Letters

NADERITES AND NADER WRONGS

Nat Hentoff ["What's Next for the Left?" July 10] writes that "Ralph Nader ran for president to shake up the Democratic Party, and that's the job ahead, with or without Nader." I believe this calls for some qualification. Any forthcoming intra-party victories for those maverick progressives who remain within the Democrats may be an index of success for Greens and others organizing outside of the two-party system. But given the long-established trends that raised the Clintonoid DLCers to prominence in the first place, God help us if they are the only such index. Yes, the wish to influence the balance of forces within the Democratic Party was one of Nader's motives, but it was not his only campaign aim. His repeated warning to the major parties was that they must either "shape up or shrink down."

Shaping up seems to be the only scenario Hentoff can contemplate when it comes to the Democrats. Despite his support for Nader's candidacy in 2000 and his continuing sharp words for "the soulless New Democrats," I fear Hentoff is hearing echoes of "Happy Days Are Here Again" when he declares that "only a regenerated Democratic Party . . . will make democracy work for millions of Americans." Any such "regeneration" would be superficial unless the Democrats are truly willing to tear themselves away from the corporate feeding trough, and I'm not holding my breath.

The road that Greens have chosen of building a viable third party from the grassroots up may be long and daunting, particularly in view of the long-standing collusion between the two major parties in restricting access to the ballot and the mass media. But our conception of "the job ahead" is, to paraphrase Hentoff, that of making democracy work for millions of Americans, with or without a regenerated Democratic Party.

Ronald MacKinnon
West Side Greens
Manhattan

Nat Hentoff replies: The challenge for the Greens is, as MacKinnon says, "long and daunting." But how long are the many millions of Americans who are uninsured medically and whose children go to bed hungry supposed to wait? If the Greens can show clout at the polls next year, or in four years, that will be fine. But if not, what is the alternative to a Democratic Party regenerated by voters like MacKinnon and myself?


NO MAN IS AN ELLIS ISLAND

Norah Vincent, in "The Liars Club" [July 10], claims that Joseph Ellis's classroom lies "hardly matter," largely because his "professional reputation—and the high quality of his work—remains unblemished." This claim is blatantly false. Ellis is a college professor, and his "work" includes the things he says in the classes he teaches.

Ellis lied to his students—the very people who have the most right to expect the truth from him. For him to emerge professionally unscathed would be an outrage, because such an outcome would be an open admission that Mount Holyoke College doesn't care about the accuracy of its professors' lectures—and of course, the Norah Vincents of the world don't care that Mount Holyoke doesn't care.

James Grimmelmann
Seattle, Washington


THE TEMPEST AT TEMPLE

I read Bakari Kitwana's piece "Uncivil War" [July 10] with profound disappointment and amazement. As a graduating student of the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, I am outraged. The article is a proliferation of wild and unsubstantiated charges and innuendo, intended to mask the fact that Temple has been pressured into removing Dr. Joyce Ann Joyce as chair of the department with only one year left on a five-year contract that has been contested in a court of law.

That is the real story here! No amount of feminist rhetoric can rewrite the record. Still, perhaps the most nonsensical and reprehensible part of this—the latest unfortunate attempt to smear Molefi Kete Asante and his groundbreaking theory of Afrocentricity—is the outrageous assertion that "no one else in the university signed off on" AAS Ph.D.'s. This serves only to bastardize the department and the degree that I and others have worked so hard for. The truth is that there is a uniform, university-wide dissertation process, which is governed by the graduate school.

Finally, I daresay that even Nate Norment [the new chair of the African American studies department] would challenge the veracity of Kitwana's characterization of him as an "old-guard" Afrocentrist.

Dr. Pamela Yaa Asantewaa Reed
Adjunct Professor of Journalism
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


BANKER RANCOR

On behalf of the management, employees, and directors of Liati Group, LLC, I would like to express our firm's disappointment with the July 10 article written by Wayne Barrett titled "The Banker Who Broke the Law." The article contains numerous inaccuracies about our firm, and I'd like to provide the facts.

Liati is a boutique investment-banking firm that provides specialized financial services to public authorities and corporations. The firm's staff is composed of highly skilled professionals with extensive experience.

The firm's board of directors is composed of a mixture of business leaders and distinguished public servants. The board provides the firm with strategic oversight and advice.

Mr. Barrett inaccurately describes William C. Thompson Jr.'s relationship to the Liati Group. Mr. Thompson has been a member of the Liati board since June 1999, and he has contributed significantly to the firm's strategic direction. He is not an employee of Liati.

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