Watch Your Tongue - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Watch Your Tongue

Re: Lawrence Henry’s In the Matter of the Boston “R”:

Lawrence Henry’s article on the Boston “r” reminded me of my three years’ residence in Cambridge as a Harvard Law student from 1969-72. Accents in the Boston area (as they do in NYC), vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, and I suppose reflect the various patterns of immigration that have occurred in the region.

On the last day of constitutional law class in May 1971, the late professor Paul Freund brought in an old 78 rpm phonograph and played for us a transcript of an NBC red network broadcast made in 1931 on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Holmes was interviewed by Charles Clark, who went on to become dean of the Yale Law School and later a judge on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. I was surprised to discover that Holmes spoke with what sounded to me as a decidedly upper class British accent. Here was a man born in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston in 1841, before the great waves of Irish and Italian immigration, who probably had a similar accent to the colonial citizens of 70 years earlier.
Stuart W. Settle, Jr.
Richmond, Virginia

Loved your article today. I once asked my buddy from Boston to read aloud two words that I had written on a piece of paper: drawer and draw. He pronounced the first one “draw,” and the second “drawer!”

I just finished reading Lawrence Henry’s amusing article. I enjoyed it very much.

While he captured most of the issues regarding the Boston “r” he left one out: The Law of Conservation of R’s.

In Boston, R’s are neither created nor destroyed. R’s are conserved. Thus for every R dropped “Your socks are in the draw”, one must be created, “I want a tuner fish sandwich.”
Gregg Germain

ALRIGHT! Finally someone has the guts to make fun of a New Englander accent (me being from New York). Since I was a child, I have heard the standard put-downs on the Southern drawl — which to me has always been the more beautiful dialect of our country.

But being that it is politically okay to ridicule anything southern and not politically correct to draw attention to northern peculiarities — well, this is exactly why I read the American Spectator.

You all have a good day!
Joellen M. Arrabito

Enjoyed your piece on the eccentric Boston ‘r.’ It was wicked hahd co-ah.

As a Southerner who has spent many a happy hour in Fenway Pahk, I understand Boston (Bahstun?), and can even speak a little. (Though at Sawks ticket prices today, I probably won’t be returning very often — for today’s price, back in the eighties I could have sat anywhere I wanted to and Carl Yastrzemski would have driven me home after the game.)

As to your question on where to go — go south, where the accents and the weather are softer (with some dramatic exceptions during hurricane season, so avoid the coasts). But don’t come to Florida. We’re overrun by Yankees and Midwesterners, so it’s a real accent soup around here. The second wave of carpetbaggers has been a lot bigger than the first.

Larry Thornberry
Tampa, Florida

Many years ago I overheard two girls from Cranston, Rhode Island, talking about a new purchase:

“It’s a C’S cullah TV.”

Seems she had bought a color television. At Sears.
Mark Candon

Re: George Neumayr’s Masques of Death:

It must be tough being superior, Mr. Neumayr. It’s a bitch when there are others in this world who don’t fit your social ideal. People like you with your hateful views are ruining this country. Your brand of soulless, irrational, simplistic and self-important blather belongs on a roll in a lavatory (or as the rest of us great unwashed would call it, the s—er).
Mike Cunningham
Rochester, New York

George Neumayr’s article was right on target. I have lived in Houston TX since 1988, but I am a native of South Louisiana and have close ties with New Orleans. Friends and relatives who have lived there all their lives have been telling me that New Orleans was a disaster city in free-fall, long before Katrina. The city of “culture” that the news media have been mourning, died about 40 years ago. Katrina has only uncovered the corpse. I mean this as no slight to the many good people who were from there.

No economy, no education system for the children, political corruption of an unbelievable magnitude, and rampant, vicious, street crime all wrapped in a phony facade of “the city that care forgot.” If a New Orleans is ever to be brought back to life, the facts of its demise have got to be faced and dealt with. No amount of cheap “casinos,” restaurants, and topless bars will do anything for it.
M. Miller

Your pathetic and anecdotal article “Masques of Death” does nothing to shed light upon or solve the terrible social problems in this country which, as you claim, are greatly exacerbated in New Orleans. In fact, your article’s point is to merely devalue the lives of those living in and suffering in New Orleans. At best, your article suggests that the NAACP wants black Americans to live in poor and criminal conditions. This is utterly baseless. What a despicable “cover” for your dishonorable “conservative” president. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Joseph R. Speece, III

How can you print this [bleep]!?!?!

