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Letters to the Editor: 08.08.19

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 10:43

Terry King Field
August 5, 2019

Dear David,

On behalf of my sisters, Louise and Alice, I would like to thank Tony Littman and the East Hampton Town Parks Department for creating a new and more beautiful Terry King Ball Field sign after the original one had fallen into disrepair.


Car Doors
August 5, 2019

To the Editor;

I would like to remind our dear citizen operators of motor vehicles who while parking on our town main streets are seen to throw open their car doors into the face of oncoming traffic and step out into that traffic without apparently looking to see if it is safe to do so, and then leaving the door open into the lane of moving traffic while they fiddle about leaning into their vehicle, back to traffic. This often causes those moving vehicles to stop abruptly or swerve into adjacent traffic. Both unsafe actions. While such door openers may feel some sort of entitlement to a right of way, it seems that such action is both inconsiderate, foolhardy, dangerous to themselves and others, and is in fact illegal. I quote from the New York State Code on Vehicles and Traffic, Title 7:

Title 7, Article 33: 1214. Opening and closing vehicle doors.

No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

And by the way, in matters of pedestrian safety, particularly in this town, where there are many roads without sidewalks, so many pedestrians and runners persist in walking and running with their backs to traffic, an extraordinarily dangerous act. And it is also a violation of the law.

Title 7, Article 27: 1156. Pedestrians on roadways.

(a Where sidewalks are provided and they may be used with safety it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.

(b Where sidewalks are not provided any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall when practicable walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Upon the approach of any vehicle from the opposite direction, such pedestrian shall move as far to the left as is practicable.

So a friendly reminder to all, and to our traffic and law enforcement officers, that they might take the opportunity when seeing such violations, to enforce them, or at least offer a friendly reminder that these are in fact the laws.



Love and Shrimp
East Hampton
August 5, 2019

Dear David,

I read your “Ring in the Sand” piece last week with a sense of knowing. Not where that woman’s wedding ring was, because I don’t, but how rings have a way of disappearing. They go flying out of a beach chair and become a treasure later found. When? We don’t know. Lost rings can be as elusive as love. Sometimes rings slip off your finger while swimming. This happened one summer to my husband.

We were having a nice time swimming at Napeague. The tide was low so we were more lying down on the sand in the water, cooling off. My husband, noticing little shrimp, sat in one spot and started digging like a small child, quite enjoying himself. After a while we left and took a ride to Montauk.

Sitting at a restaurant, we ordered drinks and thought about food. And that’s when my husband noticed his wedding ring was not on his finger. “My ring is gone!” he said, surprised. “Oh no, it must have come off while you were digging for shrimp,” I said.

“We have to go back and find it!” he said.

We canceled our drinks, got back into my Jeep, and went back to Napeague. The tide had come in but my husband jumped in, swimming down where he was sure he had been digging those shrimp. Nothing. I went in to help, but we found no ring. We stayed in the water a bit longer, it was very refreshing. My husband was quiet, a rarity.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“What does it mean? Is it a bad sign that I lost my ring?” He was serious, also not a usual state for him.

“It means don’t dig shrimp with a ring on. Don’t read anything more into it. It’s a ring. Not the first. Maybe the last. You’re not a ring person.”

In the past, maybe this significant ring loss would have mattered more. The symbolic exchange of rings, celebrating a new beginning in our case. But we weren’t kids anymore and we’d had three ring exchanges in our long union. Most of the rings were not expensive since extravagance was never our thing. The rings did not make or break the marriage. Neither of us wears a wedding ring now. Rings are jewelry; trust and respect are not forged by a silversmith.

My husband looked relieved that day at Napeague. “Thank you,” he said, smiling. “You’re very understanding.”

“I know,” I said, smiling.

We went back to Montauk and had our late lunch and laughed about tiny shrimp and how one day someone might find his ring. Maybe himself. Maybe one of our grandchildren. Wouldn’t that be a story?

Love and shrimp,


East Hampton
August 5, 2019

Dear East Hampton Star,

This is a letter I’ve often contemplated writing and submitting over the last 25 years or so. It was prompted not by a request but by something I saw. I was driving on Dunemere-Further Lane and a greenskeeper was spraying the greens with a firehose-style device. As always I wondered if it was more than just water in the reservoir on the vehicle he had with him. And then I realized that his health might be in danger and he might not have known. And a few days ago, I had seen a guy buying a huge jug of Roundup and letting his very young son carry it out to the car. It’s time people knew the truth about Roundup.

