Web Letters | The Nation


Cold War Against Russia—Without Debate

This is one of the worst articles I have ever seen The Nation run. I am not a Russophobe or a neocon. But these apologetics for Russian imperialism are as disgusting and repellent as apologetics for US imperialism, or indeed for any other imperialism on this planet.

Ukraine had a peaceful and democratic uprising in February to throw out a corrupt and mass-murdering kleptocrat, Yanukovych, who stole billions from the people of Ukraine and ordered his thugs to shoot hundreds of unarmed protesters. In response, Putin’s regime—a cabal of siloviki thugs and energy-rent plutocrats, who steal tens of billions from the people of Russia every year—responded with a military invasion of the Crimean district of Ukraine with 20,000 troops, despite there being no threat to ethnic Russians or to Russia itself. Putinism’s undemocratic, state-controlled media continues to broadcast the most despicable and atrocious lies and threats against the people of Ukraine. Putin’s regime is also inciting armed, violent thugs who are killing and murdering Ukrainian citizens. Putin’s regime has also criminalized Russia’s Internet, making domestic dissent impossible.

Russia has 70,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and has openly threatened military intervention. This is a colossally dangerous situation, because one small spark could start a horrendous regional war that would kill millions of people and benefit absolutely nobody.

I am sorry, but Cohen’s whitewashing of Russian imperialism is unacceptable for any publication that claims to be critical of Wall Street neoliberalism, of US empire and of all the other, lesser (but no less thuggish) empires on our very small and endangered planet.

Dennis Redmond


May 1 2014 - 9:29am

The New Abolitionism

While this article is very thought-provoking, the analogy Hayes makes to the ownership of slaves in the antebellum United States is not accurate, for one major reason. Slaves had relatively short lifetimes, whereas the hydrocarbon deposits are fairly permanent.

This makes it possible to consider an alternative to the polar extremes of abolition and rapid combustion. What price would the companies and countries that currently control these hydrocarbon deposits be willing to accept to leave the hydrocarbons in the ground for 100 or 200 or 300 years?

The link between hydrocarbon combustion and anthropogenic global climate change is not that the hydrocarbon is being burned per se, but that it is being burned too rapidly. If the companies and countries will accept payments for leaving the hydrocarbon in the ground for varying lengths of time, the combustion can be spread over several centuries and occur at a rate that will not significatly alter the earth’s climate.

Craig Harris

Okemos, MI

Apr 24 2014 - 5:04pm

Why Are Black Students Facing Corporal Punishment in Public Schools?

It is time for concerned faculty within the public school systems to speak up for the rights of their students. I did so as a teacher’s assistant and, yes, I was black-balled; however, I feel better about not sitting back and turning a blind eye to glaring inequalities. Children do not deserve to be hit any more than adults deserve such action, which, as we all know, should be considered assault. Quit biting your tongues and expose your district’s barbaric practices. Children are not chattel.

Laurin McCarley

Clover, SC

Apr 20 2014 - 8:53am

Thomas Piketty and Millennial Marxists on the Scourge of Inequality

After reading this article, I wanted to share a personal anecdote about our son’s experience working at T.J.Maxx.

My son is 17 years old. When hired almost a year ago at the minimum wage, he was told he would be given a 25 cent raise in six months, assuming his job performance was satisfactory. A few months ago, however, his manager announced that all raises would be suspended for a year. Apparently, disappointing earnings had necessitated some belt-tightening.

Just last week, TJX Corp announced that it had increased its quarterly dividend for the eighteenth consecutive year, this time by 21 percent. Over the past two fiscal years, its dividend has risen from .33 to .58, a 75 percent increase. Earnings per share have risen about one-third over this same period.

In addition to their being denied a raise, he and his co-workers were told to sign a waiver, forgoing their right to join in any class action suit against TJX. Employees could choose to deny the waiver, but the company would automatically assume they had complied if they failed to respond at all. Worried that he would be terminated if he refused to opt out of the waiver, my son simply did not respond. Our son’s first encounter with capitalism has hardly been worthy of a Horatio Alger tale. Luck and pluck? Like most of labor today, his employer sucks and he got…

Neil Claffey

Nashua, NH

Apr 20 2014 - 7:05am

White Noise, Black Politics

Melissa Harris Perry clearly defines one twenty-first-century style of transmission of racism in our culture, misrecognition or minimization of a group defined by race. Having taught courses on cultural diversity and racism privileged me to review the extensive literature on how white supremacy has evolved different tactics, over ages, to maintain their delusional beliefs. At each moment in history when white cultural delusions underlying an oppression of a non-white culture is beginning to become discernible, the tactic changes. The human race has utilized these disgraceful tactics to dominate and control any group they falsely defined as inferior or having “less” human qualities. It continues. No, we do not live in a post-racial America.

Jasenn Zaejian

Southern California

Apr 18 2014 - 4:35pm

Why Do So Many Leftists Want Sex Work to Be the New Normal?

