On Wisconsin!

Ashland, Wis.
I am resubscribing to The Nation because of your excellent coverage of the Wisconsin labor rallies. I am passionate about fighting Scott Walker’s dictatorial agenda and his desire to eliminate public unions in this state. I appreciate very much how you have supported this state that I love, and I feel it is important to support you in return. Progressives should stick together, and I will stick by you.


Gig Harbor, Wash.

I enjoyed John Nichols’s “The Spirit of Wisconsin” [March 21] as well as his appearances on Ed Schultz’s show. With all that has transpired there, I am amazed that the old custom of tarring and feathering has not been suggested for the governor and the Republican legislators. They need to be reminded of something that stuck in my mind after hearing it in the movie V: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”



Appleton, Wis.

Walker the Stalker
Takes from the poor, gives to the rich
This lying, cheating, son-of-a-_ _ _ _ _.
Walker the Stalker
An odious man who attempts to invoke
The will of his masters, the brothers Koch.
Walker the Stalker
His abuse of power we cannot condone It’s time this tyrant was pulled off his throne!



Does Abortion Make Us Brown?

Pleasantville, N.Y.

Bravo to Melissa Harris-Perry [“Sister Citizen,” March 21] for bringing up an important issue that has not been mentioned on either side of the abortion debate. Her discussion of the misogynistic and racial concern that white women are not having babies while women of color are harks back to the mid-nineteenth century, when abortion first became a contentious issue in the United States. There were a number of activists on the antiabortion side (including women’s rights activists, but that’s for another day). One group of key players were physicians, led by Dr. Horatio Storer, who wanted to outlaw abortion, except when recommended by a physician. Obviously they had a financial motive: in those days anyone could hang up a shingle and be an abortion provider.

Dr. Storer had another concern, however, which echoes Harris-Perry’s allusion to today’s antiabortionists’ fear that our country will become more brown. Dr. Storer famously asked in 1868 whether the West would “be filled by our own children or by those of aliens.” He said, “This is a question our women must answer; upon their loins depends the future destiny of the nation.” Sound familiar?



Secaucus, N.J.

As an actress, I tour nationally with a 1912 script by suffragist Marie Jenney Howe, called Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire. Howe used a term now so obscure my audiences rarely even request a definition: “race suicide.” Having read Melissa Harris-Perry’s column “The War on Women’s Futures,” I plan to volunteer that definition at each future performance. I knew the early-twentieth-century white majority feared that women’s suffrage would reduce the number of “real” Americans in proportion to the more propagative immigrants. I hadn’t realized how frighteningly that fear is reflected in the rhetoric of today’s Tea Party members of the House.



People or Gadgets?

Los Angeles

The March 21 issue presented two useful visions of how Internet freedom will or will not create more openness: Micah Sifry’s “The End of Secrecy” and Chris Lehmann’s “An Accelerated Grimace.” I am closer to Lehmann’s view. The Internet, however ubiquitous and sophisticated, is a widget. It is people, not gadgets, who create a free society and the culture and institutions that go with it. Missing from the articles, as well as most discussions of the WikiLeaks disclosures, is the role of freedom of information laws. Strengthening these laws seems more likely to result in a greater level of government transparency in the long run than hacktivism.



Copy That

Glen Ridge, N.J.

The Nation arrived and I looked, as always, to see if Stuart Klawans was in it. Yes!—reviewing Certified Copy [“A Signature Copy,” March 21]. I agreed with his analysis, especially that it’s “futile” to try to decide whether the two characters have just met or really go back. But unlike him, I didn’t like the film. I don’t think Kiarostami likes his two characters. I suspect he may not like his audience either.

I’ve seen several Kiarostami features; this is the only one that’s so cold. The others have puzzles too. But in the Koker trilogy and all the others I’ve seen, he is interested in and respectful of his characters. A partial exception is the cellphone guy in The Wind Will Carry Us—an interesting exception, because that guy is portrayed as Westernized, almost rootless, like the Western, cosmopolitan leads in Certified Copy. When I leave the theater after a Kiarostami film, even Taste of Cherry, I feel good. Not this time. It all seemed like a game, one I didn’t care about.



Klawans Replies

New York City

Thanks to Steve Golin for such a thoughtful and kind dissent, and such a reassuring one. It seems he would have gone to see Certified Copy no matter what I wrote, so I won’t have to refund the price of his ticket.

He is definitely onto something when he compares William Shimell’s character here to the character of the so-called engineer in The Wind Will Carry Us. But I don’t know where in Kiarostami’s previous work we could find an analogue to Juliette Binoche in this movie. Only in Ten—and really, not even there—has Kiarostami put on film a woman who is so emphatically present. To me, his attitude to the character is not cold at all, and goes beyond mere like or dislike. He’s enthralled by this woman, with her continually shifting desires, dissatisfactions, hopes and hurts, her strangely opaque outpourings and amusingly transparent little lies.

That’s how I felt, anyway—and in saying it, I recognize that Golin and I may have an unbridgeable difference of sensibility here. So I’m grateful to him for registering another response, and also for giving me an opportunity to confess what I see as my biggest failure in writing about Certified Copy. I never mentioned that it’s often very funny.




Ian Thomson’s “Scotland Yard” [March 28] made it appear that Haitian independence was declared in 1805. It was 1804.