You may have seen a current commercial asking for people who have been harmed by on-the-job exposure to Roundup to volunteer to be part of a class-action suit against Monsanto, the maker of this popular weed killer. This is because Monsanto was protected from the public by advocates who prized money over public safety. The truth is as follows:

In the late 1970s, Monsanto discovered and marketed a weed-killer they claimed was safe for use around children and pets even though it had the ability to kill weeds extremely quickly. Not only did they market this “miracle” chemical, Glyphosate (which is essentially the active ingredient in Roundup), but they also made it available to homeowners for use in getting rid of pesky weeds. It became their top moneymaker overnight.

For those who don’t know, Monsanto was actually a seed-producer and distributor to the farm industry, as well as a seller of chemicals to help them grow. With the popularity of Roundup came a new conundrum for the farmers. If it was not sprayed carefully, it would kill not only the weeds but the crops as well. Monsanto saw a market for genetically engineered crops that were resistant to glyphosate and could be sprayed with the stuff without risk of killing them. This was about the time that Crispr and similar technologies were being tested and Monsanto used it to splice a completely new gene which conferred resistance to Roundup into a few important cash-crops, most notably corn, cotton, tomatoes, and sugar beets. By 1997, Monsanto’s new corn was cleared for human consumption, and it has replaced classic and heirloom corn varieties in most commercial farming areas.

The thing is that thanks to patent laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s by bureaucrats and money-grubbers working for special interest groups, no independent safety testing was ever done of Glyphosate (which remains proprietary) or the Glyphosate-resistant crops. Monsanto did all its own testing in-house and most of the actual test results have never been shown.

But if Glyphosate was so safe, why were there suddenly a rash of cancer clusters in regions surrounding farms where the stuff was being used? There were a lot of tentative links between Glyphosate and cancer, but since Monsanto refused to allow independent testing, the world had to take the company’s word that Roundup was really safe. In other words the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration were never allowed to test the chemical or the modified crops.

In 2009, a French independent test facility was able to get its hands on a small quantity of seed corn. This lab then designed a small but well-executed study to determine exactly how dangerous Glyphosate or the resistant crops might be. It’s important to note that Monsanto’s tests all ended at four months. This new study was scheduled to last four years so it could study the effects on a specially-bred human-analog rat variety which is a very good predictor of how the human body will react to any pollutant at various stages in life (infancy, childhood, old age, etc.). The study was declared invalid due to small sample size. However, the findings were very suggestive and frightening. It turns out that the cancers in the test rats began to develop in the fifth month of the study. Monsanto’s studies only lasted four months (they claim) so this explains why the cancer did not show up in their studies. By the end of the third year, all the test groups of rats had died of horrible tumors, systemic disease, and organ failure. The control group rats, fed a clean diet, did develop cancers but only at the normal rate for the breed and only two died of congenital causes unrelated to cancer or chemical poisoning. In other words, though not absolutely conclusive, this study suggests that both glyphosate and the crops bred to resist its effects are virulent carcinogens.

I have known how Roundup (glyphos­ate) works for years. The claims that it was safe have always been belied by the cautionary notes on the labels. Why would you need to use gloves or eye protection if it was safe? I can see why you wouldn’t want to drink it, but that was essentially what the initial ad campaigns marketing the stuff to homeowners for backyard use were suggesting. Also, I had witnessed the stuff’s effects on insects, both helpful and pest species; essentially it killed them all.

The bottom line is that thanks to lax protections of the general public, both Monsanto and the people it has gotten to sell Roundup (such as garden centers and hardware stores) have been making money on a product that is incredibly dangerous. Thanks to indiscriminate application and illegal dumping of the stuff (we all know that people with extra Roundup probably dump it down the drain or storm drains like they do with old gas or oil) has led to every watershed worldwide having measurable levels of glyphosate found in them — even the clean water of New York City has trace amounts of glyphosate. The French study strongly suggests that even though the U.S.F.D.A. and E.P.A. have determined that these trace amounts are safe. There may, in fact, be no safe level of exposure. The upshot is that anyone using Roundup on a farm or in their yard is not only exposing themselves to a powerful carcinogen but they are also potentially endangering the health of everyone around them.

