Backtalk

Regarding Ralph

Ken Silverstein’s “Candidate Nader,” (July/August) is an interesting combination of admiration and flawed analysis. The biggest flaw belongs to those who feel that it would be absolutely awful if the Nader vote swings the presidency to George W. Bush. My analysis is that the Nader campaign is win-win.

The first win is almost certain: The Green Party will get more votes than it did in ’96, increasing its influence. The second win is if Nader gets a little more than 5 percent of the vote, qualifying the Greens for federal funds, which will make them much more viable in the next election.

Bob Saxton
Eugene, Oregon

Ralph Nader has spent 35 years milking his 15 minutes. Never mind the boredom: Nader’s grossly reductive thinking is as bad as that of any pandering demagogue at work in the American sociopolitical media landscape. He has admitted that it would please him to thwart the Democrats in November.

It angers me to have Ralph Nader turning up now, trying to jump-start his star by destroying the last, most reliable fire wall between the people I love and a multitude of Ralph Reeds, Gary Bauers, Pat Robertsons, and Rush- and Dr. Laura-fed bigots.

If “Junior” wins in November, you can damn well bet the bigots will own the White House. God knows, they’ve paid a fortune for it.

Dale Swanson
San Francisco, California

I was appalled to read in “Candidate Nader”: “Is Nader risking his hard-earned reputation…by representing a tiny and disorganized third party whose other leading contender for the nomination was the former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys?”

I am an admirer of Jello Biafra’s work, and he is a lot more than the lead singer of a punk rock band. He is a spoken word artist, a human rights activist, an environmentalist, and a very intelligent man.

Alison Wheat
Dallas, Texas

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I do not want to take anything away from Adam Hochschild’s wonderful article,”The Brickmaster of Kerala” (July/August), but I want to note one point relating to it.

The use of bottles, waste glass, broken roong tiles, etc., in construction is not recycling but reuse. Recycling is the processing of an existing item into a raw material for use in a new product. Reuse is any activity that prolongs an existing item’s life. Unlike recycling, reuse preserves some or all of the “embodied energy” used to make the original item. In most cases, reuse decreases the strain on resources and creates less air and water pollution than making a new item or recycling.

David Goldbeck
The Reuse Foundation
Woodstock, New York

False Profiteering

Forgive me for focusing on one minor article that rankled me, rather than on the many I found enlightening, but I cannot refrain from ridiculing your Outfront piece on the latest developments in the campaign for reparations to descendants of U.S. slaves (“Peculiar Prots,” July/August).

On similar grounds, those of us with a preponderantly Irish pedigree could demand compensation from the corporate heirs of the English whose policies forced the migration of our ancestors. Or those who have a French Canadian great-grandparent could approach British defendants for damages over the Acadian expulsion. Those who seek slave-related reparations from American institutions might just as logically address their demands to those African governments most representative of the dominant tribes that enslaved their forebears in the first place.

If the aim of the reparations movement is to make a political point, that could be accomplished with a congressional resolution of regret. If the motive is to extract money, that smacks of opportunists trying to profiteer from the miseries of their ancestors.

William Marvel
South Conway, New Hampshire

Corporate Publicity

Terry Gross (“Media Picks,” July/ August) works for something fraudulently self-described as National Public Radio, but with all the corporate input it’s no more public than the Bush/Gore ideas of privatized health care and Social Security. The “Fresh Air” program is nothing but a largely public-funded hour-long love-fest with and for the benefit of the biggest corporate publishers, recording companies, film studios, TV networks, and corporate funded politicians. They ought to be paying for their own damn publicity on commercial stations.

John Jonik
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Corrections

In “Media Picks” (July/August), we misnamed the first radio program that Terry Gross hosted: It was “Womanpower.”

In Exhibit (March/April), we reported on plans for the Final Curtain cemetery amusement park. Those plans were later publicly revealed to be a hoax.