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Comments: Week of March 28, 2011

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1. Robert Kolker’s profile of Long Island congressman Peter King (“Peter King’s Muslim Problem,” March 14–21) proved useful in the discussions surrounding the representative’s hearings about the radicalization of the Muslim-American community. Bloggers and pundits seized on King’s break with the local Muslim community, as well as on his novel,Vale of Tears, in which a Long Island congressman named Sean Cross battled homegrown Islamic terrorists. The majority of commenters on nymag.com found King’s motivations questionable at best. “Peter King is nothing more than an ethno-religious ambulance chaser,” wrote one. “He is doing his level best to bring heat rather than light to the issue of peaceful relations between Jews, Christians, and the Muslim world. He will say or do anything to keep and consolidate his base of power and is the most dangerous of men because of this.” Another questioned the value of King’s methodology, writing, “Congress is definitely capable of solid conservative research, and these hearings cannot produce material of that standard by any stretch of the imagination.” Others expressed concern that he’s just making things worse. “King assumes that there is no problem in antagonizing Muslims because they already hate us,” argued one reader. “The problem isn’t with the Muslims who already hate us—the problem is giving Muslims who previously didn’t hate us a very good reason to. This is not a time when we need to go around creating more enemies.” Still, the congressman had his supporters. “Peter King is right on many levels about the real issue of the Muslim threat. A significant element of the Muslim community is hesitant to assist in flushing out or naming extremists for fear that the wrath of radical Islam will visit upon them and their families,” wrote one. “Kudos to Peter King for speaking about the difficult, and often swept-aside, subject of Muslim fanaticism,” wrote another. “Simply because some people are offended does not change the reality and risk of another attempted attack by a homegrown Islamic terrorist.”


2. Stephen Metcalf’s analysis of what caused four of his therapists to nod off while treating him (The Sleeping Cure,” March 14–21) was a wake-up call to many a drowsy shrink. “I used to fall asleep a lot,” confessed one therapist on nymag.com. “I would bite my little finger real hard to keep from nodding off. It is a lot of work to listen to people, especially therapeutically, and we all have only so much mental energy.” Another therapist commenter, who perhaps had a distant mother, wrote, “I abhor the tradition in psychoanalysis of blaming the client for this phenomenon. It was only a certain client or two that I fell asleep on. But what was common in each was not the defects of the patient, but my reluctance to address the ways I was ‘phoning in’ my therapy rather than actively working with the patient to have clearly focused treatment goals.” Another, with an apparently even stronger superego, wrote in to say, “I was so disgusted after reading [this] article that I lost sleep ruminating about it. Even during periods when I was pregnant or a sleep-­deprived mother of infants, I have never even come close to falling asleep while with a patient, not even the ‘resistant’ ones. A psychotherapist is being paid to be present, alert, and completely focused on the patient. On behalf of my profession, I apologize for their inadequacies.” Metcalf also wanted to clarify any confusion engendered by his reference to the film Ordinary People in the opening paragraph of the article. The film came out in 1980, but in his memory he mistakenly placed it (and the whole episode with his first sleeping therapist) earlier. The magazine regrets the error but rejects assigning any particular significance to it.

3. Chris Rovzar’s “Topic” page about a dating site that matches couples based on facial similarities ­(Intelligencer: Someone Like You,” March 14–21) gave many readers a moment of reflection. “I would love to find someone who looks like me! I should be so lucky,” wrote one enthusiastic narcissist on nymag.com. “When you think about it, it sort of makes sense that you would want to date someone who has at least some of your features,” wrote Time’s NewsFeed blog. “We’re still a little freaked out, but not enough so that we won’t sign up when the site launches.” Zosia Bielski of the Globe and Mail followed up with site founder Christina Bloom, who noted that the article “hit the nail on the head with its comparison of fashion designer Marc Jacobs and boyfriend Lorenzo Martone.” On the other hand, as the blog Geekologie pointed out, “That sounds like … a great way to accidentally start dating a relative.” Or as one of our commenters put it: “God help the identical twins of the world.”


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