Demand Green, People!

Naomi Klein, in “A People’s Shock” [Oct. 6], makes an interesting case for a transformative worldview as the basis for addressing the calamity of climate change. She is right about the centrality of shifting cultural values, but she ignores the elephant in the room—overpopulation, with a billion people added to the planet roughly every twelve years. Unless we deal with overpopulation, no worldview will save us.
Rosemary Agonito, author, The Last Taboo: Saying No to Motherhood
syracuse, n.y.

Thank you, Naomi Klein, for so beautifully, eloquently, heartwarmingly and inspirationally expressing what so many of us know in our hearts but lack the words to say. We live in an incredibly exciting time, astride history’s page with a pen in one hand and a sword in the other. If we have absorbed the moral of the story, we can write the next page in ink rather than blood.
Peter Wade

“A People’s Shock” is terrific. Not so terrific is the lack of any reference to overpopulation. The Nation, Rolling Stone and Mother Jones are almost as disappointing as the mainstream media. I expect the MSM and fact-impaired US politicians and citizens to fail at facing reality—
80 million–plus Homo saps added every year—but et tu, Nation? To paraphrase the mouth from the South, “It’s the overpopulation, stupid!” says this mouth from the North.
Floyd LeBouton
upper peninsula of michigan

Technically it’s not too late yet, but in practice it already is. The planet is heading off the cliff as fast as it can. I have no children, and I am old. I hope to die (of natural causes) before things get intolerable. Best of luck to you all.
dogphlap dogphlap

In light of Naomi Klein’s prescient analysis, I hereby claim the copyright to these bumper stickers on the right-wing’s response:
Better Roasted Than Regulated
Better Toasted Than Taxed
Lanny Jay
guerneville, calif.


“Vices and Follies”

I thank Patricia J. Williams for “The Right to Be Forgotten” [Oct. 6], exposing the depth of sheer voyeurism and social pornography in the media. In the eighteenth century, Richard Steele, publisher of The Spectator, must have seen it coming. He quotes Sir Richard Blackmore, “It is a mighty Dishonour and Shame to employ excellent Faculties and abundance of Wit, to humour and please Men in their Vices and Follies.”

Unfortunately, there are no laws or regulations that will bring a society back once it has crossed the line protecting dignity, decency, respect, civil discourse, community, compassion, simple courtesy, etc. Only a foundational overhaul will work.

Ed Beller
the bronx


Goodbye, Confucius

Nation readers may be interested in this update to “China U.,” my article on the Confucius Institute [Nov. 18, 2013]: on September 25, four days before the contract between the University of Chicago and the Confucius Institutes of Beijing (Hanban) was to run out, the university suspended negotiations for renewal. The university’s statement read, in part:

“The University and Hanban have engaged in several months of good faith efforts and steady progress toward a new agreement. However, recently published comments about UChicago in an article about the director-general of Hanban are incompatible with a continued equal partnership. The University is therefore suspending negotiations for the renewal of the agreement at this time.”

The “published comments” the university mentions appeared in the Liberation Daily, a Shanghai Communist Party newspaper, and were clearly intended for domestic consumption. They were near the tail end of an article fulsomely praising Madame Xu Lin, director general of the Confucius Institute. In translation, the key part read: “At the end of April of this year, a hundred emeritus professors at the University of Chicago…wrote an open letter calling for an end to the university’s Confucius Institute. Then Xu Lin, in a letter sent straight to the president of the University of Chicago, and in a phone call to the university’s representative in Beijing, had only one sentence to say: ‘If you want to end the relationship, it’s fine with us.’ Her attitude brought panic to the other side, and a quick decision that the university would continue with its Confucius Institute.”

So far as I can determine, there was no such letter from Madame Xu Lin and no such panic by the university president, Robert Zimmer. However, there certainly was a petition calling on the Council of the Faculty Senate to terminate the Confucius Institute. It was signed by 110 professors, almost all senior in rank and the great majority still in service.

Surely there is more to the story, but as of now, the university has no contract with the Confucius Institute. Consequently, it should receive no moneys from Hanban; it should not have teachers trained, supplied or paid by Hanban offering accredited courses in its own East Asian program; it should not be required to submit research proposals from its faculty and graduate students to the Confucius Institute for approval and funding by Beijing; and it should thus be able to restore the reputation for academic autonomy and integrity that has long distinguished it.

Marshall Sahlins
chicago


Whiter Shade of Pale

Is it my eighty-five years that imagines that The Nation has been using increasingly smaller and lighter type every year since I first subscribed some twenty years ago? I can imagine trying to read it at age 90 only to find blank pages.
Hilda Wilcox
oneonta, n.y.


Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie

Charge me more for my subscription if you have to, but don’t use more than one font! Especially the tiny one. If the entire issue was in that font, I would have to cancel my subscription. Are you aiming for an online audience only, perhaps? Some of us still prefer the paper option.
Michael Sharp
clearwater, minn.


Why? Why? Why?

Why are an increasing number of your editorial and article titles beginning with “Why”? In most cases this usage is not needed, if not inappropriate, as it changes an affirmative statement into an irresolute question. This is making The Nation seem increasingly weak-kneed in its stances. A soft, yielding nature is becoming a characteristic of the progressive left. Strong article titles would be encouraging.
Bradford Castalia
tucson