willy Neumann is a current participant in the tour). The event, which is a full year in the planning, and which entails the production of a full-color map with directions to artists’ homes and the maintenance of an active website, brings many hundreds of visitors to Saugerties over the course of its weekend, all of whom get to meet the artists in their natural habitats; see demos of stone carving, or printmaking, or welding, or kiln firing, etc.; and buy work from the artists, often at bargain prices. Our studios alone (mine and Carol Zaloom’s) had approximately 200 visitors, which included locals, Manhattanites, Long Islanders, New Jerseyans, and even a few wayward Euros on holiday — and this was not untypical of the traffic at other studios. There is simply no other yearly event quite like it on the local arts scene, either in scope of embrace or smoothness of operation.

Footnote: While the museum at Opus 40 is not a “stop” on the tour, it does host the tour’s annual kickoff exhibition. Strictly speaking, though, the stop is actually the studio of Tad Richards, who co-operates the Opus 40 site.

Mikhail Horowitz, Saugerties

The Propagandist’s Purpose

To the Editor:

I’ve never read your magazine before. I picked it up at the dry cleaner's. I wanted something to read while I grabbed a quick lunch. I opened the pages to the article titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Terrorism” [9/10].

This is an unfortunate story about two people who might be falsely accused of terrorist activities or have been set up to be accused of terrorist activities. How very sad and perhaps even something that happens more often than we know. The very first paragraph, however, so incensed me that I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I read the article. Kumar might be quoting Huxley but Huxley is talking about Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s propagandist. [The quote in question: “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.”—Ed.] He and his henchmen so demonized Jews that they were even pictured on posters as vermin. So much easier to kill them that way. Does Mr. Kumar have the nerve to suggest that this is what is happening to Muslims in this country, or any other country for that matter?

Here’s a little-known fact: On that unfortunate day that a New York City cab driver, a Muslim, was stabbed, there was a statistic rolled on the screen on ABC. It read that there had been 750+ bias attacks on Muslims in a measured period of time, and 1,550+ attacks on Jews. Where is the outrage? How dare this professor and author suggest that we or any other people are deliberately attempting to dehumanize Muslims. Are there any roundups of the “vermin,” any concentration camps? Wholesale death? The only rhetoric I hear is that Muslims hate Jews and want to obliterate the State of Israel. That Israel’s very existence is an insult to the Muslim world. We won’t even get into the absurd ideas about our Western culture.

If Mr. Kumar wants to talk about propaganda, he better start studying history.  Goebbels wrote the book. Unfortunately, 11 million people died, six million of them Jews. Now, that’s terrorism! And the world watched.

Mr. Kumar’s is another story altogether.

Roberta Lorio, via e-mail

A False Sense of Social Justice?

To the Editor:

In my time, I have read lots of Looney Tunes writing by leftist sympathizers with terrorism, but your interview with Amitava Kumar was one of the most ludicrous of this sad genre [“What We Talk About When We Talk About Terrorism,” 9/10]. Let’s see if I have this right: Kumar, and by extension your magazine, would wish us to sympathize with: a group of Moslem youth who trained at an Al Qaeda terrorist camp; one of the terrorists who killed almost 200 people in Bombay (because he admired the carpets); a group of would-be terrorists who were caught before they could  carry out their plans.

We’re asked to realize their humanity. I’m sure this makes you feel like a great humanitarian, and you got all warm and fuzzy when you published this piece, congratulating yourself on your sense of “social justice.”
But I have no such illusions. I lived in Bombay, and in Iran. My father was an Iranian. I am an Iranian citizen. I have seen directly what these Islamic terrorists have done to a country I loved. It is now a place where women are stoned to death for “adultery,” homosexuals are hanged, women are shot down in the street for demonstrating, and plans are under way for nuclear weapons that they definitely plan to use at the earliest opportunity.

Perhaps we should find the humanity in Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the barbarian president of Iran. Perhaps he feels a twinge of “humanity” when he prepares for a nuclear apocalypse. Who cares? What difference does it make? What planet are you living on?

Name withheld upon request

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