Letters — From the April 2014 issue

Letters

Deutschland Unter Alles

The February cover image that accompanied the forum on the future of the euro [“How Germany Reconquered Europe”] is offensive and thoughtless. By riffing on the Nazi armband, Harper’s Magazine used a symbol that not only instills fear but also promotes hatred and violence to sell copies. Harper’s could have used an image that signified the greed, stupidity, and corruption that contributed to the euro crisis, without vilifying Germans. The headline itself is also manipulative and misleading: Germany never conquered Europe in the first place; it lost World War II.

By diffusing this propaganda and failing to invite a representative of Greece or Italy to speak in its forum, Harper’s revealed that it desired not to encourage debate on the euro but to blame Germany for the currency’s failings.

Heige S. Boehm
Gibsons, B.C.

The forum on the European Union was quite enlightening. However, I wish you had invited a Frenchman other than Emmanuel Todd, whose near-hysterical hatred of all things German is not representative of how the French feel about their closest neighbor and partner. Criticizing Germany’s policies is normal and often justified, but Todd speaks about Germans the way his countryman Dieudonné refers to Jews. (Ulrike Guérot, another forum participant, walked out of a televised debate with Todd last year, and even French viewers were on her side.) Fortunately, the other participants had far more balanced views.

Will Heuts
Épinal, France

Stalking Horse

Sam Knight’s “A God More Powerful Than I” [Report, February] gave interesting insight into the mind of one stalker. However, neither Knight nor his subject, Jude Le Grice, seems to understand the impact being stalked has on the victim’s life. Because I have a stalker, I do not answer my cell phone if I don’t recognize the number, and I cannot participate in social media. In my experience, restraining orders do not provide safety from intrusion. Stalkers are narcissistic and lack empathy. There is always the worry that their behavior will escalate and pose a very real personal danger. I don’t live in fear, but I have to use an abundance of caution. Stalking may be life-altering for a stalker, but it is even more so for the victim.

Lee Crain
Denver

A Run for His Money

Gary Greenberg takes too much liberty, as does Self-Help Messiah author Steven Watts, in linking Dale Carnegie’s teaching to the prosperity gospel [“The Almighty Dollar,” Review, February]. Further, Greenberg is misguided at best when he labels Carnegie’s concepts as “sociopathy” and “flimflam.”

Perhaps Greenberg should reread the opening chapters of How to Win Friends and Influence People, where Carnegie says that flattery comes “from the teeth,” whereas appreciation comes “from the heart.” As Greenberg points out, Carnegie celebrated the financial benefits of his ideas. But successful sales and marketing organizations throughout the past century have done the same. Does this make them, too, connected somehow to the prosperity gospel? The prosperity gospel considers God to be the benefactor of material gain for all who follow him. Carnegie considers our mental attitudes and relationship skills to be the benefactors of material gain, which is only flimflam if it is inauthentic.

Matt Norman
President, Dale Carnegie Training North Central U.S.
Edina, Minn.

State of the Art

While Ben Lerner’s December criticism is compelling [“Damage Control”], the foundations on which he builds it are shaky at best. “Anything can be art” is a common misinterpretation and simplification of the legacy of Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp broke away from traditional painting materials because they were already overburdened with meaning and context, neither of which was a given when a urinal was claimed to be a work of art. For concept to become the equivalent of form and aesthetic, form and aesthetic had to be de-emphasized. These ideas, which Lerner presumes continue to be at the vanguard of the art world today, are actually rather anachronistic. The idea that art is either good or bad — and art or not — ignores complexities of judgment and leaves Duchamp out in the cold.

Heather Bennett
St. Louis

Correction

The name of an artwork published in the Readings section of the January issue was misprinted. Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson’s photograph is titled “Smokescreen (Entrainment Study 4),” not “Smokescreen (Entertainment Study 4).” We regret the error.


Harper’s Magazine welcomes reader response. Please address mail to Letters, Harper’s Magazine, 666 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10012, or email us at letters@harpers.org. Short letters are more likely to be published, and all letters are subject to editing. Volume precludes individual acknowledgment.

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