We are disturbed by the slurs on American Indians in Ira Stoll’s article “Teepee Populism” (TAS, July/August 2014) about Elizabeth Warren—starting with the cover of the issue, with its caricature of Warren as a goofy Indian sprouting head feathers in front of a teepee. If you wanted to criticize her for being less than ingenuous about various aspects of her past, surely you could have done so without trotting out tired stereotypes of the Native people of this continent.
The article brings up many other areas in which you think Warren gives cause for concern as a possible presidential candidate besides the matter of her alleged Native ancestry. You could easily have discussed these without resorting to offensive stereotypes. The cover graphic—along with the article’s title, the sick joke about the Cherokee jeep, the reference to war path, etc.—perpetuates racist attitudes, which are echoed in some of the online comments. Why not cut the facile slickness and show a little respect?
Dorian Brooks & Anna Watson
Solidarity with American Indians
Given to me by a friend, I have just finished reading the May edition of The American Spectator. Yes, the writing is of a commendable standard with many interesting topics, but some authors, hastening to be funny or learned, left me confused. In numerous articles, I was unsure of the author’s point of view. Further, less smart-aleck comments and phrases, less obscure references, and smaller words where appropriate would render points clearer, and no doubt increase readership.
Andrew V. Rose Dianella
The anti-gun arguments exposed by two of your authors in the July/August issue conflict. The argument in the court cases cited by Josh Blackman (“Our Gun-Shy Justices”) is that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply outside the home. Whereas, the book by Michael Waldman, cited by Seth Lipsky (“Tub to the Whale?”), argues that the amendment only applies when serving in the militia. OK. I guess it’s possible that the only way a Colonial American could serve in the militia was to refuse to come out of the house, and that “Minuteman” referred to the time it took to bolt the front door and barricade oneself in the bedroom. But I doubt it.
What’s more, neither argument can stand alone. The first falls on “…to keep and bear arms.” I don’t think “to bear” was colonial code for “render inoperable and lock in a safe.” I suspect it meant the same then as it does now, “to carry.”
The second argument is even dumber. There were debates at the time of our founding over the effectiveness of a militia and the dangers of a standing army. But nobody argued for a militia of the unarmed. Of what possible use would that be? Some argue the right only applies to those on active military duty. By that logic, if a general orders a private to turn his weapon in to the armory while on base, does the private have a constitutional right to tell the general to “go sit on it”?
The U.S. Constitution does not give the federal government any power to conscript private citizens into government service (in fact, the Thirteenth Amendment expressly forbids it). It does give Congress the power to call forth the militia, reorganize it, and place it under the Commander in Chief. I don’t want to get into a long metaphysical discussion here, but in the universe I inhabit time flows one way. The prerequisites have to come first. For Congress to call forth the militia the militia must already exist and the individuals being called forth must already be members of it. Otherwise the military draft is unconstitutional.
The stark photo of Hofdi House in Ken Adelman’s Reagan at Rejkavik (“When the Cold War Cooled Down,” TAS, June 2014) reminds me of a suggestion a few years back to the Reagan Library that a play be commissioned on that truly historic summit. Along the lines of the Dore Schary FDR biopic Sunrise at Campobello, it could be High Noon at Rejkavik—the lone aging Gary Cooper meets the evil Bolshies on the volcanic plains of Iceland.
The cast would include those pushing Reagan to abandon his maligned “Star Wars” for Soviet missile removals, including Gorbachev, Shultz, and even Dame Thatcher. The old cowboy Dutch Reagan stood truly alone, with an exasperated media vowing to skewer his resolve. “You could’ve said ‘Yes.’”
And then, dejected on the return flight, he rose above all, penned a national address that swept America in polls even the press couldn’t defy. Within a year the Soviets would capitulate on Reagan’s terms and his forty-year quest would grace the planet. What is required is collaboration between an insightful witness and the dramatic renderings of a playwright. Half the collaboration is revealed. Calling Hollywood?
