My main objection—there are many—to Mr. Crowther's essay ("Do white men still matter?" Jan. 2) is his premise that color and/or gender predispose an individual to a certain dogma. How does this differ from the most rabid of racist or sexist constructs? Crowther makes the assumption white men cannot think, feel and act in support of women's right to choose; remember our grandfathers and grandmothers who came to this country in search of economic opportunities; and assumes all Southern men are of the same ilk as Jesse Helms.
Mr. Crowther also fails to address the most logical cause of North Carolina's electoral choices. The fact N.C.'s public schools ranks 30th in academic achievement might be key in recognizing not only the lack of cosmopolitan awareness of N.C. candidates but also go light years into explaining why N.C. citizens elect these enlightened individuals.
All -isms, e.g., sexism, racism, are best addressed through education. I can close with words no better said by another than these: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Thomas M. Ragusa, Wake Forest
Thanks for publishing Hal Crowther's columns. Every week I search out the INDY in hopes that issue has one of Hal's columns. I'm amazed at the way his mind works. Too bad other independent papers don't have such a resource.
Paul W. Smith, Raleigh
David Fellerath's thoughtful review of Django Unchained ("Research and/or rhetoric," Dec. 26, 2012) was better than Quentin Tarantino's movie deserves. Fellerath's disillusionment surprised me, however. Had he really hoped for better? Assuming the question was not there simply for rhetorical effect, I know exactly how Django "earned the right to depict such horrors in the pursuit of entertainment." The answer is because reviewers rhapsodized over Tarantino's stylized violence as far back as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino apparently believes his own press clippings. The old narrative about a video store clerk who made good should have been questioned. Instead, it papered over the self-indulgent nihilism in his work, and seems also to have convinced Tarantino that he was or is a poor man's Martin Scorsese.
Neither of those developments withstands even minimal scrutiny, but both were enough to put Tarantino where he is now, which is mid-career on Hollywood's "A" list, cashing checks in spite of the fact that his worldview yields stupid puns like "Candyland." Only a clown like Tarantino would conflate antebellum plantation names with a board game aimed at toddlers.
Fellerath's disillusionment goes deeper than Tarantino, however. That's probably an occupational hazard for any regular contributor to a self-consciously progressive periodical. Steven Spielberg did not put enough black actors in Lincoln, Fellerath gripes. Seriously? Spielberg went out of his way to make love for an African-American mistress part of the motivation for abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. He also made a point of having part of Lincoln's own Gettysburg Address quoted back to him by a black soldier. How's that for a "Shame whitey into doing the right thing" moment?
I would argue that Spielberg tried to appease his fellow progressives. Unfortunately, appeasement is a losing game, because in some circles, you can never be heavy-handed enough if you want to say something acceptable about race in the United States.
Patrick O'Hannigan, Cary
Thank you for using a simple but powerful means to show the current approach and effects of guns in our country ("State and local gun statistics," Dec. 19). As fewer people take the effort to read, I applaud your choice of using an A-F grading scale of our elected representatives, a few stats to show that less than 2 percent of gun permits are denied, the $7 million that the NRA spent to sway the 2012 elections, and a cartoon that starts out with a heart-warming Norman Rockwell and ends with the heart-wrenching news from Newtown.
The only thing I can think to add is a counterpoint to the Mister Rogers quote about the excitement of working out conflict by respecting those with differing views. It would be sobering to us parents to show a scene of young boys excited to play at killing in a realistic video war game.
It is difficult to work things out when the focus is on the desire for conflict instead of the benefits of cooperation. Change will come when stubborn refusal to compromise is seen as a weakness and the ability to respectfully negotiate mutually beneficial solutions as the true strength that our leaders must exhibit. Thank you, INDY, for telling the story so well.
Mike Phillips, Raleigh