The Power of the Peacemakers
The walls of the “Hanoi Hilton” are lined with pictures of American students protesting the war. The clear message conveyed is that the good people of the United States were against the belligerent, unjust actions of their government. In “The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement” [Jan. 30], Tom Hayden insightfully makes the case that the antiwar movement made a valuable contribution to the molding of public opinion against the war. It is also clear that this movement greatly contributed to the positive, constructive postwar relationship between Vietnam and the United States. Contrary to President Richard Nixon’s denigration of the protesters as anti-American and disloyal, the broad-based antiwar movement led by Hayden and others fostered American interests in the postwar period. It would be a well-deserved tribute if our government recognized these leaders and their valuable contributions.
“The Serfdom of the Press” [Jan. 30] has all the hallmarks of Eric Alterman’s typically incisive, erudite, and plainspoken critical punch. As usual, I found myself both disquieted and entertained by the dangerous absurdities that he diagnoses with such acumen. (The reference to Charlie Brown elicited an uncomfortable chuckle.)
I was surprised, however, by one turn of phrase that seems wholly unnecessary. In a column that calls to task the spurious demonizing of American Muslims after 9/11 by Donald Trump, why rely on the misapplied reference to an “anti-journalist jihad” launched by Trump and his cable-news lackeys? Turning the term “jihad” back on those who themselves use it to castigate an entire religious community may make for a pithy rhetorical strategy, but it also reinforces the association between Muslims and fanatical rampage, however ironically intended. A related cost is the neglect of the prominent Islamic interpretation of “jihad” as primarily an inward-directed effort aimed at cultivating personal integrity within a reasoned field of ethics—which is to say, the kind of behavior that Alterman rightly enjoins upon journalists in these troubled times. Contributors to The Nation might consider avoiding the term “jihad” as a moral takedown.