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Did Obama Legitimize Extremist Violence With His Visit to India?

Mr. Bidwai states that under Mr. Modi’s watch in Gujarat in 2002, “more than 1000 Muslims were butchered.” This is a serious charge by any measure. Could you ask the writer to produce the evidence?

Balaji V

Hyderabad, INDIA

May 18 2015 - 6:50pm

Israel Must Open Its Doors to Palestinian Refugees Trapped by Syria’s War

Israel already said the Palestinians could go to the West Bank if they gave up their “right of return.” Abbas declined, saying it was better that they die than give up that right. Unfathomable that the article did not mention that. From the Associated Press:

“So we rejected that and said it’s better they die in Syria than give up their right of return,” Abbas told the group. Some of his comments were published Thursday by the Palestinian news website Sama.

Bob Smith

Philadelphia, PA

May 9 2015 - 12:26am

Why ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Is Not Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller is making the cable TV rounds inaccurately portraying herself as the defender of the First Amendment. Actually, we must defend her and her associates to freely express their point of view. Geller is more accurately the miscreant whose inflammatory expression of abhorrent ideas deserve our protection, and our ridicule.

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

May 5 2015 - 3:26pm

Is Hawai‘i an Occupied State?

It isn’t as if any rational person still believes the USA is a free country. No wonder the Hawaiians want out.

Think about it. No-warrant wire taps, indefinite detention of citizens without charges, approval of rendition of prisoners and torture, stop-and-frisk without probable cause, search and seizure without a warrant, no-knock entry, confiscation and destruction of cameras that might have been used to film police acting illegally, police brutality, police shootings that go without investigation, managed news, and the civil-rights destroying “Patriot” Act.

Acts of police behaving illegally, with shootings, Tasers, and unwarranted violence now appear almost daily. Rarely are these offenses punished. Most often “an investigation” is claimed, but soon forgotten. 

In addition, the USA, with 5% of the world population, has 25 percent of all of the prisoners in the world. That means the USA has the most people in prison of any nation in history. Even by percentage of residents incarcerated, not just sheer numbers, USA is # 1.

Does any of that sound like a free country?

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about communism, “It’s like slicing sausage. First they out off a small slice. That isn’t worth fighting over. Then they take another small slice that isn’t worth fighting over. Then another and another. Finally, all you have left is the string and that isn’t worth fighting over, either.

James Smith

João Pessoa, BRAZIL

May 2 2015 - 6:39pm

At Last Night’s Solidarity March, the NYPD ‘Came Out Swinging’

Why is the arresting officer touching the breast of the woman with his left hand?

Marina Urbach

New York City

May 1 2015 - 2:12am

There’s a Reason Gay Marriage Is Winning, While Abortion Rights Are Losing

Without disagreeing with Katha Pollitt’s list of reasons why gay rights are advancing as abortion rights are subject to increasing attack, I find her analysis superficial in its avoidance of the hard-wired constitutional basis for this divergent treatment of two sex-discrimination issues. I also fault her timidity in dealing with the connection between abortion and other stigmatized “sex” issues in a climate of misogyny.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was intended to bring women as a class into the guarantee of equal protection of the law affirmed for men only by passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. Formerly enslaved women were also nominally covered by the amendment, but only where they fitted into that category. As women, they were not allowed to vote. Today, they may seek constitutional protection against racial discrimination, but not sex discrimination.

With the defeat of the ERA in 1982, gay men abandoned the weak and too abortion-tainted “privacy right” and relocated their rights to the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the law, as men were free to do. With a new assertiveness fueled by such dramatic events as the Stonewall riot and the AIDS crisis, as well as greater public awareness of gay strength as a market, the campaign for gay rights advanced rapidly under the dignified banner of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of full citizenship for men. As with women of color, lesbian women’s rights would be highly circumscribed, but that is not discussed.

Striving to catch up with the increasing consolidation of constitutional rights for all men, today’s ERA advocates are hampered by their campaign’s historical avoidance of both gay rights and abortion rights as sex-discrimination issues that a guarantee of equality for women and men would protect. Preoccupation with marshalling pro-ERA votes led to awkward attempts to sidestep these issues that stigmatized and made them easy targets for opponents’ rhetoric.

