Along the Texas Border

The last sentence in Jaime Garcia and Rick Treviño’s article “The Trump Meridian” [Feb. 22/March 1] reads, “As to what lessons we can learn from it… we’re still trying to figure that out.” But they had figured it out—it’s right there in their article (and in the articles about the not-so-poor people who had just attacked the Capitol). All the bottom half of the country wants is to be sure they can have a job that pays above the minimum wage, enough money to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, an affordable health care plan, and a chance for their children to make it in this country. This was borne out throughout the article. What else is there to say?
Frank L. Friedman
Adjunct and Emeritus Professor,
Computer & Information Sciences, 
Temple University

philadelphia

Thanks for publishing “The Trump Meridian” and noting my hometown of Brownsville, Tex. But the article omits a vital point. Yes, there was a shift toward Donald Trump in the 2020 election along the border. But hundreds of thousands of Texas border residents, all registered to vote, did not do so. And in the entire state, less than 67 percent of the registered voters voted. What’s more, there are millions of citizens in Texas who are eligible to register to vote. They didn’t. Get the picture? The rest of the states also have millions of people who are registered and do not vote, and millions more who could register and don’t. That is the much bigger story: discovering the answer to why there are so many nonvoters in the United States. Write it—before 2022 and 2024.
Eugene Novogrodsky
brownsville, tex.

Leveling Up

Re “Back Talk” [Feb. 22/March 1]: Alexis Grenell’s column rang a bell for me, as someone who taught college students the value of comparative politics for 35 years. She needs to be applauded for her persuasive case that “we need to level up to a parliamentary system.” Compared with our current system, a conversion to a parliamentary system would ensure more democracy, less factionalism, more accountability, and the kinds of public policy that reflect the wishes of a majority of Americans. A simple vote of no confidence would have avoided the two failed efforts to impeach Donald Trump and erased the myth of checks and balances. Many who have lived under the parliamentary design rarely covet life under a presidential system such as ours. No system is perfect, but we can do much better with a new one.
David W. Dent
Professor Emeritus, 
Towson University
broomfield, colo.

Correction

Amid the Wildfires,” by Micah Uetricht [Feb. 22/March 1], 
incorrectly stated that Mike Davis burned his draft card in 1963 and drove a meat truck to a New Mexican restaurant called the Chicken Shack. He burned his draft card in 1965, and the Chicken Shack was located in California.

In the Vicinity of Bigotry

Re “In the Vicinity of Genius,” by Jeet Heer [March 12, TheNation.com]: We were shocked and disappointed to see Jeet Heer’s recent essay celebrating Canadian journalist Robert Fulford as “the nation’s finest cultural critic” and praising his “characteristic erudition.”

Fulford’s writings in the right-wing National Post have put forward a consistent and overt stream of anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim racism. For example: “Can Islam Be Reformed? Who Will, or Even Can Be, a Muslim Martin Luther?” (referring to Ayaan Hirsi Ali); “Supporters of Official Palestine Are Either Naïve or Accepting of Indiscriminate Murder”; “If We’re to Fight Terrorism Effectively We Need to Stop Saying ‘Islamophobia’”; “If the Palestinians Care About Peace Why Do They Pay Salaries to Terrorists?”; “A History of Islamophobia: A Word of Dubious Value”; “Feminists Are Failing to Confront Islamic Society’s Treatment of Women”; “The Next British PM May Be an Anti-Semite With Leftist Friends” (on Jeremy Corbyn); “Canada’s Postal Workers Jump on the Israel-Bashing Bandwagon”; “The BDS Movement: Where Anti-Semites Find Room to Flourish”; “Iran’s Evil Is Spreading. Who’s Still to Accept This?”; “The BDS Halo Is Slipping as Its Critics Grow Louder”; “Forget It, the Iranian Regime Won’t Ever Be Normal”; “Islam’s Violent Present”; “No Matter How Much Muslims Despise It the Truth Is that ISIS Has Grown Out of Their Religion”—a far from exhaustive sample.

These titles, reflecting a vast breadth of racist tropes about Palestinians and Muslims, speak for themselves. Just four months after the Quebec mosque shooting—the most fatal act of public political violence in Canada since 1989—Fulford argued that “we should begin by retiring the word Islamophobia in the interest of a franker attitude to terrorism.” It is particularly dangerous to see such a figure legitimated in a progressive publication like The Nation.

Paola Bacchetta
Professor, University of California, Berkeley

David Palumbo-Liu
Professor, Stanford University

Azeezah Kanji
Legal academic and journalist
Toronto

Jeet Heer Replies

I agree with the criticism of Fulford’s anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim politics. Indeed, I’ve often expressed disagreement with Fulford’s set of ideas, including in the pages of “the right-wing National Post,” where in 2008 I wrote, “Israel was founded through an act of ethnic cleansing.” If I were writing a review of a collection of Fulford’s political essays (no such book in fact exists), I would make a rebuttal along that line. But Fulford’s new book is a collection of cultural essays on topics like the tango and the fiction of Alice Munro. I didn’t think politics impinged on it enough to merit remarking. An analogy might be Cynthia Ozick, who has similarly repellent views of the Palestinians. I’m not sure that if I were reviewing an Ozick novel or essay collection I’d necessarily focus on her politics. I don’t view my task as a critic to legitimize or delegitimize writers.
Jeet Heer