Letters Listeners comment on Michael Richards' racist tirade, I. King Jordan's legacy as President of Gallaudet University, and the best holiday movies of all time.

Letters

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LYNN NEARY, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. And we start with a correction. We talked with Kinky Friedman last Wednesday about his new Christmas fable. The musician and author was also a candidate for governor of Texas this year. He lost.

C.K. Hessen(ph) e-mailed to us, “Kinky Friedman attributed the quote the people have spoken, the bastards, to Hunter S. Thompson, but it was really a long-ago California Senate candidate, Dick Tuck, who said it the first time.”

A week ago, we talked about Michael Richards's racist tirade. Richards protested that he's not a racist, but Michael Shermer argued on The Opinion Page that in some ways, we're all racists.

Betsy, a listener in Louisville, Kentucky, agreed. “I am white,” she wrote, “was raised in deeply steeped racism and have spent all of my adult life trying to fight against it. I still catch myself being surprised when certain types of people excel at something or feel unsafe when a black man walks near my car at a traffic light.

“My African American friends know that I'm racists. I tell them fairly early in a friendship. They struggle with prejudice, like most persons educated on racism. I feel that it is the person most in power in our country, the white person, who can truly be called racist. So yes,” she wrote. “I am a racist. I hate it, it violates my beliefs and values, but it's still there.”

And we talked with I. King Jordan last week about his legacy as president of Gallaudet University at the protests in October over who will replace him when he retires later this month. They divided the campus and effectively shut down the school until the board agreed to search for a new replacement for Jordan.

Larry Bergen is a faculty member at Gallaudet. “I am concerned about the acceptance of deaf people who don't fit the mold that now predominates at Gallaudet,” he wrote. “I am a hearing faculty member. Like the daughter of one of your callers, most of our students are not skilled in ASL or knowledgeable about deaf culture.

“Because the board gave in to protests, we now face a growing imposition of one model of what it means to be deaf and one way to sign that is considered correct. Many fine hearing and hard of hearing faculty are considering leaving the institution. It is hard for me to see the long-term survival of the institution if a more open vision of university and its mission does not prevail. How can you help promote that openness once you have stepped down?”

Another listener took a different view. Court Preston e-mailed from Kentucky in support of the protests. “The deaf students at Gallaudet were inspiring,” he wrote, “and made me wish that my hearing counterparts could be so passionate about an issue.”

We ended last week with some of your favorite holiday movies of all time, and we heard no shortage of nominees. Ellen Peterson e-mailed from Arlington, Virginia, to suggest “A Christmas Story.” “Although I think my favorite part has the least to do with Christmas, I love when the dad gets his, quote, ‘major award,' the famous leg lamp. To this day, every time I see the word fragile on a box, I have to pronounce it the way the dad did - fra-gee-lay. It must be foreign.”

If you want to reach us with comments, questions or corrections, the best way is by e-mail. Our address is talk@npr.org. Let us know where you're writing from, and please give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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