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Web Letter

The author's condescension is proof that liberals can be just as elitist as the most blue-blooded WASP. LIke she says, many of these young women come from low-income families and this is why such a rite of passage is so important to them, for it allows them for a few hours to pretend to belong to a higher class. Unsurprisingly, the author has an all-too American propensity to just look at the practical side of things.

Antonio Enriquez

Los Angeles, CA

Oct 17 2007 - 3:54am

Web Letter

When my 15-year-old daughter first mentioned wanting to go to a friend's "Sweet Sixteen," I was a little puzzled and queried, "You mean you want to go to her birthday party, and she is going to be 16?" My daughter looked at me like I had just stepped out of a flying saucer. I admit, I am already an old fuddy-duddy at the tender age of 46. I came of age in the rural Midwest during the 1970s, and at the time, I was a very shy, self-contained, mad scientist teen. Despite my hermetic nature, I wasn't totally cut off from the world around me, but I was completely unaware of anything like the hideous celebrations of avarice and greed that our sweet little 16-year-olds now seem to be taking for granted. This all goes on amidst Middle Eastern Wars, African genocide and an ever-increasing national debt. There is a bit of Nero and his fiddle in the souls of our teenagers, and I suppose we adults and the shallow values we exalt are to blame. Don't think church will cure this sickness of the soul. As far as I can tell, the institutions of religion in America contribute to this problem. My daughter has so far been to two Sweet Sixteens this year. She's looking forward to her own. I hope I have the heart to tell her that her sixteenth birthday may be sweet, but it won't be as sweet as she would like.

Robert Austin

Seminole, FL

Oct 16 2007 - 10:43pm

Web Letter

First, please inform Chaudhry that one does not need to say "Latina girl." That is redundant. A "Latina" is a Latin American female. The word in Spanish is a noun (sustantivo), not an adjective (adjectivo). It's a small point, but it is irritating when Americans do not understand the meanings of the words they use in foreign languages. It displays how remote American understanding is from the topic being written on.

Second, while I cannot express in simple words the degree to which I agree with Chaudhry that crass materialism is the bane of our cultural world, I encourage Chaudhry to realize that events like the quincea&etilde;era are important celebrations of cultural identity for Latin Americans, and that it is likely that one of the ways by which these people will begin to reduce that 20+ percent poverty level will be through maintaining their cultural identity.

I hope my tone can be forgiven, but I and others grow tired of the lectures to the poor on how to live and improve one's lot offered by the rich. While I do believe Chaudhry is right about crass materialism in this case, I also couldn't help but perceive a note of condescension.

Seymour Friendly

Seattle, WA

Oct 16 2007 - 10:03pm

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