Letters From the July 26/August 2, 2021, Issue

Letters From the July 26/August 2, 2021, Issue

Letters From the July 26/August 2, 2021, Issue

Holiday spirit… The other greenhouse gases… A last resort… A plague on both houses (web only)


Holiday Spirit

Re “Democrats Should Create More Federal Holidays,” by Ed Burmila [June 14/21]: Those who work for private businesses often don’t get federal holidays. Instead of making up new holidays, require that businesses provide paid days off for the existing ones.
Barbara Meyer

I think a president could add, at most, one federal holiday to the calendar as a matter of political reality. Joe Biden should add Election Day. As a federal holiday, it might lessen, but by no means eliminate, the impact of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts.
Robert Haining

The Other Greenhouse Gases

Re “Junk” [May 31/June 7]: Bill McKibben reviews Mark Bittman’s food history, Animal, Vegetable, Junk, without a single mention of how factory farms emit massive amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, two of the most potent greenhouse gases. There is a proven strong link between animal agriculture and the climate crisis, but McKibben never notes that the vast amount of the wheat, corn, and soy raised in the world goes to feed livestock. We cannot save human civilization just by eliminating fossil fuels while continuing to eat 80 billion land animals a year.

Greta Thunberg has the courage to say that we must radically change our relationship with animals. The threat to civilization isn’t just junk food. It’s global warming supercharged by our totally unnecessary overconsumption of all animal products, subsidized by the government and profiting the same agribusiness companies that push their junk on us.
Michael Betzold

A Last Resort

I hope it’s not too late to respond to “Abolish Guardianship and Preserve the Rights of Disabled People,” by Sara Luterman [March 22/29]. Not all guardianship is plenary, meaning people under guardianship do not simply lose all of their rights. As a professional guardian, I need to state clearly that our goal is always to restore rights whenever possible.

Here in Florida, people with disabilities may get a guardian advocate instead of a guardian, because they are able to determine some aspects of their lives with support. While we all have the capacity, it is important that we get our affairs in order to avoid guardianship in the future. On this we can all agree. We may be an illness (virus?), car accident, or addiction away from confusion or the inability to meaningfully express our wishes. Guardianship is a last resort.
Pam Wiener, PhD
west palm beach, fla.

The writer is director of the Alpert JFS Guardianship Program and a board member of the Florida State Guardianship Association.


Because of an editing error in “An Absolute Shit,” by Mina Tavakoli [May 31/June 7], the name of the French poet who was referenced as “admiring and despising [Wagner] in equal measure” was omitted. It is Catulle Mendès.

A Plague on All Houses

Gilbert Achcar’s essay “How to Avoid the Anti-Imperialism of Fools” attacks the US Peace Council and the United National AntiWar Coalition for being “focused exclusively on Western powers in the name of a peculiar one-sided ‘anti-imperialism’” [online, April 6].

By saying that our approach to imperialism is “peculiar,” Achcar obscures the fact of a world disorder managed by the US government on behalf of key wealthy countries. The United States has the largest military footprint in the world. We accept Noam Chomsky’s view that it is a “leading terrorist state.” No other state comes close to playing as destabilizing a role as the US.

In 2011, Achcar expressed an expectation that the US/NATO would merely conduct a “no-fly zone” in Libya and not seek regime change. Coming after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, there was no evidence that NATO would not intervene to overthrow the government. Libya remains in a desperate state, a battlefield for regional ambitions. At no point has Achcar returned to settle accounts for his role in providing propaganda for the destruction of Libya.

Achcar’s “complexity” paradigm, a plague on all houses, is a formula for inaction by progressives, because no side in international conflicts meets his lofty litmus test of perfection. He assumes a false equivalency between the global “full spectrum” dominance of the United States and independent states that dare to assert their sovereignty.

Achcar’s “complexity” leads him to support war and occupation. We, in the US Peace Council and UNAC, oppose on principle the imposition of war and occupation. Yes, we are in a camp. We are in the camp of peace and anti-imperialism.

Bahman Azad
Executive Secretary, US Peace Council

Achcar Replies

The letter signed by Bahman Azad in defense of the US Peace Council and the United National Antiwar Coalition—both of them shameless supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime (check the hyperlinks), among other dictatorships—is an excellent illustration of the concluding sentence of my essay, the object of their ire: “With the neo-campists, there is hardly any discussion possible: Invective and calumny are their usual modus operandi, in line with the tradition of their past century’s predecessors.” (The USPC, whose Azad is executive secretary, is in fact directly rooted in that past century’s tradition.)

True to form, the letter accumulates an impressive number of falsities in very few sentences. Anyone reading in good faith my March 2011 interview—to which the letter itself provided this link—will not fail to note that I said exactly the contrary of what the letter attributes to me. It seems that the letter’s authors don’t even read what they label in Stalinist fashion on the basis of ready-made allegations, or that they can’t understand what they read. I don’t need to waste more time answering their worn-out slanders, which I have rebutted many times—most comprehensively in my recent retrospective interview in New Politics.

Gilbert Achcar

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