A Worthy Tribute
Victor Navasky, who knows a thing or two about the enduring power of political cartoons (see his brilliant book on the subject, The Art of Controversy), is wise to celebrate Robert Grossman [“Comic Genius,” April 16]. Grossman was my friend since the age of 19, through thick and thin, as our children grew up together and as our later chapters intertwined in a swell, enduring friendship.
This man was a one-of-a-kind genius who knew how to use his wit, wisdom, artistic talent, and sweetness to make our struggling American democracy more aware of its foibles and challenges. His most powerful works were often his portraits and strips on the dreadful failed politicians who have let us down again and again. My favorite was his “Emperor’s New Clothes” illustration of Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, John Mitchell, et al., marching forth to their own destruction in nothing but their underwear. More recently, his “Dump Trump” bags to collect your dog’s droppings made me laugh in celebration once again.
Anne B. Zill
Beyond the Border of Cruelty
Laila Lalami’s description of the shift in US immigration policy “from the corrective to the punitive, and now to the abusive” [“The Cruelty of ICE,” April 16] is spot-on. A few months ago, I visited two inmates at a for-profit immigration detention center. One of the men was an asylum seeker from an African nation where, as a conscript, he had suffered incarceration and torture. He had been at the center for over a year. He told me that during his asylum hearing, the judge had ruled that his claims of torture were “well-founded but not sufficient.” I’m sure that statement made sense in terms of some accepted legal construct, but what does it mean in the real world? How is it that a person comes to our shores seeking refuge, and we incarcerate him for an indefinite but lengthy period under poor conditions, although he has done exactly as we prescribe asylum seekers should do? And how dare we tell him that he hasn’t been tortured enough to merit our help?
What Took So Long?
Re “A Voice of Dissent in the GOP,” by Barry Yeoman [April 2]: I was a teenager and young adult while the Vietnam War raged. I knew then that the United States had no business fighting there and, moreover, that the war was unwinnable. The futility and idiotic lack of reasoning behind the debacle was even more evident after the publication of outstanding books by Gary Hess, Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam, and others. This lesson has stuck with me throughout my life.
Republican Congressman Walter Jones Jr. is a decade or so older than I am. I fail to see why he had to wait until after our Iraq War effort caused such chaos and mayhem in the Middle East to finally figure out that these types of conflicts must be avoided. Why didn’t he learn that lesson from the Vietnam experience?
Barry Yeoman’s praise for the congressman’s stance against further ventures of this sort seems a bit misplaced. Yes, it is certainly better that Jones finally gleaned some obvious lessons regarding his uncritical support for this country’s wars, but what took him 35 years? It seems that The Nation could find better “heroes” to enlighten progressives about.
Harry E. Antoniou
redondo beach, calif.