I’m issuing a formal request that everyone please stop buying Roundup for home use at the very least. Also, make sure that the farms whose stands you patronize have not used Roundup. It might get into crops that are brought to market before they are killed. And it’s not something you can wash off either. It is designed to penetrate the tissues of whatever it’s applied to so no amount of soaking or washing will make such produce safe. Happy to say I know that many local farmers have turned away from the use of Roundup. And most of the local farms grow only traditional and heirloom varieties of corn. The problem is really in the hands of people who use glyphosate to keep walkways and lawns free of weeds. I even have a solution for them if they’re willing to try it — horticultural vinegar. Let’s end the market for Monsanto’s killer chemicals. It’s in all of our interests to do so.

Thanks for reading.



One Day?
August 5, 2019

Dear Dave,

Last year I wrote a letter to the editor saying we should put up a workplace safety board saying “America has gone ___ days without a mass shooting,” but now we can’t even go one day?

I heard Rick Santorum arguing that if we take away legal ownership of assault weapons then only criminals would have them and we’d be defenseless. Does anyone know an instance where a mass shooting with an assault rifle by someone with a criminal background who obtained the weapon illegally was stopped by a civilian (not law enforcement) with a legally obtained assault rifle?

Universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole are common sense but neither would have stopped the last three shootings. These individuals weren’t criminals right up to the moment they started killing people.

We have to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were made for one intended purpose: to kill people. Someone’s fun on a gun range is not more important than people’s lives, and if you go hunting with one of those things you’ve got a screw loose, plain and simple. If you need more than a 10-shot magazine to kill an animal you’re hunting you don’t need more bullets, you need more practice.

Again, we need to reinstate the assault weapons ban. While it was in place, none of the N.R.A.’s apocalyptic predictions came true and there are lots of people who would be alive today if it were still in place.


On the Ballot
Sebastian, Fla.
August 5, 2019

Dear David,

Is this not the U.S.A.? In a democracy doesn’t the majority rule? How about a question about gun ownership being placed on the ballot next election?

This would take the pressure off the do-nothing Congress and the N.R.A.

Best regards,


Turn Into Action
East Hampton
August 5, 2019

To the Editor:

Waking up Sunday morning to news of yet another mass shooting — the second in less than 14 hours — was sickeningly surreal.

Those bemoaning that “Congress still has done nothing about gun violence” are being disingenuous. While the Republican-majority Senate has done nothing, the Democratic-led House of Representatives has done something. Earlier this year it passed the bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which called for universal background checks on every gun sale or transfer. Incredibly, our representative, Lee Zeldin, voted against this common-sense measure.

Each and every one of us has a responsibility to do something, whether it’s voting Lee Zeldin out of office and electing a Democrat who will support gun legislation, contributing to a gun safety organization like Moms Demand Action, or letting Mitch McConnell know the country is not going to stand by while he stalls a Senate vote on the Background Checks Act.

We must turn our thoughts, prayers, and anguish into action. Every day we don’t do something we allow the status quo to remain — and that is deadly.



July 30, 2019

Dear David,

I’m dismayed that my South Shore neighbors have continued to oppose these wind farms, not just in their backyards, but everywhere. I, as an 18-year-old Long Islander, write this letter to plead with them: Please consider the consequences of the climate crisis on your children.

What will you tell them 20 or 30 years from now when they ask what you did to stop the water from washing away their homes? What will you say when they look at you, teary eyed and hollow, and ask who is responsible for the destruction of the beautiful wildlife and beaches that you claim to want to preserve today by opposing these turbines?

It is with the most sincere, authentic desire I have that I ask you not to make us resent you. The youth require action now, and that means cutting out fossil fuels. That means wind everywhere it can be, and that so happens to be here. My generation begs of you: Save this planet while we still have time left.


We’ve Been Had
August 5, 2019

Dear Mr. Rattray:

The original resolution that my neighbors and I supported regarding the acquisition of 36 Gann Road for water quality improvement, a 1.1-acre parcel with a 2,500-square-foot, one-family home and a pool, adopted a year ago this week, made no mention of rezoning that portion of our residential neighborhood into a commercial property, or erecting an additional 5,000-square-foot building, however green it might be, and further expanding a recreational oyster raising operation that is callously usurping public access, poisoning the water, and eroding the beachfront and deeded public access to the Babes Lane Preserve.

Ironically, I first met David Lys, whose election I supported, but who has become the face and voice of this travesty of planning, zoning, and environmental review, when CfAR was fighting for the public’s access to the town preserve on Dolphin Drive. At that point, he was vocal in his objection to the fact the then-town board, three of whom still serve, voted to destroy the public’s access to the oceanfront by not allowing parking on the town-purchased nature preserve. The adopted plan for that parking was for eight cars, including two handicapped spots, outlined by the Nature Preserve Committee. That public access guy, honest and neighborhood-oriented, is long gone.

