Top 10 Letters
Toni Morrison, the airlines, and more.
12:00 AM, Jun 16, 2003
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
David Skinner makes solid points about the implications of the Morrison sentence's syntax (The PSAT's Genius Grant, Part 2). At the same time, I think that replacing the "her" with "Ms. Morrison" or some such variant would be inelegant, as Ms. Morrison is clearly the logical subject.
The actual problem with the sentence is, I believe, that "African American" lacks a hyphen. Without a hyphen, it implies that one is an American living in Africa, or otherwise directly tied to that continent beyond mere racial heritage. A hyphen also establishes the politico-group identity in the now traditional format.
For example, my wife has dual nationality, and thus qualifies as an "Irish American," whereas I am merely an "Irish-American" fellow due to my great-grandmother's provenance.
--Peter C. Hansen
On the minor point: to be correct (although no clearer), the sentence would satisfy the professor's rule if it read: "The genius of Toni Morrison enables her to create . . ."
To Skinner's main point, the logic of his argument is impeccable. The sentence needed justification for the claim of genius. At the least, it needed an adjective about the novel, such as "superior" or "classic" or even "compelling."
But Skinner is swimming upstream in challenging Morrison's "genius." He's taking on an author who has won many prestigious awards and sold a lot of copies of "Beloved." But how many are sold as required reading in Universities? Google gives 1,100 hits on: syllabus + "toni morrison" + Beloved. I won't bore you with the details of other searches, but that's very good for a novel published in 1990s. It's much higher than "A Thousand Acres" (1990) and also beats "Oliver Twist," "Old Man and the Sea," "Huck Finn," and "Invisible Man."
I did have to disagree with some statements in Irwin M. Stelzer's Fly me to the Moon. Stelzer believes that having foreign airlines flying in this country is part of the answer to increase the service and quality of the industry. As a flight instructor building time to get hired in an airline, I spent most of my time teaching foreign student applicants. Their respective foreign airline employers have half the regulations that American pilots need to be qualified. Do we want these pilots flying around the most complicated airspace in the world because you can get a cheaper ticket? I'm not talking about British Airways or Air France, I mean the startups of the world that would die for a piece of American airspace pie.
As a non management employee of Boeing, I have a good view of the airline industry. My opinions are my own and I do not represent the company in these comments.
It was a terrible mistake to bail out the airlines after September 11! It would have been much better to allow the airlines to move quickly into bankruptcy. The problem is that people do not understand bankruptcy and this was done for the benefit of public perception as much as any other reason.
In a proper bankruptcy, the shareholders are wiped out. That is a risk of business. However, the airline has many assets (airplanes, trained employees) that can be redeployed to productive use, either through a good reorganization or liquidation.
I am convinced that had the troubled airlines gone into bankruptcy in October of 2001, the industry and the economy would be in much stronger shape at this time.
For the past 30 years I owned and ran high tech companies and logged nearly 200,000 miles of flying per year. About 10 years ago I got so frustrated with the fare differences--where I had to pay between 6 and 8 times more than the person in the next seat--that I simply quit flying. I planned more extensive trips and drove, sometimes taking 15 days to see 15 or 20 clients.
I hope the airlines simply fail from lack of common sense and restart their industry with rational fare structures that charge customers what it costs to fly a route profitably.
The airlines have dug their own graves and now are hooked to life support systems as they go comatose. Pull the plug. It is criminal to use taxpayer dollars to support an industry that refuses to address a ridiculous pay and benefit structure.