Bird Over Jerusalem
I thoroughly agree with Kai Bird’s "Next Week in Jerusalem?" [June 28]. I stand in both camps, with a son-in-law who is Jewish; a father who was probably Jewish, although he denied it; and a longstanding friend who is a Palestinian Arab with relatives in Palestine. I would go beyond what Bird says and ask the Israelis to release Marwan Barghouti from prison. It strikes me that he could engineer peace talks. I compare him to Nelson Mandela, imprisoned by South African whites and accused of being a communist and a terrorist. Before the second intifada, I heard a Palestinian leader say, "We didn’t engage in terrorism for six years, and it got us nowhere." I was encouraged to hear recently that the Saudis have announced a fatwa against terrorists.
BETTY L. WHITMORE
Drummed in Your Dear Little Ear…
In "You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught" [June 28] Melissa Harris-Lacewell presents us with her hope that people like Arizona and Texas policy-makers "may find that the world has already moved beyond their fearful grasp." I hope she is right. But this optimistic view misses a larger point that calls for pessimism.
The civil rights movement of the ’60s was primarily a political struggle for justice. Somewhere along the way it turned into a cultural struggle for tolerance. The political struggle disappeared, absorbed by the system and converted into something less threatening. There is no denying the enormous progress of the cultural struggle. But there is also no denying the regress in the fight for justice. The Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama era has been one of ever increasing inequity by way of deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to vital social services, corporate bailouts and increased militarization.
We should be grateful for the progress in the "decades-long culture war." But we also need to acknowledge the toll this shift of focus has taken on the political struggle. Cultural progress without political progress is superficial, and it distracts us from the more fundamental problem of injustice. We’ve been carefully taught indeed.