…We All Scream for Howard Dean!

Kamuela, Hawaii

Thanks so much to Ari Berman for his tribute to Howard Dean [“The Prophet,” Jan. 5]. Most of my adult life I lived in southwest Virginia, near Roanoke. In 2004, I wrote the DNC several times suggesting they put some effort into Virginia. Local party leaders were discouraged that they weren’t getting any help from the DNC for down-ballot elections and almost no attention for the presidential race. To us on the ground, it was clear that in addition to a growing progressive movement, there were plenty of pissed-off good ol’ boys disgusted by the fraternity party in the White House. Also, former GOP Governor Jim Gilmore was widely despised for nearly bankrupting the state during his term, which ended in 2002 with the election of Democrat Mark Warner. In 2006 we elected another Democratic governor and Senator Jim Webb. Had the Beltway Dems listened to Dean in 2003, the last four years might have been very different.


Katrina Vigilantes

Washington, D.C.

What an extraordinary piece of investigative journalism by A.C. Thompson [“Katrina’s Hidden Race War,” “Body of Evidence,” Jan. 5], and what a horror story it tells about how powerful racism still is. The boasts of the Katrina vigilantes echo the smiling faces of the white onlookers/participants in lynchings in newspaper photos and tourist postcards.

Poverty & Race Research Action Council;
There Is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina

Birmingham, Ala.

You would do better to stick to honest journalism, not the sensationalism A.C. Thompson peddles. Did white vigilantes take advantage of a horrific circumstance to commit illegal acts? Probably. Did some citizens, black and white, use the same circumstance to rob and loot? Probably. Was there a “race war” against innocent black citizens, or was there an attempt by homeowners to protect their property against looting and vandalism? The inaction of the NOPD, which Thompson mentions, left many with little choice of action. Should the citizens of Algiers Point have been more charitable? Obviously. But that does not equal a “race war.” Though Thompson does his best with little evidence to paint an incendiary picture of white racists waging war on their black neighbors, the probability of that is low. Does there need to be a Justice Department investigation into this? Yes, most definitely. But it needs to be a sober and unbiased investigation that relies on more than the hearsay of supposed victims and the drunk ramblings of racists.


Des Moines

I am a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. Henry Glover was my first cousin, so I can corroborate A.C. Thompson’s story. We were with Henry when he decided to go back to his apartment before he was killed. We wondered what happened to him. We were told he was killed by rogue police officers. I applaud you for bringing his story to life, as we have been unable to get any answers or justice for his death. Our family member was murdered by people who were supposed to protect us. I moved to Des Moines after the death of my dear cousin and miss him daily.


Genesee, Idaho

Reading A.C. Thompson’s article was painful: the race intolerance that led a niece to say of her uncle, “For him, the opportunity to hunt black people was a joy.” We have a right to be excited about Obama and the expected change and new beginning after the last eight years, but what kind of new beginning will it be if the old racism still exists?


Jack Spicer, Surprise Visitor

Eugene, Ore.

Long after his death, poet Jack Spicer has popped up unexpectedly–again [Barry Schwabsky, “Between the Dead and the Living,” Jan. 5]. Jack was my best friend in Berkeley in the 1940s, but we lost touch. Some years ago, I went on an unplanned first visit to the Yerba Buena museum in San Francisco because the line was too long at another museum. There I saw on a bulletin board a lecture the next day by the authors of books about Jack. I wrote one of them, Kevin Killian (Poet Be Like God). Jack had written about me in his notes but called me Bobby, my nickname then. In one note, he referred to a poem on Ezra Pound he had sent me after I mailed him a book of Pound’s poems. By figuring out that I was Bobby, Killian was able to unearth the “lost” poem. He then wrote an article about my days with Jack in Berkeley and discovered that I had another piece of “unknown” information: Jack had been an extra in the movie Wilson. Digging up the film, Killian was able to find Jack–and freeze-frame his bit; it served as the cover picture on the literary magazine to which he had sent the article, 26 B. I eagerly await some new surprising visit from Jack.


Georgia on My Mind

Washington, D.C.

Anatol Lieven’s “For a New US Policy Toward Russia” [Jan. 12/19] is alarmingly inaccurate when he states that “US policy has encouraged Georgia to attack Russia.” In truth, Georgia has never attacked Russia, and US officials at all levels have repeatedly warned Georgians against armed entanglements with its neighbor, even in the face of provocations. Georgia’s disastrous military actions in August were confined to parts of South Ossetia, which is in Georgia proper, not Russia. Lieven is also wrong to speak of “American policy that encourages Russia’s neighbors to attack what Russia sees as its vital interest.” This is not US policy in the Caucasus, period.


Lieven Replies


I did not suggest that the United States encouraged Georgia to attack Russia. However, as to an encouragement of Russia’s neighbors to attack what Russia sees as its vital security interests in the region, that has long been an obvious feature of US policy. Concerning South Ossetia, since Russian troops were deployed there, any Georgian attack on that region was bound to involve an attack on the Russian military. What the US response would be to such an attack on its troops Alex van Oss must surely know very well.


Obama’s Oath on Our Cover

The numerals for the key to the February 2 cover, on page 7, were hard to discern for many of our readers. For a better view, go to thenation.com/doc/20090202/key.

Also in the key, the second “s” in Fred Shuttlesworth’s name was missing.

A poster of the cover is in the works.