Blame the people stuck in the worst large-scale disaster to happen in the U.S. since the Dust Bowl?

If our government had actually done something useful in the first 36 hours, then chaos we are seeing now would have been averted.

But then again, this same administration did not foresee the chaos after the fall of Saddam. So, why should I be surprised now?
Bill Visco
Secaucus, New Jersey

Although I am not a Bush supporter, I do agree that the entire nation (led by the media) is wasting time, energy, and heart with trying to point the finger. Regardless of what should have been done, and what a scared city is doing. We will not save anyone without open mindedness, resourcefulness, and human decency. Our focus to often in this world is based on negativity, instead of problem solving. Nothing can take Katrina back. Let us at least try to repair the damage to our city, our nation, and our souls.
JoLeigh Engle
Port Aransas, Texas

You obviously do not have a clue about inner city society and if you claim to be such an American, you would be fixing the issues rather than accusing others for failures in New Orleans or the LA Riots as you imply. Stick to you own race issues and stop trying to divide the nation.

Signed, a Baptist Christian that will pray for you to see it the Christian way

The unvarnished truth regarding the collapse of law and order in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina as told by George Neumayr needs to be heard and understood by more people in this country, replacing the steady diet of race-baiting and P.C. tripe that is spoon-fed to us daily by the liberal media.

The pictures of the appalling lack of human decency by so many undaunted in their greed and the predatory violence were disgraceful to watch on TV as were the typical excuses (“They’re scared and desperate”) and the blame shifting (Government’s fault, or Bush’s fault) which is being presented by the P.C. talking-heads.

The scenes of the anarchy ensuing are rather like a symbolic look into the future at the ash heap of liberalism.
John Nelson
Hebron, Connecticut

I found your article very informative. I could not understand why the violence was so bad down there. Do you think Atlanta is drifting that way?
Jeff Boshart
Cary North Carolina

I would like to express the extreme offense I have taken at a Spectator article entitled “Masques of Death.”

The very idea of publishing an article which places blame for the current situation in New Orleans upon its citizens is simply ludicrous. This is nothing but an attempt on Mr. Neumayr’s part to spew his hate, and the entire tone of the article smacks of his bigotry. If he were truly concerned for the city’s fate, he might instead consider writing an article which provides your readers with information on how to donate funds to those people who are so desperately in need of help. Instead of doing that, though, he behaves like a true opportunist and lashes out.

Is the failure to reinforce the levees the fault of gangsta rap, or poor planning by this administration when it chose to withdraw funds from that very effort to fund the travesty that is the Iraq war? Which sounds more likely?

Is the inability to escape New Orleans the fault of “criminals controlling the city,” or could it be that there were no reliable methods of escape, not to mention the lack of National Guard troops because they were (again) devoted to Iraq?

Could the lack of food and water, and the looting that ensued, be blamed upon their “dangerous culture?” Or could it maybe, just maybe, be a desperate attempt at survival made by people who’re getting only half-hearted assistance from those who should’ve planned for this long before the hurricane arrived?

Thank you for the column “Masques of Death.” It scares me to hear and see the media ambush the President for this catastrophe. Sure the federal government can be slow and burdensome, but when will the focus turn on the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana? Did you see the picture of dozens and dozens of New Orleans School & City buses, sitting neatly parked with water up to their wheel wells? It says a lot on how the City let the buses sit when they could have been hauling people out of the city.
John Fox
Dallas, Texas

This “article” has to be one of the most thinly veiled pieces of racist, illogical nonsense I’ve been exposed to in years. I’m not sure which displays a greater lack of compassion, let alone rational thought and integrity — Neumayr penning it, or your “magazine” publishing it.
Earl Gray Stevens

