Letters to the Editor

Mar 9, 2005 at 12:00 am

How Ron sees it

This is the letter Ric Bohy referred to in his March 2 editorial, “Hizzoner, the real one.”

I am writing this letter to address the Feb. 23 columns of Ric Bohy and Jack Lessenberry. Ric Bohy’s characterization of Detroit as being similar to a notorious slum in Rio de Janeiro is deliberately misreading and particularly vicious. No one who is making the smallest attempt to be accurate and truthful would describe Detroit today as being a slum of “violence, corruption and official neglect, places where lights don’t light, trash and filth cover the streets and undereducated, underserved children in shocking numbers die by the gun.” Are there any of these problems existing in Detroit? Absolutely! That would also be true to a greater or lesser degree in any large city in this country. However, many of these problems started well before Mayor Kilpatrick’s tenure. In fact, if you could tie this mess to any one mayor of recent times, it would have to be former Mayor Roman S. Gribbs, who is a nice man but was completely ineffectual as mayor. In explaining to the press why he was usually gone from his office by 5 p.m. every day, his response was that he had family who needed him at home. Walter Greene, his deputy mayor, referred to himself as Detroit’s night mayor.

I don’t really believe today’s urban crisis can be blamed on any one or group of politicians. It is not really that simple, it is a confluence of all kinds of forces, economic lifestyle changes, global forces, racism and many others too numerous to mention in a letter to a newspaper.

A factor that seems to be ignored — if indeed very many people are aware of it — is that this country has been essentially anti-city since its inception. There isn’t the reverence for cities as you will find in Europe, for instance. The federal governments of most European countries pour enormous sums into maintaining their cities. In this country every dime spent in a city is done so in the most grudging manner.

Since Jack Lessenberry was busy trying to cop a plea with the far-right-wingers who spank him from time to time, he didn’t have as much anti-Detroit and anti-Mayor Kilpatrick stuff as usual, so there is not as much to respond to. By the way I’ve always called him a conservative or on a cranky day, a mealy-mouthed liberal (same thing). Anyway, he believes Detroit’s problems can be solved with more white folks, even if you have to force them to live in the city through metropolitan government. Never going to happen. Hey, Jack, I could go for a regional shared tax base with each jurisdiction maintaining its autonomy. I also suggest a real urban renewal program run in Detroit by real black people and the full support of the federal government. After all, if Bush can ask for 87 billion dollars to kill innocent people surely the government can spend a few billion to really renew the city of Detroit. We’ll serve as a test case, since I know if they agreed to do it, it would be with the usual crawfishing timidity. By the way, after the city was truly renewed it would need a continued subsidy to maintain essential services. You and I know that increasing taxes s—t ain’t gonna work if it is going to benefit black people. —Ronald Hewitt, Detroit, [email protected]


Are our readers fools?

As most readers know by now, my earlier letter was not published in Metro Times of March 2, 2005. I wrote that letter in response to a Ric Bohy column of Feb. 23, in which he attacked the city of Detroit and its mayor. I took strong exception to that and expressed it in a letter to the editor. Ric Bohy wrote a subsequent column attacking me and also, in a left-handed way, Coleman Young. In this column Bohy said he couldn’t publish my letter until next week because, “His letter came too late.”

Folks, what kind of fools does he take his readers to be? If it came too late to be published then how could he have read it in time to comment on it in his column? This is a rhetorical question we all know the answer to.

Bohy refers to me in his latest column as, “one of the most notorious and obnoxious racists in Coleman’s coterie.” By the way, Ric, I think you misplaced me by putting me in the “mayor’s coterie.” I was neither his feudal tenant, nor in his social circle or clique. However I was one of his loyal appointees and I hope he regarded me as a friend. I admired him greatly and miss him a great deal.

I defy him to cite one single provable act of racism perpetrated by me as a member of the Young administration or anywhere else.

