Martha Stewart: Paragon or Annoyance?

In the opinion piece "Oh, Yeah? Well, Yo' Mama is Martha Stewart" (July 27), I really wanted to sympathize with the author's defense of Martha Stewart as a paragon of home veneration. I agree that in American culture we devalue nurturing and the veneration of all things involving the home.

Alas, she wasn't able to persuade me that creating a nurturing home environment is what Martha Stewart is all about. Widespread "Martha-bashing" is not a sign that our culture devalues the home and nurturing, as the author suggests. Instead, it is an indication of the resentment many women and men feel towards the image of home that Martha creates. Most people have neither the time, money, or energy to design their own table centerpieces with flowers they dried from their own gardens, make herbed leg of lamb for a dinner party on the weekend, and spend mental time and energy redecorating their homes in the subtle and soothing color schemes found in her magazine.

Nurturing and creating a warm home should not primarily be about controlling the appearance or image of one's home. Home should be primarily about loved ones and relationships, not things. And to take Martha Stewart too seriously as a model for nurturing is to value image over substance. For many Americans, "Martha Stewart's Living" is not representative of their experience of living at all; it's just plain annoying.

Debra L. DeLaet

Iowa City, Iowa

Biotech farming: a hot topic

I appreciated your recent coverage of agricultural biotechnology in "Altered Seeds: Biotech Farming" (July 30). The coverage was accurate and timely. The field of plant biotechnology is a hot one, both from a scientific and economic perspective, but it has not received much attention from the media.

Importantly, your articles focused on an aspect of agricultural biotechnology that has been largely overlooked: the expanding role of chemical corporations and their increasing ties to seed companies and smaller biotech firms. While there has been some controversy about the possible ecological impacts of genetically engineered crops, the cultural, political, and economic impacts are likely to be much more sweeping and important.

Plant genetic research has greatly increased our knowledge of how plants work. If that knowledge is applied responsibly, it holds great promise for improving agriculture in environmentally benign ways. It is not clear whether that will happen if a small number of chemical and pharmaceutical companies gain control of much of the world's food supply.

Daniel M. Vernon

Walla Walla, Wash.

Truth in headlines

The headline "Week of High Drama, Few Facts" (July 31) and the accompanying article illustrates why I prize the Monitor's journalism so highly.

After nearly a week of reading summaries of articles from various so-called leading newspapers, all supposedly accurate yet contradictory, I was wondering whether any news organization had the integrity to admit it simply did not have the facts. This headline said it clearly and honestly. Thanks, Monitor staffers for maintaining a standard that the founder of your newspaper would be gratified to observe!

Maurice W. Wildin

Albuquerque, N.M.

Afghan refugees

Thank you for the engaging photography and writing by Scott Peterson in the article on Afghan refugees "Inside Iran, a 'Lost World' of Afghans" (July 24). It is heartening to hear of Iran's noble hospitality toward these refugees of whom we rarely hear.

Bob Rein


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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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