Letters From the October 23, 2017, Issue

Letters From the October 23, 2017, Issue

Letters From the October 23, 2017, Issue

Calling out the climate criminals… A dangerous savior complex…… Carrying a tune…


Calling Out the Climate Criminals
I do not believe that the bulk of climate-change deniers in the government, from Ted Cruz to John Cornyn to Donald Trump and the rest, are actually ignorant of the scientific facts [“Climate Denialism Kills,” Sept. 25/Oct. 2]. They will quote science when it suits them. I believe the situation is worse: These people are simply in the employ of the fossil-fuel industry, which is desperately trying to suck a few trillion more dollars out of the earth before it becomes as much a part of history as the clipper ship, as will happen within the next half—century.

These people are willfully poisoning the planet, and the future of their grandchildren, for the short-term gain of the Tillersons, Cheneys, et al. This is a crime against humanity, and history will see it that way.

John Murphy

Climate denialism alone isn’t killing us. The destabilization of the global climate system has been proceeding apace for at least the three decades since scientists like James Hansen first issued their warnings. We’ve all contributed—in our personal failure to adjust our lives to address the reality, as well as in the way we’ve enabled the control of public policy by an oligarchy that has insinuated itself into both parts of the political duopoly. While Republicans refused even to acknowledge the science, the Democrats did little more than take the few steps that their corporate donors found acceptable—while much of their base remained safely ensconced in the delusion that we were making “progress.”

Trump & Co.’s denials have certainly not helped matters. (His nomination of a climate denialist to head NASA, most likely to squelch any further data gathering on climate change, is just one in a long series of overt steps to obstruct public information on the subject.) And the Trump administration’s policies can only serve to worsen the situation. But that was already untenable. The extreme weather events, the burning of a pretty sizable portion of the western United States, etc.—all of this is likely the result of what we’ve collectively been allowing to take place for many years.

The question is what to do about it now. While we may already be at or beyond a climate-stability tipping point, it is our collective responsibility to do everything in our power, from this day forward, to make the necessary changes, both personal and political. We cannot be satisfied with simply changing faces in the White House—certainly not unless that means more than just a change of banner color, from red to blue. We must be committed for the long haul and, regardless of party, make our political leaders treat this as the existential crisis that it is.

Roger Hoffmann

A Dangerous Savior Complex

Regarding Rafia Zakaria’s “White Women and the Specter of Islam” [Aug. 28/Sept. 4]: The mixing of American liberal feminism and global interventionism is a concern I have felt since the early 1970s. This article articulates a challenge, well written and argued, that feminism as presented by most mainstream media is overdue to address. I hope that those familiar with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani will review them, as I intend to do. My profound appreciation.
Maggie Meehan
fergus falls, minn.

While American feminism deserves criticism on numerous grounds (especially its shift from its radical roots to the mainstream), this stunning attack on American feminism is way off the mark.

First, “right-wing feminism” is an oxymoron: Kellyanne Conway, Ann Coulter, and Pamela Geller are not feminists by any stretch.

Second, the alliance between feminism and military interventionists to “liberate” Muslim women is a fantasy, the Feminist Majority Foundation notwithstanding. I have spent my long personal and professional life fighting for women’s rights, and I know of no feminist who supports military intervention, much less to rescue Muslim women.

Third, if feminists imagine gender equality as a value “inherently and essentially belonging to white and Western society,” why are we fighting mightily to install gender equality in Western culture, where it clearly doesn’t exist?

Finally, the author seems fixated on feminist antipathy toward Islam and its oppression of women, but she fails to note that feminism far more often condemns expressions of the Christian religion—evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, the Baptist Church, etc.—insofar as they oppress women. Feminist expressions of concern for the plight of women in traditional Islam and traditional Christianity are legitimate, not the use of women as “victim, escapee, or pawn.”

Rosemary Agonito
syracuse, n.y.

Rafia Zakaria Replies

Thank you, Rosemary Agonito, for your letter and for reading the article. I must say that I find the tendency to discard terms like “right-wing feminism” onerous, not least because it prevents the rest of us from considering and evaluating the duplicitous models of empowerment being put forward by women like Kellyanne Conway, Ann Coulter, Pamela Geller, and others. When people say “right-wing feminism” is an oxymoron, they exclude it from analysis and preclude an investigation into how it corrodes progress toward the goal of gender equality.

You deploy the same tactic when you say that, since you don’t personally know feminists who support military intervention, none exist. As I point out in my latest book, Veil, women like Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, and Meryl Streep all signed a letter to President George W. Bush asking him to “take emergency action to protect the lives and secure the future of Afghan women.”

Moreover, the continuation of the struggle to install equality within Western society does not preclude its export to lesser feminists elsewhere; in fact, as I show, the export of these ideas has become crucial to the struggle at home.

Finally, I am “fixated” on feminist antipathy to Islam and Muslim countries because the deafening feminist silence on the co-option of gender equality by those pushing a war agenda has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan women and has all but destroyed grassroots feminism within these contexts. The fact that I am “fixated” while you are not is precisely the problem.

Rafia Zakaria

Carrying a Tune

Regarding Puzzle No. 3439 [Aug. 28/Sept. 4]: I assume both Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto are fine musicians since, despite eight anagrams of A, E, I, N, R, S, T, there were no “tin ears.”
Carolanne Steinebach
twisp, wash.

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