Web Letters | The Nation


Bibi Netanyahu Has Set a New Record for Chutzpah

The article quotes Obama as stating in his SOTU speech, “The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.” We need to change that mindset to one where we will not go to war against Iran if the negotiations fail. Obama sounds like he assumes we must go to war with Iran if the nuclear negotiations fail. This is a very dangerous and deadly mindset. Israel and its lobby are working hard to destroy the negotiations so they can get a repeat performance of what US politicians from both parties did regarding starting the unnecessary war against Iraq. The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament–based neoconservatives, along with Israel and the Israel lobby, were very successful in getting that started for the benefit of the Jewish state of Israel and the careers of politicians loyal to the Israel lobby.

Bob Johnson

Clearwater, FL

Jan 25 2015 - 2:18pm

Republicanism vs. Multiculturalism in France

Katha Pollit misunderstands the French legal prohibition on headscarves/niqabs in public space. “Public space” doesn’t mean just going out of doors or into a store. Depending on where you live (e.g., Toulon, Marseille), you can see a number of women in niqabs in the street at markets or in supermarkets. The “public space” where niqabs are forbidden are public buildings—schools/government offices and government service offices like the Post Office, Social Security/tax/social service—where it is also forbidden to go in, for example, with a motorcycle helmet or mask covering the face. And in public schools, any overt sign of religion is not tolerated. Crosses worn around the neck might not even be seen, so it is possibly as much for that reason that they are “tolerated”, rather than out of hypocrisy. Not saying that there is no hypocrisy, but…

Carolyn Nafziger


Jan 23 2015 - 3:54am

Against Easy Stories

I understand the satire cartoon about the Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram was shocking to you, but maybe you did not get the point. In October, a new law was voted in France that concerned family allowances, namely, families with higher incomes were about to get less money allotted to them. The French right was outraged and claimed that the socialist government was declaring war on families, after allowing gay mariages and adoption by gay couples. A lot of Catholic French people protested the law, saying it would lower the high birth rate in France. Furthermore, the Catholic Church, at least its most conservative element, is violently against any abortion, even in case of rape. Now, as those poor abducted girls were mainly Christians, the fact that they are pregnant in the drawing shows that they were raped by their abducteurs. In fact, the drawing mocks the barbaric Boko Haram fighters who tape teenagers, the church that has no compassion with raped teenagers and wants them to give birth to their babies, and the Catholic French citizens who always protest in favour of family values. The cartoon is indeed difficult to understand outside the French content.

Isabelle Grynberg

Antwerp, BELGIUM

Jan 16 2015 - 2:24pm

We’ll Need an Economic Program to Make #BlackLivesMatter. Here Are Three Ideas.

Your three proposals for creating equality among all people and thereby eliminating racism are fanatically idealistic, at the very least. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books written on poverty and the inequality in the distribution of wealth worldwide. What isn’t being addressed is the disease that is eating at the very soul of man’s existence. That sickness is low mentality breeding low mentality.

Generation after generation of failure to teach the basic principles of social graces: kindness, consideration, empathy, the acknowledgement that all people have the exact same right to life (to be alive and well), to liberty (freedom to choose what is best for ourselves) and happiness (to live without fear and anxiety). Parents have the obligation to teach their children by example that in helping others we benefit ourselves. People who experience kindness and compassion will return kindness and compassion to others.

The other problem, not addressed in the article, is you take it for granted that the wealthy are going to turn over their surplus riches willingly to support wages for full-time employment, to make up for the taxes not collected on property and income (taxes that go to support community programs like fire departments, ambulances, law enforcement and county social services).

Last, but especially not least, where is the money going to come from to dole out $50,000 to $60,000 to every baby born to low-income families? We already know families will keep pouring out babies just to get higher welfare benefits. I don’t even want to think about the population explosion that would occur, if each baby came with a $60,000 bonus check! In a semi-perfect world, where people are cognizant and respective of other people’s feelings; where there is no corruption; where there is no abuse of ‘the system’; where corporations and wealthy indiviuals pay their fair share of taxes; your ideas might be plausible. But that isn’t the world we live in.

Debra Dockstader

Buhl, ID

Jan 15 2015 - 10:55pm

Paris Attacks Will Bolster the Right-Wing Front National

When I went to university thirty ago, I was taught that terrorism was a military technique used by a small force against a larger enemy. The purpose was to elicit a disproportionate response by the larger force to alienate more people, driving them to the terrorists’ side of the fight. I imagine it is used so widely since it appears to work so well. The worse French society decides to treat its Muslim citizens, the better it is for terrorist recruitment.

Kevin MacIntyre

Yellowknife, CANADA

Jan 15 2015 - 4:59pm

Mario Cuomo Gave Some Great Speeches. But What Did He Actually Accomplish?

