Like many fellow inveterate bus-riders, cyclists and pedestrians, I was offended by the cover tagline for "Homer's Odyssey" [
, July 30, 2003], which reads, "City Hall and OHSU are betting a quarter-billion dollars and their reputations on a man who doesn't even own a car." This line suggests that a person who does not own a car is unlikely to be entrusted with high-stakes projects and, by extension, is not likely to be valued as a productive citizen. Indeed, the line insinuates that a person "who doesn't even own a car" is not usually worth a damn, which must be what makes Homer Williams such a newsworthy exception, right?
I must assume one of two opinions regarding the tagline author's feelings toward folks who do not own cars: Either he or she is a sympathetic person but a crappy writer, or he or she is a bigot who believes that unless one has the financial wherewithal to purchase a car, one must be doomed to economic subservience and intellectual, creative and professional obscurity. If the case happens to be the former, then the writer has much to learn. If the case is the latter, then to this person I direct the following reality check: Most of the people on this planet do not own cars, either by choice or financial restriction, and I daresay that most of these individuals are probably more successful humans than you.
Patrick D. Eivers
Northeast Fargo Street
WHAT'S HALVAH GOT TO DO WITH IT?
In "Prima Vera in Autumn" [The Nose, July 30, 2003], Willamette Week ascribes Mayor Vera Katz's success in part to her "Jewish mother's charm" and "another Jewish mother trait: an annoying need to micromanage every single detail."
I was surprised to read that this trait belongs only to Jewish mothers, and is apparently absent from all others. I was equally surprised to see WW print such a bigoted and stereotyping comment, given your own stance against others' bigotry. Even ascribing success to a positive ethnic or religious trait, such as charm, is an insult, because it implies a genetic, struggle-free ability to succeed and supports the views of those that believe Jews have not earned their accomplishments.
In the same issue, Willamette Week did not ascribe Mary Holden's alleged abuse of girls, restaurateur Joyce Nakajima's brusqueness, Nia Gray's journalistic compromises or Michael Woodward's dishonest insurance schemes to ethnic genetics or religious traits.
Mayor Katz, a woman and a member of one of Portland's smallest minorities, should be congratulated for her perseverance, intelligence, ability to connect with others and hard work.
There is no justification for promoting such useless stereotypes and identifying behavior with religion or ethnicity when
it is not relevant to the story.
Southwest Laber Road