Barbara Solow's glib and self-righteous article on the Million Mom March ["A Picnic in D.C.," May 17] begs for a response.
I am particularly galled at Solow's insinuation that the Million Moms' "modest gun-control proposals" are not worthy of a march. Thousands of grieving families a year would beg to differ. Mine, for example.
On Aug. 16, 1986, I searched for, found and stood over the dead body of my brother, a self-inflicted bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. Having recently been released from a psychiatric hospital, where he was being treated for depression, he had walked into a gun shop, plunked down some cash and bought a police riot gun: no waiting period and no background check to stop him, either temporarily or permanently, from buying a gun that had no other purpose except taking human life. You can't tell me that waiting periods and background checks are not enough to march for.
Solow faults the march for not being about issues like universal child care and health care, and the march organizers for being "slick and sentimental." Would I march for universal health care or universal child care? You bet. I've marched, and worked, for other issues. Does the importance of those issues make this one any less crucial? Of course not. And where Solow faults the march Web site for capitalizing on "warm and fuzzy" images and soundbites, I applaud it, and the organizers, for having the political savvy we need so badly to tap into the latent support out there for simple legislation that will immediately save lives.
Solow questions the marchers' commitment by commenting that the march was like a picnic: "The speeches continue, but most people are busying themselves with other things ... " I wonder if the two of us were in the same place. The people I remember, by the North Carolina banner, were deeply moved by speaker after speaker who shared powerful personal stories of children and other loved ones they had lost, and hundreds of marchers with posters and T-shirts of slain loved ones. The people I remember in the children's area, to which I was forced to retreat because my 4-year-old daughter needed to move around, were still listening, still moved, and still passionately into the event, even as we waited in line for activities that would entertain our little ones. I can tell you exactly who spoke while we waited for the slide, and a good bit of what they said.
While cultural issues may still divide us, as Solow notes, what the Million Mom March did was bring the diverse lot of us together, to share in each other's grief and use that grief to begin a movement. The people I know who worked for and attended the march are sincere, caring and impassioned. We all came together on Mother's Day for a common, incredibly important purpose. How Solow could twist that into a sneer at middle-class moms is beyond me.
Fortunately, there were 749,999 people at the Million Mom March who, unlike Barbara Solow, did not feel they were on a "picnic." Among the hundreds of thousands present, committed to preventing the anguish of gun violence and squelching the neuroses and power of the NRA, was my own 17-year-old daughter. For the first time in her young life, she was able to witness firsthand that marvelous sense of empowerment when multitudes gather to fight injustice.
Oh, but wait a second: This particular issue is not on Solow's personal political agenda, and thus gives her license to discredit the entire march. Maybe Solow would have also tried to discredit Martin Luther King because there were more serious issues than civil rights. Would Solow also view last week's gay-rights march as being frivolous and irrelevant? Her argument that there are more serious issues to march about is utterly irrational and ridiculous. Obviously, there are many serious issues that need our attention and commitment, but to discredit the passions of those who are trying to make change simply because the writer is attached to another cause is absurd and only gives fodder to our opponents. Solow's article might as well have been written by Charlie Heston himself.
Your interview with Ralph Nader ["Hitting Them Back," May 10] was conspicuously lacking one thing: a full-out-and-mail-to-the-Board-of-Elections form to help put Nader and the Green Party on the ballot. The article made the point that it is very difficult for an independent movement to get on the ballot in North Carolina--and then you didn't lift a finger to help! What are you trying to be--just a spectator?