George Neumayr’s astonishingly cruel “Masques of Death” article demonstrates better than anything I’ve seen why George W. Bush had to campaign on a platform of “compassionate conservatism” to have a prayer of winning the White House in 2000. Mr. Neumayr’s philosophy is simple: blame the victim. And the implementation of that philosophy is the primary reason why our country has been unable to respond effectively to this crisis. There was a time when political conservatism at least wore a mask of concern about the welfare of those at the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum. Often there was something beneath the mask. This drew me toward the conservative cause. Now even the mask is gone.
John King

Thousands of people have died and continue to die because of a natural disaster. On top of that no one came to help them. I hope you are as lucky some day. May your words of contempt and stupidity turn on you. I have never seen the face of evil portrayed so clearly as it has been by your words. Words of contempt instead of compassion, words of hatred instead of love.

I guess all those elderly people, sick people in hospitals, children, infants — all of them — are to blame. Not the government response that was slower than a third world country. Stay in your plastic bubble George. No one cares what you say anymore (not even card carrying Republicans). You have lost all credibility.

I disagree with your article entitled “Masques of Death.” You repeatedly imply that liberal leadership resulted in a city rife with crime, and asserted that the current culture of New Orleans must be “cleared away if civilization is to return to New Orleans.” However, I do not believe this to be a fair assessment for several reasons.

First of all, you accused the ACLU and NAACP of restricting the power of the police force. What you fail to take into consideration, however, is that not too long ago (when organizations like the NAACP didn’t exist) police would savagely assault black citizens in the streets without repercussions. Even before that, when blacks were considered property, people were actually paid to hunt down and retrieve unruly slaves. Therefore, if organizations such as the NAACP really are restraining police activities, then it is a well-reasoned response based on the horrific track record of minority law enforcement.

Second, I believe you are incorrect in your cause-and-effect analysis of this situation. New Orleans is a high crime area, and it is also a very liberal city. However, you claim that liberal control of New Orleans causes the city to have a high crime rate. I do not believe this is correct. Instead, I think that both factors stem from the low standard of living in New Orleans. Conservatism tends to favor the rich at the cost of the poor, so those living on lower or middle income generally gravitate to the left. Also, poverty often leads to high crime rates. So, while New Orleans may be both liberal and high crime, I do not believe they are directly related.

Finally, you claim that New Orleans culture needs to be redone in order for the civilization to return to New Orleans. You managed to include a substantial number of crime-related figures, but you failed to mention the positive aspects of New Orleans. An enormous amount of musical talent has been produced from the region, as great a contribution to America as the news media or any form of journalism, and greater than any sporting event. The destruction, or even reduction, of New Orleans culture would be a grave blow to American society, as bad as the destruction of all wine would be to France’s society. I do not believe that eliminating New Orleans culture would have an overall positive outcome.

In conclusion, I believe your article “Masques of Death” is an unfair, and probably inaccurate, assessment of New Orleans culture. I would also like to note the completely unapologetic tone of your piece, given the massive damage incurred by Katrina. I believe you should at least revise the article to include some sympathy for the victims of the hurricane. In the future, try to avoid the outright insults which are used so often in your article.
Eric Bensley

No matter how long Meet the Press continues, it will never have a lower point than 9-4-05. Secessionist Jefferson parish president Aaron Broussard of New Orleans — who proposed the “mouse that roared” strategy of seceding in order to get some government aid — asserted without any expression of shock, contradiction, or doubt by Tim Russert that the bureaucracy had committed murder in New Orleans. He then broke into hysterical weeping over the death of the mother of the man in charge of an emergency management building. Russert in effect put him out of his misery by not returning to him for a comment, while thanking him for his emotional contribution at the end of the segment.

Was Russert feeling the need this Sunday to show his boldness because Drudge repeated a newspaper criticism of NBC for showing on the West Coast a rap star’s absurd comments on the NBC telethon? Is that why he asked Chertoff whether he should resign? At least he didn’t accuse him of murder.

One also wonders why, if it is true that the current mayor of New Orleans is a reformer in contrast to previous corrupt mayors, as everyone keeps saying, CNN did not question former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial about that corruption and its effect on disaster preparation rather than handing him cream puffs as he was interviewed before flying to New Orleans from his job in Washington at the Urban League.