Pollitt writes, “Reproductive rights are inescapably about women. Pervasive misogyny means not only that those rights are stigmatized—along with the women who exercise them—but that men don’t see them as all that important.” The very fact that women’s reproductive rights are stigmatized in a climate of “pervasive misogyny” testifies that keeping women’s reproductive organs wholly under men’s control is a matter of intense concern to men. It is not only the women who exercise their alleged reproductive or contraceptive rights, subject to men’s regulations, whom men stigmatize, but all women through the institution of prostitution that targets women’s unique reproductive organs for extreme abuse euphemized as “sex work” and rape, the routine practice of terrorism against women for which women are only too likely to be blamed.

Only men’s reproductive rights, the sine qua non of the abortions women undergo, are not subject to prohibitive regulation. Indeed, they are facilitated by government-sponsored medications and pharmaceuticals and, for the convenience of gay couples, the legal pre-emption of a woman’s body dehumanized as “surrogacy.” Using medical means to cause women to super-ovulate for the purpose of harvesting eggs is also considered ethically as well as legally acceptable.

What is not acceptable to men is that women make their own reproductive decisions. That is discrimination on the basis of sex, and there is no constitutional barrier to it. Justice Scalia was right, and Katha Pollitt does not acknowledge it.

Twiss Butler

Alexandria, VA

Apr 26 2015 - 7:10pm

Why Are Political Groups Pretending to Be Debt Collectors?

I haven’t felt frightened by the faux-threatening e-mail letters. I get angry. My inbox has been invaded, in fact, by “political e-mail fundraising [that] has taken on an even more frenzied, gimmicky, and desperate approach than ever before, as the need for cash becomes increasingly important in politics, and as more and more campaigns are competing for inbox attention.” So I have stopped contributing online. I contribute less than I used to by mail.

The “need for cash” is a sickness, and the “frenzied, gimmicky, and desperate” requests convince me that Democrats as well as Republicans do not know what is “important in politics.” Hint: it’s not money for television ads. I don’t watch political ads. I don’t know anyone who does.

Organizers should be communicating with people face-to-face and heart-to-heart and rethinking the kind of major change this country needs. Hint: not a new candidate.

E-mail has been ruined as a communication spot. We’ll need to go back to foot travel, I suspect.

Susan Carpenter

Bluffton, OH

Apr 15 2015 - 1:23pm

Why Are Political Groups Pretending to Be Debt Collectors?

Thank you for this article on “past due” notices that turn out to be political solicitations for funds. I find these notices so offensive that I stop giving to any organization that sends me one.

Mary Priem

Portland, Oregon

Apr 14 2015 - 5:18pm

There Are No Abortion Cakes

No doubt I’m “hung up” on the issue, but I’ve always wondered about the focus on “abortion rights.” Although I regard a fertilized ovum to be a “potential human” and not a person and believe women must decide when and whether to become pregnant, what I rail against personally is the selfishness of unprepared and unplanned parenthood, so much so that I think no one should have a child who is not prepared and willing to deal with the incredible fragility and potential of the brain, emotions, and needs of an infant. I’d go further and suggest that an enormous percentage of the violence and evil and unfulfilled human potential in this world has its origin in uninformed, unintended, and abusive parenting. It would seem to me a much stronger approach to this issue is to demand effective, healthy birth control on one hand, and to point out the horrific suffering caused by overpopulation, unplanned births, unprepared mothers, fathers, and lack of community support for families.

Genevieve Beenen

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Apr 11 2015 - 7:16am

What We Can Learn From the Workers, Activists and Even Politicians Who Tore Down the First Gilded Age

Good article. It shows the vital necessity of anger and indignation—and the inadequacy of the technocratic, neolilberal mentality. What’s needed is basic change, not change at the margins. I believe Americans are ready for this and have been for a long time. Did the people who voted for Reagan expect to get a new Gilded Age, economic decline, endless wars, and the surveillance state? I doubt it. There is a deep disconnection between what people want and what they get. But building a critical mass of anger at this situation is truly a problem.

John Kirsch

Mexico City

Apr 2 2015 - 4:45pm