Laughing Through the Pain

Thank you for the good laugh you gave me with the title of John Nichols’s article, “Trump at Two” [Feb. 11/18]. I had to pause to ask myself whether the piece might be about this point in Trump’s presidency or about his level of psychological maturity.
Wendy Weidman
gig harbor, wash.

Past as Prologue

Re Greg Grandin and Elizabeth Oglesby’s “Washington Trained Guatemala’s Killers” [Feb. 11/18]: More can be learned about the US role in Guatemala’s current problems from this four-page article than from a book. It should be read to or by anyone who wonders why people are leaving Guatemala and walking to the US border to seek a better life. What people in the United States don’t know allows the current administration to fill their minds with false information about the migrants. A close reading of this article will change minds.
Tom Hardenbergh

The Truth in Fiction

I would like to commend Laila Lalami’s essay “Fiction Trumps Chaos” [Feb. 11/18], on the uses of fiction to make “sense of the presidency, one novel at a time.” Each of the novels she cites offers a telling and compelling approach to navigating the swamp of information and disinformation we’re forced to wade through each day, most notably when it comes to the topic of immigration.

I would like to add to her suggestions one important, prophetic novel from the early 1980s that places what we are witnessing on the US-Mexican border (and in our country more broadly) in a larger historical context—both pre- and “post”-colonial—while also limning our continued, troubled search for a truly inclusive democratic model: Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead. This novel predicted many of today’s events, from the waves of immigrants moving north—only to be met by the US military—to the widespread political disenfranchisement and the rise of wealthy, unscrupulous developers who wreck the environment for personal gain with the support of governmental enablers. It is a powerful call to engagement with a chilling, centuries-long story.

John Purdy
deming, wash.

Learning to Read the Web

I enjoyed David A. Bell’s review of Sophia Rosenfeld’s Democracy and Truth [Feb. 11/18], especially the several vital initiatives that he suggests to take our democracy back, such as grassroots engagement and getting big money out of politics. One additional part of the solution: teaching our children and teenagers to evaluate online information for accuracy and bias.

Training our youth in strong, unbiased critical thinking in this confusing world of technology and social media will bear fruit in the form of an informed future citizenry—one that is sorely needed if our sinking democracy is to save itself. How do I know this can work? In the 1970s, I was fortunate to have both high-school and college teachers who taught us about the burgeoning fields of advertising and marketing, and how words and images could fool consumers. Such awareness has helped me judge ads skeptically for decades and insulated me from the marketers’ intended influence. We would do well to inoculate our youth against today’s media in a similar fashion.

Sherry Jeppson Zitter
maynard, mass.