The Art of Words
Absolutely brilliant cover of Donald Trump by John Mavroudis [Oct. 24]. My own list of descriptors would include: draft dodger, dirtbag, contemptible, laughable, freak, geek, whiner, vulgar climber, deadbeat, foulmouthed, tawdry, tiresome, self-righteous, and locker-room blabbermouth, for starters. Thanks for your efforts to expose this dangerous guy before it’s too late!
vero beach, fla.
Too Hot, Too Cold, Just Right?
Your editorial “Hillary Clinton for President” [Oct. 24] argues that since this is not an ordinary election we should not consider strategic voting, i.e., voting for the Green Party ticket of Stein/Baraka, in safe states. But it is precisely because this is not an ordinary election that we should strategically vote for the only party that has a real plan to avoid the ever-growing threat of climate catastrophe. Of course Trump must be defeated, but unless Clinton’s support of fracking and militarism are challenged, they will cancel out the good parts of the Democratic program on climate change. For this reason alone—and there are many others—the Green Party must be strengthened as the electoral arm of the climate- and energy-justice movement. As Kshama Sawant argues, “The Greens Are the Best Path to Radical Change” [Oct. 10] that we have now. If the Stein/Baraka ticket gets 5 percent on Election Day, this will boost the Green Party’s capacity to organize by roughly $8 million in federal funding. Voting for a neoliberal militarist like Clinton in safe states is the real throwaway vote. Shame on your editorial board!
Assuming Hillary Clinton actually attempts to advance all of the causes you outline in the article (which I would applaud, but don’t really believe because of her history of saying what she needs to say when she needs to say it), her predilection to be a war hawk will make it all for naught if she gets us into a war with Russia. All other issues cease to be important if she does that.
I am distraught that the only candidates on offer (for all intents and purposes) are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither of whom are suitable to assume the mantle of president of the United States. What do we do?
Your endorsement: too little, too late!
Words Are Her Matter
Zoë Carpenter’s article “The Journeys of Ursula K. Le Guin” [Oct. 24] is terrific! As she wrote, “In a year stalked by the long shadows of authoritarianism, ecological collapse, and perpetual war, [Le Guin’s] writing feels more urgent than ever.”
Carpenter captures Le Guin with an immediacy and perception that I have never read before. The piece is just excellent.
Live by Shame, Die by Shame
Adam Haslett’s penetrating analysis of our “withered political life” [“Vandal in Chief,” Oct. 24] testifies to the fact that the vandals were inside the city gates well before the present vandal in chief made his entrance as a presidential candidate. Indeed “the political vandalism and brinkmanship” practiced by the American right over the last two decades laid the groundwork for the rise of a Donald Trump.
There’s plenty of shame to go around in this voyeuristic state of derangement. Consider the arranged marriage between news and entertainment, which is self-programmed to cede coverage to the rhetorical bomb throwers. The shameful example of CBS chairman Leslie Moonves comes to mind when he boasted that his network’s campaign coverage “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald.”
The flip side of “shame”—identified as “the emotion driving our present politics”—is anger turned outward. Our ratings-driven, celebrity-obsessed media culture is hooked on broadcasting images of combative rage without addressing the deep-seated causes of such collective anger. Capitalizing on the roiling discontent of the disaffected, Donald Trump offers expiation and release in the form of ramped-up scapegoating. In Trump’s case the messenger is the medium, channeling our worst fears and prejudices (while exhibiting his own). Within one deeply flawed candidate, celebrity worship became conflated with hero worship; as his celebrity brand drops into free fall, the hero worship plummets. Take heart: He who lives for the spotlight may also wither under the spotlight’s glare.
Barbara Allen Kenney
santa fe, n.m.
Chris Lehmann [“Trump’s Gospel of Positive Thinking,” Oct. 24] and Adam Haslett do a good job of analyzing the profile of a Trump supporter. What they say illustrates beautifully the 1972 book The Hidden Injuries of Class, by Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb. That book was written to explain the appeal the racist George Wallace had for Northern white working-class people in 1968, but it also applies very well to Trump supporters. It also describes me, although I am emphatically not a Trump supporter.
In “Le Carré’s Other Cold War” [Oct. 24], Ian Buruma cites an interview between “a journalist” (who happens to be John Pilger) and Alan Clark, the man Buruma suspects of inspiring the English-villain archetype in John le Carré’s The Night Manager: Dicky Roper.
Pilger: “Did it bother you personally that you were causing such mayhem and human suffering [by supplying arms for Indonesia’s war in East Timor]?”
Clark: “No, not in the slightest. It never entered my head.”
Clark’s inhumanity to man isn’t in any more doubt than that of Roper’s. What’s more puzzling is the contrasting humanity Clark showed to animals, as the rest of the interview goes on to reveal: “I ask the question because I read you are a vegetarian and you are quite seriously concerned about the way animals are killed,” Pilger says. “Doesn’t that concern extend to the way humans, albeit foreigners, are killed?” Clark replies: “Curiously not. No.”
Clark wasn’t only a vegetarian—he vigorously defended animal rights and campaigned against the fur trade. In this way, as in others, he was not so unlike the Nazi in chief, whose movement he so admired.
Tim Johnson Associate Publisher, Advertising