I was overjoyed to see Victor Navasky, in “Seeking Obama’s Center” [Feb. 9], referring to President Obama’s identification of “nonbelievers” as one of the valid categories of Americans (along with Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus) in his inaugural address. As startling as this assertion was, I have noted it referred to only once since the inauguration, and that was an offhand remark on TV. This is the first time of which I am aware that anyone in any US administration has extended American citizenship to include “nonbelievers.” This is at least as important as giving the vote to women or electing an African-American as president.
LAWRENCE R. FREEDMAN
The Nation: The Old Dope Peddler
New York City
Tobacco ads like the one The Nation published in a prominent centerfold in the February 9 promote addiction and lead to personal and family suffering, premature death and higher healthcare costs for society. Your ad policy, which states that you’re willing to accept ads with repugnant “views,” ignores the real issue. Promoting addiction to tobacco is not a “view” to agree or disagree with. It falls under the part of your ad policy on “purveying harmful products.” This ad is hawking a proven dangerous product in order to make profits. The Nation, as publisher of it, is the enabler/promoter of such a product, for its own financial reasons.
It is disingenuous and a spurious argument to write that your readers are knowledgeable enough to judge for themselves. Youngsters are not, and you vigorously promote The Nation to high school and college students and ask your readers for donations to help you do this. Students are prime tobacco ad targets. Those youngsters, and vulnerable adults as well, can readily be taken in by the adroit pushing of “organic” tobacco, good taste, menthol and a $20 gift certificate, enhanced by The Nation‘s good reputation for straight talk and pro-consumer policies. Youngsters are least likely to realize or be concerned that tobacco kills and is addicting. Advertising that reaches young people is the most efficient way for tobacco companies to create lifelong addicts.
You’re taking these ads for the money. It’s unprincipled. You can and should stop before it becomes addictive.