Our current board, save one, Jeff Bragman, who has publicly questioned the legality of the recent resolutions, has now voted against the Springs community’s open access to another nature preserve, Babes Lane, and chosen to ignore those directly affected, commercial and recreational fisher folk, neighborhood residents, local business owners, and boaters throughout the process thus far in the quest for “free money.” Whether from taxes, community preservation fund, or fees, there is no such thing. It’s paid for by us all one way or another, and like Dirt Beach in Montauk, we continue to pay for the board’s “we’ll take care of it later” insouciance.

This project does not belong in our residential neighborhood just because the town has paid for a cool model. The town dock and Babes Lane waterfront belong to us all, not just recreational oyster fishers who pay for the privilege. Virtually every resident of the immediate area, as evidenced by their signatures on a petition to halt this, strongly objects to going forward with this project as currently envisioned. We’ve been had, as is often the case in Springs, the most populous hamlet.

This is our neighborhood, not the town’s preening experiment. The hatchery itself is currently negatively affecting water quality, eroding beachfront, and impacting traditional dock and water access. To wit, what genius decided that it’s okay to build and anchor an additional 50-foot dock with pressure-treated wood and let it leach into the harbor, or usurp the preserve access and kill the beach grass by stacking occasionally used floats, etc. And how dare so-called “public servants” continue to sing the refrain, “We’ll take care of that later,” when doing so without real public notice or community input, or the safeguards of planning, permitting, and appropriate review to whose protections we are all entitled? For shame.



Duck Creek Farm Association

Speaks for Itself
August 4, 2019

To the Editor,

After reading Sue Menu’s letter to the editor last week, I must say that I am a bit baffled. Judge Lisa Rana, in all of her literature, personal letters, news ads, and radio ads, never spoke negatively about her opponent. In fact, as a member of her campaign, I can tell you that Judge Rana is adamant that her campaign focus solely on her qualifications for office, and her performance on the bench over the past 16 years.

Judge Rana’s record speaks for itself. Also, being an attorney herself, Susan Menu should know that the judicial campaign ethics rules do not allow Judge Rana’s campaign to engage in partisan political commentary. This is the reason why Judge Rana does not comment when others engage in political partisan conduct, even when such partisan remarks are made directly by her opponent.

Clearly, Susan Menu’s anger is misdirected. Every voter looks at each candidate’s qualifications and experience when making their choice — that is what is so wonderful about our democracy. Let’s just make sure that the choices we each make are based upon fact, not fiction.


Great Opportunity
East Hampton
August 5, 2019

Dear David,

As we now know, Supervisor Van Scoyoc and town Council members Overby, Lys, and Burke-Gonzalez sold out Beach Lane and our commercial fishermen to Deepwater Wind months in advance of any environmental review.

Their pretense that they will defend East Hampton’s interests, our fishermen, our beaches, and our residents, before the Public Service Commission continues. In fact, in more than a year and a half, the town board has still not retained the services of anyone with the expertise to review the thousands of pages of submissions by Deepwater, let alone prepare a scientifically grounded submission on our behalf.

These public officials are about cronyism, patronage, and little else. We have seen their back-room deal with Duryea’s Lobster Deck to evade planning board review, their attempt to give away a town road in Amagansett to a client of Democratic Party boss Chris Kelley, their fake compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act in respect of their shellfish hatchery vanity project — authorized from the get-go in an illegal executive session — and their ineptitude in addressing the emergency communications disaster in Springs.

We have an election coming in November, democracy’s great opportunity for the people to decide whether their elected representatives are doing their jobs. The East Hampton Reform Democrats, East Hampton town Republican Committee, and East Hampton Independence Party have joined together to back a joint slate of candidates we call the EH Fusion Party.

I am the EH Fusion Party candidate for town Supervisor. Bonnie Brady and Betsy Bambrick are our candidates for town board. We have a slate of town trustee candidates committed to independence from control by any political party. Working together without partisanship or political party control, EH Fusion Party candidates can and will solve local problems, such as the lack of affordable housing for locals who are being forced out, declining water quality, and life-threatening gaps in emergency communications.

