Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Harpo Marx, Voting History of South Carolina and other letters to the editor

to the Editor:

I was delighted to hear Jason Zinomann accept “Harpo Speaks !,” by Harpo Marks, as the gold standard of the comedy’s memoir (February 21). As a teenager in the early 60s, I put my hands on the book and found it completely entertaining.

Particularly enjoyable is the chapter about Harpo’s visit to Russia in the fall of 1933. He spent eight weeks there and did shows that got him ovulation. Posters announcing her appearances written in Cyrillic, spelled her the name XAPIIO MAPKC. Harpo did not know how to pronounce it, so he called himself “Exapno Mapcase, Toast of Moscow”.

His trip to Russia ended in intrigue. On his last day in Moscow, he met the US Ambassador, who asked him if he would be ready to smuggle some sensitive dispatches for America. His foot was taped and concealed by a sock, and after a nerve-racking sea voyage he successfully turned them over to Secret Service agents in New York.

As an artist, Harpo never spoke a word while in character, but as a member of the Algonquin Round Table, he played George S. Worked with the likes of Kaufman, Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker.

He was a charming, multicolored man who led an extraordinary life.

Richard Gallagher
Fishkill, NY

to the Editor:

John C. In discussing the biography of Robert Elder of Calhoun (28 February), Andrew Delbanco writes that in the wake of 6 January, a study of the “ideological father of the Confederacy” may be hailed as a presumed corpse.

But when it comes to official approval, Calhoun also does not interfere. Go back and look at the man waving the Confederate flag around the Capitol that day, and you’ll see behind him, still occupying a revered place on the wall, a portrait of Calhoun. Did he have a smile on his face as I saw it?

David Margolick
New York

to the Editor:

Delbanco concludes his otherwise nuanced portrait of John Calhoun, that “ardent defenders of slavery,” by marking those who have been challenged by Donald Trump and his supporters, who adopt Calhoun’s states’ philosophy of authority – a stance that delbanco labels “one of the highest irony of American history.”

Not at all. Defending the popular vote for the state’s November 2020 presidency, Calhoun deemed it “the rights of the states”. South Carolina – in which Calhoun was a prominent political figure for four decades – did not even allow its citizens to vote for the presidency after the Civil War, until he died.

So did my Republican legislators who sought to reduce Pennsylvania’s popular vote – some even proposed that the Legislature elect electors themselves – to be Calhoun’s successor, not those of us who demand that “every vote matters is.” And just as the idea of ​​black people voting would have intimidated the racist Calhoun, his successors today all objected to Philadelphia’s larger African-American vote.

Robert shuffer
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

to the Editor:

Ibram x. In Kendy’s By Book interview (28 February), one asks the question: “You recommend books to readers like ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, which are disputed or hard-to-parse racially-oriented books?”

There is nothing disputed or difficult about it. The novel is an indisputable indictment of racism as well as one of the greatest studies of human nature.

Have we wandered so far that we no longer recognize a true classic of American literature? Mark Twain would have had a field day.

Corey Franklin
Willamette, ill.

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