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September 27, 2004

Readers sound off on Italian-American stereotypes, the RNC, nationalism, and more.

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Hit Show
Drea de Matteo’s lack of patience for Italian-American groups who decry The Sopranos for portraying Italians as dumb [“Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard,” by Ariel Levy, September 13], and who do not, in her words, “see the show as a literary piece,” demonstrates that she does not understand the essence of the issue, which is the general coarsening of our culture through the graphic portrayal of physical violence. Hundreds of studies have borne out this correlation. Crackling dialogue notwithstanding, when it comes to Mafia fare like The Sopranos, the story line has always been about mob violence.
—George Spiegler, Manhattan

Despot Plot
In his review of Guantánamo: “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom” [September 13], John Simon writes that “it is needful to be reminded that the United States and Britain can be just as unjust, as inhuman, as our most despised and detested enemies.” Really? Mr. Simon must have some dark, secret sources of information informing him that the United States and Britain have been beheading innocent civilians and mass-murdering children in schools, which is what our “despised and detested enemies” are routinely doing.
—Laszlo Straka, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

On The Fence
Kate Pickert’s “Animal Liberation” [“Intelligencer,” September 13] relates how zoos have changed. But no matter how one tries to disguise it, a zoo always was, and still is, a collection of confined animals. Though the cages no longer have bars, the animals remain confined, despite how beautifully the confinement is designed.
—Carl N. Steeg, Manhattan

Reflux Reaction
The pictures of smug, smiling, rich delegates who attended the Republican convention in my beloved New York City made me want to, if you’ll pardon the outdated language, urp [“They’ll Always Have New York,” photographed by Thomas Dworzak and Jessica Craig-Martin, September 13]. The fact that New York allowed itself to be used as a photo op for these GOPers was truly ignoble, whatever the economic benefits might have been. I don’t think I can ever view Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki again without a sickening feeling. All I can say to my New York friends is, Get ready to be ignored in the horrible event that Bush is reelected.
—Claude M. Gruener, Austin, Texas

Ground Zero-Plus
A lack of warmth in your greeting of Republicans attending the convention in New York City was to be expected. What was not expected was your ownership of the 9/11 tragedy and the apparent unwillingness to share its meaning with other Americans [“Intelligencer: Their 9/11, and Ours,” by Mark Jacobson, September 13]. When the planes flew into the World Trade Center, we all suffered. It was surely more personal to many in New York City, but it’s wrong to assume we Republicans—rural and suburban non–New Yorkers—somehow experienced this American tragedy in a lesser way.
—Neville Arjani, Cleveland, Ohio

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