Labor Day Charade
Peter Noel plays fast and loose with the facts to attack me ["At Each Other's Throats," October 6]. I did not “march behind a racist float” in a Labor Day Parade in Broad Channel, Queens, as he wrote, which he knows since he told one of my staff members that he has my statements strongly and publicly condemning that grossly racist float.
In fact, I was at the front of the parade campaigning among the people who were watching, and left when it started raining. The float was at the very end of the parade. Had I seen it, I would have loudly protested before leaving.
Noel tries to cover his falsehood by seeming to give my side, writing that “Hevesi later denied he was aware that the float was part of the parade.” That makes me sound like a weasel. As if I marched behind this float, but now I’m trying to claim that I didn’t know it was part of the parade.
I have fought against bigots of every type and every color. I denounced Joseph Kovner, the Jewish council member from Deer Park, New York, when he called State Comptroller Carl McCall a “Harlem nigger,” and demanded Kovner’s resignation. I condemned the bigotry of Queens council member Julia Harrison when she attacked Asians, and I supported her Asian opponent in the last election. I have gone to Queens to confront school board member Frank Borzellieri and his campaign of hate against racial minorities and gay men and lesbians. And I attacked Khallid Muhammad as “the leading anti-Semite, anti-Catholic and anti-gay bigot in America.”
Disagree with my positions all you want, but do not use falsehood and distortion to try to paint me as a racist.
Alan G. Hevesi
City of New York
Peter Noel replies: It doesn’t matter if Alan Hevesi was at the back or the front of the parade. The truth is that he was at a racist parade, and was exposed. It strains credulity that he was not aware of the float carrying white men in blackface parodying the murder of a black man in Jasper. This was not the mammoth West Indian Parade or the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This was a tiny parade in a predominantly white, backwater enclave in Queens. Is this the same Alan Hevesi who could not separate Khallid Abdul Muhammad, the messenger, from the message of the Million Youth March? Hevesi’s dilemma is that he doesn’t know how to undo the political harm he has done to the African American community.
What the hell is Karla Jay talking about? ["Queers Ahoy: The High Price of Gay and Lesbian Travel," September 29] Maybe the ignorant, racist/colonialist/imperialist tourist who wants to travel, but not see? Such tourism–gay or straight–should be examined. These cruises and packages often have exclusive beachfront properties in places like Jamaica, leaving locals with less and less seafront access. Why not stay home? Go to Florida. Why the Nile, or the Bahamas, or Thailand? Clearly, not for the history, culture, or the people.
In Jay’s discussion of sex, she blatantly disregards the populations of several travel destinations. Was it that she was writing about gay clients of the sex trade–not straight businessmen with poor Thai women–that allowed the Voice to print this article that disregards the lack of economic and social mobility that exists for young Thai men?
In the piece, a travel agent is quoted as stating of Thailand that “the sex is very readily available” and “elderly gentlemen are the delight of young Thais.” Really?
Finally, “Queers Ahoy” and queer package trips themselves assume terrible things: that straight and gay people cannot be social partners (one man in the article laments the possibility of having dinner with straight people); that gay people have not carved out niches wherever they live in the world; that as a traveler you have no interest in meeting locals and finding out how they live; that you can act any way you like wherever you go in the world.
Queer, or loving the same sex, means different things all over the world. Find out instead of pissing on their beach.
Isn’t Clinton a McCarthyite?
Isn’t it his attorney general who went into court to defend his “don’t ask, don’t tell” witch-hunt against gays? Isn’t it international sexual McCarthyism for Clinton to station 5000 troops in Saudi Arabia in order to defend an absolute monarchy that, among other things, prohibits women from driving cars?
Why should gays in the military, who have lost nine lawsuits challenging Clinton’s policy, rally to his side now? For that matter, why should anyone else give a damn about this opponent of sexual equality?
Liberals supported this nonstop, double-reverse, triple-whammy perjurer as their lesser evil. We don’t know if he’ll get what he deserves, but they are forever exposed as the crackpot realists that they truly are. Listen to them again, and you will hunt rabbits in the sea.
Richard Goldstein replies: Brenner’s adventurism overwhelms any productive analysis of the current situation. It isn’t Clinton, stupid; it’s the precedent this wholesale violation of privacy sets–one that could rebound against even righteous Clinton haters who happen to harbor a dirty secret.
Cold, Cold Heart
Re Sarah Vowell’s review of the Hank Williams box set ["Ain't No Light," September 29]: Did I get her meaning? Does she call into question Hank’s sincerity because, in her estimation, he acts incongruously with his songs? She cited too-chipper-for-her-taste repartee between Hank and Minnie Pearl in which Hank says, “For two cents I’d just haul off and kiss ya,” to which Pearl replies, “Anybody got change for a nickel?” Apparently, Vowell would’ve preferred something like, “That sure is a goddamn ugly hat yuh got there, Minnie. Yuh know, I’ve lost my will to live. This next song…”
Then there was the odd implication that Hank had somehow duped all the folks in “crummy little backwater churches” who sang his song, “I Saw the Light” (cuz Hank was too much of a drunk to see the light). You’re right, Sarah. Hank sucks. He ain’t keepin’ it real. And this whole time I thought the music was the thing. Thanks for setting me straight. Can I borrow your Hanson records? They seem like happy people, just like their songs.
I was surprised, however, that Taubin used the feminine pronoun “her” to refer to Teena, who was born with a female body but identified as a man. Taubin says, “They raped her because they were enraged and threatened by her sexuality (’Brandon’s gender was a real problem,’ one of them opines) and they murdered her to keep her from fingering them as rapists.” While Teena’s gender-queerness certainly worked against him, he was raped and killed because he was transgendered–because his outward gender expression did not match his genitals. To represent the situation as misogyny and homophobia is to ignore the reality of trans-oppression and to perpetuate it again.