Letters for January 3, 2002

Blast from the Past

Jen sinks low:Kavetchnik on Zagat ("Survey Says," Jen Karetnick, December 20)! What great holiday news! Not another opinion piece by Jen "Kavetchnik" Karetnick that ruins a good restaurant and includes her loud kids bothering the patrons! Instead, coverage of another fop, Tim Zagat, and his "survey" of area restaurants. Jen reported that local restaurants, according to Zagat's Survey, give bad service -- in fact, the worst in the country!

Gee, I remember reading this stuff last month in the Miami Herald, Jen. Way to keep up with this sort of snobbery, Jen. Not!

Jen writes, "If you don't know the Zagat Survey, chances are you don't get out much, and you're probably not reading this column anyway." I guess she thinks only the "with-it eat-out types that have plenty of spending cash" -- like me -- read her column (I read it as a humor alternative). Don't flatter yourself, honey!

Zagat remarked, "Read about your favorite places. If you agree with us, if we check out well, then trust us. If we don't check out, throw the book into the bay." No wonder so many editions of New Times find their final resting place, thanks to Jen's columns, at the bay bottom!

Harvey Slavin
Hollywood

REGGAE, REGGAE, REGGAE: Thanks for the article on the Sunday-night Baja Beach Club reggae nights (Bandwidth, December 6). I went to see Black Uhuru several weeks ago and got a chance to talk to the promoters. I think the venue is good and the lineup has been very strong, but South Florida is a tough town for reggae (which seems counterintuitive but well-voiced in your story). I appreciate the exposure, since reggae gets no press or decent advertising. I respect the promoters for their effort. Hopefully, your story will make an impact.

Bill Stolberg
West Palm Beach

Justice be done:Jeff Stratton's Dashboard Confessional review (Critic's Pick, December 6) was wonderfully written and did justice to the artist and the music.

Katie Kristensen
Los Angeles

South Africa redux:I enjoyed reading Amy Roe's article about Fort Lauderdale's white South African expatriates ("Generation Exodus,"June 21). I found it to be more balanced and fair toward the local South African community than the rather inflammatory headline and lead-in on the cover of New Times.

Apart from the language barrier (e.g., a South African barbecue is called a braai, not a bri), there is some inaccuracy and unfairness in your article that I wish to address.

First, racism has been in Fort Lauderdale since long before the post-apartheid "white flight" (e.g., I draw your attention to New Times coverage of the Frank Lee Smith case; Smith would not have been treated the way he was if he were not black, and the white cops who set him up were not South African expatriates, despite tactics similar to their notorious South African counterparts). Your article seems to suggest that an influx of racist white South Africans is going to taint our free, diverse, and tolerant South Florida community.

You need not look to white South African expatriates to find "resentment" of the new government of South Africa. A few years ago, the Cuban exile community chose to shun Nelson Mandela, one of the most widely respected leaders in the world, when he visited our state, further widening the animosity between the Latino/a and black communities here. Neither the Cuban "exiles" nor the racist South African immigrants are likely to cause much of a stir in a place with a history of genocide, slavery, segregation, Rosewood, Frank Lee Smith, et cetera, not to mention our contemporary "Apartheid American-style" in the form of the "voter-disqualification," the "war on drugs," "racial profiling," the racist application of the death penalty, and inequities in education, housing, employment opportunities, health care, et cetera. Maybe racist white South Africans are attracted to Florida because of our international reputation for the systematic exclusion of blacks from the polls, "just like the Mother Country."

Come to think of it, South Florida would seem to have it all: surf, sun, sand, systematic disenfranchisement of blacks, botched and corrupt elections, disproportionate numbers of blacks on death row (and foaming-at-the-mouth death-penalty zealots demanding "justice"), Jeb!'s "One Florida Initiative" (and for that matter, Jeb! himself), the antics of the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Dade and Broward state attorneys' offices, anti-Castro Cubans rabid with resentment, and racial socioeconomic class disparities wider than the Kalahari. What is there for an "old school" racist white South African not to like?

Before you accuse me of "talking about race and segregation, as if America's segregated past rationalized the evils of apartheid," consider that "Peter's" comparison of South Africa's and America's histories of racial injustice (which you attribute, perhaps unfairly, to South Africans generally) was in fact a reference to "American Indians," victims of a widespread, systematic elimination -- genocide -- that you dismiss as "talking about race and segregation." If a "comparison" is to be made between the two countries' racial histories, it is that the European settlers in South Africa devised, implemented, and enforced a system of brutal subjugation of the native African population, whereas the European settlers in America summarily annihilated America's native population after importing an African population to brutally subjugate.

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