Letters to the Editor

Readers write about American progressivism, tension in Pakistan, and The Beatles' music in space.

Are modern progressives comparable to Wilson?

Regarding Jonah Goldberg's Feb. 5 Opinion piece, "You want a more 'progressive' America? Careful what you wish for": Mr. Goldberg has been promoting his book extensively in the media with shallow and unidimensional essays glibly explaining the history of "liberal fascism."

Woodrow Wilson was, indeed, a president who did many terrible things and held many terrible opinions about race, liberty, and democracy. However, arguing that Barack Obama is of the same ilk as Wilson because Mr. Obama "champions unity," or that Hillary Rodham Clinton is so because she believes United States politics should go "beyond ideology," is a specious and hollow argument.

Those who consider themselves in the best tradition of American progressives are far more likely to see themselves in the tradition of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and the La Follettes than that of Wilson, whose racist Southern heritage, authoritarian militarism, and rabid antisocialism make him a poor role model for any US politician.

Phillip Pearson
Santa Barbara, Calif.

In response to Mr. Goldberg's recent Opinion piece on progressives: It occurred to me that the leading progressive in the United States must be, by Goldberg's definition, George W. Bush.

President Bush certainly subscribes to John Dewey's theory on the "social possibilities of war," possibilities that include Frederick Lewis Allen's dream of Americans marching in step. And we may not have a George Creel or a Committee on Public Information, but who needs a committee when the president and the vice president themselves are so willing to spout inflammatory – and false – rhetoric?

And let's not forget Goldberg's concern about subverting the intents of the Founders in regard to constitutional guarantees. If progressives want to live in a world with an organic Constitution, it seems to me they must once again look to Bush as a model. (Let's bend the right of privacy just a bit. Let's apply habeas corpus to some, but not to others. Speedy trial? Not if your current residence is Guantánamo Bay.)

I suppose Goldberg is correct in fearing what America would become under a progressive administration. But he needn't worry. Such an administration has proved to be the least popular in modern memory and will shortly be replaced.

Ira Faro
Bath, Pa.

Regarding Mr. Goldberg's recent Opinion piece on progressivism: Goldberg's work is always in good humor and impeccably researched, and he makes people uncomfortable with unfounded premises that the "mainstream media" have slipped into public thought.

Gordon Imrie
Hinsdale, Ill.

Al Qaeda moves on Pakistan

Regarding your Feb. 4 editorial, "A surge for a sinking Afghanistan": Al Qaeda and the Taliban are two sides of the same coin. They need a country to achieve their international ambitions, and no such country is available to them after Afghanistan. They have their eyes on Pakistan.

Most of the leadership in Pakistan doesn't care if the Taliban takes control of it. Recently they allowed thousands of armed tribesmen to enter into settled Seraiki areas of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan without any documentation. All possible facilities are being provided to them by the Pakistan Army. No journalist is allowed to enter these camps.

We appeal to the world's conscience to help us against this ugly onslaught. According to our information, the Pakistan secret service is encouraging tribal men to fight against NATO forces in Afghanistan after making a haven inside Pakistan, where no NATO action is allowed.

M. Shahjahan Bhatti
Dera Ismail Khan, Secretary General, Seraikistan Qaumi Movement
Pakistan

On The Beatles in space

Regarding the article, "NASA to broadcast The Beatles into deep space": I am an information scientist studying microtiming in rhythm, which gives rise to "swing" feeling in music. I have discovered that many of the bands I listened to in my younger days now sound very stiff and square to me, but The Beatles still have that great "swing" in many of their tunes. I look forward to applying my analysis techniques to some of these songs, to characterize the unique style of swing found in The Beatles' music. I hope the folks in the Polaris star system appreciate the excellent qualities of "Across the Universe."

Ken Lindsay
Ashland, Ore.

Regarding the article on NASA's Beatles transmission: this was not the first musical interstellar message.

The world's first musical Interstellar Radio Message was transmitted in August-September 2001 from Evpatoria Deep Space Station to six sunlike stars. It was "The First Theremin Concert for Aliens."

Dr. Alexander Zaitsev
Fryazino, Russia

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