Bad Weather


I am 94 and have been a subscriber for more than 50 years. I hope I’ll be a subscriber for many more. I’ve disagreed with your writers, correspondents, supporters, and critics before. Never angrily.

However, I have just read Rick Perlstein’s review of Days of Rage [“Ignorant Good Will,” July 6/13]. I think he intended to send it to the National Review, not The Nation. The National Review is where it belongs. Need I say more?

Eugene Baron
oak park, mich.

It is confounding at a time when the US government is conducting drone terrorist operations overseas, and many black Americans are systematically murdered by the police, that two of your writers—Eric Alterman [“Days of Crazy,” May 4] and Rick Perlstein, who both wrote about Bryan Burrough’s Days of Rage—are obsessed with the actions of an extremely small left-wing faction that hasn’t been active for decades. It is especially confounding when right-wing terror organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the neofascists, are not mentioned even in passing. Far more people were murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing alone than in all of the known left-wing bombings combined.

It is especially distressing to me to see George Jackson’s name dragged through the mud. In his collection of prison letters, Soledad Brother, one can discern a kind, loving soul engaged in a struggle against a system that ultimately had to murder him to silence his message. I would like to remind Perlstein that the two inmates who were charged with Jackson in the death of the Soledad prison guard were later acquitted in a court of law. It is thus odious for Perlstein to indict George Jackson for the crime.

From what I’ve read about Days of Rage in the pages of The Nation, it appears that the author, Bryan Burrough, wrote the book as a smear job. I find it odd that The Nation is doing Fox News’s work in celebrating it, especially when news organizations are seriously debating whether Dylann Roof is a terrorist.

Don Handy
mount clemens, mich.

In his piece “Ignorant Good Will,” Perlstein plays the old propaganda game of noncontextualized ­storytelling. Any rational person can agree that the violent left—the Weather Underground and such—committed horrendous acts that need to be condemned. But in his effort to demonize these folks, Perlstein completely whitewashes by omission the source of their anger, impotence, and madness: the utterly immoral slaughter of 2.5 million Vietnamese by an infuriatingly lunatic government—a slaughter that, by the way, continues to this day among the great numbers of children deformed or killed by the residual effects of Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance. Only someone ignorant of that history can conclude that these young bomb makers were simply mad dogs! If the Weather Underground was a disease, then American brutality was the virus that caused it.
Al Salzman
fairfield, vt.


Useful Idiots

As a former political and government reporter in Los Angeles and a former PR flack for liberal candidates and ballot issues, I think Eric Alterman is too harsh on modern-day journalists who report on the presidential ambitions of such minor and hapless GOP candidates as George Pataki and Carly Fiorina, or even the likes of Governor Chris Christie, for that matter [“Our Stupid Politics,” July 6/13].

This reporting is not “stupid.” Rather, it breaks up the routine political-news coverage with enlightening tales of the inexplicable and egomaniacal (albeit entertaining) delusions of such poor, lost souls as those mentioned above. Human-interest feature writing, we used to call it. Moreover, contrary to Alterman’s claim that the authors seek to portray the Republican Party as responsible, they perform the opposite public service: In their portraits of most of these candidates—sniveling and prostrate at the feet of the party’s base, in order to to pacify it during the primary elections—they underscore an important truth: that the GOP is owned privately by the corporate 1 percent and publicly by Southern and Midwestern evangelical loonies and morons.

Bill Canup
westlake village, calif.

The Oily Truth


Thank you, James North, for the research and effort that went into your article on Chevron and Ecuador [“Ecuador’s Battle for Environmental Justice Against Chevron,” June 22/29]. It is depressing to have to believe that a major corporation could be so evil, and that our courts would go along with it—but that best fits what I know about this story.

I also loved the graphics by the Yes Men: They helped cheer me up a bit.

David Gaeddert
amherst, n.y.

Telling Privilege


Patricia J. Williams wrote in her August 3/10 column [“Telling Differences”] about the chilly reception that she received in a store in rural Washington State. It brought back an unhappy memory from a visit I made with my brother to a quaint tourist town in the same state, where we also happen to live.

The town is known for its special bread and pastries. After strolling the small downtown area, we went to an appealing eating establishment. The restaurant was arranged such that we went first to the counter, where we selected and paid for our food. Then we were told to choose a table, and that the staff would bring our food over when it was ready.

Right behind us in line was a black woman. We two white men found a table, and soon our food was brought to us. There were only two other tables occupied (it was a slow mid-afternoon). The black woman could be seen from our table and was seated closer to the kitchen. Then we heard someone call from the counter stating that a meal was ready. The call was repeated before the black woman realized that it was for her and that she would have to go up and get her meal herself.

It was such an ugly put-down that it has stayed in my mind all these many years. Williams’s article brought back to me that sad moment in time. We live in a bubble of white privilege and can never comprehend the constant uncertainty that black people feel as they venture out in America each day.

Don Marsh
olympia, wash.

Correction


Sarah Leonard’s article, “Ideological Bankruptcy” [August 3/10], stated that the United Kingdom is due for a vote on continued membership in the eurozone. In fact, the UK isn’t a member of the ­eurozone; it will be voting on continued membership in the European Union.