A Generation of Women Named for Connie Chung

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  • The Dangerous Debt Limit Debate
  • Ron DeSantis, Authoritarian
  • Forming a Community With Homeless Neighbors
  • U.S. Role in Sex Exploitation in South Korea

Connie Chung, center, is one of the most famous Asian women in the U.S. Credit…Connie Aramaki for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “I Got My Name From Connie Chung. So Did They,” by Connie Wang (Opinion guest essay, May 14), about the many Asian women named after the TV journalist:

It feels strange to know that there are so many Asian Connies out there, all close in age range in our 30s and 40s. But it’s a good strange feeling. It feels as if I have serendipitously entered a vast sisterhood, where the profound bond among us was formed by the influence of one woman on our mothers over 30 years ago.

In my family, watching Connie Chung host “CBS Evening News” in the early ’90s was a family event. There were barely any Asian faces on TV at the time, let alone on a major news program. Connie Chung stood out in every way.

“You can’t be what you can’t see.” When Ms. Chung came on the screen, my mom saw what was possible for the next generation right in front of her, far from the sights of Asian women working in menial jobs that defined my mom’s day-to-day life as a new immigrant.

So when I suggested Connie as my English name, my mother liked it right away. “Keep it. It’s good, it’s just like Connie Chung,” she would say. With that choice of a name, my mom had poured all her hopes for me. Little did I know then that across the country people were being named Connie for that very same reason.

Times are different now. There is a lot more diversity in the media and other professions. While we still have much work ahead of us, let us take a moment to celebrate this progress.

Connie Wu
San Francisco

To the Editor:

My daughter was adopted from Guangdong Province, China, in 1998 when she was 13 months old. She has no memory of the following story except through my retelling.

It was a spring afternoon in the year 2000 at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C. My toddler and I took our places on the open-air train for a ride through the grounds.

“It’s who you think it is,” the ticket taker whispered, nodding over her shoulder. Two seats ahead, surrounded by visitors, were Maury Povich and Connie Chung.

Celebrity watching prevailed over scenery and animal sighting during that ride. Afterward, as a cluster of visitors lingered with Mr. Povich, Ms. Chung strolled ahead alone. But not for long. My daughter, rarely more than an inch from my side, leery of all strangers, let go of my hand and trotted up to grab Connie’s leg. Surprised, smiling, she lifted my daughter into her arms.

Connie Wang’s wonderful article describes the surprise that Ms. Chung expressed when told: “There are so many of us out here. Named after you.” Something about that surprise, of not knowing her effect on others, stays with me.

Anne Toohey
Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Dangerous Debt Limit Debate

Credit…Kiersten Essenpreis

To the Editor:

Re “Ignoring the Debt Limit Would Be Dangerous” (Opinion guest essay, May 15):

I disagree with my longtime friend Michael McConnell about the politics of the debt ceiling.

Of course Congress has the power of the purse. But the problem here is not Congress as a whole; it is a slim majority in the House. And that majority is controlled by a handful of its most extreme members.

The debt ceiling debate is certainly not politics as usual. It is a threat to destroy the country’s finances and its position of world leadership unless the Senate and the president give in to that faction’s extreme demands.

Neither the country nor the Constitution can function if every choke point in the system of checks and balances is exploited for maximum leverage without regard to consequences. If one side is willing to wreck the economy unless it gets its way, why not both sides? If one faction, why not many different factions with inconsistent demands?

The House, the Senate and the president bargain over spending in the budget and appropriations process, not through threats to destroy the economy if I don’t get my way.

Douglas Laycock
Charlottesville, Va.
The writer is a professor at the University of Virginia Law School.

Ron DeSantis, Authoritarian

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has long been a presumptive but undeclared rival to former President Donald J. Trump.Credit…Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

To the Editor:

The efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida to harass Disney for exercising its rights of free speech and to ban books from the classroom that do not support his political or racial beliefs are the mark of an authoritarian tyrant. They show that right-wing politicians are the perpetrators, not the victims, of “cancel culture.”

Republicans should consider how they would react if a Democratic governor retaliated against a corporation for opposing a Democratic program or embarked upon a program to ban conservative books.

This is not the sort of person who belongs anywhere near the White House, and this is not the sort of person whom anyone should support. Hard to believe that Mr. DeSantis attended two fine academic institutions — Yale and Harvard Law — and learned so little about free speech, democracy and American constitutional values.

David S. Elkind
Greenwich, Conn.
The writer is a lawyer.

Forming a Community With Homeless Neighbors

Intensive mobile treatment teams meet mentally ill clients where they are. Chris Payton and Sonia Daley visited M in Lower Manhattan.

To the Editor:

“In New York City, Making the Invisible Visible” (The Story Behind the Story, May 7) yields a question: To what extent is the mental illness we see in homeless people the result of — not the cause of — their being homeless?

Hundreds of people silently pass them by each day, turning away, ignoring a hand held out for a donation. In plain sight, day after day, they live in public solitary confinement, the sort that is now being attacked in the courts as an inhumane, cruel and unusual punishment that often leads to mental illness when used in prisons.

A civic organization I belong to in Florida recently began refurbishing a public park, long known as the home of the homeless in our city, by organizing periodic cleanups by volunteers and painting a mural honoring a local eccentric woman, long dead.

After a while, the homeless folks began approaching our volunteers and the painter, viewing the art and then striking up tentative conversations. One homeless woman turned out to be an amateur painter, and a small portion of the mural was turned over to her to design and paint.

Within weeks, the homeless frequenting the park began policing it — picking up trash and chastising people who dropped it. And, most important, collectively and individually, some bizarre behaviors faded away, replaced by social interaction.

I now wonder what the results would be if the public at large began acknowledging the homeless, even by saying, “Hello,” or “I don’t have any cash with me today, sorry,” rather than simply walking on.

As a 30-year resident of New York City, I know that the city is filled with visible-yet-invisible people and am, frankly, ashamed that I didn’t catch onto this notion earlier.

Stephen Phillips
St. Petersburg, Fla.

U.S. Role in Sex Exploitation in South Korea

To the Editor:

Re “South Korea Created a Brutal Sex Trade for American Soldiers” (front page, May 3):

As your article so painfully makes clear, the brutal forced prostitution of young and vulnerable South Korean women and girls was caused not just by the government of South Korea but by the United States as well.

There is much that the U.S. can and should do. It should be paying reparations. The government and the armed services chiefs should offer apologies to the women who went through this and to their families.

And those who are in charge of curbing sexual harassment in the military today should redouble their efforts as they grow to understand just how systemic sexual assaults and misogyny have been in the armed forces for so long.

Jean Zorn
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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