Moneybags to Middle Class: Drop Dead
There is only one element missing from William Greider’s stellar analysis of the state of American capitalism, “The End of New Deal Liberalism” [Jan. 24]. The capitalist class has figured out that it no longer needs demand from our middle class to sustain production or profits. It is more profitable to produce overseas and then, with the cheap dollar, sell the products to the burgeoning middle classes of India, China, even the Middle East. Customers here number only 200 to 300 million. Customers there number 500 million or more, and growing.
Whatever motive impelled Henry Ford to pay a living wage or others of his status to tolerate government subsidies of middle-class life (the GI bill, mortgage deductions, college tuition aid, union protection), it’s gone now. We’ve all thought such subsidy is what America is about. Not. It was about maintaining demand for extraordinary productive capacity. Don’t need that demand anymore. The policies that enabled its growth are nothing but a diversion of profit to the undeserving.
I hope Mr. Greider will write in his inimitable way on this consequence of globalization for civilized life (here, that is).
I strongly object to The Nation’s regular inclusion of the FLAME advertisement. Is this an attempt to be ironic?
STEVEN LANCE FORNAL
New York City
I fail to understand by what logic you find it reasonable to run the biased FLAME ad in your otherwise respectable publication. If your magazine is so desperate for money that you accept ads from an organization that misconstrues “facts” and blatantly promotes the violent right-wing Israeli state, then you might as well give up publishing. I’d rather see ads from porn sites. In fact, cancel my subscription.
The latest FLAME joke, in the January 24 edition, almost produced a fit of apoplexy. A few years ago I canceled my subscription to The New Republic because of its clear pro-Israel bias, which negated any claim it might have had to journalistic integrity. I was tempted to cancel over the FLAME ad in The Nation a couple of months ago. I forwarded a copy of my letter to you about the ad to Gerardo Joffe, the president of FLAME. He had the effrontery to call me and inquire whether I was an anti-Semite. I laughed at him and suggested he was nothing more than another Abe Foxman.
After reading his latest screed, I calmed down slightly when I noted you had placed it on the last page. I suggest you not only place the ad on the last page but that you perforate the page along its edge so it can be easily detached and taken to the lavatory to be used appropriately.
Brace yourselves for the FLAME ad appearing on page 23 of this issue. As our readers know, very few American publications challenge Israel’s policies and its treatment of the Palestinian people as The Nation does. We often publish articles that controvert the distorted rhetoric in FLAME ads. However, we accept advertising not to further our views but to defray the costs of publishing. The Nation’s advertising policy (TheNation.com/node/33589) starts with the presumption that “we will accept advertising even if the views expressed are repugnant to the editors.”
We do impose limits on commercial ads, barring, for example, the lurid, patently fraudulent, illegal or libelous. But ads that present a political point of view fall under our editorial commitment to freedom of speech, so we grant them the same latitude we claim for our own views. We do reserve the right to denounce the content of such ads, which we frequently do. —The Editors
Point of Historical Fact
I came to New York from Lisbon in May 1940 as a small child on the San Miguel, a small cargo ship. My mother and I shared the captain’s cabin; my father, the first mate’s. The ship, about the size of a Staten Island ferry, carried cork but no passengers on this two-week maiden voyage to New York. Of course, we all feared German submarines, but with a child’s belief in magic, I thought that if we were torpedoed, I would be able to save my parents by swimming to a big hunk of cork, pulling them up on it, and then floating to shore.
If the owner of the cargo ship line had not been a great fan of my father (a world-famous athlete), we would have been stuck in Lisbon perhaps until the end of the war. As far as we knew, there was no more transportation out of Europe. Certainly not out of Lisbon. I wonder, therefore, where Maria, the wife of Gen. Francisco Aguilar González, Mexican ambassador to the Vichy government, found a steamer bound for New York from Lisbon—indeed, one with space for “twenty trunks of their belongings” [Dan Kaufman, “A Secret Archive,” Jan. 24]—in a time when hundreds, no, thousands and tens of thousands, of Europeans, especially Jewish refugees, were willing to pay anything to get away from the Nazi Holocaust; when hundreds, no, thousands and tens of thousands, of Europeans, especially Jewish refugees, had trouble renewing their three-month visas, which permitted them to stay in the relative safety of Lisbon. Otherwise they would be transported to the prisons of Tangiers, from which few returned alive.
Could you explain, please?
Maria Luisa Boysen de Aguilar, General Aguilar’s wife, traveled with the couple’s trunks from Lisbon to New York on the SS Drottningholm in the spring of 1942. Her voyage was confirmed by a telegram sent from the Mexican Embassy in Lisbon and received in Mexico City on June 9, 1942. I am extremely grateful to filmmaker Trisha Ziff for uncovering this detail and for providing me with much of the background on General Aguilar and the journey of the suitcase that appeared in my article. Ziff has recently completed La Maleta Mexicana (Mexican Suitcase), a documentary due out later this year, which explores the rediscovery of the lost negatives and the important, but often overlooked, role Mexico played in the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath.
Beyond the Palin
Key West, Fla.
Sarah Palin followers should be known as “Palindrones”: they’re becoming increasingly monotonous, and they never could tell backward from forward.
Re Trillin et seq. [“Letters,” Jan. 31, Jan. 3, Nov. 29] on the pronunciation of Speaker Boehner’s name: you, Karl Schoeppe (pronounced Shep-ee), say “tomahto,” I say “tomayto.” Let’s call the whole thing off.
Not a Member of the Club
Because of a fact-checking error in Frances Richard’s “The Thin Artifact: On Photography and Suffering” [Dec. 13], it was stated that James Nachtwey was a member of the Bang-Bang Club, a group of photographers who worked in South African townships in the 1990s. Although Nachtwey did photograph in South Africa, he is not considered to be one of the four members of the Bang-Bang Club.