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Queens Chronicle

Letters To The Editor 11-09-2000

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Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2000 12:00 am | Updated: 3:29 pm, Mon Jul 11, 2011.

No Heroes

Dear Editor:

In response to the letter written by Harry Braditz (Chronicle, November 2nd), I would say he is absolutely right about the total misuse and abuse of the word hero.

What did the ballplayers do, raise the flag on Mt. Suribacchi fighting the Japanese on Iwo Jima? Did any of them win the Medal of Honor like John Basilone, Tom Custer, Richard Bong or Audie Murphy or six Navy Crosses like Chesty Puller?

These guys are ballplayers and that’s all they are. They are not heroes. The mayor has to wake up and get his priorities in order but what do you expect from a person who sues our country’s gun manufacturers? The Canyon of Heroes should be for heroes, not ballplayers.

Robert Scroca Jr.,

Flushing

Good Sportsmanship

Dear Editor:

The Subway Series was a phenomenal moment in history for New York and Major League Baseball. However, one question still hovers in the back of my head as I walk across City Hall Park and step over the remaining red, white and blue ticker tape from Monday afternoon. Whatever happened to sportsmanship?

Of course you know that I am talking about the poor sportsmanship New York Yankee Roger Clemens displayed at Game 2 of the World Series. New York Met Mike Piazza fouled a Clemens’ pitch that broke his bat in half. As the splint landed in front of the pitcher’s mound, Clemens spitefully hurled the broken bat in the direction of the star catcher.

At first, I couldn’t believe what happened. But soon, my shock turned to anger at not only his refusal to apologize, but also at Major League Baseball’s dismissive attitude toward his poor behavior.

Children mimic the behavior of adults. And although not all athletes intend to be role models for every budding Mickey Mantle, athletes like Clemens must know that when they cry foul and display poor sportsmanship, it’s going to make the headlines and lead off the six o’clock news.

There is simply no excuse for such childish and violent behavior. In this day of multi-million dollar salaries, it seems as though sportsmanship has become one of those forgotten requisites for the job.

This lack of sportsmanship is not only seen in professional athletes. Parents, too, must learn to quash their “win, win, win” attitude for the sake of little Timmy or Cindy. Parents must be the perfect role models of behavior and instill in their children a sense of pride in doing a job well done.

New York is a baseball town. Let’s hope the poor sportsmanship shown by Clemens doesn’t go down in history along with this Subway Series. As sports journalist Grantland Rice once wrote: “For when the Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

Let’s hope that parents will explain to their children that good sportsmanship is a great lesson; a lesson that for all of us wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Peter Vallone, speaker of the City Council,

Astoria

Borough Talk

Dear Editor:

David Gold is right that Queens was not named for Catherine of Braganza (Queens Chronicle, letters to the editor, 10/26).

As he says, Martha Brockée Flint was the first to claim that the county was named for Catherine. She made her assertion in 1896 (213 years after the supposed fact) and she offered no evidence.

Flint called the county “The Queen’s County,” yet, “an act to divide this province and dependences into shires and Countyes,” passed on November 1, 1683, has the spellings “Kings County” and “Queens County” (the full text of the act appears in pages 121-123 of Volume I of “The Colonial Laws of New York From the Years 1664 to the Revolution, Including the Charters to the Duke of York, The Commissions and Instructions to Colonial Governors, the Duke’s Laws, the Laws of the Dongan and Leisler Assemblies, the Charters of Albany and New York and the Acts of the Colonial Legislatures from 1691 to 1776 Inclusive,” published in Albany in 1894, where the act is “copied from the original in the office of the Secretary of State” of the state of New York.

Thus, whether deliberately or inadvertently (but in either case self-servingly), Flint added an apostrophe to make it seem as if the name of Queens County referred to just one queen.

Michael Brown,

Forest Hills

Too Expensive

Dear Editor:

There have been many letters written that Queen Catherine of Braganza was no good and, therefore, Queens County and Queens Borough should be changed to something else.

The only problem is that this would cost a lot of money. The new name would have to go on all sorts of papers, maps, atlases, etc. Naturally, the taxpayers would be forced to pay.

Let’s keep Queens County and Queens Borough.

William Wittig,

Maspeth

Only The Facts

Dear Editor:

David Copell (Queens Chronicle, letters to the editor, 11/2) and I agree that Catherine of Braganza deserves only contempt, but he is not right in saying that Portugal has never apologized for its persecution of Jews.