Of course the same could be said about Obama, who Fox News often called “the silver tongued one” during his first campaign. Now, the Democrats are talking big [Wall Street tax for example ], assuming even if they are unable to recruit new believers, they will at least hold on to their true believers. Look, John Nichols is buying into the rhetoric.

But as Alterman called it, all of this b/s is Kabuki Democracy at work.

Democrats have no chance of getting the financial transaction tax out of the GOP Congress. So their Wall Street backers can take comfort that, while the Democratic “base” is appeased, the fat cats coffers remail fully stocked. The same goes for the Republicans, who know their mindless faithful will whoop it up when Obama vetoes Keystone, Social Security, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare “reform.” Nothing need become law as long as there is fodder for the upcoming debates and twenty-four-hour “news” commentary.

Cuomo once set up an $80,000,000 fund for housing the homeless. An advocate for the homeless, who praised Mayor Koch, indicated that the fund heavily touted by the governor was virtually unaccessible because of unreasonable red-tape conditions. The funds were later used to balance the state budget.

Mario Cuomo, master of campaigning in poetry and governing in prose.

Asher Fried


Jan 13 2015 - 3:06pm

Stop Blaming Protests for Police Killings

Your hypocrisy on this issue is not just stunning but appalling. When an unstable man shot Gabby Giffords, The Nation was quick to hop on the anti-gun, anti-Palin bandwagon and talk about how “eliminationist rhetoric” contributed to the shooting. This specifically referred to a PAC-type advertisement run by Palin that advised “targeting” weak Democrat House members in districts where they could be replaced with reliable conservatives. This “eliminationist rhetoric” combined with cross hairs over the face of one of these weak Democrats was deemed to be beyond the pale of civilized discussion.

However, when Mayor De Blasio made his comments about police brutality, the were made very shortly after a very public protest where video showed the participants weren’t singing, “This Little Light of Mine” but were being lead from the podium in a chant of, “What do we want?” “Dead Cops!” “When do we want it?” “Right now!”

For your editors to write an editorial absolving the “protesters” of any culpability in the officers’ deaths is appalling in its hypocrisy, and quite frankly, dishonest in your refusal to acknowledge this very salient detail. Garner’s death was tragic, but the video clearly shows him resisting arrest for a crime related to the collection of cigarette taxes. The left’s continual refusal to accept the reality of this will only lead to more crime and death among communities of color.

Darin Zimmerman

somewhere in IO

Jan 5 2015 - 10:15am

Naomi Klein in Conversation With Michael Moore

I completely agree with Naomi Klein and with articles related to the subject. However, I can only see two ways of bringing about the very necessary changes that Naomi suggests. The first is a “Pearl Harbour.” Sandy was nowhere near large enough to qualify and neither was Katrina. We need something of the order of a total failure of the seed crops (wheat, corn, barley, rape seed etc.) of the Northern Hemisphere to have any effect, but by then it will almost certainly be too late. It may even be too late now but only time will tell.

On the other hand, perhaps we could succeed with starting a new movement called the PPCT, which stands for whoever Pays the Piper, Calls the Tune. It recognizes that as long as we allow any individual or company to financially support politicians in any way, they will call the tune and no reform will be possible. This is so anywhere in the world but most importantly in the USA.

William Hughes-Games

New Zealand

Jan 3 2015 - 6:45am

Vote Working Families Party to Pressure Andrew Cuomo

The Working Party Families folks sold independent, progressive New Yorkers down the river when they caved to the Cuomo faction in the run-up to the Democratic Party primary. Despicable.

Paul J. Eichten

Syracuse, NY

Oct 30 2014 - 9:12pm

WATCH: Are America’s Police Departments Waging a War on Black Bodies?

For the last thirty years, America’s police have been trained to be cowardly. They routinely pull out their pistols when there is no apparent threat. The reason they can get away with all sorts of crimes is that the public is terrorized. No, I don’t mean since 9/11, I mean for generations. Two wars against Germany, a cold war, the drug war and then the war on terror, have led to a whole body of laws that the gents enshrined on Mt. Rushmore could tell you were wrong.

Too many good citizens honestly believe that they will never be accused of crime, so they don’t understand what some of us are talking about. Watch the justly famous TV program Cops for a while and you’ll see what I mean. While the arrest shown is valid about one in eight times, the cops commit a felony act at some point. Most people don’t believe that the cops have broken any law, and the few who do understand say that nothing can be done.

Are the police waging war on black Americans? No, they are waging war on everybody, and blacks have the misfortune to be readily identifiable. Have you ever heard of a case where the perpetrator was identified as white and turned out to be black? Or vice versa? (The Asian-Americans are lucky in this respect—they are usually taken for white). The USA won’t have peace and order until we are willing to send the cops, attorneys and even some judges to priso—as the law provides!

Robert Kane

Sacramento, CA.

Oct 30 2014 - 4:54pm