Waiting for snow in Havana… Rough Rider… Kreitner replies… lowlifes prowl the Net… pri$on$ for profit…


Waiting for Snow in Havana

William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh’s “Obama’s Last Chance on Cuba” [Oct. 20] is an offense to all of us Cubans who have been suffering for fifty-five years with the longest dictatorship humankind has experienced. Unfortunately, most people don’t know the realities of what the Cuban people have been suffering. I feel that those who haven’t lived or experienced, in their own body and soul, how this government has converted this glorious island into a country of 11 million people living in misery and hopelessness should not give opinions on it.

It does not matter how hard the US government tries to establish a dialogue or improve the relationship between the two countries; as long as it is a dictatorship, that will not happen. In a dictatorship, the only truth is their truth, and there is no possibility of reasoning or coming to an understanding with a government that doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

It’s very difficult to see people go to this amazing island as tourists and feel they have seen the true situation there. It is impossible as a tourist to experience the suffering. Unfortunately, it is those same people who feel they can try to instruct our government, which is not only democratic but also an avid advocate of freedom, on how to deal with such a group of criminals.

I lived on the island until I was 41, so I experienced all of this in my own flesh and blood. To this day, if Cubans in the United States don’t help our family members in Cuba, they can literally starve. What we really need in Cuba is to establish respect for human rights and a real democracy with real free elections.

May God bless my beloved homeland and save it. God bless America for allowing me to express myself with absolute freedom of speech, unlike my dear compatriots.

Arturo Sandoval
los angeles

I was shocked to see no mention at all of the Cuban Five. They were given huge jail sentences long ago for trying to infiltrate the anti-Cuba terrorist cells in Miami. There has been much anguish in Cuba over their unjust fate (the trials in Florida were a farce) and much leftist press publicity and solidarity work in the United States. That Obama has not asked for their release—in exchange perhaps for Alan Gross, held in Cuba—is an indication of Obama’s spinelessness on Cuba.
David Kunzle
los angeles

“Washington blocked Cuban participation in the first six summits [of the Americas], on the grounds that the participants had to be democracies.” So the only country that showed up was Canada? Seriously, with all the support the US government has given dictatorships over the years, how could anyone keep a straight face when that was presented as a reason to block Cuba from the summits?

Rough Rider

For shame! To praise T.R. as a man who “clears the air,” and then quote The Nation’s 1919 eulogy to the fallen warrior, is just bad history [Richard Kreitner, “Back Issues/1919,” Oct. 20]. This is the same Teddy Roosevelt who embraced Aryan superiority, wanted to execute insurgent workers in Chicago and believed in the salutary virility of imperial war; the man who hijacked Cuban independence in 1898, then stole Panama from Colombia, and blessed it all with his corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting architect for America’s imperial adventures in the twentieth century. And he cleared the air? Please! For your egregious imperial obfuscation and exceptionalist and shameless celebration of T.R., I think you should publish, in both Spanish and English, Rubén Darío’s “To Roosevelt.”
Louis Segal
oakland, calif.

Kreitner Replies

Professor Segal does not say he disagrees with Stuart P. Sherman’s argument that Theodore Roosevelt “creat[ed] for the nation the atmosphere in which valor and high seriousness live, by clearing the air of the poisonous emanations of ‘superior people,’” only that The Nation ought to acknowledge his more pernicious accomplishments as well. Happy to, as was Sherman in the 1919 essay Segal has not taken the time to read: he grouped Roosevelt among “the small jingo class whose veins perennially throb with red blood and national honor.” Perhaps not quite the poetry of Segal’s “egregious imperial obfuscation,” but we get the point. Ken Burns had fourteen hours to do Roosevelt justice, and Sherman had almost 8,000 words. We had 200.

It would be odd to run in a Nation archives column a poem first printed in Spain in 1905, but perhaps Professor Segal will accept, in its stead, the poet and historian Thomas Walsh’s expression of “admiration” for Darío’s “transcendent genius,” published in these pages in September 1921.

Richard Kreitner
brooklyn, n.y.

Lowlifes Prowl the Net

Re Michelle Goldberg’s “The War Against Revenge Porn” [Oct. 20]: “It’s malicious and reprehensible. But should it be a crime?” asks the headline. Hell, yes!!!!! This is harassment and stalking we’re talking about! Not free speech!

If women harassed men and destroyed men’s reputations on a revenge-porn site, we wouldn’t have articles on the legal ramifications of limiting anonymous free speech. We’d have jail time.
Undercover waitress

I was a victim of this as a teen, and it was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. It has taken me nearly a decade to get over it. I had no means of prosecuting the individual. It needs to be a crime.

The freedom to express ourselves is the advantage of the Net. It’s important in a democratic society. We’re engaging in it right now. We need to recognize that calls to criminalize links and photographs and punish websites for user-supplied content represent a slippery slope. If we’re going to step on that slope, we’d better have a plan for halting our slide before we hit the bottom. We won’t enjoy that destination.

Pri$on$ for Profit

Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert’s excellent “The Score” [Oct. 13], on why lockdown rates are rising, misses an important part of the equation. They correctly identify the roles of police, prosecutors and judges but neglect to mention the enormous influence of the corporate prison industry. As Nation articles have documented, the prison-industrial complex is a powerful force that drives national policy on many issues. If incarceration rates are up, that’s good for the bottom line.
Don Falk

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