Ironically, more or less at the same time a statue of the Jew-burner Catherine was secretly being planned for Queens, Mario Soares, the president of Portugal, publicly and sincerely begged forgiveness of the Jewish people (in 1988) for the countless crimes which his country had in earlier centuries committed against its Jewish residents; since then the Portuguese government has continued to make amends for the misdeeds of its predecessors (see, for example, “Portugal Seeks to Atone for 1496 Expulsion of Jews,” the New York Times, December 6, 1996, page A3).

Copell’s mentioning in the same breath, opposition to the proposed statue and his suggestion that Queens County be called Bowne County weakens the position of those of us against honoring Catherine in any way, because if you try to do too much at once, you often accomplish nothing. Since changing the name of the county would require a considerable expenditure of public and private money (for a change of road signs, stationery, and so on), linking Copell’s suggestion to opposition to the statue would overload the ship and thus, sink it.

Let’s therefore work only toward ensuring that the proposed statue never be erected, the picture of Catherine hanging in Borough Hall be taken down, the image of her recently unveiled at the 46th Street station of the Number 7 subway line be removed, and that she not be honored in any way. When that’s been accomplished, Copell can make his suggestion.

Copell does a further disservice to the cause he supports when he packs four inaccuracies into the brief sentence, “When she returned to Portugal as regent after the death of her husband, she participated in the torture of the few Jews remaining after their expulsion in 1496.”

Catherine did not go back to Portugal as regent (she returned in 1692 and did not become regent until 1704).

Although she countenanced the torture of Jews, she is not known to have participated (unless Copell has uncovered new information).

The order expelling all Jews from Portugal was signed on December 24, 1496 and required them to leave by the end of October 1497.

Not a few Jews, but many, in fact, stayed in Portugal because the malicious King Manuel at first ordered them to leave from just three ports but refused to say which ones, then he ordered them all to leave only through Lisbon, and later he severely restricted the number of ships allowed to take them out, the upshot being that thousands remained, only to be murdered or forcibly baptized.

I point out those mistakes not to pounce on Copell (who is, after all, just as opposed to the statue as I am) but because when you are careless with the facts, you discredit yourself in the eyes of your opponents. Let us not allow the tiny band of Catherine-lovers to claim that we are ignorant.

David Gold,

Flushing

Wants Answer

Dear Editor:

As a graduate student in American history, I have tried to keep abreast of the controversy over the proposed statue of Catherine of Braganza. The arsenal of those who oppose it seems to contain nothing but damning facts whereas the few who support the idea of a statue appear to possess nothing but folklore about her. Apparently, the latter camp, unable to face the truth, has retreated into stony silence.

Now that we know that Queens was not named for Catherine of Braganza, that the Braganzas profited from the slave trade, and that she and other members of her family allowed Jews in Portugal to be burned alive for no other reason than being “guilty” of the “crime” of being Jews, I send this open letter to Stanley Cogan (president of the Queens Historical Society, who refuses to take a public stand in the controversy), Audrey Flack (who made the design for the statue), Louis Meisel (who defended Audrey Flack in a letter to the editor of the New York Times, May 17, 1998, Claire Shulman (Queens borough president, who at first supported the idea of a statue and now refuses to take a public stand on the issue) and Lisa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the transportation authority, who in E.E. Lippincott’s story is quoted as claiming that “Queens is named for this person.”

Whatever your stand may have been in the past, now that you know the sordid details about Catherine’s and her family’s misdeeds, please go on public record by submitting a letter to the editor of this newspaper in which you state unequivocally whether you are opposed, against, or indifferent to the suggested statue.

Since readers of this weekly will surely send you copies of the present letter, you can no longer claim that you were unaware of the Braganzas’ crimes against humanity.

Because silence gives consent, if no answers to my question appear in this column, we will have no alternative but to understand that you support the proposal for a statue honoring a Jew-burner who came of a Jew-burning family that benefited from the slave trade.

Aaron Weintraub,

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Official Word

Dear Editor:

With regard to the controversy regarding the Queen Catherine of Braganza statue, at any time in the past that the subject came up, I clearly defined my position that I was completely and unequivocally opposed to the idea of a statue being erected in her honor, and continue to verify that position. I also felt that it was unfair to the Hunters Point community to be an unwilling host to the statue’s backside.

A statement was made in a letter to the editor stating that I was “unaware of the Braganzas’ crimes against humanity.” I have checked through my file and cannot find any such statement. Besides which, I thought that the whole issue had been laid to rest, and was as dead as the queen herself.

Stanley Cogan,

Queens borough historian,

Kew Gardens

Welcome to the discussion.