Washington, DC

Re Victor Navasky’s “Seeing Red at the Post” [Oct. 13], about my coverage in the Washington Post of Kathy Boudin’s parole. Navasky takes me to task for describing Elisabeth Irwin High School, which Boudin attended in the late 1950s, as “Communist-influenced.” Citing my recent (private) e-mail correspondence with Andrew McLaren, the school’s current director, he says that I declined McLaren’s request for a correction, and that I offered “selectively” quoted information from the school’s seventy-fifth anniversary commemorative publication to buttress my point.

But it’s Navasky who’s doing the selecting. The entire quotation from the school’s publication, which Navasky elides in your pages, reads as follows: “In January, 1945, we voted to finish History with Russian History instead of the last two years of American History. We were all pretty much left-leaning ‘progressives,’ and thought Russia was great and Communism a noble experiment. Many flirted with Communism as an alternative.” The upper-case Cs are in the original, by the way.

I cited this to McLaren in response to his claim that Elisabeth Irwin “has never been pro-communist or communist-influenced.” McLaren wrote back cordially that he “appreciated” my comments, then offered to rewrite his letter and submit the revised version for publication, minus the request for a correction, as it turned out. That was that.

Navasky called the Post‘s Christine Haughney in New York to inquire about the story, but for some reason he didn’t call me. I would have gladly explained all of the above to him if he had done so.



New York City

First, Charles Lane takes me to task for quoting a paragraph from what he calls “private” correspondence with EI’s director. Since Lane sent it in response to the director’s letter to the Post, I assumed it was not meant to be unpublic.

Second, Lane takes me to task for not quoting more of his “private” letter. I’m glad he has filled us in on the rest of it, but again, it’s a non sequitur. The letter he is quoting is merely one alum’s account; others had opposite experiences and conflicting memories. The real question is, Why include such an irrelevant (and incendiary) opinion as if it were fact in a news article ostensibly about something else?

Finally, we can all agree that Andrew McLaren is more of a gentleman than I am, but my suspicion (perhaps based on the Post‘s decision not to publish my own letter to the editor) is that had he not agreed to cut the offending passage, his letter would have not been published.

We are pleased to publish Lane’s letter–in full.



As we expect from our loyal but fractious readers (who tend to write in when they’re peeved), our new cover design, inaugurated on the September 29 issue featuring John Nichols’s “Blood in the Water” cover story, was met with a mixture of excitement and pique. It took us back to the days of our design overhaul, January 1, 1996, which caused an explosion of protest–and excitement. (Readers grew to love the redesign.) –The Editors

Crawfordsville, Ind.

I note with some trepidation that you have hired a new design team, and I am appalled at the savageness of the imagery of their first cover. The knowledge that George Bush’s policies have wreaked death and devastation across the globe should be a deterrent, not an impetus, for this kind of visual.


Palo Alto, Calif.

Is it any coincidence that your new cover design, with the head “Blood in the Water,” has what’s known as a “full bleed” image (running off all four sides)? It’s a dubious visual pun. Previous Nation covers by the design firm Open are sadly missed.


Evanston, Ill.

I was impressed by the look of the first cover by the Avenging Angels. Alas, I was a little disappointed by the physics. The picture has the larger bubbles (rising through the water on the lower right) lagging below the smaller ones, when in fact the opposite happens in nature. The arrangement is appropriate for raindrops falling down, not bubbles going up.


Brooklyn, NY

I don’t really like the new covers. Your content, as always, is great. Lead us out of the ignorant darkness that is American politics right now.


Brooklyn, NY

Nooooo! Mere months after The American Prospect stopped using Bell Gothic for its headlines, you start using it on your covers. I can’t escape. Bell Gothic was designed for small font sizes, as used in telephone books, but it’s a terrible large font. I may have to start ripping the covers off your wonderful magazine. I’m not a crank. Really.


New York City

The revised logo is quite handsome. I’m particularly fond of the drop shadow, a sophisticated design tool. I look forward to the introduction of bolding and underlining you have craftily held back while we adjust to this groundbreaking evolution.


