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Oops, I did it again. It seems that in this town it is some sort of mortal sin to criticize the views of one Stanley L. Ronell. The last time I did so, I was righteously chastised by no fewer than three writers the following week. It might be worth noting though, that once I responded to those letters, there was no response from their brave authors. It might also be worth noting, that when that letter appeared in these pages, I received no fewer than three phone calls congratulating me on finally answering Mr. Ronell. This time my rebuttal to Mr. Ronell's letter upset one Mr. Alan Hirsch. In the opening of his letter to this paper in the Oct. 12 edition Mr. Hirsch called me ignorant, lacking logic and lame. Even though I am confident that any reader with half a brain could see through his ridiculous diatribe, I feel compelled to respond. Mr. Hirsch says that "even though there are many additional examples of lameness" in my letter, he would only address three. Let's see what Mr. Hirsch had to say.

1. I had stated that Mr. Ronell's repeated reference to Congressman Gary Ackerman by his first name was a childish device and downright rude. I still think so. Mr. Hirsch inquires whether I can explain why identifying Jesus Christ as "Jesus" in the New York Post is all right. Yes I can explain that. You see Mr. Hirsch, Christ is not the last name of Jesus. It is not a name, but a title. An accurate way to address Jesus would be Jesus the Christ. I would be improper to address him as Mr. Christ. So you see Mr. Hirsch, it seems that you are the ignorant one on this point.

Mr. Hirsch goes on to quote several newspapers who addressed public figures by their first names. He actually asks why it is all right for the Post to refer to President Clinton as "Bubba" in a headline of Oct. 7. To borrow an expression from my 13-year-old granddaughter, duh! Are you really so dense, Mr. Hirsch, that you don't realize that the Post was trying to be insulting to President Clinton by calling him Bubba? It is not proper for that paper to refer to a president by his first name and certainly not by an obviously deriding nickname. As far as I can see, you proved my point. And you call me lame.

2. Mr. Hirsch says that if President Clinton's sexual relationship with an intern had nothing to do with his job as president, which I did state in my letter, then why all the fuss about Representative Mark Foley sending sexually explicit messages to teenage pages? First of all, I reread my own letter several times, and I can't find any reference whatever to Mr. Foley's behavior, but if you want to talk about that, I will. As I stated in my previous letter, I do not condone Mr. Clinton's relationship with Miss Lewinsky, but please, there is a significant difference between that and Mr. Foley. First, Mr. Clinton and Miss Lewinsky were both adults. Mr. Foley was soliciting minors for sexual reasons. Secondly, the real problem about the Foley affair isn't so much his behavior, but the behavior of the Republicans in Washington. They knew about his behavior and covered it up for years, just to retain his seat in Congress. Pages had been warned to stay away from Mr. Foley as far back as 2001. That is despicable.

3. Mr. Hirsch takes exception to my comment that I support the idea of giving illegal immigrants drivers licenses, but he does not take my comments in their entirety. I stand by what I said, that this current flap over immigration is racist and that it would be ignored if these immigrants were white Europeans. The fact is Mr. Hirsch, that these current immigrants are 'illegals' only because the rules were changed, I sincerely feel that this nation should welcome this current group of immigrants and make it so that they can come into this country legally, as my grandparents did almost a 100 years ago, register with authorities, pay taxes and work towards their American dream.

The debate over limiting immigration into this country started at its very beginnings. I remember reading an article in a college history class that appeared in a New York newspaper. It argued that this country must limit immigration to save it for "real Americans," that incoming poor, uneducated immigrants would take jobs away from "real Americans" and be a drain on our resources. That article appeared in 1789! With every large immigration movement into this country comes its critics. In the 1930s editorials in New York papers sarcastically suggested that New York would soon have to declare Italian as its official language because so many were coming here every day, living like rats huddled in crowded basement apartments, but we are not speaking Italian, are we Mr. Hirsch? In the late 19th century, Congress voted on a Constitutional Amendment that would declare German as the national language of the United States because more than half of Americans spoke that language as their first tongue. We are not speaking German, are we Mr. Hirsch? Editorials railed against Irish immigrants when it was their turn in the box, declaring them to be lazy drunkards who will destroy our society. We even named the "Paddy Wagon" after the Irish because they had to be taken away to jail by the truckload. The Irish didn't destroy us either.

The only people who would be justified in complaining about immigrants destroying their country are the few Native Americans left. Other than those few, we are all of immigrant stock. Have you visited the Statue of Liberty lately Mr. Hirsch? It is a remarkable symbol of what this country once stood for. It is remarkable because we did not build it in our own praise. It was a gift from France, but really from all of Europe, symbolizing that they saw this great nation as a refuge, a place where anyone could find freedom, equality and justice. Where anyone who was willing to work hard could make a life for himself and his descendants. Oh how I wish we would live up to that praise today.

Mr. Hirsch, you called me ignorant, lacking logic and lame. Sir, you are all those things.

Roy Coniglio


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