Letters, the Week of Aug. 31, 2017


Rizzo Served City Well

Please do not conflate our prohibition of the worship of graven images with Frank Rizzo’s statue (“Let’s Consider Tearing Them All Down,” Aug. 24).

Rizzo was not a God or religious figure, but a human being who did, in fact, serve our city well. Rough? Sure. My son was harassed at a ball game because he was white. He wrote to Rizzo, who responded personally to assure him that this would not be tolerated.

Rizzo bought $1 million of Israel Bonds for the city’s pension funds, first and most of any city. His chief advisers were Jewish, including Hillel Levinson and Marty Weinberg.

I knew Rizzo personally. He was a street guy from South Philly, as I am.

As we say, you have to have been there.

Harmon Spolan | Philadelphia

Keep the Statues, Add More

Statutes should be retained rather than destroyed for reasons Jewish, legal and operational (“Let’s Consider Tearing Them All Down,” Aug. 24).

Halachically, one must not assume a statue is being worshipped as a graven image when it in fact is recognized as carrying historical merit. Constitutionally, the ideal remedy for allegedly unpleasant speech is more speech; so too with icons.

Realistically, discounting rationalizations for its relocation, Frank Rizzo was neither the mayor solely of the Italian Market nor the only graduation speaker at the police academy.

Instead of destroying America’s past, educational plaques should be added, emulating those already sprinkled throughout the city courtesy of the National Park Service. Rizzo’s impact on the city was massive and permanent (e.g., the commuter tunnel), and he continues to be revered by more constituents than those of Italian heritage.

Perhaps, his sculpture should be joined by those of predecessors such as Richardson K. Dilworth, with whom he had feuded.

Robert Sklaroff | Abington

No Monopoly on Hate Speech

There is no question that white supremacists are beyond disgusting (“A Lesson in Morality From the Military,” Aug. 24). However, I did not see your editorial when the Black Lives Matter people were marching and saying, “Pigs in a blanket, fry them up like bacon … what do we want — dead cops; when do we want them — now,” and therein lies the problem.

When we become selective in the hate speech we call out, we do a disservice to all Americans. Unfortunately, the left has been complacent, and gives a wink and a nod to hate speech selectively. So many of our people support this double standard, and that is the ultimate irony that has actually contributed to the frustration manifesting itself in Charlottesville. The left has long used identity politics and divide-and-conquer as a strategy. At some point, this approach has got to backfire.

Matt Segal | Cary, N.C.


  1. Commenting on Matt Segal’s letter of Aug. 31, I agree with him. I happen to identify as moderate to liberal on many issues, however I find the “left’s” inability to call out hate speech, especially regarding Israel, very disturbing. I recall reading a story about William Buckley, darling of the conservative movement years ago, calling out fellow conservatives to speak out against anti-Semitism. The example of Buckley was used as a plea to liberals to do the same thing in our community. I was once very active in various liberal causes of which Jews have long been a part. However, over the past 30-plus years, I find myself on the outside, because while I support much of the liberal agenda, I am also a strong supporter of Israel. Interestingly, Mark Segal, publisher of PGN (Philadelphia Gay News), has taken some of his readers to task for maligning Israel. How can you hate the only democratic country in the Middle East, he asked, the only country that doesn’t kill gays, that welcomes gays and transgender people to serve in the military, the only country in the Middle East where women can vote, drive cars, aren’t killed for “the crime” of being raped. Israel isn’t perfect, but it’s tragic that there aren’t more people on the left to call out hate within the liberal community.


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