Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Ira's 'la la land' opinion


Dear Ira, You’re right: “I’m sure to hear from Americans who don’t like what I write about the US. They can insist that they are not living in a bubble, but admit that there is no reason to go to places that are unattractive, i.e., outside their bubble.”

And your perception of this being a “la la land” by virtue of having a large underclass relative to other societies, will only hold water when its backed by statistics that weigh the size of the country (330MM) in its relationship to other countries. Frankly, I’m rather surprised that you’ve allowed the international news media to color your objective overview of the U.S. (and please don’t tell me that you’re native American and travel here frequently, as I’ve read a great many of your “subjective” overviews.)

You can note my address: I live about five miles from where the massacre took place. Two hours before the massacre, I was in the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, watching a famous violinist, together with a renowned jazz trumpeter perform with the Orlando Philharmonic. This venue is about one mile from the Pulse Club location. That same mad man could have chosen our venue, walked in, and massacred 50 non-LBGT’s, most of solid middle to upper class local residents. (Guess it wasn’t our time). However, the people who paid from $50-$100 a ticket, are also the same people that contribute to the institutions and lifestyle that make “la la land” such a desirable place to live, raise our families, and be comfortable in how and what we contribute to society. Further, many of these people support institutions and charities that benefit many of the referenced underclass.

I’ve grown up in greater Orlando and lived here since 1961. I make a good living. We’ve raised and educated our children and grandchildren. I, and most of our friends, have traveled extensively; have experienced many different parts of the world, including Israel, and have experience the pleasant, and sometimes, the not so pleasant. I also think much the same can be said for those who contribute to the betterment and guidance of our greater La La Land. We live in relative comfort and security, mindful that this is not the U.S. of the 1950s. We participate politically, educationally, religiously, and socially within our community of “la la Land”. Of the 1500 or so in that auditorium, I suspect you could say the same thing about the overwhelming majority. And, you know what? We appreciate the opportunity to live and grow up in “La la Land” because, relative to living opportunities in this generation, it isn’t a bad place to be. You can bet that most of the people in the Pulse Club would have affirmed the same.

I’m sorry that the underclass exists in the manner in which it does. I’m pleased that our society works hard to improve the well-being of those who genuinely need and want it. We’re not going to change the perspectives of certain elements within society who’s environments have molded and limited their opportunities. But, that’s no different in any metropolitan area. 

The fact that the horrors of the outside world were thrust upon this community does not denigrate the good things we have spent our lives building and molding. Do I wish there wasn’t as much violence in certain parts of this community? Of course. But that’s life in this day and age anywhere. The vast majority of “la la Land” is comprised of decent, honest, non-violent, hardworking people, some of limited means; some of serious means; all of whom only want to live safely within society and raised their families. For you to denigrate them (us) as some kind of ignorant, non-attuned people because we have the good fortune of living in a place outside of the horrible circumstance that surrounds Israel, is way out of line. In choosing to make Aliya, particularly at the time you did, you basically chose to be a martyr, hoping to avoid martyrdom. I love Israel and, under the appropriate circumstances, would have no qualms about living daily therein. However, I also love and believe in the U.S., and all that’s good about it... including its political system. I do not let its negatives and mistakes outweigh the positives it has brought to the world.any more than I view the same about Israel.

I think your snide reference to La La Land is highly offensive, highly distortive, and way out of line. I hope you find an excuse, if not to apologize, then to at least neutralize the impact of your assertion. The majority of Americans, regardless of your perception of our shortcomings, don’t deserve your wrap.

Howard Lefkowitz lives in Orlando, Fla. He is president of Leeds holdings Southeast, Inc. in Winter Park, Fla.


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