Letters

Summer 2008
Potemkin Green

To the editor:
Excellent article [Max Schulz, “California’s Potemkin Environmentalism,” Spring 2008], but it omitted the large, glowing gorilla in the cellar: the problem of radioactive waste’s lasting for 1,000 years has not yet been solved. How long can we keep burying that stuff? We remain between rocks and hard places.

C. M. Griffith
Middletown, MD

To the editor:
Your libertarian, anti-California article does not mention the atrocious effects of deregulating California’s energy market. To say that California unjustly relies on importing energy from other western states is completely missing the point. The real issue is the effect of deregulation on the supply and cost of energy to customers in California. California’s forward-thinking energy policies have nothing to do with an under-supplied grid and infrastructure within the state, and everything to do with the near-term need to reduce our dependency on fossil-fuel-based energy—as the crisis of 2000–01 demonstrated.

Scott Shepard
Benicia, CA

’68ers

To the editor:
It’s amazing to read these recollections [Christopher Hitchens, Kay S. Hymowitz, Stefan Kanfer, Guy Sorman, Harry Stein, and Sol Stern, “May 1968: Forty Years Later,” Spring 2008] and to realize that none of these people expresses much embarrassment. Here’s a history lesson you can all participate in: take out an American dollar bill, then a five-dollar bill. Behold the two faces on those two pieces of currency. The one-dollar bill bears the face of the greatest revolutionary who ever lived. The five-dollar bill bears the face of that revolution’s great redeemer and defender—the greatest American who ever lived. Note: this information was available in 1968. Totalitarianism—communism and fascism—was defeated by the USA with precious little help, if not outright resistance, from the clueless authors of this piece.

John Campbell
Chicago, IL

To the editor:
I enjoyed Mr. Hitchens’s self-important tirade but could not help but notice his passing attack on the “pseudo-radicals” of Generation Y. Hitchens has this exactly wrong; while Obamamaniacs and members of the “Ron Paul Revolution” are highly visible in university towns, the current generation seems guided by a nonideological ethic of service. This stands in sharp contrast to Hitchens’s youthful activism on behalf of a Trotskyite ideology that, with the benefit of hindsight, is downright laughable. While members of the Millennial generation are less apt to wave pickets and sing clever chants, we are more likely to enlist in efforts to improve our communities through Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or numerous other outlets.

Hitchens has every right to wax nostalgic about his days as a naive ideologue, but he bashes the current generation in a fashion that betrays his ignorance of the subject. Frankly, he ought to be more embarrassed about helping to keep alive a defective nineteenth-century ideology. I, for one, eagerly await the retirement of the baby boomers, whose pretentiousness and self-importance have defined an era.

Nolan Klouda
Lawrence, KS

To the editor:
You are all a lost generation.

Eric
New York, NY

Planet Bellow

To the editor:
While reading Myron Magnet’s trenchant reexamination of Saul Bellow’s novel Mr. Sammler’s Planet [“Mr. Sammler’s City,” Spring 2008], I could not help but be reminded of another character, this one real, who could easily have been in the audience at Sammler’s informal talk at Columbia in the late 1960s: Edward Said, then professor of literature at the university. Over the years, and right up until his death, Said would refer to Bellow’s novel with barely concealed contempt in books and interviews. He repeatedly criticized what he considered its “racism,” “reactionary turn,” and “unfortunate presage of the rise of neoconservatism,” and found the infamous scene with the black man in the camel’s-hair coat especially lamentable. It’s interesting to note that throughout the next quarter-century, Said would consistently give his support and prestige to the very forces of disorder and destruction that Bellow saw capturing the elites at that fictional talk—whether they took the form of vandals on New York’s Upper West Side or terrorists on Israel’s West Bank. If only the professor had been a closer reader!

Robert Nason
Whitestone, NY

To the editor:
Despite a long career as a professor of American literature, I never got around to reading Mr. Sammler’s Planet. Thank you for drawing my attention to this egregious neglect. Your review is a powerful presentation of the sense of despair that gripped America, and from which our nation has yet to recover. Obama brilliantly exploits our yearning for hope and renewal, but I fear that he is adept only at three-card monte.

Frank Gado
White River Junction, VT

Surrender

To the editor:
Great article [Bruce Bawer, “An Anatomy of Surrender,” Spring 2008]. Rowan Williams’s quotation was hilarious. It is interesting to compare the Muslims’ worldwide riots in response to the Danish cartoons with our own virtual nonresponse to events like 7/7. The West is not the “House of War”—it is the “House of Sheep.”

Sarah Bellum
Thousand Oaks, CA

To the editor:
I’ve followed Bruce Bawer’s writing over the years, and I’m grateful for his honest and intelligent approach to this craziness we in the West find ourselves confronting. Multiculturalism and political correctness must be fought tirelessly in order for our way of life to prevail. I’m reminded of a quotation from James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Deborah Durkee
Marietta, GA

To the editor:
It would appear that a philosophy built on secular humanism is incapable of defending the freedoms under which secular humanism can flourish. Mr. Bawer winds up his article by saying that the U.S. has been more effective than Europe in combating Islamofascism because of the First Amendment. I disagree. American society has not yet succumbed to the Islamists because we have many more churchgoers than Europe does. The very people whom the Left in the U.S. and in Europe hold in contempt are the ones defending Western values. So much for the man of the Left who says, “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hah. They haven’t got the guts.

Timothy Nelson
Lansdowne, PA

Crime and Race

To the editor:
The American situation [Heather Mac Donald, “Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?,” Spring 2008] is exactly mirrored in Britain. The courts have a disproportionate caseload involving young blacks because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes. By contrast, the Chinese are probably the most law-abiding community in Britain. I have never seen one in court.

Brian Gunn
Justice of the Peace
Nottingham County, England