An Inclusive Litany

5/23/01

Letter to the editor, the Boston Globe, May 22, 2001:
Critics should not accuse other nations of trying to "stack the 53-member commission with friends." Look within yourselves and at this once great nation. We've done nothing about land mines. Crime is rampant in our schools and on the streets. We are the most violent nation on Earth and most certainly do not deserve any seats on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

—Nancy Robie
Framingham

[Ed.: In addition to encouraging slavery, the government of Sudan, which won a seat on the commission at the same time the United States was voted off, has for many years engaged in a genocidal effort to forcibly convert and impose Islamic law on the Christian and animist south, resulting in an estimated two million people killed and five million displaced. In 1998 alone, more than 100,000 died from policies of deliberate starvation.]

Another letter from the next day:

In his letter to the editor (May 18) on the protesters at Harvard University, Richard Heck asks, "Did any president in the last century do more to eradicate poverty than Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Harvard BA, 1903)?" The answer to professor Heck's question is yes: Lyndon Baines Johnson (Southwest Texas State Teachers College BA, 1930).

—Daniel Breen
Somerville

[Ed.: A little-known historical fact: despite their undeniable political popularity, neither Roosevelt's New Deal nor Johnson's War on Poverty had much actual effect on poverty. Following a halting recovery from the deep well of 1932, the American economy dipped into another severe recession in 1938, the unemployment rate remaining flat up until the massive military buildup leading to World War II. Similarly, the percentage of people under the poverty line remained unchanged following implementation of Johnson's Great Society programs.]

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