Jockeys and Their Horses
John Seabrook’s article on the jockeys Irad and Jose Ortiz ignores an important aspect of horse racing—the horse (“Top Jocks,” December 4th). Jockeys may “accept the hazards of racing as part of the job that both the animal and the rider were born to do.” However, this assumes that humans get to decide the purpose of another creature’s life—in this case, entertainment. Racehorses are routinely drugged and whipped, and often suffer, as Seabrook writes, “catastrophic breakdowns.” When the entertainment value is gone, a horse no longer matters, as when the horse Jose rides, Submit, breaks her leg and is euthanized on the racetrack. This anthropocentric attitude results in actions like President Trump’s attempt to overturn the ban on big-game trophies. And it’s the kind of thinking that’s led to our current ecological crisis.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Europe’s New Nationalists
Admirers of Renaud Camus, such as the European nationalists described in Thomas Chatterton Williams’s article on the French far right, may think that they have found an idol in Vladimir Putin, or a model in post-Soviet republics, but they overlook Central Asia’s long history of diversity (“You Will Not Replace Us,” December 4th). Russia is far from ethnically homogeneous; throughout history, hundreds of ethnic groups have lived there. Some post-Soviet republics have strong ethnic identities, but this is largely due to an aggressive campaign in the nineteen-twenties and thirties to create separate republics within the Soviet Union, each based on a singular ethnicity. This campaign, called korenizatsiya, involved standardizing languages, establishing new educational programs, and drawing new borders. But to create an unchanging version of a culture that neatly fits into a political border is to discount parts of the narrative. The fluid nature of culture, ethnicity, and politics evades orderly classification. France is not exempt from this reality. Even without taking into account the effects of migration, any efforts to simplify a culture to a single entity are going to be at best incomplete and at worst seriously damaging.
Camus laments that “the great replacement is very simple. You have one people, and in the space of a generation you have a different people.” In doing so, he laments the essential human condition since we first walked upright, developed language, and, as a people, spread across the face of the earth. Yes, it is true that every generation replaces the previous one. That is the way of the world. Each generation necessarily reinvents its culture, history, and sense of community. The people of my generation are not the people of my parents’ time. Camus, and all of us, will most certainly be replaced. Plus ça change.
Richard W. Poeton
Fight the Power
The concept of a “community policeman,” which Alexis Okeowo describes in her piece on a Mexican town that created a citizens’ police force to fight drug crime, is unusual in the West, but such groups are a last resort for many people in countries where the rule of law is lacking (“The People’s Police,” November 27th). In my home country, Indonesia, many towns organize their own groups of citizen police, like the watchmen who make rounds from nightfall until dawn. They are typically members of the community who are assigned shifts on a daily or weekly basis. It’s not an ideal system, but, in remote places where resources for law enforcement are absent, such measures are crucial.
Budi Akmal Djafar
New York City
The money that can be made in the illegal drug trade in other countries drives corruption on a level that is unimaginable in the United States. The national conversation on opioid abuse often ignores the devastating effects this epidemic has on the places that provide those drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, deaths from heroin overdoses in the U.S. have sharply increased since 2011. But our own public-health crisis continues to fuel a crisis in Mexico that is orders of magnitude worse.
Los Angeles, Calif.
In his piece on the recent push to remove Confederate monuments in Richmond, Virginia, Benjamin Wallace-Wells describes both pro-monument and anti-monument activists (“Battle Scars,” December 4th). But there is a middle ground: Richmond could create a National Slave Memorial. A proposal for a slave memorial has been languishing in Congress since 2003, and, if legislators ever advance it, the most popular idea seems to be to place the memorial on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. That would be a mistake. Just as Germany’s Holocaust Memorial is in Berlin, so must America’s recognition of its own despicable chapter in history be placed in a former capital of the Confederacy. The creation of a National Slave Memorial in Richmond could justify the preservation of these monuments by rendering them components within a wider historic context. Turn Richmond’s Monument Avenue into a two-mile-long outdoor museum of American self-examination and redress. If well conceived, such a site would convey an aesthetic meaning precisely opposite to the monuments’ original intent. Rather than symbolizing racist defiance, they would stand for the defiance of racism.
New York City
via New Yorker http://bit.ly/2v93nIt
December 11, 2017 at 02:07AM