February 7, 2005

Cabin Pressure
As I sat confined to a coach-class seat on my way from JFK to San Francisco reading the “Urban Detox Special” [January 24–31], I alternated between nodding my head in agreement about the triggers of New York stress and becoming more and more stressed out with each announcement the pilot made about our delays. Two hours and two screaming kids in front of me later, we finally took off, and I was able to get a little pleasure from the fact that I was not alone in my misery—I have a few million other stressed-out New Yorkers on my side!
—Lauren Strongin, Manhattan

Spiritual Shenanigans
Mear the end of your article on money-grubbing New Agers [“The Capitalist Spirit,” by Jeff Sharlet, January 24–31], you report that Sondra Shaye’s spirit guides gave her a year’s notice of the tsunami that devastated South Asia. If true, that would make her someone with the financial means and persuasive abilities to travel to that region and save at least a few children so that they might live rich, full lives. And yet she did nothing. “Fucking evolved,” indeed.
—Bill Marshall, Philadelphia, Pa.

Thy Name Is Woman
I appreciated reading about how professor Mary Bly outed herself as best-selling romance author Eloisa James [“Books: Love’s Labors,” by Emma Garman, January 24–31]. She challenges “the sense of shame” that is associated with romance fiction, its authors, and its readers. Romance fiction is an expression of women’s fascination with the quest for intimacy—both physical and emotional—and is held in contempt, whereas the psychological-thriller genre, replete with violence, is found acceptable.
—Ziva Kwitney, Manhattan

Pointing Fingers
I was shocked and outraged to see the title “Columbia U’s Jewish Problem” on the cover of New York Magazine [January 17]. The phrase “Jewish problem” is an example of the hate propaganda that was systematically used against the Jews in the days of the Shoah. This simplistic slogan fails to capture the sinister reality: that Jewish students at Columbia are under siege by Arab professors who endorse terrorism against Israeli Jews and intimidate Jews for defending Israel.
—Rebecca Witonsky, Manhattan

If the bullying and intimidation documented by Columbia Unbecoming were not targeted at Jewish students but rather Muslims, Arabs, Africans, or gays, we’d be reading about faculty dismissals and the triumph of diversity over bigotry [“Columbia’s Own Middle East War,” by Jennifer Senior, January 17]. I hope Columbia president Lee Bollinger and his committee will help clarify the not-so-thin line between hate speech and free speech.
—Naftali Robert Friedman, Manhattan

As a survivor of World War II, I remain sensitive to threats—veiled or not—of any kind. I recently attended a forum regarding the disturbing climate on some American college campuses—including Columbia’s—and saw excerpts of the documentary you mentioned. I am surprised that no one, so far, has mentioned perhaps the most disturbing fact of all: that Columbia’s alma mater is set to the tune of “Deutschland Über Alles” [“Lied der Deutschen”], the national anthem of Nazi Germany, which I heard over and over again during the war—in the newsreels, in the streets where Germans used to parade. The tune may be from a well-known composer (Haydn), but the fact that life goes on as usual at Columbia is evidence that they’re blind to the pervasive and mounting anti-Semitic climate that is surrounding us once again.
—Renée Roth-Hano, Manhattan

Posh Nosh
I’ve been reading New York for many, many years and appreciate all that it offers. But after perusing Adam Platt’s “Where to Eat 2005” [January 3], I was disappointed that he didn’t include any of New York’s fine kosher restaurants. Does Mr. Platt know that the kosher-food industry is one of the fastest-growing businesses in America? There are just as many upscale kosher restaurants as there are old-fashioned delis, pizza parlors, and falafel joints in New York.
—Jordan Feldman, East Brunswick, N.J.

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February 7, 2005