Stats for Our Times
I was drawn to two statistics on page 4 of your August 18/25 issue. The first was in “DC by the Numbers”: the deplorable 23 percent of US children living below the poverty line. As if that isn’t bad enough, I choked at the other number on the same page, in your editorial “Justice for Gaza”: the annual $3 billion in military aid to Israel. If we withheld those military dollars, which strengthen the so-called Iron Dome that makes the bully less likely to stop the bullying, we could use that money to alleviate the very sad state of some of our vulnerable citizens. Then American kids would not have to go to bed hungry, and we could save the lives of some of Gaza’s children as well.
Sex Data—the Worst Ever
Michelle Goldberg, in “Should Buying Sex Be Illegal?” [Aug. 18/25], mentions a study by Cho, Dreher and Neumayer that claims that countries with legalized prostitution have a greater amount of human trafficking than countries where prostitution is criminalized. This is one of the worst studies ever conducted on this topic. It is based on UN “data” that the UN itself cautioned against using for any purpose, because the figures on various countries were of extremely poor quality, making comparisons between them hollow.
The study also makes the fatal error of using figures combining labor and sex trafficking to determine the effect of prostitution law, whereas the proper comparison would use sex-trafficking figures alone. But even then, the analysis would be flawed because reliable data simply do not exist. Finally, the study reifies “legalization” by relying on legal statutes, ignoring the more nuanced issues of what type of prostitution is allowed in a country and, importantly, whether the law is actually implemented and enforced.
What Will Be Left of Texas?
Suggesting that Wen Stephenson [“Ground Zero in the Fight for Climate Justice,” June 23/30] advocate replacing tractors with peasants, Scott Baum [“Letters,” Aug. 18/25] only sows confusion. What else but “peasants” would he call the undocumented workers who toil in “the Valley” of his (and my) native Texas, a state so resistant to immigration reform and unions? The calamitous drought, withered crops and oil-contaminated Gulf should have alerted him to the need for change—say, by switching from petrochemical fertilizers to organic, and from gas-guzzlers to electric engines. With ranchers slaughtering cattle they can no longer feed or water, how about reconsidering reliance on that dead-end business? Baum seems intent on becoming not just The Nation’s “longest-subscribing Texas redneck,” but the last.
Not a Pearl in Ethiopia’s Ear
Eritreans will be indignantly surprised to read in Cecilia D’Anastasio’s “A Tolerance for Ambiguity” [“In Our Orbit,” Aug. 18/25] that Eritrea is “now part of Ethiopia.” Eritrea was forcibly annexed by Ethiopia as a province in 1962, which gave rise to the thirty-year war for Eritrean independence. An estimated 100,000 Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers died during the war, with de facto independence achieved in 1991, followed by de jure independence in 1993.
Moscow, Kiev and Austin?
The Nation could probably solve its chronic financial problems if Russian President Vladimir Putin paid fair market value for the pro-Russian propaganda by Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen that passes for commentary on the current Ukraine-Russia imbroglio [“War With Russia?” Aug. 18/25].
The government in Kiev is trying to reassert control over its own territory, which includes the Donbass region. Unfortunately, reclaiming Ukrainian territory requires the use of military force over Moscow–backed and –supplied rebels based in urban areas like Donetsk.
This crisis originated in Moscow, not Kiev, Washington or Brussels. It is another manifestation of Putin’s new Russian imperialism, following his actions in Georgia in 2008 under the shopworn pretext of protecting Russian speakers from nonexistent threats.
Steven I. Levine
An analogy: suppose there was a Hispanic majority in Texas (not unlikely). They elect a Hispanic state government, which declares Spanish the official language of Texas. In a subsequent referendum, the Hispanic majority votes for independence from the United States, creating La Republica de Tejas.
Native English-speaking Texans are outraged and oppose the decision. They organize an armed secession movement centered in Dallas–Fort Worth and resist the Tejas Guardia Nacional when it tries to put down the rebellion. An Anglo militia in Dallas mistakenly shoots down a Canadian airliner en route to Mexico.
Many US citizens and politicians sympathize and support the Anglo-Texans. The Republican US government intervenes, occupies the Panhandle and masses troops along the Oklahoma border north of Dallas–Fort Worth. I’ll let you take if from there.
Bruce E. Lane
The Nation is the only publication in which I have read a different perspective on what has been going on in Ukraine, which is just one of the many reasons why I continue to be a subscriber.
Or, a Gandhian Gangsta
I always look forward to Calvin Trillin’s “deadline poems.” Having been raised Mennonite, I found “Religious Misunderstanding” [Aug. 4/11] with its mention of “a bloodthirsty Buddhist,” “Quaker disquiet” and “a Mennonite riot” especially hilarious and, sadly, somewhat true: They may not be “Amish jihadists,” but several Amish men currently reside in an Ohio prison for a ”violent hair-cutting incident.” Yes, sad but true.
cape coral, fla.
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “The New Fight for Racial Justice” [Sept. 15] incorrectly stated that a Change.org petition calling for a criminal investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin was started by Daniel Maree, founder of the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice. While the group did drum up support for the petition, it was in fact started by Howard University Law School alumnus Kevin Cunningham.