Is The Nation so anxious to sell Bernie Sanders to its readers that it publishes John Nichols’s interview with him in its July 20/27 issue [“Bernie Sanders Speaks”] without a single question about foreign policy—not one? No wonder, because Sanders’s foreign-policy positions are much further to the right than his supporters would like voters to know. He is a militarist. He supported the US war on Kosovo and the US invasion of Afghanistan. He voted for funding for the Iraq War. He has been a hawkish advocate for Israel, never questioning the $3 billion per year that the United States gives the country, and he supported Israel’s recent bombing of Gaza, which was condemned by human-rights organizations.
This is the record of a progressive? Maybe Sanders is one on domestic policy, but certainly not on foreign policy. Nor is he running for president of Palau, which may not need a foreign policy, but of the United States, where foreign policy is critical. Sanders falls far short as a progressive candidate. The Nation knows this and should not cover it up.
Great interview with a great candidate talking about important issues. I hope Bernie is the catalyst for a progressive renaissance, and I hope that starts with nominating and electing him! (Although it would be good to do another interview where his ideas on the military and foreign policy are explored further.)
I thought Eric Foner’s article on the background of the white-supremacy movement (if one can call it that) in South Carolina was excellent [“Warped History,” July 20/27].
I must take exception, however, with his assertion that there are no monuments to the victims of slavery in the state. Come to Charleston and tour our historic sites, all created by the labor of enslaved Africans. Tour the Old Slave Mart Museum, where thousands were bought and sold; it is probably the most unknown historic site in Charleston, as well as one of the most moving.
Tour our plantations, all of them built by enslaved Africans. Take a Gullah Tour. Go visit “Mother Emanuel” Church. (Although it isn’t the original building, the church itself was founded by enslaved Africans.) That is their monument. I also think it’s only right, if you’re going to talk about white supremacy, to talk about African-American resistance. Not quite as overt as the other, but it was there.
A Confederacy of Dunces
Bill Kristol and his followers want “respect, recognition [and] acknowledgment” of those who fought for the Confederacy [“The Ideas of the Drooling Class,” July 20/27]. Very well. As it happens, the man who did as much as any to dispatch the Confederacy and its misbegotten aspirations also wrote a fitting epitaph—conciliatory, if you will, but frank and plain, too, in its condemnation. Toward the end of his personal memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant wrote:
What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassable face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.
As a longtime reader of The Nation, I’m respectfully requesting that you retract the slur “Trotskyite” in Richard Kreitner’s column on Bill Kristol. Kreitner incorrectly uses this derogatory word in reference to Kristol’s father, Irving.
The difference between “Trotskyite” and “Trotskyist” is a bit like the difference between the “N-word” and “black” or “African-American.” As I recall, the pejorative “Trotskyite” was coined by Stalinists, casting Left Opposition followers of Trotsky as anti-Soviet fifth columnists and/or fascist agents. The slur “Trotskyite” is thus a sort of etymological character assassination of the man and his supporters.
The word “Trotskyist,” on the other hand, is a neutral term that merely refers to an adherent of Leon Trotsky. It does not deride or endorse those it refers to and/or Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution, etc. An example of a contemporary Trotskyist is Kshama Sawant, who was featured in an excellent story in the July 6/13 issue of The Nation [“Socialist in Seattle”]. I imagine that your fine magazine and Kreitner did not intend to denigrate people such as Sawant.
I hope that The Nation will refrain from using the slanderous term “Trotskyite” in the future and will instead use the more respectful “T-word,” “Trotskyist.”
Richard Kreitner Replies
I do seem to recall having read of this important distinction. But it must have slipped my mind, preoccupied as I likely was by a landscape of crises neglected by generations of partisans intent on assiduously minding their suffixes. Comparing an epithet for Trotsky and his supporters to a verbal assault against an entire people whose nonlinguistic persecution is in the headlines every day, to me, rather says it all. Still, I have nothing but admiration for Kshama Sawant and her followers, and respect for longtime Nation readers, so I concede: I should not have insulted Irving Kristol.
Thanks to Barry Schwabsky for the review of the Venice Biennale [“Islands of Meaning,” July 20/27]. I’ll be there later this summer, and I think I’ll stick to the Tintorettos and Tiepolos.
Laura Gottesdiener’s “The Water Belongs to the People” (August 3/10) stated that the Detroit River empties into Lake St. Clair on one side and Lake Erie on the other. In fact, the Detroit River flows from Lake St. Clair and empties into Lake Erie.