Tain’t Funny, McGee

Madison, Wis.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the April 28 “Comix Nation,” depicting Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston in “Lost Marbles Valley.” It is impossible to understand why Rick Meyerowitz thought this the least bit comic. It is even more impossible to understand why The Nation published such a thoughtless and cruel cartoon. Shame on you!

HIASAURA RUBENSTEIN


South Dennis, Mass.

Rick Meyerowitz’s “Comix Nation” was beyond the pale. There are people with Alzheimer’s disease and people who care for them who are without hope. I lost a friend to Alzheimer’s three months ago, and he is not in “Lost Marbles Valley.” He is finally at peace. You let your ideology run away with you.

ETHEL HAYES


Morrisville, Pa.

Has The Nation lost its humanitarian marbles? Rick Meyerowitz’s cartoon making fun of two men who had Alzheimer’s is more than offensive. Sure, their policies were regressive, but Reagan and Heston, and all who end their lives with this terrible disease, deserve compassion.

GLORIA DEL VECCHIO


Honolulu

You will probably get flak for the cartoon showing two right-wing icons in “Lost Marbles Valley,” but they both deserved it. Reagan gave us Iran/contra, a huge deficit and foxes guarding henhouses. He fired the air-traffic controllers and dumped mental patients on the streets to become homeless. He had a record 125 failed appointees. He fought the University of California, and Ed Meese dropped tear gas on Berkeley. Reagan was a mentor to the governor who killed the protesters at Kent State. Charlton Heston, as National Rifle Association president, went to Columbine to promote guns after the high school shootings. They were powerful, harmful actors.

NANCY BEY LITTLE



Meyerowitz Replies

New York City

My drawing was meant to be mean, inappropriate and out of line, and it did attack Ronald Reagan and Charlton Heston for being senile instead of the things they are usually attacked for. It was the visual equivalent of a Bronx cheer, and I’m a Bronx boy, born and bred. My drawings are provocative. Some find them hilarious; others, insulting. Usually they’re both. Someone will always be offended by something. If I worried about who I’d offend, I’d never do anything (I can hear the cheers).

My father had Alzheimer’s, and I was his main caregiver for twelve years. I visited him daily. His name was Hy. I made a sign for above his bed at Village Nursing Home near the end of his life. The sign said, World’s Only Known Victim of ALZHYMIE’s Disease. The nursing staff and the doctors loved it. And they loved him the more because of the love they saw him get from me and my brothers. He would’ve laughed at the sign too if he hadn’t forgotten how to read. I get my sense of humor from my father. In our family we poke fun at things that need poking. If we didn’t laugh, we’d lose our marbles.

RICK MEYEROWITZ



Hawai’i–50th State of Mind

Hilo, Hawai’i

Elinor Langer’s “Famous Are the Flowers: Hawaiian Resistance Then–And Now” [April 28] is much appreciated. Most Americans know nothing of that history. On January 31 the Hawai’i Supreme Court issued an opinion addressing the rights and obligations of the State of Hawai’i regarding the lands that once belonged to the crown and the government in the Kingdom of Hawai’i, the so-called ceded lands.

The court stated that the Apology Resolution passed by Congress in 1993 is the law. The court also stated that its ruling means that the United States admits to being complicit in the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom, that the Hawaiian people never gave up their sovereignty and that the ceded lands taken from the crown and the Hawaiian government are held in trust by the state. Under the Apology Resolution, all the issues raised by the historical record are to be resolved within a reconciliation process between the Hawaiian people and the United States government.

As the Hawaiian people take steps to form their government and restore their nation, the need for education and awareness in the United States will be essential. Your publication of the essay on the history to date contributed to that goal. Aloha,

LANNY SINKIN


Honolulu

Way before the five families conned their queen into abdicating, King Kamehameha of the Big Island took Captain Cook’s cannon and conquered the peaceful original inhabitants of Māui and O’ahu. King Kalaninanaole’s people–men, women and children–were killed outright in the final battle above the Pali on the Island of O’ahu and their bodies thrown over the cliff. My family, some of the original Tahitians and Samoans who inhabited these islands, will never call themselves Hawaiian. Just as Okinawans don’t call themselves Japanese, or Apache call themselves American.

DONALD KAMAKA’A OBERLOH


Honolulu

Elinor Langer’s piece on pilikia (troubles) in Hawai’i is excellent. Thank you. The New York Illustrated wrote in 1898, “One of the last things ex-Queen Liliuokalani did before the American flag was hoisted…was to give a farewell lua.” “Lua,” a common word for “outdoor toilet,” was an unfortunate misspelling of “luau,” a native feast. The article continued: “On this occasion the hula dance was given. This dance was made unlawful by authorities of the Hawaiian Republic [whites who overthrew the queen], but it was practiced secretly.” The article is correct. Hawai’i’s property rights were vested to the United States, and Hawaiians felt their birthright was stolen.

J. ARTHUR RATH, author, Lost Generations: A Boy, a School, a Princess


Makaha, Hawai’i

I was born and raised among native Hawaiians, and the pain of disenfranchisement has had a devastating effect upon the islands’ people to this day. Yet there is no going back, either for the native Manhattans of New York or for native Hawaiians [“Hawai’i Needs You,” April 28].

What is possible, however, are specific programs, lands and areas where some type of native sovereignty can exist within the larger framework of a democratic state. This will not be an easy task. But to do less is a grave injustice, unworthy of the great tenets upon which this great country was founded.

BILL HAMBARO


New York City

Many thanks for your issue on the Hawaiian Kingdom and the independence movement. It’s ironic that so many Americans are focused these days on protesting China’s subjugation of Tibet, yet they suffer from amnesia about their own history of imperialism and genocide against native peoples, including Hawaiians.

KAONOHI TAN