To the Editor,
I want to thank the reporter of the article published Oct. 4 for his thoughtful and generally accurate summary of my lecture. I do feel compelled to write and offer one important correction. The author of this story suggests that my lecture described my hometown as having an “underlying culture of hate” that can be used to examine human rights issues around the world. I do not believe my lecture included any language attributing the problems I described to a “culture of hate” and regret if anything I said gave that indication. In fact, one of the major themes of my lecture was that the small town in which I grew up — like communities everywhere — is characterized by pluralism of identity and belief. Although I certainly discussed a number of experiences and observations that I characterized as demonstrating the “dark side of community”, I also stressed that cultural practices and beliefs that are viewed by human rights scholars and activists as problematic exist in a context of families where parents are, following the anthropologist Gerry Mackie’s formulation, “good people who love their children.” Having just returned from my hometown where I travelled to attend my father’s funeral, and where many members of the community reached out to support our family at a very sad time, it is more important than ever to me that this distinction be recognized.