The Conversation

Readers respond to the May Issue

The Simpsons at Home
When Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” divulged in “Home Sweet Homer” that the cartoon town was named after Springfield, Oregon, it was such news—“one of the best-kept secrets in TV history,” the BBC reported—the show paid perverse tribute. The next episode opened with Bart scrawling on the blackboard, “The true location of Springfield is in any state but yours.” Our “Best Small Towns in America” travel package prompted more than 60,000 Facebook “Likes” and 500 comments. The No. 1 pick, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is “an overpriced, cliché-ridden stomping ground for city folk to display their ill manners,” objected one reader. But former resident Tanya Sabey was wistful: “I still can’t believe how blessed I was to grow up in such a lovely place.” In “The Conscience of the King,” LBJ biographer Robert Caro declared Johnson was arguably as great as Abraham Lincoln. LBJ has been “unfairly villainized,” agreed Alana Nora. But Stephen Benedict said he was “one of the most corrupt presidents in history.”

Laid to Rest
The photographs of bedrooms belonging to military personnel who died overseas [“Where They Lived”] remind me that we are not sending men and women into harm’s way—we are sending boys and girls.
Gary Nabozny
Katy, Texas

Worlds Apart
Having lived in Hawaii for 13 years, I identified with author Paul Theroux’s comment “the longer I live here the more the mystery deepens” [“A Man and His Islands”]. He is to be commended for writing about the complex experience of living in Hawaii as opposed to the storybook illusion presented to tourists.
Lou Per
Online Comment

I understand the tremendous importance of the settling of the Midwest [“Land of the Free”]; however, I am disappointed that your brief article gave the plight of the Native Americans only five words. The Homestead Act created pressure to remove Native Americans from their lands, and these removals violated past treaties that promised them that lands west of the Mississippi would remain theirs. This was a terrible breach of trust.
Anneke Van Der Hoeven
Manhattan, Kansas

Ambiguous LBJ
LBJ’s domestic programs prior to the Vietnam War will go down as some of the greatest moments in our history [“The Conscience of the King”]. He was able to get landmark legislation passed, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare, Medicaid and the war-on-poverty programs. I campaigned as a high- school student for LBJ, then protested his Vietnam policies as a college student. Sadly, Vietnam will always tarnish his record.
Jim Fiorentini
Haverhill, Massachusetts

We know Siloam Springs—No. 14 on our “best towns” list—is in Arkansas, not Alaska, but we erred in printing the state’s postal abbreviation. It is AR.

On Twitter
Bedrooms left behind by dead soldiers [“Where They Lived”], heart-breaking in their ordinariness.

The Tasmanian Devil [“Sympathy for the Devil”] is about to be completely wiped out by a cancer? I am gonna miss that little devil.

Caro is a little too close to his subject [“The Conscience of the King”]
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On Facebook
Greatness does not equal goodness [“The Conscience of the King”]. To me greatness means having a positive and long-term impact—which isn’t to deny his sins.
Chris Ferguson
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