Thanks so much for writing your important article on sex work, Katha. I’ve been struggling with stating the argument with just the right touch to keep ’enlightened sexism’ listeners engaged. You laid it out well here (there’s so much more… but this keeps the conversation rolling). Now I can just quote you! It is precisely this type of writing/thinking that keeps me an ardent subscriber to The Nation. Ubuntu!

Sue Kastensen

Westby, WI

Apr 17 2014 - 12:46pm

Why Are Black Students Facing Corporal Punishment in Public Schools?

Black children in thirty-one states are no long paddled in schools disproportionately. They were paddled in much larger numbers in those states before it was banned. It is time to ban it in all of the states. Prominent national black leaders have signed a proclamation calling for an immediate ban on paddling’s use in public schools. See the proclamation and signatories on the website for the Center for Effective Discipline. The question of this inequity, some of its history and how the it is changing is discussed in my new book, Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment. States that have banned corporal punishment usually have higher academic outcomes, less school violence and fewer behavior problems. More than 100 countries have agreed and ban the barbaric practice.

Nadine Block

Columbus OH

Apr 14 2014 - 1:12pm

The Perfect Lobby: How One Industry Captured Washington, DC

Halperin’s piece regarding the for-profit sector is spot on, and I’m glad to see it. There is one point, however, that is simply wrong and I was disappointed to see him make it: that the “new and improved” gainful employment legislation recently proposed will help.

The first gainful employment rule was lobbied into soft oatmeal, and was absolute mush by the time it made it through the legislative/administrative/judicial process. This issue sucked all the air out of the room for over a year, yet the problem is as bad or worse than it has ever been.

To posit that the same thing won’t happen again is, frankly not believable. As long as the Department of Education’s fiscal motivations are aligned against the student (the department makes money on defaults, and in fact was(and perhaps still is) making more on defaults than healthy loans), it is not realistic to expect a significantly better outcome the next time around.

Let’s return bankruptcy protections, and get the motivations fixed before doing anything else, can we please? We can’t waste another year or more for nothing.

One side note: David hopefully will be shocked to know that Devry is a corporate donor of the Center for American Progress (along with the Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Wells Fargo, and WalMart!). CAP’s higher ed policy is being led by a longtime Dept. of Ed lending guy, and an “Alexander Hamilton” fellow from the Federal Reserve Bank. They recently came out clearly against returning bankruptcy protections to the people as well.

It’s not just the for-profit colleges we need to be looking at, I think.

Alan Collinge

Washington State

Apr 3 2014 - 3:06pm

Why the Media Are Giving a Free Pass to Venezuela’s Neo-Fascist Creeps

In the rules expressed here, it specifically warned against using inflammatory terms like “fascist” in expressing our views. But that did not stop the interviewer from repeating Mr. Britto’s slur describing the young demonstrators. Double standard? This article is inaccurate in so many ways. Venezuela, a country that made independent media illegal, threw in jail a judge because it did not agree with her ruling and that has made many other political arrests—a free country? This whole article was purely and simply another paid propaganda piece. How sad how some sell themselves, at the expense of their fellow citizens.

Esteban Bart


Apr 2 2014 - 8:29pm

Cold War Again: Who’s Responsible?

Mr. Cohen provided an interesting piece, but there are several points that require clarification, as they are sufficiently important to alter the perception of the crisis.

First, ethnic Russians do not make up the majority of the population of eastern Ukraine. The average is about 40 percent, though in some provinces it is in excess of 50 percent.

Second, the ethnic Russians are not monolithic advocates of a return to Mother Russia. Quite the contrary, a significant percentage, especially among the young, look to the EU and the West for a better life with more high-paying jobs. And while almost all the ethnic Russians do want to preserve their language, culture and religion, they consider themselves to be Ukrainians with no desire for the stagnation of being part of Russia. So Russian occupation would be widely viewed as a conquest, not a liberation.

Third, Yanukovych and the Party of Regions ran in 2010 on a platform including a plank promising to ‘seal the deal’ with the EU. This should not be downplayed. Thus, his ‘about face’ was condemned across the country as a betrayal of the national will; more so in western Ukraine, where he was loathed for his corrupt effort to steal the 2004 election which led to the Orange Revolution, and where he was regarded as Putin’s creature, which turned out to be quite correct.

Fourth, Russia is and will continue to be Ukraine’s largest trading partner. Ukraine is almost totally dependent upon Russia for gas and petroleum products. If the country survives Putin’s imperialism, it will be years before its own resources are developed. Thus, peaceful relations with Russia are required for national survival.

And fifth, the West must prove that it has learned something from history, especially 1938-9. And Ukraine/Crimea is the place to start. If the West is not willing to protect a relatively new democracy that looks to the EU and USA for support and protection, then tyranny is on the march, again. A far better analysis would be the cost of doing to little now versus what we must pay later.

Kent R Crawford, PhD


Apr 2 2014 - 12:34pm