On ACTS (Adoration Contrition Thanksgiving Supplication), I have two other acronyms for the kinds of prayer:

ATAR: Adoration Thanksgiving Asking Reparation

ALTAR: Adoration Love Thanksgiving Asking Reparation.
R.L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

There was never a more true or more courageous report written. Thank you… and watch your back.

A first-time reader in Missouri,

One thing baffles me: How is it possible that the New Orleans leaders can get these people out of their houses and to the polls, but can’t get them out of their houses to escape a hurricane and a flood?
Jack Hughes
Chicago, Illinois

Re: Paul Beston’s High Water, High Tide:

Mr. Beston is spot on in his analysis of the chaos that is the New Orleans (mostly) situation and the political response. It is true that Bush seems to be a day late and a dollar short in his response to the crisis. But why should we expect anything different? It is no different than his political tone deafness as regards the illegal invasion across our borders and his refusal to stem the tide. It is no different than his entirely belated and insufficient response to falling public support for our war with Islamo-fascism in Iraq. It is no different than his indifference to the successful confirmation of his judicial nominations and the pure Hell that the Dems have put them through, unanswered by the White House.

It has been said about Mr. Bush, and he has shown it again and again, that he does not care a wit about the reality of politics. He will do what needs doing during a short, defined campaign period, but then it is over and he tries to be aloof from the day to day political realities. He is tone deaf to the perceptions of people and the clamor of the MSM. He seems to know no tactic other than the rope-a-dope. Well, he has now safely secured his second term, so he is safe. He could, however, be taking the Republican Party down the path to the obscurity that they previously knew. In politics, as in many things, perception is reality, and Bush seems not to care about how he and his administration are perceived, at least in the short run.
Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Please tell Paul Beston to get a grip and read George Neumayr’s column on the sewer of applied liberalism that New Orleans had become long before Katrina.

The core of New Orleans has for some time been in a state of near complete moral rot, and anyone who has spent any time in that city in recent years knows it. Such an environment is, inevitably, virtually helpless against a character test. Self-reliance — on an individual and community scale — simply crumbles when the self has been degraded by absorption into the cultural abyss of drugs, alcohol, and sex at the depraved levels found in New Orleans.

To our everlasting credit as a people, our willingness to help those in need has never taken these factors into account, but that doesn’t meant they don’t exist or that they don’t bear heavily on the success of relief efforts.

Disaster response first and foremost has to come individual by individual, neighbor by neighbor. America wasn’t built on the character of people who embrace victimhood and demand that others put a stop to their victimhood. The expectation that something called “the government” should somehow be on the scene instantaneously to make everything right — captured perfectly by Beston’s comment that “It’s up to the president now to make sure that the high water comes down, and that order returns to the Gulf Coast” — is both stupid and naive. America’s recovery from this or any other disaster will depend on the character of those affected, not on whether the government’s arrival was timely or rightly-equipped.

The MSM will persist on its take of blaming Bush and blaming the government for anything and everything that goes wrong, and will hash and rehash the Third World metaphor to try and make Americans across the country feel tarnished or somehow less confident in their country and its ideals. But over time, a larger truth will take hold, and that is that far more than any government inadequacy post-Katrina, the real cause of vast majority of the damage was the magnitude of the moral mess that was New Orleans before Katrina. And this larger truth will not make Americans less confident about their country and its ideals, but more confident that a renewed embrace of those ideals is needed, and will bring better preparedness and better solutions. The answer for New Orleans and for many parts of our country is a moral awakening, a throwing off of the political correctness that excuses depravity in the name of tolerance and diversity and multi-culturalism, and a restoration of the virtues that are the only impregnable foundation for lasting order and safety.

With a lot of prayer, hard work and selfless giving by individuals and communities, New Orleans can experience a new birth, and the city and the country will be stronger for it — regardless of what the government does or does not do.
Eric Georgatos
Dallas, Texas

The Big Easy was never safe nor are quite a few communities elsewhere in the United States that you should not drive into. Examples of communities within cities that can be considered lawless to some degree would be Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington D.C. Police would admonish you for being there if you didn’t live there. Some refer to these communities as inner city or urban. The current N.O. mayor campaigned on a platform that featured corruption elimination.

