Letters for April 12, 2007

Dispel the myth
With the new article by E.J. Graff in the Columbia Journalism Review ("The Opt-Out Myth,” March/April 2007) and the well-researched study by Joan C. Williams released last fall ("'Opt Out’ or Pushed Out? How the Press Covers Work/Family Conflict"), the truth is out there, and the National Organization for Women urges you to report it.

The media has the power and the duty to help put to rest a pernicious myth—the myth that significant numbers of women are eagerly trading the career track for the mommy track. The media bear the responsibility for peddling this myth to the masses.

The popular storyline claims that more women are abandoning paid work and staying home with their children out of pure choice. This tale is based only on anecdotal information. The women interviewed for these articles are part of a rare demographic that can afford to have only one working parent.

Additionally, upper- and middle-income women often are pushed out of their jobs by inflexible work environments that penalize workers who have family responsibilities (not because they blissfully “choose” to leave), while low-income women are expected to work, no matter what the circumstances are.

Media and policy-makers have been living in the imaginary world of June Cleaver. Millions of women are struggling to balance home life with the necessity of working for wages, and the media do a disservice to women and their families when they fail to report the reality of this situation.

Truly compelling reporting would dig below women’s personal decisions to the impact that public policy and workplace practices have on those decisions. The National Organization for Women is working to break down the barriers that mothers face. Please, don’t create another barrier by spreading misinformation. Please tell the real story for the sake of every mother and her family.

Karen Jackson

Chew on this
Re “The Foot Stamp Diet” (Cover story, March 22):

Kat Kerlin’s piece, “The Food Stamp Diet,” gave me “food” for thought regarding four items:

• The American system of entitlement is all ballsed up. It’s every man for himself. Social Darwinism. “I’ve got mine, screw you!”

• Don’t have children you cannot afford.

• Ninety-nine percent of “feral” people should be in a mental institution.

• America is a great country, if you can afford it.

John Fisher

Right Hook is wrong
Re “Firing U.S. attorneys is president’s job” (Right Hook, March 29):

I normally read Right Hook’s column only until I get to the first “ignorant liberal” mention, usually in the first or second paragraph, but I was looking for something in the March 29 issue I knew would be there, and I wasn’t disappointed. There it was, the already-old, talking-point response to Democrats unhappy with the firings of eight U.S. attorneys: Bill Clinton’s firing of all 93 U.S. attorneys when he took office in 1993.

Are we supposed to be shocked (shocked!) that a Democratic president, entering office after 12 years of Republican rule, would want to clear out all U.S. attorneys appointed by his Republican predecessor? I seriously doubt a new Republican president in similar circumstances would have kept the attorneys installed by a Democrat. Does Hook really expect us to believe that those 93 U.S. attorneys thought they’d be keeping their job, that they weren’t looking around for their next job on the day after the general election in November 1992? Wow, who couldn’t have seen that coming?

Did Congressional Democrats “carp” in 2001 when George Bush replaced Clinton’s U.S. attorneys with his own choices? Nope. Are they being hypocrites with a double standard now for criticizing the Justice Department’s handling of the current situation? Nope. What they’re doing is investigating the suspect dismissal of Republican-appointed public servants, something you wouldn’t have seen Republicans doing for any Democrats.

Carole Campedel

Scientific method
Re “Blinded by Science” (Cover story, March 1):

“Blinded by Science” is to be commended. The muzzling of findings by scientists has always been the in-game of politicians all along. The story by Dennis Myers is more aptly classified as a cover up of the reports of honest civil servants in the course of their jobs as health inspectors and not so much of findings by scientists.

More troubling is the involvement of political columnists in trying to buttress the opinions of elected officials at all levels without under- standing the underlying science.

For example, the issue of “global warming and greenhouse gas emission” has been a political dispute that has taken [its] toll in an entirely different direction. The willingness of bona fide scientists to be party to promote ideas, like “hybrids,” “ethanol,” “Hydrogen Highway,” “zero emission vehicles” (ZEV), etc., as alternatives to foreign fossil fuel, and thus reduce “greenhouse gases,” is disastrous.

Brahama D. Sharma
Chico, Calif.

Re “Justifying the war” (News, April 5):

In a story on the Oct. 11, 2002 congressional vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq, we reported, “There was no urgency to an October vote; the war did not start until five weeks later.” It should have read, “five months later.” This has been corrected on the Web site.