Letters to the Editor
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‘Felix Adler, Call Your Office’
As an alumnus of the Fieldston School, I was very interested in Andrew Wolf’s excellent column, “Felix Adler, Call Your Office” [New York, May 9, 2006].
I doubt, however, that Felix Adler would have been so “upset” with idea of an “Islamist state run by terrorists.”
Adler was part of the rebellion against his Jewish heritage that characterized much of 19th century European Jewry. That is why he felt it necessary to look for a new spiritual direction, which he thought he had created in the Ethical Culture Society.
I grew up in that world. I was a student at the Ethical Culture-Fieldston Schools from the age of three to 18. The end result of Felix Adler’s rebellion against his Jewish heritage is the abandonment of everything for which it stands, including the return to the Land of Israel and the moral greatness transmitted to the world by the Jewish Biblical heritage.
ROY S. NEUBERGER
‘Is There a Smoking Solution?’
It was with both disappointment and a little sadness that I concluded the reading of William F. Buckley Jr.’s column, “Is There a Smoking Solution?” [Opinion, May 8, 2006].
Mr. Buckley is a man I have admired, and usually agreed with for many years in both the electronic and print media. His recent trip to the Mayo Clinic has changed him. And why not? A diagnosis of emphysema is troubling but not ominous. In his solution, however, he is dead wrong (no pun intended).
The health effects of smoking have been exaggerated, yes, they have. And the effects of secondhand smoke have been grossly exaggerated.
“Four hundred thousand people die every year of tobacco-related illnesses.” To reach such a figure, everyone who died in that year who had ever been exposed to tobacco would be counted. That’s just not evidence-based medicine. A more supportable fact is that, of heavy smokers, 30 pack years or more, only one in 815 will develop lung cancer in any given year.
The solution lies in education, not sumptuary law. The William F. Buckley of 2002 might agree with me when he said some accommodations should be made in the smoking bans – a position of conservatives. The William F. Buckley of 2006 apparently doesn’t; perhaps he has changed. After all, isn’t it the obligation of society to protect its minorities: Jews, blacks, Muslims, smokers? He who woke up as an emperor of the whole world bears a slight resemblance to the mayor of a very large eastern city. “Forbid smoking.” Not a solution, Mr. Buckley.
ROBERT E. MADDEN, M.D.
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