From Our Listeners

Letters: Obama As Role Model, Economic Survivors' Guilt

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Listeners share their thoughts on President Obama as a role model for African-American boys and feeling guilty about not being affected by the recession.


It's Tuesday and time to read from your emails and Web comments. Many teachers and parents wrote in during our conversation about the president as a role model, and they told us that President Obama is an inspiration for many of the African-American boys they work with. Sean Green(ph) is a doctor who emailed from Ardmore, Pennsylvania, with mixed feelings: I'm happy that young people see President Obama in a positive light but I am very disappointed in the whole topic. It is an insult to the hundreds, if not thousands, of African-American physicians, dentists, pilots, policemen, scientists, actors, sports figures other politicians, et cetera that have been in the public eye as positive forces for the past 30, 40 or 50 years. Dr. King took a bullet for black people, and now all of a sudden, it takes a black President Obama for young black men to think anything is possible?

And as the economy sheds more jobs by the day, we talked about survivor guilt, what happens to the people left behind after their colleagues get pink slips. They leave, wrote Amy(ph) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My husband's former company has been and will continue to have layoffs and his group was constantly stressed about layoffs and the extra work load, so he found another job. When he left, he told his boss he hopes this allows for one last layoff for his former co-workers.

Another listener held on to his sense of humor through another round of bad news. Andy Pearson(ph) in Florida figured, I guess I'm lucky in a way. I don't have the slightest bit of survivor's guilt. My whole company is going belly-up soon. Little consolation, I'm sure. Thanks to Andy and to all of you who shared your stories about how this crisis changes the way you live.

Back in December, we interviewed Gabriel Sherman who wrote a story for the New Republic magazine about a book called "Angel at the Fence" by Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat. Rosenblat and his publisher called it a memoir, but large parts of the story turned out to be untrue. In the end, Berkley Books cancelled publication. In our interview, we gave Gabriel Sherman credit for breaking that story. Listener Danny Bloom(ph) from Taiwan contacted us. Gabe Sherman did not break the hoax news(ph), he wrote; I did. We contacted Gabriel Sherman. Here's what he told us.

(Reading) Danny Bloom gave me the initial tip to look into the Herman Rosenblat story, which I then followed up on by contacting the primary sources doing firsthand research into the memoir. After speaking with Ken Waltzer at Michigan State University, Deborah Lipstadt at Emory, members of Herman's family including his son and mother-in-law and fellow Holocaust survivors, I was able to confirm that the love story at the center of "Angel at the Fence" was manufactured. Danny deserves credit for providing me with the tip to investigate the story.

And finally, a clarification, yesterday we talked about what you want from your bank. And in that broadcast, we used the term bank loosely, as a catch all for the industry in general. It's important to note that there are many different kinds of banks. The vast majority in the U.S. are commercial banks, which make transactions directly with customers, small businesses and corporations. There are also mortgage banks and investment banks and all make money in very different ways. We apologize for any confusion.

If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

CONAN: And I'm Neal Conan, NPR News in Washington.

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