If elected, we pledge scrupulous adherence to the letter and spirit of the law, especially environmental and open government laws. We pledge zero tolerance for cronyism, favoritism, party control of government, giving away public assets, and back-room deals for a select few.



Fusion Party
August 5, 2019

Dear David,

I am an avid supporter of the Fusion Party candidates. I have interviewed each of them on my local LTV show, “The Democratic View,” and was able to get to know and understand their point of view and their unique qualifications.

From Justice Lisa Rana to Dell Cullum, Bonnie Brady, Betsy Bambrick, David Gruber, to Rona Klopman and Steve Lester, each represents an independent individual who has contributed greatly to our town. And, if you just look around you at the abuses we witness that our town has suffered in the hands of those presently in power, with the exception of Jeff Bagman, I know you agree with me.

We need to save East Hampton from the clutches of those who want to enrich their coffers and garner more power.



Increased Taxes
East Hampton
August 5, 2019

To the Editor,

Remember Trump’s “vaporware” promise of a 10-percent middle class tax cut, which he thought would dupe voters into voting for 2016 G.O.P. congressional candidates. Now that his promise has evaporated, let’s take a look at what has actually happened to the middle class. The “tax cut” Trump (and the G.O.P.) promised the middle class has evaporated and a tax hike materialized.

A tax cut? Not by a long shot: To date, the Trump administration has increased taxes on Americans by imposing nearly $42 billion worth of tariffs. The administration has also threatened $129 billion in additional import duties. So, that amounts to more than $170 billion in “taxes” as a result of the Trump tariff plan.

A tariff is a type of excise tax that is levied on goods produced abroad at the time of import. They are intended to increase consumption of goods manufactured at home by increasing the price of foreign-produced goods. There is no benefit to tariffs if the imported goods are not produced here in sufficient numbers to meet domestic demand.

Even if tariffs afforded some short-term protection for domestic industries by shielding them from foreign competitors, they do so at the expense of others in the economy, including consumers and other industries, resulting in less economic output in the long run. Recent research found that tariff increases lead to less output and productivity and more unemployment and inequality. These negative effects are magnified when tariffs are increased during expansions and in advanced economies, such as in the U.S. now. Ultimately, the research found that tariffs result in net decreases in productivity, output, and income; consumers lose more than producers gain, resulting in a net loss to the economy.

This tariff stuff is difficult to unravel to find the truth, but let’s try to get there.

Contrary to Trump’s bravado, China (or any other country whose goods are subject to Trump tariffs) is not directly paying the tariffs; it is the companies that are importing the goods into the U.S. that are subject to the tariff levy. Maybe it’s a Chinese company, but more likely it’s a U.S. company manufacturing the products abroad and importing them for sale at home, all in the hope of affording its customers lower prices.

Let’s assume that’s Department Store X: It (or its importing arm) pays the tariff to the U.S. government at the time of import and then has to price those goods for sale to its U.S. customers. It may decide to eat the cost of the tariffs, but given the slim margin these stores operate under today that’s not entirely likely. What is more likely is that it will pass on some or all of the cost of the tariff to you and me in the way of higher prices for the goods we buy — and we buy a lot of stuff from China and the other countries embroiled in the trade wars Trump has created. And this “tax” hits the middle and lower classes hardest because it takes more out of their paychecks.

While admittedly this is a 50,000-foot view of the issue, there is little pushback on the facts (even Trump’s economic “guru” Larry Kudlow had to so confess). So, one has to ask oneself why it is that the Democratic presidential candidates haven’t exposed Trump’s tariff plan for the piñata that it is? And why is it that our congressman, Lee Zeldin, hasn’t stood up for his constituents and protested the higher prices and other threats Trump’s tariffs present?

We’ve been lied to enough, and Mr. Zeldin has drunk too much of the Trump Kool-Aid to be of any help to us. We all need to stand up next November and admit that we’re mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore — and vote for a Democrat for president and a Democrat as our congressional representative.



Like a Mild Spice
August 5, 2019

Dear Mr. Rattray,

When the president, on July 4th, proudly proclaimed that the brave colonial soldiers “manned the air, rammed the ramparts, and took over the airports,” in our successful victory over the British in the Revolutionary War, it was an easy alley-oop for comedians across this great land and around the world.

Aviation historians (along with everyone else) realized that there were no airports in existence, anywhere, at the time of our fight for independence. Nor were there airports 100 years later. (It is generally agreed that the world’s first airport was the College Park Airport in Maryland, established by Wilbur Wright in 1909.)

