Letters From the April 17, 2017, Issue

Letters From the April 17, 2017, Issue

Letters From the April 17, 2017, Issue

For the public, not profit… Russia’s a touchy subject… Book learning: Hitler and the labor movement…


Rational Voice

Linda Darling-Hammond’s article “Education for Sale?” [March 27] is a wonderfully lucid overview of the charter and private-education movement in the United States, with valuable comparisons to different countries as well as between different states. Her comprehensively informative approach leads admirably to her convincing conclusion: “Allowing for-profit entities to operate schools would be recognized as creating an inherent conflict of interest. In short, the system would need to operate like a public system.” Thank you for publishing it!

Dr. Steven Webster
tacoma, wash., and new zealand

Kremlin-Baiting vs. McCarthyism

In its assessment of the current Russian entity and its machinations, The Nation disserves itself, its best traditions, and its readers. I think it is failing to balance the necessary project of nuclear détente with Russia against a proper appreciation of the country’s renewed aggressive imperial stratagems: the “active measures”—murders and deceits—this kleptocracy employs against opponents. At least I, a Nation reader since I was a boy, when my parents subscribed, feel this imbalance, both in the features and in the Letters column.

Norman Rush
new york city

Stephen F. Cohen may be right that Donald Trump’s critics have overstated the White House’s allegiance to Vladimir Putin and that they have inflated Putin’s threat to American democracy [“Against Kremlin-Baiting,” March 13]. But the notion that those concerns, which amount to little more than the call for an independent or bipartisan inquiry (supposedly what Cohen wants as well), are “McCarthyism” is mere sloganeering. Let’s not twist the term’s meaning to vilify the very liberals and progressives who are reasonably concerned about the fundamental corruption and venality of Trump’s presidency.

In making his argument, Cohen conflates Cold War belligerence with McCarthyism, which, while it indeed inflated international threats, did so in large part to promote domestic counter-subversion. Moreover, Cohen’s argument deflects attention from present-day policies and rhetoric that far more resemble McCarthyism than anything said or done in the last few months by the left or the Democratic Party, neither of which has come close to anything like a domestic witch hunt.

It is Trump who is rounding up immigrants. It is Trump who is misusing customs and ICE agents to persecute minorities. It is Trump who is attacking constitutional rights. It is Trump who is accusing his opponents of subverting and conspiring against the nation. It is Trump and Republicans who propose criminalizing protest, whipping up a political hysteria to eliminate opponents and solidify their grip on American political institutions.

All of this behavior is far more reminiscent of the real historical McCarthyism than the call for an investigation of Trump’s ties to the Russians and their interference in the US presidential election.

Andrew Feffer
Professor of history, Union College

schenectady, n.y.

Even though fairly conservative, I’ve read and subscribed to The Nation for years. It’s always good to be challenged intellectually, and The Nation is the voice of the unvarnished left, so you get an idea of what it is really thinking, as opposed to articles attempting to sugarcoat or hide their agendas. Stephen F. Cohen’s editorial was well worth a year’s subscription, refuting point by point the miasma of unsubstantiated allegations about Trump and his team. I was very surprised to find it in The Nation, knowing that the majority of your readership loathes Trump. It speaks very well for your
intellectual honesty.

Lewis Robinson
holyoke, mass.

Is Stephen F. Cohen’s piece The Nation’s attempt to represent the Trump administration’s spin on the Russia allegations? It includes many of the same talking points: McCarthyism, the “hysterical” press, and the dismissal of intelligence agencies’ findings. While I’m certainly in agreement that there aren’t yet any reported facts that prove some collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to tilt the election, there are certain facts that are disconcerting and worthy of further investigation.

Two of Trump’s cabinet members lied about having meetings with ambassador Sergey Kislyak, one while under oath. It seems unlikely that neither remembered these meetings. If such sessions are commonplace, as is often asserted by Trump’s supporters, why pretend that they never took place?

Cohen may want to consider that what he calls a “witch hunt” (along with Trump) may reflect the fact that many bureaucrats, senators, and representatives are genuinely horrified by a president who seems to be completely unwilling to satisfy the norms of financial transparency. Again, if there is no “there there,” why the secrecy? And with Democrats having little power in any of the three branches of government, they may think this is their only means of slowing the efforts of an administration that many of us see as unlawful, dishonest, and immoral.

McCarthyism made a concerted effort to instill paranoia toward any government official, member of the press, entertainment figure, or neighbor seen as sympathizing with the left. The desire to see a full, independent investigation into what our intelligence agencies have agreed is a case of interference in our election by a foreign actor is hardly analogous.

Dean Schlabowske
west allis, wis.

Christopher Hitchens had the courage to speak truth to power. Professor Stephen F. Cohen has the courage to speak truth to power. And, finally, I can say again that The Nation has shown the courage to speak truth to power. There are many reasons why progressive advocates should speak less apocalyptically about Donald Trump’s presidency. When the issue is Trump and Russia, Cohen’s essay clears the smoke to show there is no fire. Thank you.

Michael J. Bond
mercer island, wash.

Ego Massage

Does The Nation ever get discouraged? In case you do, I write in praise. Thank you for Richard J. Evans’s review of Hitler: Ascent, 1889–1939 [“A Warning From History,” March 20], and Rich Yeselson’s essay on the labor movement [“At Labor’s Crossroads,” March 27]. Each went into detail and depth. Each was written by someone who has reflected for many years on what he was writing about. Each treated the reader with respect, giving her or him credit for curiosity, intelligence, and patience. Thanks.

Steve Golin
glen ridge, n.j.

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