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The Mast-Head: Missing in the Letters

Thu, 03/17/2022 - 05:35

The average Star reader might not notice it right away, but this is a banner week for our letters to the editor, not for what they contain, but what they do not. For the first time in my memory, we have not a single letter to the editor about East Hampton Airport. If there has been another issue of the newspaper like this over the past 20 years, I can’t recall it. Two things could explain this absence — the current holding pattern on new airport restrictions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

With the East Hampton Town Board working on new rules about what kind of aircraft can use the airport, and when, ahead of a self-imposed May deadline and the effectiveness of that untested, there may be little for our usual correspondents to comment on.

There is a lot to consider between now and when the airport changes over to the new policy, in which the town’s permission to take off and land would have to be secured in advance, but whether it will be useful in reducing noise is the big unknown. I could well be wrong, but I don’t see how this would make any difference at all. Are town officials really going to tell the helicopter companies no or make incoming Gulfstream jets turn away and land in Westhampton? I doubt it. Still, wait and see is about all anyone can do at this point.

I think that it is the tragic war in Ukraine that has most tamped down enthusiasm for local politics and other matters. Even some of our heaviest-fingered letter writers appear subdued. It seems impossible to get up quite the same steam with Ukraine’s cities being indiscriminately savaged by bombs and artillery. It is a kind of brute-force violence that many of us had wrongly assumed was consigned to the past.

A friend’s mother is in the war zone this week, as part of a medical mission to treat the wounded. Air raid sirens are nearly constant there; as they sound, she and the others jump into makeshift bomb shelters made of concrete and sandbags. Over the weekend, she treated a teenage Ukrainian fighter, a student with no idea how to be a soldier who looked like her American grandson.

Heroes are everywhere, like the television producer who rushed onto a Russian news broadcast shouting, “Stop the war. No to War,” while holding up a sign saying that her country was being lied to. She could face up to 15 years in prison — or worse. In contexts like these, problems like the airport can wait.

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