Trump’s assertion, attributed to a teleprompter malfunction plus heavy downpours during the speech, blends easily, like a mild spice, into the bottomless mix of gaffes, misstatements, insults, and screaming tweets he treats us to virtually every day. We shake our heads and smile. Or roll our eyes and use special words to ourselves. It depends.

To some, it’s almost numbing. Maybe like tinnitus. A ringing in your ear that never ceases and you somehow learn to ignore it. If you’re used to walking barefoot on the gravel drives and streets, your feet toughen up, the skin gets thicker; it doesn’t hurt.

For others (my hand just went up), it’s like a car alarm that keeps going off outside your bedroom window. The annoying dog in the neighbor’s backyard that won’t stop barking.

In 1993 the basketball star Charles Barkley famously said, “I’m not a role model,” in response to complaints about his demeanor on and off-court. (Now he’s a brilliantly entertaining N.B.A. commentator who’s more teddy bear than charging grizzly.)

I never cared much whether professional athletes were role models as long as their behavior didn’t involve spousal or other physical abuse off the field or the court. But I do expect the president to be a role model, not a whining child-bully who calls for “national unity” in a State of the Union address or after two more mass shootings, and then hurls vitriol at his critics and opponents, questioning their patriotism, maligning their intelligence.

How easy it would have been to not show bald-faced disrespect for John McCain, an American war hero. How easy to not withdraw American support for the Paris Climate Accord. How easy to not abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. To not question the patriotism of young, progressive Democrats pushing for social equality and a “greener” agenda. Or the patriotism of athletes who want to show the world their anger over police and other violence against people of color.

You can never destroy someone else’s “legacy,” as some have sworn to do with President Obama’s. You can only make — or not make — your own.

The former president inherited this country’s worst recession since the Great Depression. In early 2009 the unemployment rate was over 9 percent. When Obama left office it was at about 4.5 percent — a long and difficult struggle back from that hole. When Trump took office he landed very much as he had when his daddy bankrolled him as a young “deal” maker all those years ago: The hard work had been done. And now, instead of “draining the swamp,” he poisoned the land.

We may never have realized how diverse a nation we were until he took office. As one comedian noted, we might actually have to give the president some credit for the remarkable midterm election of so many women of color and gender diversity. All good. But better still would be a leader who understands how to help build that “one nation” thing. How to respect the opinions of others, even when they don’t mirror your own.

There’ve been 12 presidents in my lifetime, a few I was much too young to even think about, a few I disagreed with vehemently, and a few I admired greatly. I’m a liberal Democrat (that’s so surprising, Lyle!), but I’ll gladly vote for a moderate who can begin the daunting task of uniting our citizens — at the very least in the area of mutual respect for our glorious differences.



About Hating
East Hampton
August 5, 2019


Growing up Jewish in New York City it was not difficult to understand the motivation that people have for hating other people. It was so much easier to hate someone else then to do what you had to do to make your life better. My parents opted for the no-hate, work-your-ass-off mantra. They said not to hate the goyim (Christians) but not to trust them.

Racism in America seems different from anywhere else in the world. It’s not objective or subjective. Not necessarily logical, expedient, or even beneficial. Yet, it is essential. It’s part of our DNA. It’s who we are and who we have always been. It seems bizarrely “Pavlovian,” acquired over centuries of repetition.

Americans have trouble understanding why the Vietnamese don’t hate us after what we did to their country. Killing a million people, injuring another million, destroying the ecosystem, and so on. By comparison, we still hate Muslims because of 9/11, but it’s absurd to equate the levels of destruction.

What’s wrong with the Vietnamese? Or is it us who has the problem?

What Obama tried to give us was hope. A fleeting inspiration that we could do better and achieve something terrific. Trump gives us hate. A scapegoat for us to vilify and disparage. An outlet for the pent-up frustrations of economic and political dysfunction. Unfortunately, hate doesn’t put food on the table, and hate doesn’t provide hope.

Hate is emotional pornography. It’s for men and women whose sense of intimacy has been crushed and eviscerated, people who replace loving and feeling with animus and violence, for autocrats who have no legitimacy and need to rally the population.

What’s great about hating is how easy it is. It doesn’t require logic or deep thinking. Eyes to see a color or ears to hear an accent. Point someone in the right direction and yell “hate.” See El Paso and Dayton.

Ultimately, it’s the silence that accompanies and surrounds our hatred that tells our story. There really weren’t any good Nazis. There aren’t any today.


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