Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rich lecture not a political rally

We take exception with Marina Macdonald’s letter to the editor demanding that the Sun Valley Center for the Arts cancel Frank Rich’s Oct. 14 lecture, the first in the 2012-13 lecture series. We find the letter objectionable on several counts. 

First, as a former Center board member, as well as chair of the programming committee, I know that The Center does not select speakers or programs “to provide a forum” for advancing any particular political views. Instead, programs are selected that explore topics of general interest to the community. Further, efforts are made to elicit community suggestions for program topics, speakers and artists. Program committee meetings to generate ideas are open to the public.  

Second, Macdonald takes the position that Frank Rich “attacks Romney and advocates for Obama.”  Apparently, MacDonald has missed many of Rich’s columns in which he took Obama to task on everything from a failure to punish Wall Street for the financial crash to his inability to address unemployment to his indistinct public image.

Third, Macdonald seems to think that anyone who disagrees with Rich’s recent columns about this year’s presidential race will not want to hear him speak about the election. Given the stature of Rich’s role as a writer about American culture and politics, first with the New York Times and now with New York Magazine, that is hopefully not true. We are a diverse community of people with different political views, religions, cultural backgrounds, etc., capable of respecting these differences.

Finally, Macdonald writes in a threatening tone that The Center is in violation of its nonprofit 501(c)(3) status. Rich has been selected as a speaker who is a commentator at a national level on American politics and culture. The lecture is not a political rally but it does provide an opportunity to think and ask questions about our political climate and process.

Gail and Rhys Wilkie

Sun Valley

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