To all the indignant readers who complained about the Richard Serra ad for pleasevote.com [“Letters,” Aug. 2/9]: Lighten up! Serra’s update of Goya’s horrifying Saturn Devouring One of His Sons illustrates the nightmarish implications of George W. Bush’s domestic and foreign policies. Do these readers recognize Swiftian irony? Should Jonathan Swift have toned down his “modest proposal” to cook and eat Irish children because readers would find its “ghoulishness” “inappropriate,” “gross” and “tasteless”? In this time of the madness of the Bushites, we need all the Swiftian irony we can get.


Panorama City, Calif.

I was astonished by the angry letters about the pleasevote.com ad. I cannot believe people found it obscene, especially after the horrible pictures from Abu Ghraib. That is obscenity.


Fargo, ND

Hey, folks, people really do get “eaten” in wars! Because the current cabal has kept the nasty part of this conflict out of the media–not even allowing pictures of returning coffins or of our thousands of wounded, we think this is a nice “clean” war. Wake up, people! Thousands are being devoured in Iraq! Congratulations to The Nation!


Allentown, Pa.

The pleasevote.com ad grabbed my attention, and as a young person who has been trying to convince my friends to vote (most of whom are unwilling), I needed something attention-grabbing. That ad now hangs on the wall above our TV, where everyone who visits must look at it. Thank you, pleasevote.com.


New York City

I congratulate you on Richard Serra’s astonishing adaptation of Goya. It was so brilliant I bought an extra copy of the issue to share with friends. Readers’ jittery responses indicate the power of real art to unnerve.


Shreveport, La.

What kind of unimaginative, repressive wimps subscribe to The Nation these days? I thought Richard Serra’s concept was brilliant and an accurate portrayal of the current Administration. The image is not distasteful; Bush is distasteful. Your letter writers are attempting to kill the messenger. Please send me a stack of these posters so I can post them all over town!



Washington, DC

Scott Sherman’s June 7 “The Rebirth of the NYRB,” begins with a compelling evocation of the eloquent antiwar protest written by US diplomat John Brady Kiesling as he resigned three weeks before the Iraq war began. Sherman continues, “Greek newspapers were quick to publish Kiesling’s pithy and prescient statement, but it was virtually ignored in the US press until The New York Review of Books reprinted it at the onset of the Iraq war.”

Pithy and prescient Kiesling’s letter might have been, but it was not “virtually ignored” by the US press. A day after he faxed the letter, I received a copy and broke the news of it in an article for print and online editions of the New York Times. That same day, February 27, 2003, the Times website included the letter’s full text as a hyperlink within my article. Since I doubt that Kiesling posted the letter on the web and I’m sure the State Department didn’t, I’d bet that those Greek newspapers got their text, directly or indirectly, from the Times.

I am as susceptible as the next writer to the lure of a compelling opening anecdote. But if narrative clarity runs afoul of facts, facts trump. How can it be true that the US press “virtually ignored” something that a large US newspaper made public in the first place?



Brooklyn, NY

Felicity Barringer did indeed break the story of Kiesling’s resignation, a commendable scoop. But her editors failed to acknowledge its significance–giving the story only 404 words on page A13 and relegating the full text of Kiesling’s stirring, courageous and highly unusual resignation letter to the website. On that very same day, the Times devoted half of page A10 to a complete transcript of a blustery prowar speech that George W. Bush delivered to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

For the record, the first US publication to reproduce the full text of Kiesling’s letter–with old-fashioned ink and paper–was not the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or Los Angeles Times; it was The New York Review of Books.



Crozet, Va.

William Greider surmises the existence of a phenomenon I’ve been hoping for [“‘Embedded Patriots,'” July 12]. Having worked at high levels of both the Israeli and US governments, I am about as cynical as they come. But when this unwarranted war became a reality, as the dire warnings of so many clearsighted critics came to pass, and with the Democrats in Congress giving too many Administration desires a free pass (just say “Negroponte”), it occurred to me that the one hope for the truth to come out was the thousands of faceless people in positions to know who care about this country.

In Washington shortly after the end of his campaign, Howard Dean spoke of journalistic and civic integrity. I believe he was speaking to Greider’s “embedded patriots” as well as to those in the media who still possess enough principle to provide a place where these patriots’ concerns can be expressed. To Dean, and to all the other patriots who dare not speak so openly, this country and the world will be forever indebted.



Wallingford, Pa.

Last week I borrowed a friend’s van. I was cleaning things out before returning it and discovered an issue of The Weekly Standard under the seat. I began reading a feature titled “Scrapbook… The stupidity of the antiwar doomsayers,” which mocked various editorials by quoting them and reviling them–e.g., Eric Alterman in The Nation: “Is Wolfowitz really so ignorant of history as to believe the Iraqis would welcome us as ‘their hoped-for liberators’?”

Well, yes, I thought, Eric certainly hit the nail on the head. But I was puzzled–why did they think this was a stupid observation? Then I saw the date: April 21, 2003. Reading the rest of the magazine was really a hoot, a perfect example of the neocon “Mission Accomplished” mindset. The theme of the entire issue was: Hey fellows, we won, we won! All those stupid liberals are so, so wrong. Now it’s all over but the quick and easy establishment of an Iraqi democracy, the postwar planning is ready to roll, just watch the antiwar naysayers eat our dust, etc. Look the issue up; you’ll have a blast.


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