Not So Gurley After All


While I do not take issue with Madeleine Schwartz’s image of Helen Gurley Brown in her review of two recent biographies of Cosmopolitan’s most famous editor [“Notes From Many Years,” Sept. 26/Oct. 3], her characterizations of the magazine ignore something: Among the articles about attracting men and sex, one could find pieces that dealt with other issues affecting women’s lives. I know because, in the 1970s, I wrote them: the story of an adoptee’s long, arduous search to find her birth mother and the fallout from her adoptive parents; a long piece (in blank verse, no less) about the breakup of my first marriage, with no happy ending in sight; and a serious discussion of the effect of premenstrual hormones. Woman’s Day had rejected the latter with a brisk “Too retro.” Certainly I was not the only one writing such pieces.

The reason Cosmopolitan was successful was that, in between the articles on relationships and the joy of sex, we could find articles that other women’s magazines wouldn’t touch—articles that were either “too retro” or ahead of their time, depending on your perspective.

Lorraine Dusky
sag harbor, n.y.

I Beg Your Pardon!


I am disappointed in both The Nation and the ACLU for Jon Wiener’s “A Pardon for Snowden” [Sept. 26/Oct. 3]. To the article’s first question—“How many documents did Snowden release to the public?”—the ACLU’s Ben Wizner answers “zero.” Come on! He gave the documents to the media: In my book, that is disclosing them. Then Wizner goes on to say that the news organizations “made a determination that publishing…was in the public interest.” That’s BS. The determination was made to publish because it would be a money-making sensation. I had difficulty reading the rest of the article after that propagandistic start.
Kenneth Viste
boise, idaho

Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are heroes who must be pardoned.
Charlotte E. Edwards

Signifying Everything


Patricia Williams opens wide a new window through which to perceive Donald Trump [“Trump l’Oeil,” Sept. 26/Oct. 3]. Yes, exactly: He is a performative signifier! As she explains, “Once we’ve been lured onto [his] emotionally charged field of rational bypass, words stop working.” And so even the most skilled moderator is unlikely to be able to contain him in the presidential debates, just as none could do so in those of the Republican primaries. For the same reason, Hillary Clinton’s much-touted debating skills may also prove ineffectual. It’s not hard to imagine Trump declaring that her very rationality makes her fundamentally untrustworthy, and even mentally unfit for the presidency. George Orwell would marvel at the man, and fear for us and the world.
Stephen E. Levick
narberth, penn.

Why the Fuss Over Russ?


Re “Mr. Feingold Goes Back to Washington” by John Nichols [Sept. 26/Oct. 3]: Russ Feingold? Ask that progressive “hero” why he couldn’t endorse Bernie Sanders. Ask Elizabeth Warren, too. They “hail” him now, but where were they then, when their voices would have helped the larger cause? I’m 65, and I’m sick of being suckered by party politicians who tell us what we want to hear when they need our votes but can’t be found when the chips are really down.
Eric Henning
grand isle, vt.

This article gives us a little hope, which is hard to find these days with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president. Maybe Wisconsin voters will feel the same.
Carl and Rosalind Figueroa

If all Democrats campaigned like Russ Feingold, they wouldn’t have lost their majority in Congress. Good policy and good politics go together.
Carolyn Herz

Disruption Roulette


Thank you for Alissa Quart’s “Driven to Extremes” [Sept. 26/Oct. 3]. As one who has done it, I’d say that driving for Uber is like stopping on a New York City street to try your hand at a game of three-card monte: Uber wins, not you.
Thomas Walker


A Friend Indeed


“A viral source of outrage crack”—thank you, Liza Featherstone, for that deathless phrase [“Asking for a Friend,” Sept. 26/Oct. 3]. Your column is a welcome infusion of hilarity and common sense. My only complaint is that it doesn’t appear often enough!
Rene Saller


Collective Responsibility


The slaughter of California’s indigenous people chronicled in Benjamin Madley’s An American Genocide is blood-chilling, but not at all an isolated episode in American history—if that history is told honestly and without the bias born of the psychosis of American exceptionalism, a point Richard White alludes to in his review of the book [“Rather a Hell Than a Home,” Sept. 12/19]. The story of the savagery of Christian Americans has been told over and over again. For example, Daniel N. Paul’s We Were Not the Savages tells of the brutal treatment of the Micmac in the eastern provinces of Canada and Maine.

What we have done in the Middle East amounts to genocide, although it doesn’t conform to the United Nations definition: the concerted effort to obliterate a whole ethnic group. Our arrogance and barbarism in maintaining the American empire has earned us the hatred of most of the world. We are not “the golden city on the hill” but a monstrous rogue state.

Needless to say, our leaders and most sleepwalking citizens are in deep denial about the true nature of who we are. Take President Obama’s visit to Laos; it was an exercise in sheer hypocrisy. Although technically not genocide, we destroyed that country with over 200 million cluster bombs—many unexploded, which will sever the limbs of men, women, and children far into the future. And Obama, although he presented the evidence of our perfidy, couldn’t find the courage and decency to apologize. We must also mention Vietnam and Cambodia, whose people will suffer the effects of our savagery, including the use of Agent Orange, for generations to come—because we couldn’t just let our bombers “stay there with nothing to do.”

Sadly, most of us are the equivalent of “good Germans,” going about our daily struggles and turning a blind eye to the horror around us.

Al Salzman
fairfield, vt.