Love the Smell of Apartheid in the Morning!


Germantown, Md.

Oh, how I miss those sweet, lovable days of apartheid rule during the terrifying reign of the Afrikaners! Oh, how I miss the days when I was forced to carry an ID book that I had to produce on demand by a white, less-educated policeman! Oh, how I miss Verwoerd, Vorster, Koornhof, Botha and the jackbooted Broederbond! Oh, I miss them so!

But never fear, we now have our own version of apartheid, in Arizona, in the land of the free ["Arizona Burning," May 17]. The volk of apartheid South Africa are proud of you, Arizona. You keep the torch burning for all God-fearing whites. You know, the Afrikaners also believed in the superiority of white, a God-given right.





We Arizonans are frustrated that so many political figures and pundits are reacting to incomplete or misinformation. Read the bill (racial profiling is expressly forbidden). Approved or new citizens should be carrying documentation, just as any driver should carry a license. And attend to the burdens on our medical, educational, welfare and criminal justice systems from dealing with illegal immigrants here.

I agree that our law has motivated the federal government to address immigration and border issues. And yes, we need a policy that simplifies and hastens the process for obtaining work visas, then citizenship.




Temple, Tex.

This new law is appalling. I am seeing a terrible trend in this country. Groups are being selected—first it was Muslims and now (again) Hispanics—as being "other," not American, not fully human.

I know there has always been racism in America. On that I have no illusions. I had hoped that with Obama’s election, America could be turning an important corner. But alas, the opposite seems to be happening. Racism has been given credence by the law passed in Arizona. Already other states, including my own, are voicing interest in enacting similar legislation. What’s next—people forced to wear a symbol on their clothing to indicate their ethnicity?

I strongly urge all Americans to take a stand against this law. Boycott Arizona and its businesses until this law is repealed.




Bethpage, N.Y.

If you want to get this awful SB 1070 repealed, boycott Arizona businesses until the legislature and the governor repeal the law. Send the Arizona Chamber of Commerce a letter at Don’t get mad, get active!







Douglasville, Ga.

Re Christopher Hayes’s "Goners" [May 17]: IBGYBG has been around for some time. Business leaders make promises too good to be true, seal the deal and waltz out of the company with their cash, stock options and bonuses before the roughage hits the fan. It’s business as usual.




Shenandoah, Tex.

Regarding IBGYBG: this is similar to a remark made by George W. Bush in the late 1990s as governor of Texas. Told by wiser souls that his tax cuts would be devastating to Texans, he responded, "I’ll be gone by then." Not soon enough or far enough. Sign me One Sad Texas Democrat.







Flushing, N.Y.

Just as Judge Barbara Crabb deserves three cheers for her ruling against a National Day of Prayer, so does Katha Pollitt for her May 17 "Let Us (Not) Pray." She shows how this is purely a Christian ceremony (clue: NDOP may be held "any day but Sunday"). Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and other non-Christians need not pray—this would only confuse God!




Brentwood, Tenn.

Opposition to a National Day of Prayer is worth considering. Statements concerning the being, or nonbeing, of a deity are at best philosophical speculation and at worst culturally conditioned arrogance. However, it is beneficial for individuals and corporate entities to articulate their most important concerns and objectives. How about a National Day of Attention to That Which Is of Utmost Concern?





Our Cosmic Healthcare Bill


Somewhere in Cyberspace

Some people are way ahead on "Learning to Love the Healthcare Bill" [Katherine S. Newman and Steven Attewell, May 17]. I wrote the following letter to President Obama after the Sunday vote in the Senate: "Dear Mr. President: As it is written, Jesus Christ cured a paralytic on a Sabbath and was denounced by the Pharisees. As we heard in the media recently, Barack Obama enabled the curing of 30 million Americans by a vote on a Sunday and was roundly criticized by the Republicans. I am suggesting that Plutarch, if he were alive today, would welcome the opportunity to write another chapter of Parallel Lives to compare the two…. God has been waiting patiently for 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang for you to accomplish this vote for the American people, and there is joy in Heaven over the victory. What you have done has cosmic import that goes beyond just finishing the work of T.R., F.D.R., H.S.T. and L.B.J."

I am 75. I knew the WPA, with its steam shovels and Mack chain-drive trucks, and I worked for FDR on the 1944 election. We need more of the same. Healthcare for all is the crown jewel. If enough people could be convinced of this, Obama could increase his dominance in Congress in November.





Daddy, Where Do Morals Come From?


Appleton, Wis.

Interviewer Christine Smallwood, in "Talking With Tony Judt" [May 17], suggests that "people on the left are so embarrassed about the language of morality." As a person on the left, I speak eagerly and confidently about morality, in the language of human rights, civil rights, environmentalism and other ways that the actions of individuals affect other individuals. What embarrasses me are arguments from authority, those uncompromising, pope-like dictums about what God wants, that yield neither to evidence nor reason. I have read too many comments from absolutists who state that without God, my morality must be relative and arbitrary. Morality comes from people learning to live together. An omnipotent God could easily have said, "Thou shalt steal." How arbitrary is that?







Albany, N.Y.

Kai Bird and Victor Navasky’s December 1981 special issue of The Nation, which Bird deemed important enough to summarize for readers thirty years later in "The Hebrew Republic" [May 10], is thankfully mistaken on one vital point. He writes, "It made no sense to offer automatic citizenship to any Jew anywhere." He is wrong. The Law of Return provided needed sanctuary to Jews living in the Soviet Union, oppressed under the anti-Semitic yoke of a murderous dictatorship. In the twenty years since Russia opened its doors to mass emigration in 1989, more than 1 million Russians have immigrated to Israel. For those who escaped, it made sense indeed.