Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor


Get Out, Exit, Scram, Beat It, Go Home…

Frankfort, Mich.
Your editorial "Getting Out of Afghanistan" [Aug. 16/23] was right on the money! I’ve served in Kabul, and after hoping that a more nuanced policy would emerge from the White House (it clearly hasn’t), I agree that we should get out. Thanks for this seminal contribution to US foreign policy.



Real Heroes: Those Who Speak Out

Exton, Pa.

As a 76-year-old Korean War veteran, I can well appreciate Sarah Lazare and Ryan Harvey’s "WikiLeaks in Baghdad" [Aug. 16/23]. My heart goes out to Josh Stieber, Ray Corcoles and Ethan McCord, who are true heroes of the ill-advised and immoral war in Iraq. They describe not only the desensitization, dehumanization and even corruption of language soldiers face; they showed rare courage to speak out. The three young men showed their basic humanity and decency when they saw the brutalization of Iraqi civilians.

NORMAN K. SMITH, US Army (retired)



Population Bomb

Falmouth, Mass.

Andrew Ross’s "Greenwashing Nativism" [Aug. 16/23] has much to say about population issues and environmentalists. But Ross doesn’t acknowledge the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program ([email protected]), which explains the club’s population strategies. Readers may be interested in the club’s advocacy training program and its population program, which will soon visit Texas.




Rising From Its Ashes?

Redwood City, Calif.

Phoenix is not "ground zero for the national housing crisis," as claimed by Marc Cooper in "John McCain’s Last Stand" [Aug. 16/23]; it is in third place behind Las Vegas and Merced. Nor is it the "bull’s- eye of global warming in the Northern Hemisphere," as claimed by Andrew Ross in "Greenwashing Nativism." Phoenix is in trouble because of excessive development and real estate speculation.




Oasis on the Upper West Side

Bellevue, Iowa

In her lovely, graceful remembrance of Iris McWilliams in "Noted" [Aug. 16/23], Katrina vanden Heuvel quotes a longtime friend of Iris and Cary McWilliams as saying of their apartment, "The intelligent and decent civil liberty types all drifted in, and as discouraging as the country seemed, the possibilities of an open and sane society seemed alive there." I wish The Nation to know that I feel about this magazine as did this friend about the McWilliams place. Thank you for keeping alive the hope for decency, inclusivity and community, all of which seem of so little value in this brave new barbarous world we have created.




Back to School—II

Hayward, Calif.

Thank you for shining a light on the importance of education reform and for highlighting leading voices for meaningful reform ["A New Vision for School Reform," June 14; "Letters," Sept. 20].Linda Darling-Hammond remains a beacon of sanity and good sense. She provides an excellent overview of education reform efforts over the years. There is no silver bullet—the entire system needs an overhaul to address the many years of neglect.

When No Child Left Behind was instituted, the air was sucked out of classrooms across the country. The rote, uninspiring drill-and-kill method of teaching that the law has spawned has prevailed with no discernible positive effect for the students it proposed to help. As Diane Ravitch accurately points out in her article ["Why I Changed My Mind," June 14], the rise in accountability through high-stakes testing has resulted in a "measure and punish" approach that radically narrows the curriculum, affecting students and teachers alike. Now with even fewer resources at our disposal, we are at last being asked to reignite the imaginations of a generation of educators to engage, inspire and educate our youth. The challenges of creating a bridge to brighter landscapes are welcome, but the designated pathways are full of pot holes.

A positive offered by Race to the Top and the new focus on creativity and research is the opportunity to share successful practice. In Alameda County we are proud of our ability to put in place some of the exciting models of excellence mentioned by Pedro Noguera: schools as service centers; partnerships with higher education and business as pathways to college and careers; and comprehensive curriculums that include arts and civic engagement.

Alameda County superintendent of schools



Do Do That Voodoo That You Do So Well


In 1980, when Bush the elder referred to Reagan’s "trickle-down" theory as "voodoo economics," he was making the legitimate point that the theory was nonsense. But Voodoo (or Voudon) is no more nonsense than Christianity, Buddhism or Zoroastrianism. It is the name of a syncretic religion with African animist and Catholic roots, practiced by some Haitians. It’s disrespectful to use the term [Jordan Stancil, "Europe’s Voodoo Economics," June 28].


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