To the editor:

Far be it from me to insist on a politically correct interpretation for everything, but it seems at least plausible to argue that the recent rash of allegations of satanic child abuse in day-care facilities is more a function of fear and loathing among our society’s dominant classes and culture than the result of any pervasive parental guilt [“The Mouths of Babes,” March 15].

Think about it–what’s been scaring the bejesus out of right-wing defenders of “traditional American values,” and their ideologically cowed sycophants, in recent years? The answer: challenges to the male-dominated American nuclear family and to white, Christian, Euro-American culture. So who are the demons arising from the netherworlds of the Christo-patriarchal unconscious, manifesting themselves in these lurid tales of violation of the holy innocents? (Alleged) non-Christians who work closely with children in non-nuclear-family settings–settings derived from models of community-based child care designed to empower women and widen their array of life choices. Hegemony dies hard.

As for the Hill family episode: the initial stories in the Tribune seemed nearly as dedicated to emphasizing the Hills’ “underclass” status (public aid, south side address, various relatives and live-in boyfriends hanging around, allegations of drug abuse and welfare fraud) as they were to providing juicy details of the alleged rats-and-roaches menu (I loved the piece that dutifully informed us how the roaches were “served with hot sauce”–don’t those benighted ghetto-dwellers have any sense of haute cuisine?). A lot of readers, I fear, swallowed that story at face value largely because it confirmed their own worst stereotypes of nonwhite south siders on welfare.

Every age–and every decaying empire–gets the devils it deserves.

David Whiteis

Fort Wayne