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From: Gary McCardell
Subject: Exclusive Video: Hillary in the Führerbunker, by Ken Silverstein, May 12, 2008
On your website, Ken Silverstein posted a link to a video political parody showing a movie portrayal of Hitler in his bunker raging insanely at his defeat with subtitles as though it were Hillary Clinton reacting to the primary results in Indiana and North Carolina.
Silverstein says it is very funny. It is a parody, it is certainly protected speech, and it seems likely that some people with whom I share political affiliation will find it funny. But the parody is profoundly ugly and repugnant. I hope that you will think again about your decision to recommend it to your readers and apologize for it.
It’s sadly true, as Luca Menato wrote in his letter to you, that America’s “leading presidential candidate can be politically blackmailed over an alleged link with a Palestinian faction whose number of armed militants is likely to be smaller than the number of known victims of the latest Chinese earthquake.”
In fact, American Presidential candidates have been toppled for much less–just ask John Kerry about the Swift Boaters. As for the Israeli-Palestinian question, the nuances of which are so far beyond the understanding of the average American voter, it is indeed far too much to hope that a viable presidential candidate could speak with candor and intelligence about this issue without touching a variety of electoral-viability-frying third rails. Sadly, the reality of American politics is that a “smart” politician is playing it safe on this issue by making statements such as Hillary’s recent pronouncement that she would ‘obliterate’ Iran if that country attacks Israel. Does the fact that I disapprove of Hillary making that statement mean I want to see Israel nuked? Of course not, but if I were Barack Obama and expressed disapproval of Hillary’s comment, I could expect a barrage of nonsense painting me as a sympathizer with Hamas/Hezbollah/Al Qaeda/what-have-you. Even the allegedly “decent” John McCain has already played this card against Obama. How any intelligent candidate with an ounce of integrity can pick his way through the landmines of such a political landscape is beyond me, but so far Obama is doing a better job than any viable Presidential candidate I have seen in my lifetime.
American presidential politics, particularly the past two elections, constantly brings to mind Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
I was pleased that you have done Dr. Morse justice. I used to work for the Morses at their home in suburban Philadelphia in the late ’60s and early ’70s, as a gardener, handyman, janitor–a perfect part-time job for a student. I eventually went to Temple University, where Dr. Morse taught. As a political science major, I never took any of his English classes. My loss.
I came from an Irish-immigrant, working-class background. Dr. and Mrs. Morse were my introduction to intellectual conversation. They knew I loved to read, and passed me the New York Times, which I devoured. Though my family bookshelves will never match their extensive collection, we are avid readers.
Years later, after I married and joined the Foreign Service, I took my very international family on a couple of occasions to see Mitchell and Frances Morse. I treasure my autographed copy of The Irrelevant English Teacher, as well as several prints of his articles. I have spent most of my adult life abroad (we’ve settled in Brussels), so the last time I went to see the Morses was on Labor Day 2005. Of course I had just missed Dr. Morse, but his wife was still as lucid as ever despite a stroke.
From: Philip Higgs
Subject: Weekly Review, by Sam Stark, May 13, 2008
I’m not sure if you guys do this sort of thing, but it might be nice–compassionate, even–to post a note that the reward for the tortured pony can be contributed to via the Mercer County Humane Society. Donations via check should have “Reward Fund” written on the check’s “memo” line.
Mercer County Humane Society
PO Box 1046
Hermitage, PA 16148
From: Alice Forbes Spear
I really dislike the new website format. It’s not very user-friendly and it’s hard to read Mr. Fish cartoons.
From: Delfin Beltran, M.D.
Subject: Mr. Fish, May 9, 2008
It would appear to the casual observer that the cartoon of May 9, 2008 by Mr. Fish bears a singular political comment regarding the potential for veracity in that concern. As a physician concerned about the education of the citizenry regarding their own health I see other potential.
First, it is a physiologic fact that as soon as the sperm enters the capsule of the ovum the tail breaks off and all of the genetic material necessary to initiate the new life exists. This health information may or may not be part of the existing curriculum titled “sex education.”
I have an 1860 text used to educate students regarding their own body functions and structure. If this level of education were presented to students today, I suspect that many of the moral concerns of parents might well be altered and the nation could benefit from the understanding acquired by the future parents.
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More from Harper’s Magazine:
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Join us Saturday, October 26, at 6:30 p.m.
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature