To the editors:
After reading the two letters (Reader, August 12, 1988) in response to my letter on Twain (Reader, August 5), I had to rush this letter to you. I want to prevent you from publishing similar offensive, scatological expressions against me; it is beneath the dignity of any decent person to resort to such coarse language as well as it is beneath the dignity of a reputable paper to print it. But perhaps, the Reader, as well as the writers of those letters, wants to imitate Twain who, to the bewilderment of all who knew him, during the last three-four years before he died, he adopted such scatology as his everyday--in fact--his only way of expressing himself.
I can vacate all the arguments the authors of these letters have presented for what they are worth--but not before the editors of the Reader apologize publicly for having printed this abusive language against me and promise me that the same will not be repeated.'
Reading, however, Terry McCabe's filthy philippic against me, which indicated a very bad temper, I was reminded of President Reagan who said on one occasion that his Irish temper was aroused. It made me wonder that since Mr. Reagan has such a great Irish temper, how was he able to control it when Mark Twain was presented as the national representative of American ideals? Obviously Mr. Reagan had not read much of Mark Twain to know that Twain, quite often, had come down on the Irish even more openly than he did on the black people, and repeatedly referred to them as "the scum of the earth."
As for Roxana, once I analyze her, no black mother would want to identify with her in every way Twain had described her. But then, since he was describing a black woman, he thought that was the way a black person had to be. If the writers of these letters had understood this book, they couldn't have missed that most of the racism in it can be realized through Twain's narrative, and not through the actions of society.