Mail still pours in praising Renana Brooks’s June 30 “A Nation of Victims.” She has been contacted by several Democratic presidential candidates, her article was circulated among Democratic Party leaders, she’s been invited to appear on nationally syndicated talk shows and asked to address several Democratic groups on countering the hypnotizing effects of the conservative message machine. –The Editors


Carmel Valley, Calif.

Reading Renana Brooks’s analysis of Bush’s speaking style, I have to say he sounds like a spouse abuser on the one hand, and a demagogue on the other. The perfect example of a right-wing family values politician!


Cantril, Iowa

Brooks’s piece should be required reading for all Democratic presidential hopefuls, as well as anyone wishing to restore sanity and optimism to our political debate. An understanding of W’s manipulative rhetoric and the warped psychology behind it may well be the key to his defeat in 2004, and the survival of American democracy.


Hawthorne, Nev.

Reading Renana Brooks explaining George W. Bush’s speaking manner, which induces fear and dependency, I understand why I punch the mute when he appears on TV. His resemblance to Big Brother is scary.


Georgetown, Me.

Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! Renana Brooks discerns the source of our national hypnosis: George W. Bush’s foreboding, me-centered (not US-centered) language. She’s right–we need to get back in touch with our core optimism and courage.


Woodbury, Minn.

Bush’s language, whether he designs it, or it is crafted for him, is the language of abuse, designed to terrify and subdue an entire nation. Abusers know that fear is their greatest friend. While Franklin Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” George W. Bush says, “We must be fearful,” with the subtext “or I’ll lose power.”


Davis, Calif.

Bush bypasses analysis and goes for the gut. Gore lost the debates because his approach involved facts and explanations rather than emotions. Bush speaks in conversation-stoppers, to stun the opposition. A Democratic presidential candidate must be able to beat him at his own game and convince Americans, with humor and anger, that Bush has wreaked havoc abroad and here at home.


Astoria, NY

My concern is not Bush and his empty language; my concern is, Who are the manipulators of the language behind him? I’d like to see some light fall on their faces.



Santa Cruz, Calif.

In “My Life as a Rabbi” [“Beat the Devil,” July 7], Alex Cockburn characterizes UC Santa Cruz’s Kresge College graduation ceremony as “benign platitudes” and chides me for not letting my radical lineage intrude on the event. Well, it’s not my graduation, and the students choose the speaker. I am an emcee with a funny robe and hood. But Alex seems to have missed the student speaker who attacked the university for ending its journalism program (I will be on layoff after next year). One should be careful not to judge things by formal ceremonies. When we lecturers struck for two days last fall, Kresge students joined us on the picket lines. Our students were in the forefront against the war in Iraq. Many of those graduating have spent the past four years doing their best to roll back the tide of empire.

Alex is, indeed, a friend. My brother Kayo and I took him on his first demonstration, the 1961 Aldenmasten March. I admire his courage as a journalist and his skills as a writer. So in the spirit of good friendship I urge him to stop referring to himself as “Anglo-Irish.” We “Irish-Irish” call those people “Brits,” and for the past 834 years we have asked them–sometimes not too politely–to go home.

Kresge College


Petrolia, Calif.

I did listen. That student calling for the revival of the journalism program was what clinched it for me. J-schools, or j-programs, are an abomination. The worse a campus newspaper, the more likely there’s a j-school, with the student-journalists busy piling up respectable clips with which to impress editors to give them jobs in sinkholes like the New York Times. I know the spirit of rebellion still seethes in Conn’s breast, as I feel sure it does in that of Kayo, now the DA of San Francisco and someday perhaps, I hope, its mayor. Took me on the demo? C’mon, Conn. Kayo and I were in love with Linden, Konni Zilliacus’s beautiful daughter. Where Linden wanted to go, we marched. It was ever thus. And you’re wrong on the date. It was the late fifties, m’boy. Time flies. Anglo-Irish? All it means now is Protestant, a class that effectively died many, many decades ago. But I grew up there, and you and Kayo didn’t.



Windsor, Conn.

I wish to respectfully disagree with some of Michael Lind’s comments in his review of Randall Kennedy’s Interracial Intimacies and my book Race Mixing [“Far From Heaven,” June 16]. I have no quarrel with what Lind says about my book (other than to note that it focuses on black-white marriage since 1940, not since the colonial period). However, Lind argues that the only way to eliminate the vestiges of caste in the United States is for the federal government to stop recognizing race in its public actions. I do not agree that the main racial problem is that “there are still bigots in America,” or that abandoning the idea of race will lead to the end of structural racism or institutionalized white privilege. By focusing on race as an issue of individual discrimination, the current emphasis on “colorblindness” makes it more difficult to challenge collective white privilege and to deal with the ways racial inequalities are naturalized in the law. Lind asserts that race-based social programs should be abandoned in favor of politically more palatable need-based programs, but unless we recognize the continued power of race in this society, we will never be able to address how need-based programs like welfare have been successfully attacked using the race card.

In Race Mixing, I insist that interracial marriage is not a solution to America’s racial problems. Although the number of black-white couples has increased in the past sixty years, it is naïve to think that these relationships can undo centuries of racial domination.


Sacramento, Calif.

I want to praise Michael Lind for calling attention to a public policy issue that is of profound interest to me–namely, the legitimacy (or illegitimacy) of government categorization by “race” and ethnicity. This is a crude, primitive and often cruel system of dividing human beings, often even parents from their children.

I am the sponsor of a ballot initiative in California, loosely known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, that seeks to clip the wings of the government’s ability to classify, sort and categorize its citizens. Predictably, but to my great disappointment, “progressives” are my principal foes. I never thought I would see the day when liberals would defend racial classifications, as if somehow race were a biological and fixed reality.



Topanga, Calif.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times in May, the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs in February provided Richard Perle, the neocon Rasputin, with an audience of investors interested in making millions from the death, destruction and suffering of war. This must be the first case of casting swine before a Perle.



Washington, DC

Stanley Aronowitz’s “Axing Higher Ed” [May 19] is quite right in drawing attention to the harm done by the austerity being imposed by federal and state budget-writers. Likewise, his call for a broad movement (he mentions students, alumni and faculty) to press for access. In fact, the movement that is developing is even broader. Some university presidents have spoken out against the Bush budget; in some states, including North Carolina and Maryland, the universities have turned to grassroots mobilization to bring a stronger outcry to their legislatures.

Also, noninstructional workers, custodians, secretaries, groundskeepers and technicians are marching and lobbying for higher education funding and the taxes to support it. Their unions include AFSCME, which by convention resolution advocates universal access and higher education as a right, and NEA, AFT and SEIU are the most potent forces in this battle. For today’s students and those who would attend tomorrow, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Beaverton, Ore.

We are already producing more college graduates than the economy needs. Here in Oregon, the state labor economist reports that 16 percent of job openings require a four-year degree, 3 percent require more than four years of college, 4 percent, a two-year degree, another 4 percent post-high-school training. Meanwhile, 45 percent of all openings require no training or experience. With about one in four US adults holding a four-year college degree, Oregon is not that different from the rest of the country. While I would like to live in a society that offers a free college education to all, it won’t lead to increased earnings and better benefits. We must increase the wages and benefits of the three-fourths of all jobs that do not require a college degree.



Francis Davis, in “Bob Hope, Prisoner of War” [June 30], reported that Hope was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor–an impossibility, since those go to the military. Hope was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal and named an Honorary Veteran. To confuse matters, he was given a National Patriots Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which presents an annual Bob Hope Award.