To the editors.
Two things disturb me about Thomas Kochman’s recent letter (10/7 issue) on black and white generalizations.
First, instead of censuring blanket generalizations, Mr. Kochman proposes a mystifying double standard, which, stripped bare, would seem to be: Any blacks may take offense at white generalizations, which usually imply an inclusiveness; only guilty whites may take offense at black generalizations, which usually imply an exclusiveness.
Second, he defends his argument with proverbs, of Afro/Carib origin he says. Proverbs exist in many forms, in many cultures. The most basic were gathered in the Adigia by Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) before any significant Afro/Carib influence on English.
Proverbs are often fun and may be apt but are too often contradictory to support a serious argument: “Leave no stone unturned,” versus “There is a scorpion under every stone.”
To quote Erasmus, “Eundem calceum omni pedi inducere.” (Adigia, 1038B) All feet may not fit one shoe, Mr. Kochman, but we should try to walk in the same direction.