Read! (When you can.)
I’m not sure if you had a chance to read them, but I made a series of comments in support of your actions touching the intruder who slipped into your wife’s hotel room a few weeks ago, congratulating you on your courage.
Today I write regarding your practice of using the expression 'Read!' in the promotional bulletins for your columns.
I was listening to BBC radio the other day, and the presenter said at one point, ‘Stay tuned, if you can.” This struck me as a wonderful way to show respect for the listener, to avoid the usual fascistic command, ‘Stay tuned!’ No one likes to be bossed around. To say, ‘Stay tuned, if you can,’ shows respect for listener, recognizes that many of us these days are under unrelenting pressure, from minute to minute, to maintain our position in a competitive, not to say dog-eat-dog, workplace, and do not need to have more pressure gratuitously applied via a radio presenter. Or a leading journalist.
Whenever I read your exhortation “Read!," it strikes my ear as a sour note, the kind of aggressive act one associates with the archetypal Ugly American—imperialist, domineering, disrespectful, insensitive, ‘superior.’ The content of your columns of course justifies use of ‘Read!,’ no question. However, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘The most important thing in life is style,’ which is an exaggeration, but one that makes a point worth considering. Your ethics are beyond criticism, your writing lucid, your choice of subject matter deeply human, and the tag ‘Read!,’ while politically and rationally justified, is aesthetically, temperamentally, in its implications, out of sync with your good qualities, in my humble opinion.
You have a powerful intellect and you have a heart. I respect both, and offer this suggestion merely as something to think about.
Ponder! (When you can.)
Mr. Nicholas Kristof, Columnist, New York Times, 620 Eighth Ave., New York NY 10018
April 19, 2017 @ 5:07 PM
Cordial and interesting reply from Mr. Kristof received today in which he exhibits an admirable openness to considering an idea mailed in from out of the blue.
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