September 26, 2018 | ° F

Spare us the sermon, let columnists write

I am writing in reference to Tuesday's maddening column, "Rules for reading Targum columns." Regrettably, the writer fails in his attempt to emulate the singular style of the late, great William Safire. He takes his source material — Safire's much-emailed "How to Read a Column" — and futilely attempts to adapt it to apply to our own periodical, careless of how insulting to writers it becomes as it progresses. Where Safire's wit was biting, the column borders on cruel ("the smartest students are too busy" to write columns). "How to Read a Column" was an original piece of work, and the author copies it, point for point. What's more, he feels he must put Safire into plainer terms for us, his peers. Frankly, it is disappointing to me that such a sophomoric piece of writing — whether it be poor satire or harsh criticism — could go to print. Maybe, to use the author's criteria, his dubious alliance with The Daily Targum as the associate news editor afforded him free reign of the opinions page — or perhaps he was just available this week.

After reading the piece, I am still ignorant of the credentials that allow the writer to criticize all of the Targum's columnists. But I also think that Safire, a rare rhetorical genius, was not always on point. His belief that to respond angrily to a column that riles you up (what I'm doing right now) is useless, and simply begets the columnist's snide "Hah! Got to 'em." This, I think, is totally wrong. What would become of an opinions page deprived of diversity? When I open the Targum, I always flip to the op-ed section first, where a consistent volley of viewpoints takes place every day. Ms. Editor, don't discourage this forum by printing columns that belittle the richness of sharing ideas. A college newspaper can't be expected to compete qualitatively with a paper like The New York Times, not only because we're of a younger set but because participation in the Targum is voluntary and extracurricular. It isn't a full-time job. So please, cut the columnists a little slack. Let them write. And until you have a weekly spread in The New York Times, spare us the sermon.

Joe Hernandez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in history and English. 

Joe Hernandez

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