Master of her universe

Re "Wanted: Really Smart Suckers" [Generation Debt—The New Economics of Being Young, April 28-May 4]:

Anya Kamenetz's article about the misery of graduate school reminds me of why I am so glad that I flunked two major exams at the CUNY Graduate Center, and then dropped out of the American-history program. I returned to my job teaching high school social studies at a decent Manhattan school—for a lot more money and better benefits.

I'm not sorry I studied doctoral-level history for two years (I had already earned my master's degree), but I'm glad I didn't fritter away any more time or hope on such an unrewarding and aggravating venture.

Ellen Levitt
Midwood, Brooklyn

The Anti-Apathy League

Re Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Young People Debate the Draft: Old Enough to Vote? Old Enough to Die" [May 5-11]: I chose prison over the draft during the Vietnam War, and I am no fan of either option. I also a have a draft-age son who already told Selective Service he will not serve.

One thing I think the draft did in the late '60s and early '70s was to energize opposition to the war in Southeast Asia among privileged and powerful people, especially college students and their parents. A draft with no deferments might transform the widespread apathy among both of these cohorts into active and effective opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marc Levin
Ocean, New Jersey

Rough Draft

Re "Old Enough to Vote? Old Enough to Die": It is ironic that those most opposed to reactivating the military draft are the same people who support this latest Bush War. The reason for this, of course, is they know that if the draft returned, we would soon see a marked change in the attitude toward this war among many of its most exuberant supporters. Flags would be folded; gung ho pro-war banners and bumper stickers would soon change to anti-war slogans.

Those of us who did serve in World War II knew our enemies were functioning nations with which we could negotiate a truce or conclude a surrender. No such options exist today when fighting a gang of globally dispersed religious zealots. We are enmeshed in a perpetual, unwinnable war that has no exit strategy.

Stephen Block Jr.
West Palm Beach, Florida

Present Tense

I would like to inform you that the comments I made for "Young People Debate the Draft" were printed in a way that does not fully represent my opinions on the draft and the war. I believe what I said was "I am pro-war because I believe Saddam needed to be removed from power." I still support this war, and the existence of WMD had no bearing on my choice. I also said that I would enlist before I was drafted, not "would like to." I understand this is a minor detail in the context of the article, but the tense of a verb or the addition of a word can drastically change the meaning of a statement.

Karl Schmidt
Greenwich Village

The Progressive

Re Harry G. Levine's "Ralph Nader, Suicide Bomber" [May 5-11]:

When an article barely mentions Nader's political positions but dwells at length on wild conjectures about his motivations, you can be sure we're hearing from a Democrat desperate to change the subject from his party's wholesale abandonment of progressive politics in favor of Republican-lite "me-too-ism." Levine's piece all but ignores the critical issues on which Nader provides the only alternative for progressives in this election: his support of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq; total repeal of the Patriot Act; universal, single-payer health care; full, mandatory public funding of all elections; cuts in military spending to fund social programs; gay marriage; and canceling the ecocidal and anti-labor WTO and NAFTA. Such progressive measures are apparently of little moment to Levine, since he is supporting a candidate who echoes George W. Bush in opposing all of them.

It is dismaying to see the Voice featuring this kind of character assassination of the only major anti-war candidate in this year's presidential race, a man who, unlike the rapidly triangulating John Kerry, still has the courage to press for the kind of progressive agenda that the Voice has long championed.

William Kaufman
East Village

Harry G. Levine replies: In 2000, if Nader had asked supporters in just Florida and a handful of other "too close to call" states to vote for Gore, it would have given him tremendous legitimacy and he likely would have more than made up the votes in "safe states." When Gore won, Nader and the Green Party would have become a powerful progressive force to be reckoned with. Nader would have vividly demonstrated his potential to throw a presidential election and his good judgment not to do it then or yet. He would have grown in stature and respect, he would now be an effective advocate for all the issues Kaufman and I care about, and there would be no horrific war in Iraq.

Uncivil War

In "Fables of the Reconstruction" [villagevoice.com, April 20], Jason Vest makes several references to civil war. What civil war? It seems to me that Iraqis are pretty unified these days. Maybe if they kick us out, there will be a civil war, but right now that's just theory.

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