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Ordinary People

Thomas Chatterton Williams provides a remarkably elitist take on Portugal’s immigration policies [“The Wanderer’s Port,” Easy Chair, April]. His perspective appears to have been shaped solely by his experiences among wealthy American and European expats.

Williams acknowledges the impetus behind Portugal’s campaign to attract immigrants: the need to grow the tax base required to support its Socialist government. However, he fails to recognize that only the privileged can benefit from the tax breaks and other incentives the government has put forward.

Williams bolsters his narrative with anecdotes of “well-heeled” expats in Lisbon: a Swiss friend who only has to work three days a month, a French former trader who invites him to a penthouse party, three couples with children who are enrolled in prestigious international schools and cared for by full-time nannies.

Williams’s analysis is narrow and naïve in scope. Doesn’t he realize that Portugal only wants immigrants with money to burn? Did he speak to any working-class immigrants about their lives? Did he speak to any working-class citizens about their opinions of these government policies? Next time, he should consider talking to everyday people.

Jeff Rayburn
Franklin, Tenn.


Cheap Shots

James Pogue writes that “banning assault rifles would do surprisingly little to curb gun deaths in America” [“Good Guys with Guns,” Report, April], and goes on to state that mass shootings result “in an average of about one hundred deaths a year.” One hundred lives is not a negligible number.

The threat of domestic terrorism and the fear that “the country will descend into chaos or tyranny” are not abated by purchasing yet another gun. Consider this: one day, while I was driving through Wyoming, a commercial on the radio informed me that I could buy a machine programmed to make as many AK-47s or AR-15s as I desired, with no serial numbers, for $1,300. Background checks are meaningless. We need a ban.

Terry Herlihy


A Broken Clock

While Christopher W. Shaw explores democratizing the management of the Federal Reserve in a manner both thoughtful and compelling [“The Money Question,” Revision, April], I felt it was a gross error to wonder, “Is Trump right about the Fed?”

Shaw writes that “Trump has a point: throughout its history the Fed has tended to be too hawkish on inflation, and this tendency has led to economic suffering for millions of Americans.”

But Trump’s desire to manipulate the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is not in the country’s best interest. Anything productive that has come of it has been an accident. Trump’s monomaniacal drive to alter Fed policy serves only to push the economy in a direction that would advance his reelection campaign and stave off prosecutors anxious to bring him to justice for his persistent and pervasive lawlessness.

John G. Woltjer
University Place, Wash.


Sympathy for the Devil

If it bleeds, it leads. But not, apparently, when Mao is the subject [“To Rebel Is Justified,” Reviews, April]. Like others before him, Julian Gewirtz buries the millions Mao killed in paragraphs about his status as a pop icon: “More than four decades after his death, in 1976, Mao is still an international celebrity; one of Andy Warhol’s silk screens of Mao’s face recently sold for $12.6 million.” Why not lead with Mao’s murders?

Paul Embler
Woodland, Calif.


The Division Bell

Frank B. Wilderson III argues that we need to recognize racial divisions, and that people are split into “two species: blacks and humans” [“Color Theory,” Readings, April]. I disagree.

Most scientists and historians now acknowledge race as a social construct. As long as we insist on such categorization, we choose to side with the oppressors, who have perpetuated this fallacy solely for their own gain. Division leads to dehumanization, a prerequisite for tyranny and suffering. Let’s choose unity instead.

Paul Pappas
St. Paul, Minn.



Because of an editing error, “Dreams of Stone” [Letter from Lalibela, April], by Ishion Hutchinson, incorrectly stated that the World Monuments Fund erected protective awnings over Lalibela’s churches. Funding for the awnings came from the European Union, not the WMF.

Good Guys with Guns” [Report, April], by James Pogue, incorrectly stated that online commenters posted the initials of a member of the Socialist Rifle Association and called the gun ranges where he gave shooting lessons. In fact, the commenters posted his full name, home address, and work address, and called his daytime employer.

We regret the errors.