Empire’s Tower of Babel

Bloomfield Township, Mich.


Empire’s Tower of Babel

Bloomfield Township, Mich.

I enjoyed R.O. Blechman’s June 23 “Comix Nation” cartoon, “Calcutta 2010,” for its humor–intended and unintended. Blechman seems to have unintentionally participated in the hubris of empire even as he poked fun at it. He has a Calcuttan asking, “Why can’t these Americans speak proper Hindi?” But the language of Calcutta is Bengali, spoken by more than 204 million people. It’s like calling a cartoon “Paris 2010” and asking, “Why can’t these Americans speak proper German?”


Blechman Replies

New York City

My goof–for that’s what it was–has nothing to do with hubris. It’s an innocent mistake, and I’m happy to be corrected and to learn something new. But “hubris of empire”?


Mercenary Me!


Re Jeremy Scahill’s “Blackwater’s Private Spies” [June 23]: The fact that the State Department would equate Blackwater’s criminal activity with competence and reward it with a new $144 million contract shows that the government has succumbed to the devil. The privatization of national security poses a threat to Americans. What should be of extreme concern to us is former CIA division chief Melvin Goodman’s statement about the “lack of accountability” and that “the entire industry is…out of control.”



Jeremy Scahill overlooks the underlying problem of corporations taking over national security functions. When corporations–driven by profit motives–take on these roles, the decisions they make will also be driven by profit, not public interest. Money is the root of all evil. I submit that we are developing a systematic form of money-driven evil.


Altadena, Calif.

Sooner or later we are going to be confronted by Blackwater contractors here at home. (We know they were in New Orleans after Katrina.) Maybe we will meet them outside the offices of a corporate criminal we go to demonstrate against. Maybe they will be outside a federal office building to threaten us as we protest a war. Maybe they will come in to bust up a labor action like the Pinkertons of old. And what will we call them, rather than the euphemism “contractor”? I think we should consider something more poetic that suggests their essential nature: Orcs.


A Time to Heal


Yes, “Obama Makes History” [June 23]. Now perhaps we can rid ourselves of the gross misogyny exhibited in the media and on the Internet during the primaries. Obama should choose the strongest, most qualified person as his running mate: Hillary Clinton. She has earned it, and he will greatly need her.


Ellisville, Mo.

In the mid-1970s we sold the highest-rated episode of Gunsmoke in the series’ twenty-year history and wanted to pursue our screenwriting career. But the consultant told us he only helped male writers, because we would get married and our husbands would support us. In the 1980s we were publishing a Civil War magazine; we lost nearly all our readership when it became known we were women. Throughout the 1990s and beyond, this type of soul-wrenching sexism continued to plague our careers.

We supported Senator Clinton because she is one of us; she understands what we have been through, and her views are reflected in a superior healthcare plan, a better assessment of how to work with our allies and the temperament and life experience to handle international and local crises. If Hillary is not the choice for vice president (and a bitter let-down that is), we will vote for McCain and wait four years for Hillary’s chance.


Keep Those Dilberts Coming!

New York City

I am well versed in immigration issues and can speak to the alleged problems concerning the H-1B program David Sirota raises in “Dilberts of the World, Unite!” [June 23]. The H-1B program, rather than depressing the US job market, actually creates and keeps jobs in the United States. Since 2004, when Congress allowed the H-1B quota to revert from a high of 195,000 to its 1990 level of 65,000 per year, the amount of H-1Bs entering our science and engineering workforce, for example, has represented just 1 percent of that workforce. Since 2004 there has been a marked acceleration of the offshoring of jobs, based largely on the inability to obtain enough H-1B workers to meet employers’ needs. So while one may argue that the lack of H-1B workers will be met by more highly paid and skilled American workers, the opposite is true. Jobs and entire divisions of companies, if not the companies themselves, are leaving the United States, taking with them not only the skilled H-1B jobs but all the auxiliary jobs created and supported by the presence of the firm in the States. Therefore we need more H-1B visas to support and develop the US economy and workforce.

JAN H. BROWN, chair, New York Chapter
American Immigration Lawyers Association

‘They Can Put a Man on the Moon…’

Palo Alto, Calif.

Mark Hertsgaard, in “Capitol Climate Change” [June 23], refers to a new study that says reversing climate change will require “a swift end to burning coal.” He also cites a study that finds “greenhouse gas emissions must be cut much more sharply than anyone previously assumed” to avoid climate disaster. Right! The government should support a program comparable to the one that put a man on the moon to exploit techniques already available: to produce (1) biofuel derived from algae, a technique developed by Salazyme (www.solazyme.com) and (2) electricity from solar power, a technique developed by Ausra of Palo Alto (www.ausra.com). Pacific Gas and Electric has a contract to build a plant in San Luis Obispo County using Ausra’s technique.


Billions & Billions of Light-Years Away…

Hilton Head, S.C.

Having read the articles in your June 23 issue, I was falling into existential despair about salvaging anything noble from our present state. But I was saved by my fervent hope that the CERN accelerator will create a black hole into which Earth will be sucked, never to be heard from again, giving another planet an opportunity to slip into our orbiting position around the sun and create a just and more humane civilization in a few billion years.


Dear reader,

I hope you enjoyed the article you just read. It’s just one of the many deeply-reported and boundary-pushing stories we publish everyday at The Nation. In a time of continued erosion of our fundamental rights and urgent global struggles for peace, independent journalism is now more vital than ever.

As a Nation reader, you are likely an engaged progressive who is passionate about bold ideas. I know I can count on you to help sustain our mission-driven journalism.

This month, we’re kicking off an ambitious Summer Fundraising Campaign with the goal of raising $15,000. With your support, we can continue to produce the hard-hitting journalism you rely on to cut through the noise of conservative, corporate media. Please, donate today.

A better world is out there—and we need your support to reach it.


Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

Ad Policy