Drugs: Equal Opportunity Destroyer
Re Ishmael Reed’s “The Suburban Curtain” [June 23/30]: I am a 78-year-old white male drug addict and alcoholic. I have a PhD, have taught at some of the most prestigious universities in the world and have been in Who’s Who in America since 1998. I have lived my whole life in the middle class. I entered recovery in 1987, thoroughly addicted to opiates. I relapsed several times, the most recent involving an overdose in September 2013. I began going to meetings of Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous in 1987 and have never stopped attending at least five times a week.
This is my experience: all drugs (including alcohol) are the same—potentially addictive, potentially lethal; nearly all alcoholics also abuse narcotics; people use substances to alter how they feel; and the basic causes of alcohol and drug addiction are psychological. It’s not that white suburbanites also use and may become heroin addicts; it’s that the use and abuse of all drugs have no boundaries with respect to race, gender, age, politics or social/economic class. Failing to understand this is to misunderstand the nature of the disease of addiction and the medical and policy roads toward recovery.
St. Nick to the Rescue!
What Katha Pollitt tells us in “Sex Trafficking, Lies & Money” [June 23/30] could have been predicted by viewers of Half the Sky, the PBS series on the oppression of women globally. Two of the four programs focused on sex trafficking, with many sequences showing Nicholas Kristoff speeding to the rescue, dragging some movie star beside him.
Rape on Campus
OK, here goes. I was raped. I was 19 and terrified, blaming myself and believing I must have led them—yes, them—on. That the victim in Michelle Goldberg’s “Campus Rape Crisis” [June 23/30] was being questioned and doubted in 2014 just makes me realize that my not reporting what happened to me in the late 1980s was the correct, though unfortunate, choice for me. I just feel so sad and disappointed that justice for women really hasn’t come that far at all. Goldberg shows clearly how and why rape and sexual assault are underreported on college campuses.
Colleges are lousy at handling rape cases because, as Michelle Goldberg points out, that’s not what college disciplinary boards are meant to do. Asking an internal board to handle a rape case is like asking it to handle a murder case. It’s crazy. Victims should go to the criminal justice system. The time, energy and resources put into creating a parallel system for college women would be better spent insisting that police and prosecutors present a less daunting experience to a victim who steps forward.
The Left and the NRA
Thank you, Richard Kim, for your call to reality, conscience and action in “New Mass Murder, Old Lesson” [June 23/30]. As Kim notes, the frequency and scale of firearm killings in the United States is unprecedented in the industrialized world. Chipotle telling its customers to leave their guns at home is a start, and there is hope in any start. The left has been quicker to oppose wars than to confront the daily violence at home. If collective action can end the Vietnam War, it can challenge the NRA. It’s time to modify the right to bear arms in light of the wrong to bear so much pain.
Climate Justice, Texas Style
To: The Nation
From: The only Texas redneck ever to go on a Nation cruise and probably the longest-subscribing Texas redneck to The Nation.
Wen Stephenson, in “Ground Zero in the Fight for Climate Justice” [June 23/30], advances the sensible proposition that climate justice requires that fossil fuels should remain underground. Presumably ditches should be dug, furrows should be plowed, bales lifted and barges toted by “unconditional and universal love” or with the hammer and sickle. Machinery in general and tractors in particular should be removed from Midwestern farms and replaced by peasants. An admirable future for Hilton Kelly’s constituency. Good luck, Wen, Hilton and Robert Bullard. I admit, ruefully, that I took time off from speaking in tongues and handling snakes to send this message.
Joyce: A Class by Himself
James Longenbach’s review of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” [“Tschink With Tschunk,” June 23/30] is the latest installment in our delicious subgenre of things written about that great “unread,” perhaps unreadable “signature twentieth-century epic.” I read Ulysses five times, backward and forward, at Syracuse University in 1965. That is, I went through it highlighting, in yellow, passages I thought might be on the final. I yellowed nearly every page. Even the freshman I tried to pick up knew about Joyce. She told me one sunny afternoon what Longenbach tells us fifty years later: read Hugh Kenner.
I was at SU the last semester of Delmore Schwartz’s teaching. His Joyce class was notorious. Schwartz was the most charming, brilliant and dazzling teacher I ever had. His daily monologues never ceased to astonish. He turned me away from medicine into becoming a poet and English teacher. That’s how amazing Delmore’s daily output was that autumn, exhausted and beaten as he was, and just months away from his pitiful death in a fleabag hotel in the city.
Steven dead? Alas!
Buck up. Mull again
The doublin’ bloom.
Good golly, Molly,
Try to be jolly.
silver spring, md.
A Picture = 1,000 Words
I know, I know. Matt Bors is only trying to be clever. The editors may think he succeeded [“Comix Nation: How to Draw President Obama,” June 23/30]. But a cartoon is not a think piece. It is, and is intended to be, a quick impression delivering a simple (and cute?) message. In this case, I fear it is too simplistic, too clever—and projects a dangerous image. What’s the quick and dirty message that lingers in the hasty observer’s unconscious? A stereotypical image of Barack Hussein Obama, our one and only black president. Context counts. In the American context, it’s one more racist image.
new york city