Immodest Proposals

Bryce Covert, in “‘Modest’ Demands” [Nov. 4], outlines five measures congressional Democrats should demand in order to play Republican-style hardball and boost the economy. They could also demand that all gun purchasers go through the federal background check system. After all, 90 percent of Americans are in favor of this.

Michael Miller Jr.

As a retired physician, I agree with Bryce Covert that single-payer is what we all need and deserve (but I don’t think we will see it in this lifetime). And we need to realize that global warming is the great equalizer. The climate and 7 billion-plus humans (rapidly multiplying) may well take us in unexpected directions very soon. I think of The Hunger Games or The Road.


Of Skinheads and Tea Partiers

European and American far-right movements may have similar demographics and a similar hatred of institutions, but I think the European far right is more dangerous than the Tea Party [Gary Younge, “Beneath the Radar,” Nov. 4].

First, European neofascists don’t want to shrink government, but to increase its intrusion into citizens’ lives. If they sow chaos, it’s not to drown government in a bathtub, but to prepare the way for authoritarian government.

Second, they don’t live in an alternative reality. They get the same news everyone else does (there’s no Fox News in Europe), and aside from the occasional malicious lie directed at minorities, deal with the same facts. They differ from the mainstream not in their facts, but in their tribal appraisal of those facts.

Hans Bavinck
balaguères, france

Queequeg Rules

In “Dignity’s Due” [Nov. 4], Samuel Moyn refers to Moby-Dick, wherein Ishmael jokes about whaling and dignity. Melville pokes fun at the Catholic hierarchy by having Ishmael choose a pagan friend, Queequeg, because Christian charity is so hollow. Melville must be laughing now to find that the hierarchy is the underpinning of dignity. After all, he had Queequeg say, “We cannibals must help these Christians.”

Thomas R. Aylward
sonoita, ariz.

Literate Reviews

This is just to tell you how much I appreciate and rely on Stuart Klawans’s very literate movie reviews. May the rabbinical gods allow him another twenty-five years of wisdom and wit.

Judy Bellin
chapel hill, n.c.

Klawans Replies

I tried showing this message to Rabbi Feffeferman in the hope that it would shut him up, but he just went off for half an hour about the phrase “rabbinical gods,” Akkadian and Sumerian creation myths, and the category of Hebrew nouns ending in -im that are singular rather than plural. I have to live with this, and on top of it he tells me he’s the funny one.

Stuart Klawans
new york city