EYE OF THE BEHOLDER DEPARTMENT
Whitmore Lake, Mich.
What’s with those soulless zombie eyes in the November 26 issue? Steve Brodner’s caricatures are hideous! I couldn’t believe they were illustrating essays that were endorsing the candidates. The issue itself, however, was spectacular.
New York City
What a delight it was to see Steve Brodner’s caricatures of the candidates on your cover. Each one was dead on, and marvelously witty. Really remarkable.
HOLD THE SEQUINS
New York City
Graham Usher, in “Musharraf’s Emergency” [Nov. 26], writes that Benazir Bhutto “wears the soul of Pakistan like a sequined gown.” I’m all for colorful writing, and this is definitely the memorable phrase in a rather gray piece, but what does it mean? When I see photos of Bhutto, she is wearing nonrevealing robes and a headscarf. Does she have a secret life as a Cosmo cover girl? Does the soul of Pakistan, whatever that is, long to fling off its traditional garb and go to the Oscars? Is Usher saying that Pakistanis are as mesmerized by Bhutto’s claim to represent their aspirations as a pop star’s fans are drawn to her sultry, but tawdry, beauty? Or is his point that Bhutto has taken something organic and profound–the soul of Pakistan–and transmuted it into something Western and self-dramatizing? Are sequined gowns bad or good? Whatever, Bhutto has enough to answer for without being saddled with sexualizing metaphors.
CIVILIZED VERSUS SAVAGE
Re “Voting for Torture” [Nov. 26]: since refusal to recognize waterboarding as torture seems acceptable in our Pax Americana, I suggest revisiting history. After the Spanish-American War, hearings before Henry Cabot Lodge’s Senate Committee on the Philippines, in 1902, caused national outrage when brutality by some US officers and soldiers was revealed. Witnesses testified on widespread use of the “water cure” developed by priests during the Inquisition. “His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning but who cannot drown.” President Theodore Roosevelt was outraged, too: “Great as the provocation has been in dealing with the foes who habitually resort to treachery, murder and torture against our men, nothing can justify…the use of torture or inhuman conduct…on the part of the American Army.”