All the Help We Can Get
Will Durst has a great line, "The Left circles the wagons and shoots inward." Which is funny-but-true, and is exemplified in the snarky subtext on your most recent cover.
Rachel Dovey's article is excellent, by the way, and notably absent of snark.
A big factor in the Left's aforementioned self-defeatism is the perennial competition of "More Committed Than Thou," in which there is always a new wave of alpha martyrs poised to rise up and break in righteous fury, now or never, sneering at the complacence and laziness of all others, including their allies. I know this game because I've participated in it, along with countless others.
We absolutely need Bill McKibben and that screaming kid pictured on your cover, but we also need the very hybrid driving, recycling outcasts you deride, who make environmentalism "normal."
Don't flip off your allies, kids, you may need someone to post bail.
More Syria Questions
Interesting article, and some good points about Syria ("Rush to War," Sept. 4). Also interesting that the liberal left and Sarah Palin essentially agree that the United States should not become more involved in this. While I understand the resistance to military action, it is clear that more discussion doesn't get anywhere: we simply have to stop assuming that everyone on the world thinks and reasons the same as we do. Our logic and arguments don't work with many of the leaders in other countries. But military action generally includes innocent civilians (and children) who become "collateral damage," which is little different than their killing by corrupt regimes. Clearly this is not an easy choice, and people will not agree on whatever outcome is finally implemented.
Another sad result is that we will never know which option is the path to the quickest solution (end to the innocent deaths of people who happen to live in harms way). Do you believe that the rebels/resistance would massacre their own people and their own children with poison gas? Do you believe that lower-level military people in Assad's forces have the ability to launch an attack without Assad's knowledge? Do you believe that anyone else in the free world would assume the responsibility for responding to the situation other than the United States? If no one responded, what do you think would happen?
These are not meant to be flippant questions, but to inspire serious long-term thought about our options. What alternatives are there that would engage all the parties in this fiasco?
Drawing a Line
Bombs and guns are chemical weapons. Chemicals explode bombs and propel bullets and missiles. The body doesn't care whether it dies quickly from trauma or more slowly from gas. Either way, it still dies.
Make peace, not lines.
Thank you, Mark Perlman ("The History of Thinking," Sept. 4). You really inspired all of us students and taught us how to look at mark making and line quality and composition in a way that continues to make sense. I still go back to so much of what you taught us about structure and purpose and hard work, and your teaching still informs my current work. Thank you for an excellent educational experience.
Congratulations on your much deserved retirement!
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