THADDEUS STEVENS IN THE NEWS
New York City
I was sorry to see the June 11 lead editorial, “Sick Justice,” mention Thaddeus Stevens in the same paragraph with Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft and Richard Nixon. The Great Commoner, as Stevens was called, was a lifelong advocate of the abolition of slavery and the rights of black Americans. He does not deserve to be linked, even indirectly, with that crowd.
Indeed, Thaddeus Stevens was quite ill during the impeachment vote on President Andrew Johnson. He did give the concluding argument but had to sit down because he was so weak, and someone else finished reading his remarks. I believe it was Senator Grimes of Iowa who was so sick he had to be carried into the chambers to cast his vote. This dramatic event was chronicled in John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.
‘WIDE WORLD BEYOND THE LEFT’
New York City
Contrary to Katha Pollitt’s June 11 “Subject to Debate” column, my books The New Anti-Semitism and The Death of Feminism have not “tanked.” On the contrary, they have opened important doors for me to the worlds of heroic ex-Muslim and Muslim dissidents and antijihadist intellectuals, some of whom are conservatives and many of whom are feminists. Yes, Virginia, there is a wide world out there beyond the narrow confines of the left. Just because a book is not reviewed in The Nation or similar media does not mean it does not exist and has not attracted a serious and influential audience. How can a book “tank” and yet, in Pollitt’s words, its argument take on “a life of its own”?
Contrary to Pollitt’s dismissal of any experience that occurred “almost fifty years ago,” contemporary Tunisian intellectual al-Atif al-Akhdar writes, “Why have the people of the world managed to mourn their pasts and move on, while we (Arabs and Muslims) have…our bereavement over a past that does not pass? Why do other people love life, while we love death and violence, slaughter and suicide, and call it heroism and martyrdom?” Akhdar describes Islamic cultural dynamics that do not seem to change. The dynamics I encountered in Afghanistan long ago remain and have actually worsened in many Muslim countries. I call it Islamic gender and religious apartheid. Feminists should be–but are not–calling for boycotts of those countries where this is practiced.
Pollitt does not come in for “unhinged abuse” in The Death of Feminism. Lawyers vetted the pages that document her bullying and intolerance on a feminist listserv to which we both belonged. I was not her only target, but she challenged me viciously and nonstop on issues ranging from my book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman (published by Nation Books!) to my analysis of RAWA as a marginal group whose political influence would have no future other than as dancing dogs among the American left. My views on anti-Semitism, Israel and religion came in for particularly scathing attacks. Finally, when I began to publish in FrontPage magazine and wrote a column in which I said I was merely thinking about voting Republican for the first time in my life, Pollitt led a totalitarian-like and successful purge of my presence on the listserv.