GOING TO THE CHAPEL... OR NOT
Thank you for John Scagliotti's "Straight, Not Narrow" [May 31]. My partner of three years and I, though heterosexual, decided a year ago that we will not get married until we see a Supreme Court ruling that guarantees reciprocity among states in recognizing same-sex marriages, assuring our homosexual friends the same civil rights we enjoy. In addition, in any year when, if married, we would have paid a marriage penalty, the amount of that penalty will be donated to an organization fighting for marriage equality. We hope that other heterosexual couples will take a stand--by contributing monetarily, by postponing their nuptials or, as Scagliotti did, by abstaining from the nuptials of heterosexual friends. Together, we can challenge people to think hard about whether marriage is a right that should depend on one's sexual orientation.
CYNTHIA PERRY and DUSTIN CAMPBELL
John Scagliotti is so right. I live with the same problem here in Texas, but mine is more complex. I have two wives whom I love and, after twelve years of marriage, have six children with. We view ourselves as able to make our own decision about marriage, but the law will not allow us to be married because of its prejudice. We, too, will have our rights. Keep up the good fight.
I have no problem with gay marriage. I feel that if a couple share a home, a life, maybe raise children together, go to work, pay bills, take out the trash and manage to stay together in today's world, more power to them. Many of us heteros aren't doing so well, so who are we to throw stones? And who are insurance companies, employers or government to say theirs isn't a valid relationship? I say their long-term relationship helps me and my relationship by fostering the family and love. How can you beat that?
BUT HE LOVED HIS MOTHER...
As one who has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully for the past twenty-five years to obtain access to Allen Weinstein's source papers for Perjury and The Haunted Wood, I would like to cite a specific example of his attitude toward making such data available to concerned scholars in a timely manner [Jon Wiener, "The Archives and Allen Weinstein," May 17].
In a letter to William Buckley Jr., reproduced in Buckley's book Windfall, Sam Tanenhaus, a biographer of Whittaker Chambers, describes a visit of his to Weinstein's home in Washington to review the Perjury materials, after being recommended to Weinstein by Buckley. "A.W. is, I saw, Oedipus, doomed to solve tragic riddles. At one point, he said, 'I haven't touched this stuff for years. It follows me--people call, ask questions--I try to avoid them'"--hardly a qualification to become the national archivist by any reasonable criteria.
JAMES W. HAMILTON
IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
The Nation has taken the lead in liberal Democratic Party circles in opposing Ralph Nader's independent candidacy and the Greens' running a presidential slate. It seems that The Nation's candidate is John Kerry and it hopes to help him win by silencing anyone who truly opposes Bush's policies. It urges a vote for Kerry, who voted for the Patriot Act, for "unequivocal support" of the Iraq war, who opposes the World Court, opposes the Kyoto Protocol and so on.
The editors want to help Kerry win by preventing any candidate from running who is for peace and democracy. So those who disagree with The Nation have no choice, no one to vote for. This reflects tremendous arrogance toward American voters because it is essentially the voters whose rights they would deny. They want to force these voters to vote against what they believe. To justify this policy, the editors hide behind the undemocratic, winner-take-all, no-runoff electoral laws. And these undemocratic electoral policies are fully supported by their candidate and party, Kerry and the Democrats (see www.avocadoeducationproject.org).
The Nation has joined the chorus of those blaming Nader for Bush's selection. Seven million Democrats voted for Bush in 2000, more than 200,000 in Florida alone. We are still looking for one Green who voted for Bush. The Democratic Party campaign blaming Nader for Bush is a transparent attempt to teach our citizens who question the two-party system that they must not dare challenge these two corporate parties. "It's either the Democrats or you get a Republican," they are told. "Learn to submit to the rule of money. If you challenge them it only gets worse. Remain silent and accept whatever the Democrats give you!"
The Nation's hostility toward the Green Party is reflected in its coverage, for example, of the gubernatorial recall election in California. For the first time, a party to the left of the Democrats, the Green Party, was included in nationally televised debates. In the eight months of the recall election, The Nation avoided any mention of the Green Party or its candidate, myself. All the major papers across the country and every mainstream TV station reported on all six "major" candidates. But like Stalin's servile editors, The Nation carefully edited out the Green candidate from its cover story ["California Chaos," Sept. 1/8, 2003], which showed pictures of all the major candidates minus the Green.
When historians look back, they will marvel at how presenting candidates who will fight for democracy and peace in the 2004 elections was opposed by so many who claimed to support those goals. Just as today we look back in disgust when, 130 years ago, The Nation, in a different context, opposed rights for African-Americans, whom it called "the least civilized race in the world."