Let me deal with Bohy’s outrageous allegations. In a previous letter to him from this “notorious racist” I expressed to him my belief that I thought he seemed to have changed his approach to writing about the city of Detroit. I said in the past I considered him to be properly adversarial in his writing about the Young administration but fair. Sound like an “obnoxious notorious racist,” to you? Bohy cites my comments about former Mayor Gribbs as evidence of my racism stating that I wasn’t explicit about my point, which was that, “Gribbs is white … That’s always the point with Hewitt.” This guy must have been hallucinating. There is nothing in my statement which one could remotely claim had anything to do with race. Bohy says that I wasn’t explicit about my point but, “that’s always the point with Hewitt.” He is such a skilled mind-reader that he knows what I’m thinking. Trust me, folks, Ric Bohy doesn’t know me well enough to interpret what I’m saying most times, much less what I’m thinking.

Using Ric Bohy’s standard, you’re a racist if you vigorously defend Detroit. You’re certainly one if you defend Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. It goes without saying that in Bohy’s mind you’re one if you speak out against racism and oppression in this society today. All my life I have been victimized by racism because I chose to fight it instead of submitting.

About former Mayor Gribbs, I said the mayor was a nice man, but didn’t spend enough time working at being mayor. I didn’t say Mayor Gribbs was incompetent, dishonest, corrupt or anything of the sort. I also said I doubted that Detroit’s present situation could be attributed to any one person as I feel is being done in the relentless attacks on Mayor Kilpatrick. I would challenge Bohy or anyone to get a black/white issue out of any of that.

As far as I’m concerned one of the best proofs that Roman Gribbs was a highly intelligent man was that he appointed me as head of a city department. Jerome P. Cavanagh, whom I regarded as a mayor second only to Coleman Young, offered me an appointment. I turned it down, but he made it possible for me to do something else I preferred. Detroit, I believe, was at a critical time in its history and presented an opportunity (albeit an extremely difficult one) to be turned around. Roman Gribbs was simply the wrong man at the wrong time. I’ve never found it necessary to hate white people in order to love my people.

I must remind Bohy that I have participated in only one attempt to remove one mayor of this city and he wasn’t white.

I’m going to close this letter with an example of blatant disrespect shown by Ric Bohy. In his recent column he refers to a U.S. Congresswoman, mother of our mayor as “Kwame’s Mommy.” That is absolutely outrageous. —Ronald Hewitt, Detroit, [email protected]


A story you can’t enjoy

Keith A. Owens: I appreciated reading your story “America: Still eating its young” (Metro Times, Feb. 9). I would’ve liked to have said, “I enjoyed reading your story,” but the topic is fairly depressing.

I grew up in Detroit, went to the public schools, and watched as Detroit crumbled from continual neglect. It makes me sick.

In response to your closing line, “It spells the beginning of the end of a once-great city,” I would have to say that that started a long, long, time ago, my friend. —Mark Ginn, Waterford


Dyer ignores history

Re: Jack Lessenberry’s column on Gwynne Dyer’s book, “Why we must lose this war” (Metro Times, Feb. 9), OK, I read his book. He’s a typical academic idiot who knows little, and understands none of it. I am appalled that everyone does not recognize the obvious. He should not be given any publicity, and I am sorry I took you up on your challenge to read him.

It takes a great deal of mulitlateralist anti-U.S. bias to ignore in entirety the lessons of 20th century history, but Dyer has managed the feat. His perspective of “Let the UN or the League of Nations or the collective good will of human nature to handle the monsters and tyrants” is exactly what allowed Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao Zedong to gain the power to murder or enslave hundreds of millions of human beings.

Mr. Dyer will never understand that all it takes for the monsters to succeed is for good men to do nothing while academic twits sit safely in Canada. If he served in the United States Navy, I am surprised no one invited him to take a close look off the fantail. Perhaps it would have been too easy, as he’d never have seen the ocean. —William Bailey, Park City, Utah, [email protected]

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