LETTER: Loud Whooshing Sound in Greenwich Was Gasp at Peter Sherr’s Condescending Letter

Letter to the Editor from Joseph Smith, Riverside

Now I think I know where those two loud whooshing sounds I heard last week came from. The first was from rush of harried New York City apartment dwellers rushing right past Greenwich on their way to securing a suburban, COVID-free nesting spot in a town where they were actually increasing education spending.

The second one was the result of the collective town-wide gasp of incredulousness when the local citizenry beheld the breathtaking condescension of Peter Sherr’s informative but most unfortunately worded missive in the Greenwich Free Press, taking one of our newest residents to task in a most embarrassingly, cringe-inducing manner.

Greenwich at one time was home to many Madison Avenue executives; our town used to be the capital of image. A number of slogans that made their way into the American lexicon had their origin here, including “Is there a Ford in your future?” – just ask any members of the Griffin family. We used to know how to craft a message; we used to know how to deliver it firmly and convincingly, while keeping everyone’s dignity intact. Yet now it seems that some who claim to be not all that new to Greenwich either forgot that talent, or never honed it.

It doesn’t matter how right you are, or what you intended. If you craft your message in such a way that comes across to the recipient as offensive, you’ve lost your argument – period.

If you could stomach Mr. Sherr’s obnoxious “I am the smartest guy in the room and can’t believe that’s not obvious to you but I’ll do you a favor and explain it anyway” approach, he actually provided a lot of very good information. Too bad no one cared because he was so off-putting.

I really hope the Lerum family don’t justifiably pack up and move up the line to a more reasonably inclusive and welcoming community. I hope they stay and get to know the majority of Greenwich residents who value a diversity of backgrounds, who have a view of the world outside of this very special but at times toxically insular community, and who respect and have the capacity to focus more on achieving consensus instead of settling on agreeing to disagree.

Finally, let’s dispense with all this talk of which town spends more per student, as if we were competing with Weston or Westport or New Canaan or Darien for student enrollment, and fooling ourselves into thinking that differences of a few hundred dollars really matter. Let’s focus instead on what the private schools in town are spending per student and how they compensate their staff, and ask ourselves why we think our public school spend per student and faculty is sufficient or even acceptable, and whether we are really being honest about what one of the nation’s wealthiest towns can afford to invest in its future. These are the hard questions we – as a united community – really must ask ourselves.

Joseph Smith
Riverside, CT