PETER MIGUEL CAMEJO
THE EDITORS REPLY
Peter Camejo has many strong opinions--for which we admire him--a few of which are even correct. Others are not. It is misleading to describe our coverage of the Green Party as scanty or hostile or to say we support the major-party duopoly. A glance at our archives reveals extensive reporting on Greens, including this mention of Camejo, from Marc Cooper ("California's Gray Politics," Aug. 19/26, 2002): "With the two major-party candidates inspiring little excitement or loyalty, the November election ought to be fertile territory for third-party movements like the California Green Party. But while recent statewide polls show a surge of support for third-party contenders, Green gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo, a Marxist-Leninist turned socially responsible investment banker, has yet to emerge from anonymity; his support is estimated at no more than 4 or 5 percent."
We're sorry Camejo found us insufficiently enthusiastic about his candidacy during the recall fight. We tended to focus on which candidate would capture the governor's office in Sacramento rather than on the fortunes of a minor party. Camejo himself embraced that sensible logic in the campaign, when he said he would "not condemn those voters who feel forced to vote for a Democrat like Cruz Bustamante."
On presidential politics we disagree. We believe the number-one priority this November is to defeat George W. Bush. To that end, we have criticized Ralph Nader's decision to run. We have not, as Camejo charges, editorialized against the Greens' running a presidential slate, especially if the party is wise enough to choose a candidate and strategy that avoid tipping the race to Bush in battleground states. Judging from the delegate count as the Greens convene their national convention in Wisconsin, it seems that the bulk of Camejo's party may agree.
Do we think winner-take-all systems are the best choice? No, and over the years we have run several articles and editorials supporting instant-runoff voting and other forms of proportional representation. Unfortunately, this November we have to deal with the voting system in place. In the end, the voters will of course make up their own minds, and despite Camejo's overheated imagination, no Nation editors will be standing at voting booths preventing them from choosing whom they wish. Also, The Nation has not in its editorials blamed Nader for 2000.
As for our California-recall cover: Camejo's thunderous invocation of Stalinist airbrushing strikes us as overwrought, but we are sorry he feels slighted by not being included on it. Our satiric movie-poster graphic, which--along with candidates Larry Flynt, Gary Coleman and "the Terminator"--featured the headline "California Chaos: A Political Epic With a Cast of Thousands," may have been in questionable taste, but it was scarcely a thought crime.
YOU CAN HELP AGENT ORANGE VICTIMS
New York City
Chris Hedges's May 24 "Evidence of Things Not Seen" has so much power as an essay that readers may lose sight of the important book he is reviewing, Philip Jones Griffiths's Agent Orange: "Collateral Damage" in Viet Nam. For information on the impact of defoliant weapons in Vietnam and on a campaign to educate the public on US responsibility, visit www.ffrd.org/indochina/agentorange.html.
Readers wishing to assist Vietnamese children and other victims of Agent Orange may make tax-deductible contributions through our nonprofit organization, addressing war legacy issues since 1985. They will be passed along promptly. Larger donations can be channeled to specific Vietnamese groups.
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Chris Hedges's review is a stark reminder of the continuing legacy of chemical warfare in Vietnam. At the end of January, the Vietnam Agent Orange Victims' Association and three of the estimated 3 million Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange filed a lawsuit in the US federal court in Brooklyn against a number of US chemical manufacturers. This is the first legal action brought by Vietnamese against the makers and suppliers of the lethal herbicide used by the US military during the war. The association has expressed concern for US veterans and their families as well as Vietnamese victims, and the presiding judge says the case will raise questions of genocide and war crimes if Agent Orange can be classified as a chemical weapon that violates international law. The complaint and more information about the lawsuit are posted at www.oneworld.net/article/archive/6297.
A Justice for Victims of Agent Orange Petition can be accessed at www.petitiononline .com/AOVN. As of May 30, nearly 23,000 people worldwide had signed the petition; the campaign will continue until December 31.
Readers interested in helping to organize a traveling exhibit on human health and ecological consequences of warfare in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos called the Agent Orange Educational Project can contact Diane Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan Hammond of Fund for Reconciliation and Development at email@example.com.
In his reply to my letter to the editor ["Letters," June 7], Eyal Press writes, "Robert Dickson Crane, who worked with Daniel Pipes in the State Department, told me that Pipes was working on In the Path of God in the office they shared in Washington in the early 1980s."
To my knowledge, I have met Robert Dickson Crane once in my life, on February 3, 1999, when he attended a seminar outside Washington, DC, at which I spoke on "Islamism: a Critique." Never to my knowledge have I worked with him in any capacity, much less did we at any point share an office. (I have written to Crane to inquire about this point, thinking that perhaps there was some contact that I have forgotten; but he has not replied.) Crane seems to have a number of odd ideas about me and my work; I document another example on my weblog at www.danielpipes.org/blog/166.
For the record, I lived in Chicago until August 1982 and finished the manuscript of In the Path of God while living there. I moved to Washington and began work in the State Department in September 1982. Other than some finishing editorial touches, I did not work on the book while in Washington, and the first copy was in hand in March 1983.