Letters to the Editor

Lost in America

To the Editor:

Knowing Joe Klein to be a funny writer, I must assume his Oct. 11 review of “What Were We Thinking,” by Carlos Lozada, and “Trump on Trial,” by Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, was an arid parody. What else explains his condemning those who attack Trump from their elite perches, even as he nods approvingly at those laying partial blame for Trump’s success on “postmodernism”? Similarly hilarious, Klein urges deep analysis, even as he posits that “the parties had traded their traditional places,” with Republicans now abetting anarchy as Democrats suddenly embrace “traditionalism.” As evidence, he links Steve Bannon’s nihilism to the countercultural instincts of Abbie Hoffman (leaving unsaid that only one of these analogized gentlemen ever ran a presidential campaign or served in the White House). Responsibility for Trump, modern Republicanism and the moral collapse of a once-great party rests far more on Newt Gingrich. Not that the Republicans had to move that far. Those opining over honorable Republicans of yore forget that G.O.P. congressmen overwhelmingly voted against every impeachment article put up against Nixon. What satire.

Jordan Magill
Silver Spring, Md.

To the Editor:

I appreciated the sensible evenhandedness of Klein’s review until I came to his criticism of Lozada for failing “to consider the insidious effects of writing racial advantage into law through programs like affirmative action and the creation of majority-minority electoral districts.” He adds, “Worthy as they may be, they’ve given ballast to white working-class tribalism.” Klein fails to consider that the ample ballast already had by white working-class tribalism was part of why these programs were enacted.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Providence, R.I.


To the Editor:

Daniel C. Dennett’s review of “The Weirdest People in the World,” by Joseph Henrich (Oct. 11), opened with an admonition by Pythagoras to avoid eating beans. Since I’m a hematologist, that caught my attention. Favism is a dreaded form of hemolytic anemia suffered by some individuals after eating fava beans. The integrity of red blood cells relies on a host of factors, and G6PD activity is one of them; a deficiency of this red cell enzyme is infamously associated with red cell destruction (hemolysis) if an individual has eaten fava beans. A number of ancient accounts warn of fava bean consumption. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the review very much!

Gerard Hellman
Grand View-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Pushing the Limits

To the Editor:

In his review of Jonathan Alter’s new Jimmy Carter biography (Oct. 11), David Greenberg suggests that President Carter’s having “collapsed” during a 10K road race in the Catoctin Mountains was among the most “humiliating” moments of his presidency.

“Collapsed” implies he fell to the ground in a heap, which is an exaggeration. Carter did falter, and was unable to continue. But this is an experience that has been shared by countless thousands of road racers, even pros. It happened to me when I attempted my first 10K. How many U.S. presidents would have been able to run, or even walk, 6.2 miles in mountainous terrain? How many Americans? There is no shame in giving your all in any athletic endeavor, as Carter surely did that day.

Far more humiliating is the current White House occupant’s reliance on golf cart transportation in al fresco situations when he cannot be driven by car. In golf etiquette, this is regarded as the apogee of inconsiderate gaucheness.

David English
Acton, Mass.

Pen to Paper

To the Editor:

Forgive me as I channel Gore Vidal, but I couldn’t resist the urge. What prompts my impudence is David Byrne’s response to “Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?” in his By the Book interview (Oct. 11). Byrne stated that writers should avoid using writers as their main characters. He then goes on to concede, grudgingly, that it is easier to do so: “I know, I know, ‘Write what you know.’”

In advice from the grave,
Vidal says: “Write what you know will always be excellent advice for those who ought not to write at all. Write what you think, what you imagine, what you suspect!”

Following this advice makes one’s creative sweat more worthwhile, but not easier.

Jim Giza

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