Letters From the October 16, 2017, Issue

Letters From the October 16, 2017, Issue

Letters From the October 16, 2017, Issue

A peek inside the rogues’ gallery… A real Shonda… End of the line… Tending our rural roots…


A Peek Inside the Rogues’ Gallery

The Nation’s September 11/18 issue features an excerpt from a book by John Nichols, Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America. The book should be required reading for every high-school student, every college student, and every nonfiction-book-club member. Readers will gain a detailed understanding that incompetents, liars, crooks, and unethical persons are running the federal government. Nichols deserves a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his many insightful disclosures about current or former Trump administration members.
Edward L. Koven
highland park, ill.

A Real Shonda

Eric Alterman contends that the Zionist Organization of America is an “extreme right-wing group” [“The Hatreds They Share,” Sept. 11/18]. Really? The ZOA has never supported Nazis, segregation, vigilante violence, or anything else commonly understood as “extreme right-wing.” If he refers to our positions on Israel, he is also wrong: We have never supported expelling the Arab population, Jewish acts of terrorism, or anything similar. Quite the contrary: We have unequivocally condemned acts of Jewish terrorism on the fortunately few occasions that they have occurred.

The ZOA believes that the absence of peace is due to the Palestinian Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state; rejection of Israeli-supported peace proposals encompassing full Palestinian statehood in 2001 and 2008; and continuing Palestinian -Authority anti-peace and pro-terror acts. These include incitement to -hatred and murder, glorification of anti-Jewish terrorism as a religious and national duty, high levels of support for anti-Jewish terrorism in Palestinian Arab society, and so on. Nothing extreme here.

Alterman also claims that the ZOA “still hasn’t said a word against Trump.” Had he done the least homework, he would know that the ZOA criticized President Trump’s original executive order on immigration as “excessive and ill-conceived” and criticized his failure to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We opposed his recertification of Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal and criticized his statement on the Holocaust. We’ve called for his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to resign and for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to be reassigned. And we’ve criticized the president for comparing neo-Nazis and antifa in Charlottesville.

Morton Klein
National President
Zionist Organization of America

new york city

Eric Alterman Replies

When it comes to extreme right-wingery, Morton Klein clearly suffers from the soft bigotry of low expectations. As if to prove my point, the criticisms of Donald Trump that he lists in his letter—in an attempt to prove that he and his organization are willing to take on the president—are all staunchly far-right critiques. (As was clear from the context of my piece, I was referring to Trump’s endorsement of Nazis when I noted Klein’s uncharacteristic silence.)

Meanwhile, minutes after Klein’s letter was forwarded to me, Rosie Gray of The Atlantic reported: “ZOA President Morton Klein confirmed that [Steve] Bannon is on the lineup to speak at the [group’s] November 12 event in New York…. Other guests include Joe Lieberman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, and Senator Tom Cotton. Former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka is also invited, he confirmed on Twitter.”

I can only add: Dayenu.

Eric Alterman
new york city

End of the Line

I enjoyed Amy Goldstein’s piece “The End of Labor” [Sept. 11/18], about the decimation of UAW Local 95 in Wisconsin. As a retired teacher who enjoyed membership in three unions (Teamsters, United Rubber Workers, OEA/NEA), I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to what happened with the rubber industry in my hometown of Akron, Ohio.

When I was fitting pipe and copper tubing to Goodyear’s first fully automated tire-building machine in the early 1970s, I was informed by one of the engineers that the machine would leave Akron and “go down south.” Not long after, a pipe-fitter friend told me excitedly that the company had asked him to travel to Mexico to help set up the curing presses at a new facility. After graduating from Kent State in 1973, I resigned from Goodyear in 1976 to teach. Some years later, I assisted two Akron Beacon Journal writers, David Giffels and Steve Love, with their “Wheels of Fortune” series, which documented the demise of the city’s tire factories and became a book in 1999.

With the combined pressures of technological innovation, globalization, and right-to-work policies (now in nearly 30 states), I don’t see unions regaining anything like the strength they’ll need to jump-start our nation’s dormant middle class once again. That is, unless—as with the United Steelworkers, which has merged with my old URW as well as several others—the emphasis continues to be placed on pulling ever more service-sector and retail workers into the fold. Unionization has always been about strength in numbers, and that formula hasn’t changed, even though the numbers must now be drawn from hither and yon.

Jim Walker
massillon, ohio

Tending Our Rural Roots

John Nichols has nailed it in his analysis of the Democratic Party’s rural electoral disasters [“How to Take Back Rural America,” Sept. 11/18]. Little more than a dozen years ago, my state was represented by two Democratic senators, Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson, and a Democratic congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Now we are almost as solidly red as Kansas. South Dakota Democrats have been divorced by our national party, which won’t support viable candidates and, in the one case where it invested in a race, misread the South Dakota electorate so badly that the national advertising actually helped the Republican, Mike Rounds, to win.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee need to reinvest in rural America and let state parties determine how to spend the money invested. We can effectively fight back on clear-cut issues like universal voter registration instead of voter suppression; health-care availability for all instead of health care as corporate welfare; and the preservation of the public commons instead of giving away our national inheritance to corporate political donors. Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy was right on. Let’s bring it back.

Mark Young
sioux falls, s.d.

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