Comments: Week of October 19, 2009

1. Matt McAllester’s article on the persecution of gay Iraqis (The Hunted,” October 12) inspired outrage, empathy, and calls for action on “I didn’t quite realize how systematic and widespread this is,” said one commenter. “I just can’t imagine how scared and alone one would feel for something I take for granted every single day.” Some blamed the Obama administration. “I know of no statement of concern or plan of action on this either, and perhaps there is nothing to be done,” wrote Andrew Sullivan in his blog, The Daily Dish. “But it remains the case that a country still occupied by 130,000 U.S. troops is cleansing its society of a beleaguered minority and the U.S. military and government are silent and standing by. If this progrom were taking place against any other minority, it would be front-page news.” Commenters echoed that sense of disappointment in the role of the U.S. Said one, “One consequence of the [U.S.] invasion was an extreme worsening of conditions for gay Iraqis. If Obama would insist on full equal federal rights for gay Americans, he could argue for the rights of these persecuted gay Iraqis from a stronger platform.” Others spoke out against the religious justification behind these purges. “I am Muslim, and I want to say I am disgusted by these Iraqis who kill gay people and claim it’s permissible,” said one commenter. “Islam is a religion of peace and does not allow the innocent killing of anyone. If anyone else says otherwise, they are just lying, looking for somewhere to throw the blame for their disgusting, disgraceful behavior.” There were also many readers who were fired up to try and help. “I’ve spent the good part of the day contacting my senators and congressional delegation about this issue. It’s a no-brainer to set up a safe zone in Baghdad—and that needs to be done immediately,” one commenter said. Scott Long of Human Rights Watch commented with ways people could aid the cause: “Raising awareness of the issue in the U.S. and Europe; pushing for human rights to be part of the Iraqi security equation; pressuring governments, including the U.S., to do their duty and accept as refugees Iraqi LGBTs who have fled.”

2. On a decidedly lighter note, Adam Platt’s one-star review of Charlie Palmer’s newly reopened Aureole (Great No More,” October 12) stirred up a tempest in a stewpot on Readers worked themselves up into quite the lather: “With Mr. Platt’s commentary over the esteemed restaurant Aureole, he has managed to sound much more like a speechwriter for Sarah Palin rather than an objective food critic with a neutral palate.” Another took a less-hysterical tone in rebuking Platt, noting, “I generally enjoy his reviews, but this one is way off. I’ve eaten at the new location no less than five times and have been treated wonderfully by the staff, the food is beyond delicious, and the wine suggestions have been spot on.” At least one was willing to defend the food critic, saying, “He’s not out to get us. He’s paid to report an opinion in the interest of his readership. I appreciate his efforts to save my time and money.” One correction: Palmer’s wine boutique was mistakenly identified as being located in California’s Napa County; it is in Sonoma County.

3. The bicyclists in our readership were none too pleased to see a photograph in The Everything Guide to the Bike Commute (October 12) of a woman riding without a helmet. Especially since the first piece of advice was “Helmet? Yes, always.” Clearly, we goofed. We meant what we wrote, not what we showed.

What You’re Debating
Philip Weiss’s story about the anger directed at the president (“Who Is Barack Obama?,” September 28) scored the most comments of any story published this year. Here are the top ten so far for 2009.

1. “Who Is Barack Obama? And why do people say such loopy, ugly things about him?” (September 28)

2. “The Wail of the 1%: A collective moan rises from the canyons of Wall Street,” by Gabriel Sherman (April 27)

3. “Extreme Birth: The fearless new leader of the home-birth movement,” by Andrew Goldman (March 30)

4. “How Could This Happen to Annie Leibovitz? The $24 million question,” by Andrew Goldman (August 24)

5. “Clash of the Utopias: The unraveling of the $5 billion Stuy Town deal,” by Gabriel Sherman (February 9)

6. “Black and White on Martha’s Vineyard: Racial politics in paradise,” by Touré (June 29–July 6)

7. “Visiting Day: Parents of campers at Trail’s End show them just how much they’ve been missed,” by Doree Shafrir (August 10–17)

8. “My Manhattan Project: How I helped build the bomb that blew up Wall Street,” by Michael Osinski (April 6)

9. “My Laid-Off Life: Since August, 33,000 New Yorkers have lost their jobs. Here are seven stories,” As told to Mara Altman (January 5–12)

10. “The Gay Generation Gap: Why do young and old gay men seem so far apart?,” by Mark Harris (June 29–July 6)

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Comments: Week of October 19, 2009