Afghanistan, double binding and other letters to the editor

The arrogance of the empire For the publisher: In Fredrik Logevall’s review of two books on Afghanistan (September 5), he notes t...


For the publisher:

In Fredrik Logevall’s review of two books on Afghanistan (September 5), he notes that “the two authors paint a picture of an American war effort which, after a staggering early success, has gone astray, never to recover” . The characterization of the US post-9/11 attack on Afghanistan as a “stunning first success” was, to use a term used later in the journal, “an illusion.”

The sad reality was, and is, that America has never had success in Afghanistan, mind-boggling or otherwise. To suggest it is to succumb to the “false progress narrative” that the US government is feeding its people about failing wars.

All that was accomplished after September 11 forced the Taliban to retreat to the villages of Afghanistan and western Pakistan and wait for us. This is what they did. Both authors are correct in concluding that no American strategy would have produced a different result.

It is disconcerting that so many US Presidents refuse to see the futility of “conquering” Afghanistan, for they have made no effort to understand Afghanistan, its society and its people. It is the arrogance of the empire.

Kevin mclean
San Diego

For the publisher:

Katie Roiphe’s Refreshing Review of “Still Mad” by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (September 5), the authors of the 1979 classic “The Madwoman in the Attic”, immediately took me back to the mid-1980s, when I was in training graduate school by inspiring feminist teachers. Reading Roiphe’s critical but balanced assessment of Gilbert and Gubar’s understanding of feminist literary writing since the 1960s, I couldn’t help but wonder: where are women of color? Is Audre Lorde the only non-white feminist author to stand out from the second half of the 20th century to the present day?

In a satisfying turn of events, however, as I continued my reading of the Sunday book review, I was pleasantly surprised by Interview By the Book by Sandra Cisneros. As the Latin American feminist that is Cisneros, she provides us with a long list of Mexican writers – from Rosario Castellanos and Elena Poniatowska to Nellie Campobello and Elena Garro, among others – while eloquently reminding readers that “when the boom in Latin American literature sounded in the United States, only male voices were heard. I, an American Mexican trained by both white and non-white feminist teachers, totally agree.

Together, the reading set offers complementary critiques of patriarchy for a new generation of feminist thinkers – regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender.

Alexandre lugo
Forest Park, Illinois.

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For the publisher:

I was delighted to see Rosario Castellanos ‘name in Cisneros’ By the Book interview. His story “The Wheel of Hunger” remains one of the most powerful, urgent and clearest accounts of the problematic and ambiguous relationship between Indigenous peoples and well-meaning colonialists (for lack of a better word). .

How many times have I handed this story over to fellow writers, saying, “Please, if you care about world literature, read this. “

Alex-joseph
new York

For the publisher:

It may seem tricky to complain about a single term in Meena Kandasamy’s thoughtful and eloquent critique from Leila Slimani’s “In the Land of Others” (September 5), but the concept of “double bind” is important enough that I hate to see its meaning blurred by what we linguists call “semantic laundering”.

When a French woman moves with her Moroccan husband to her country of origin and finds herself subjugated by her power to enforce “how things are here”, she does not face “a double bond of hierarchy and shame”. It may be a double whammy: the hierarchy that subjugates her also shames her.

A woman in a double bind, as the concept was defined by her creator, Gregory Bateson, is subject to mutually exclusive demands: anything she does to satisfy one violates the other. Thus, a woman candidate for public office, like all women in positions of authority, must be a good leader and also a good woman. But the qualities expected of a good leader (being energetic, confident and, at times, angry) are at odds with those expected of a good woman (being gentle, self-deprecating and emotional, but never angry).

We need the concept to fully appreciate the challenge faced by a woman in a position of authority, which may otherwise be more difficult to understand than the challenge faced by a woman forced to obey her husband’s decrees.

Deborah Tannen
Washington

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Newsrust - US Top News: Afghanistan, double binding and other letters to the editor
Afghanistan, double binding and other letters to the editor
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