ISSUE | BLAME GAME

Objectionable view

Miami Herald political cartoonist Jim Morin's cartoon (Nov. 30) depicting the soon-to-be-Republican-controlled Senate as having a "hate Obama" mantra was beyond deplorable, even for The Inquirer. Really, the constant barrage of half-baked, sophomoric attempts at political humor, most if not all at the expense of Republicans, is getting quite old. I'd love to put on my rose-colored glasses and pretend that this isn't the worst presidency America has ever seen and that it's all the Republicans' fault because they hate Obama.

|Patricia A. Perrone, Swarthmore, patpr123@aol.com

Clear agenda

If there is anyone who doesn't believe that the Republican agenda is focused primarily on the annulment of the Obama presidency, then, as Dr. Phil is fond of saying, "somewhere out there a village has lost its idiot."

|Deanna Tropea, Quakertown

ISSUE | FERGUSON, MO.

Heartfelt image

The photo of 12-year-old Devonte Hart and Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum hugging should be awarded a Pulitzer Prize ("Amid protests, photo offers consoling story," Nov. 30). It should also be made into a poster and hung in every police station and house of worship in the nation.

Isn't that an image of what everyone really wants our life and the life of others to be like? The photo of the hug says it all and tells the story of how racism can change a young man - and an older man's life.

|Barnet Weiss, Huntingdon Valley

Keep calm and heal

I was disappointed by the remarks of local church leaders on the tragic situation in Ferguson, Mo., especially the characterization of Michael Brown's actions as jaywalking ("From clergy in Phila., a call for justice in Mo.," Nov. 28).

Much of the evidence points to Michael Brown assaulting the police officer and attempting to seize his gun, quite a bit different from jaywalking. Is there any ambiguity in these leaders' minds about the circumstances of the tragic shooting? How can they be so confident that they know what happened and why?

Those of us in leadership, especially the ministry, have a high responsibility not to inflame a volatile situation with quick judgments or divisive and misleading rhetoric.

|Andy Horvath, Parkton, Md., andyh2247@yahoo.com

Patience needed

I am appalled that several recent writers missed the real issue in the Ferguson, Mo., case - that the police officer, Darren Wilson, did not wait for backup ("Prejudged unfairly," Nov. 26). The prosecutor admitted that the encounter took only 90 seconds. Michael Brown was shot 12 times.

Is this acceptable police procedure? Should the officer accept responsibility? His televised interview indicated that he does not acknowledge such. What a sad commentary.

|Marybeth Curran, Plymouth Meeting, drebetsy5@aim.com

ISSUE | UNIVERSITY CITY HIGH SCHOOL

Artifacts spared, school's promise lost

I am glad to see the murals from the now-closed University City High School saved ("Art rescue mission," Dec. 1). As a participant in the planning of that school in the early 1970s while director of a West Philadelphia community-development corporation, I can state without reservation that I have never before or since known such deceit and dishonesty from a bureaucracy.

For several years, the University City community was assured that the high school would be a magnet science school. Community residents contributed ideas and curriculum suggestions for several years during construction. We were told that programs were in effect at feeder schools so that local students would be able to attend.

These were all lies. A principal was not even appointed until midway through the summer before it opened. He resigned the appointment when he learned of the deceit. Not one book, computer, or desk had been ordered. Just before it opened, it was revealed that it would be used to relieve overcrowding at Bartram High.

|I. Milton Karabell, Philadelphia

ISSUE | ITALIAN POLITICS

Downplaying good deeds of Roman mayor

That Romans' honeymoon with Mayor Ignazio Marino might very well be over is not surprising, but recent coverage didn't tell the whole story ("Romans are fed up with mayor," Nov. 26). None of Marino's important contributions on ecological, anticorruption, and gay rights issues are mentioned. A press agent for the opposition party could not have said it better. Would it be proper to present the Obama presidency to an Italian readership through the exclusive perspective of the tea party?

|Gabriella Romani, Philadelphia romani.gabr@gmail.com

ISSUE | THE BARNES FOUNDATION

Founder was true genius, so just get over it

I headed the Barnes Foundation for seven years, and the aversion some reporters had to looking at truth never ceased to amaze me ("First impression," Nov. 30). The foundation's charter, which reporters confuse with Barnes' will, said clearly that the foundation should go to Philadelphia. Barnes' will said nothing about location.

More stunning was commentator Lucinda Fleeson's insults hurled at Barnes, a brilliant man who believed that art could change the lives of everyday working-class people. He believed that teaching people to be able to see would enhance their ability to perceive: That process would build critical problem-solving skills and could therefore build a better democracy.

A recent New York Times article addressed the need for audiences to slow down and actually look at a work of art, which refutes Fleeson's claim that Barnes was deranged. The Barnes Foundation, after all, is a school, not a museum. It was designed as a classroom space for the teaching of aesthetics and love of painting. Barnes specifically intended the foundation to be used and enjoyed by African Americans at a time when Philadelphia's cultural institutions were segregated. He built the first purposely multicultural collection. What about that was deranged?

The Barnes Foundation was no tax shelter. Students from New York University, Columbia, and those in more than 130 schools, colleges, and universities around the country used Barnes' pedagogy in effectively conveying the role that art can play in helping understand the world. How can an idea that simple become so twisted?

Showing disdain for Barnes is not smart. It demonstrates an unwillingness to do the research. Look at the Barnes' archives, look at Barnes' own writing, and make the effort to understand the words. Barnes' untimely death in 1951 left the foundation's mission and vision in the hands of people who, for whatever reason, decided to try to make it their own. The facts remain that Barnes intended the foundation to be a living, breathing think tank with the goals of challenging our notions of what makes art great.

The only section of Fleeson's commentary that makes any sense is her observation that people in most museums read labels more than they look at the art. What a wonderful world it would be if we could have myriad ways of experiencing great art to accommodate the breadth of our ability to understand, perceive, and learn. There is nothing about Barnes' ideas that is "sometimes silly." The silliness lies in the constant attempts to separate Barnes' genius from the power of the art collection.

|Kimberly Camp, president, Galerie Marie, Collingswood

Tchotchkes and great art don't mix

I hope that the museum staffer who called to pester me about renewing my membership to the Barnes Foundation reads Lucinda Fleeson's piece dispelling Albert C. Barnes' theories of art appreciation as passé and unoriginal ("First impression," Nov. 30). When I told the caller that I didn't like viewing an unparalleled collection of art in a manner that is devoid of historical reference and chronology, clumped together on nicotine-colored walls, sandwiched amongst escutcheons and other tchotchkes, her incredulity was palpable. She assured me that my view was completely unique.

|Susan Cohen Smith, Philadelphia, retiredartteacher@gmail.com