Las Vegas

I recently renewed for two more years. Keep up the good work. I like the new cover format, too.


Brooklyn, NY

Thank you for the past few years of smart, exciting covers. Their sophistication and clarity matched the writing and, damn it, looked good on the subway. The visual transformation a few years ago from stodgy to wide-awake and vital was a bold move–no wonder your circulation climbed. The new look is crude, the typography clumsy, the imagery obvious, the layout lifeless. Please reconsider.


Medford, Mass.

I just received the September 29 issue and I am impressed with the new look. Stay with it.



Batavia, NY

“It can’t happen here,” the Chilean people said on September 11, 1973 (Ariel Dorfman, “Lessons of a Catastrophe”; Peter Kornbluh, “Chile, 9/11/73”; Marc Cooper, “Remembering Allende”) [Sept. 29]. Except it did happen. It can happen. Anywhere. Anytime. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Our current leaders would have us disregard this. “Go shopping,” they urge, “and leave the governing to us.” To argue is unpatriotic. Undoubtedly, the only Chileans who disappeared were those who disloyally refused to go along with Pinochet’s plan. Or got in the way. Or were killed by accident.

It can happen here. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1781, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe repositories.”


Garden City, NY

In addition to 9/11/01 and “Chile, 9/11/73” there was another, earlier 9/11. On September 11, 1914, the French colonial rulers of Morocco issued an edict placing Morocco’s Middle Atlas Berbers under French legal jurisdiction as part of a larger policy intended to de-Islamify the Berbers and assimilate them into Western culture. A second, more famous “Berber Edict” was issued in 1930, extending this policy. The second edict was interpreted as an attack on Islam, and protests against it became the rallying point of Moroccan nationalism. The date of the second edict was May 16, a date commemorated by the Casablanca bombings on May 16, 2003. It seems unlikely that this is mere coincidence. The silence of our leaders and the US intelligence community on this subject suggests either ignorance or an unwillingness to admit the links between colonialism and jihadist terrorism.



Silver Spring, Md.

George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” [Joe Conason, “Where’s the Compassion?” Sept. 15] reminds me of Richard Nixon’s “law and order,” Herbert Hoover’s “prosperity is just around the corner” and George H.W. Bush’s “read my lips–no new taxes!” A revealing measure of the President’s “compassion” is his record on tobacco. In February a twenty-eight-member advisory commission on smoking and health unanimously recommended a $2-a-pack boost in the federal cigarette tax, saying it would prevent 3 million premature deaths and help 5 million smokers quit within a year. No way, said the compassionate one, who has received large infusions of campaign money from tobacco interests.

The White House tried for years to eviscerate the global tobacco-control treaty adopted this year by the World Health Organization. It also sought to use anti-terrorism legislation to shield US tobacco companies from foreign lawsuits. This from the world’s best-known exponent of compassion.


Santa Rosa, Calif.

Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” is in keeping with his abuse of the English language. In the same vein, when his vaunted reason for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq turned out to be bushwah, he transformed his motivation into his deep desire to liberate Iraqis from their murderous leader. So, like the Americans in Vietnam who destroyed a village in order to save it, Bush unleashed his war machine to slaughter thousands. In Bush’s lexicon this would be “compassionate carnage.”


Littleton, Colo.

Whenever I hear George W. Bush talk about bringing democracy to the long-suffering people of Iraq, I think back to his very undemocratic “election” in 2000. When he travels around Africa espousing the virtues of democracy, I feel the disconnect between those words and Karl Rove’s attempts to gerrymander the 2004 Congressional elections in states like Colorado and Texas. And when I hear W talk about the need to topple regimes in Iran and Syria to bring democracy to the good folks in those places, I am reminded of the 200 million corporate dollars he will have to spend for his “re-election” on a media machine made GOP-friendly by Michael Powell and his FCC buddies.

As I contemplate this lunacy, I am left with the unsettling thought that George W. Bush is to democracy as Idi Amin is to vegetarianism.