Friday, October 27, 2006
Mary, Your column in the AJC, if genuine, demonstrates astonishing ignorance and xenophobia. My wife, a professor at a state university, laughed out loud as she read it. She said, "this was written by an 11th grader with bigots for parents, NOT a university instructor. It must be a hoax. How could anyone with the education needed to be a university instructor possibly hold such a parochial and unsophisticated viewpoint?" I disagreed. I believe it is genuine. I'd also be willing to bet that you were born and raised right here in the deep South, from a deep-rooted Southern family, that you may have ventured beyond the borders of Georgia, but not far, and certainly not outside the U.S.; that your "daddy" and your grand-daddy hold very special opinions about the "blacks" and the Jews. Even if you deny evolution, Mary, genetics is a very real and very powerful force of nature. It determines much more about who we are than simply the color of our eyes or lengths of our earlobes. When my wife left her post at U. Colorado in Boulder last year to accept a position here in Atlanta, she was warned about the bigotry, intolerance, and ignorance we would encounter here in the deep South. We find the bigotry and intolerance here to be no different than anywhere else in the country. But the ignorance we encounter, the pure, blunt, dull-witted provincialism that we have seen, and that your article displays with such unabashed exuberance, leaves us shaking our heads. Andrew Mitchle, MD, FACSAtlanta
"Anti-burqa column a real knee-slapper"
Finally, a really funny column on the @issue pages! Mary Grabar is funnier than Dave Barry. The AJC should certainly consider running a regular column by this gifted humorist. In true Mark Twain fashion, Grabar had me going with her clever satire on Muslim dress for women ("Burqas give Muslims too much cover," @issue, Oct. 25). I had to read her column twice to figure out that she was just pulling our collective leg. I'll bet the English classes she teaches at Clayton State are tremendously popular.
If Grabar were a regular columnist, she could try out all her hilarious ideas on the impressionable young people in her classes before submitting them to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Let's hear it for Grabar. Keep us laughing.
TOM DEARDORFF, Atlanta
The follwing is a letter sent but not published on 10-25:
Dear Letters Editor:
Mary Grabar's article exposes the difference between assimilation and diversity. It is not intolerant to expect those who wish to come to a nation to adopt within reason the mores and customs of the host nation. Why come to the United States if one is not sensitive to our culture?
Hiding one's identity by covering from head to toe is in fact a security issue in today's world. But it is more than that. We are an open society. We believe in the possibility of free and open exchange with all, including complete strangers. Concealing one's identity, even if unintentional, is harmful to social harmony.
This is no call for erasure of anyone's past. Diversity is okay in an overriding context of assimilation. However, being open about one's identity is fundamental to our society. That practice cannot be rejected.
To me, both the first comment and the one included here are both knee-jerk reactions. Immigration is a serious issue. To label anyone discussing the issue as ignorant and provincial is just stupid. Maybe it is liberal orthodoxy to accept all aspects of diversity unquestionably. I don't concede liberal credentials to anyone, and I think that Grabar has a point. I know that both letter writers must be patting themselves on the back for their sophistication and tolerance - guess again.