Timothy P. O’Neill
Pompano Beach, Fl
Congratulations on a most interesting June issue. R. Emmett Tyrrell’s “The Press Never Calls” reminded me of a conversation I had in the 1990s with an Irish priest, who asked me what I thought of the Clintons. When I replied, “Not much,” he gave a great snort. “Tinkers!” he said. “That’s what they are: tinkers!” For an Irishman, that’s a serious insult, so—to protect him from being added to Hillary’s enemies list—I won’t reveal his name.
“The Ad Man Goes to War,” by James Lileks, brought back memories of leafing through old Time magazines in my college library’s stacks, and being amazed at how, after December 7, 1941, absolutely everything was somehow related to the war. Some ads were direct; I especially remember the caption of a very dramatic drawing of soldiers in combat, with shells exploding everywhere, proclaiming that Reynolds Aluminum was making the best weapons and ammo for our troops.
Joseph A. Harriss (“The Shocking Monsieur Shakespeare”) never fails to entertain me with his acutely perceptive articles on all things French. My father was born in France, so I spent a year over there after college, visiting relatives and trying (with mixed results) to improve my language skills. Like him, I found France to be a strangely wonderful place. In 1971, I was able to attend the dress rehearsal of a Paris production of Hamlet, because my landlady’s niece, Bulle Ogier, was playing Ophelia (she had, as I recall, a splendidly wanton mad scene). Jean-Louis Trintignant was a very intense and physical Hamlet, actually wrestling Ophelia to the ground during their post-soliloquy encounter. He pulled it off—but Laertes, apparently trying to emulate the star, overdid things by screaming and flopping on the floor at the news of Ophelia’s death, making the audience giggle and leading me to hope that that bit would be gone by opening night.
The translation impressed me as being true to the original, and not at all bowdlerized. “Lady, shall I lie in your lap?…I mean, my head upon your lap,” became, “Madame, puis-je m’etendre sur vous?…Je veux dire, ma tête sur vos genoux.” Of course, it was a very French touch to make the lines rhyme—but I think Monsieur Shakespeare would have approved.
Anne G. Burns
Cos Cob, CT
P.S. Several years ago Mr. Harriss wrote about the Algerian war. My grandmother’s cousin, Gerard d’Ortho, who recently died at age 107, had a farm there, and wrote wonderful letters about his experiences. I would be glad to share them if he is interested.
The guys Grover Norquist and his critics debate (“Pygmies and Giants,” TAS, March 2014; “Odds & Ends,” TAS, June 2014) are all great Americans and quality candidates. Perry, Jindal, Walker, Cruz, Paul, or Christie would restore integrity and competence in the White House and perhaps more importantly carry out the urgent task of bringing about Hillary Clinton’s retirement.
The problem not addressed by Norquist or his article’s critics? They probably cannot win. The guy who can win holds neither a Senate seat nor sits in a statehouse: Ben Carson. The GOP’s nominee will face in 2016 what McCain and Romney did in 2008 and 2012: demographics. The Democrats enjoy a big head start in the electoral college, which puts them a win in Florida away from the White House. (Or, they could capture Ohio—as they did in ’08 and ’12)—along with Iowa.)
Saying his party and country need Dr. Carson because he’s black sounds somewhat dismissive of his obvious qualifications. Nonetheless, if Dr. Carson could garner enough African-American votes to steal one or two of these otherwise unwinnable states (read: by Paul, Cruz, or the others), a GOP victory is plausible. Winning only 30 or 35 percent of the black vote in, say, Pennsylvania, could steer the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes to the Good Guys. Such a victory would mean that losing Ohio or Virginia would not necessarily be fatal. The Republicans need the breathing room Dr. Carson could provide.
Dr. Carson’s skin color aside, he would make a great candidate—maybe the best since Ronald Reagan. Assuming Hillary is the Dems’ standard-bearer, she’d be sliced and diced in a debate with him. (Just imagine Carson vs. Joe Biden.) Dr. Carson brings a healthy narrative needed by this country in general and the Republican Party in particular. His common sense (conservative) and relaxed but sharply focused approach to issues would unite the RINOs and Tea Partiers and perhaps even attract some Democrats.
Norquist and his piece’s critics badly missed the boat by omitting the one guy who would have the chance to return adults to the White House. Run, Ben, run!
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