Many thanks to Mike Konczal and the economists cited in his article—Henry Farber, Dan Herbst, Ilyana Kuziemko, and Suresh Naidu—for telling everyone what us unionists already knew [“Union Strong,” June 18/25]. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Our unions are the rising tide and the nation’s workers are the boats.
Member, IBEW Local 134, Chicago
The Only Way Home
Re: “Give Us Shelter” by Bryce Covert [June 18/25]: Housing, health care, education, and transportation are all crucial public services. In other developed countries, “enlightened” elites or, even more important, socialist movements ensured that these were not simply left to market forces. But in the United States, capitalist forces have always been too strong, and countervailing movements too weak, to ensure that these services are truly public and of high quality. Until we create powerful popular political movements dedicated to restricting the power of capital, nothing will change.
Re: “Who Owns Public Space?” by Laila Lalami [June 18/25]: I teared up when I read this, thank you. We all need to stand up for each other when we see something like the confrontation in the New York deli. It has to become socially unacceptable to treat people in such a nasty and discriminatory manner. I wonder if Aaron Schlossberg’s family emigrated from another country and perhaps spoke a different language when they came here? All of us need to stand up to the brutish, nasty cruelty that is being said and done to immigrants and people of color. The majority of Americans are not like these nasty people.
Lalami’s column suggests that “disruption and discomfort” imposed by “online mobs” is an appropriate response to a racist rant in a public space. It used to be that most folks accepted “an eye for an eye” as the norm for retaliation or punishment; that’s obviously questionable, as it leaves everybody blind. But it did suggest a societal norm for dealing with such incidents: proportionality.
Aaron Schlossberg and the others mentioned in the column certainly manifested crude xenophobic feelings and behaved in a hurtful way. But were the harms inflicted on Schlossberg by the mob really deserved? Or were they excessive?
Walter (Jerry) Kendall
Alas, Donald Trump is setting a terrible example of barely disguised racism and nativism. He is appealing to the very worst sentiments of bigotry that still infect our nation. If he wants to “Make America Great Again,” he should speak the opposite of how he is speaking and try to be a healer in chief rather than a divider in chief.
I am going to learn Spanish. Way overdue.