The social fabric of this country started to unravel in these urban centers during the 1960s and it continues today. As a child I remember well the phrase, “I don’t want to get involved.” It is not a coincidence that these places where urban decay is worst are also heavily dominated by the Democrats and pretend Republicans. Look at any Democrat controlled population center and it is a constant not a variable where crime, infrastructure disrepair, financial scandal, racism, economic segregation, and general economic underperformance are the main features of living there. Occasionally there is a Republican at the helm such as former Connecticut Governor Rowland (his replacement is a RINO) or Mitt Romney but even in this instance Connecticut and Massachusetts are dominated by Democrats. Once in a while a Republican does make a difference as did Rudy Giuliani. It is also a constant that in these blue areas most people do not look in the mirror, because they are busy pointing the finger at somebody else for their personal decisions, just as some people of New Orleans who wait to be rescued are pointing the finger at the government for not heeding constant warnings to get out.

Unlike Paul Beston, I am confident that eventually people will have their fill of the blue areas where the fabric is torn the most, and turn things around. If not then each of them will be an “Easy” of various size where the citizens will learn to adapt. Even in places such as Philly where Santa Claus was pelted with snowballs and a judge resides in the football stadium, people have been charitable during catastrophes. There is a flicker of hope.

I can blame and curse anybody that questions the commitment of the United States to its citizens. I wonder how many of these faces on TV receive assistance from the country that they doubt in the form of welfare, fuel assistance, Medicare, Medicaid, food vouchers, housing vouchers, and a variety of other programs designed for the “economically disadvantaged,” even though they have every opportunity to work themselves into the position not to need the assistance. And even now, can anybody other than those with a political axe to grind reasonably question this country’s resolve in sending aid this area?

Lucky for this devastated area that the charges of racism and neglect ring hollow. Lucky for these people who decided to stay regardless of the many warnings are not subject to the get-out-of-Iraq crowd groupthink. The liberal constituency would question the purpose of going into New Orleans when rescuers have faced gunfire. Does it not risk our heroes’ (the ones actually doing the work, not the ones pretending like certain TV reporters) lives to try to land a helicopter on a hospital roof only to take pot shots?

If Paul Beston wants social fabric then he should live in a red state instead of New York.
Diamon Sforza
San Diego, California (looking forward to Boise, Idaho, in the near future)

The President tells us that it will take “years” to rebuild New Orleans. Americans implicitly understand this because of the monumental nature of the task. In contrast, the left tells us we must get out of Iraq, either “now” or in a few months. I ask you: Which of these tasks is more important? The answer is: they both are. They should be accomplished in the time it takes to do them right. No one knows how long it will take to rebuild New Orleans, nor to exit from Iraq. Just do it right. The childish need for timetables is counter-productive.
John Pendleton, radio talk show host.

While waiting 53 minutes on “music hold” to make a donation to the Salvation Army, I watched the first wave of refugees (a label they are already complaining about — although it derives from “refuge:” shelter from hardship or danger. Seems okay to me). They seemed pretty happy filing into that nice clean environment, the Astrodome. Twenty-five thousand will sleep better tonight, I thought. But then I thought of the thousands more who will not. And then I read Paul Beston’s article and I thought, “Walk a mile in George Bush’s shoes, Paul.” In fact, wear them down to New Orleans and see if you can walk on water. Because that is what you seem to expect of Bush. While you’re down there, do a “man in the street” interview and ask them why they are firing on rescue helicopters. Yeah, I know. Frustration. Makes perfect sense.

We talk a lot about the late response, forgetting when Katrina actually made landfall. Considering the landline and cell phone breakdown, it’s surprising that there was any response at all. I think it was right neighborly of the state Bush used to govern for them to open their doors and wallets in a time of need. Did I miss the word of praise for that?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. But then, Paul Beston was not the foreman on that job.
Diane S. Smith
South San Francisco, California

Re: Wlady Pleszczynski’s Missed Anniversaries:

I know that Katrina is dominating the news (and rightly so) but we should pause to remember the end of WWII 60 years ago today and the millions that perished in the most destructive conflict in human history.
Ryan Rupe, U.S. Navy
Virginia Beach, Virginia

(For Ben Stein-related Reader Mail today, click here.)

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