On the March issue:

The Regulation Game

To the Editor:
Thank you for Adam J. White’s insightful and engaging article on Lina Khan (“The Power Broke Her,” March). In the nuclear-power industry, we say that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  and others often play a game we call “Bring Me a Rock.”

The game is played like this. The NRC has a new technical concern or political hot button and demands a response: “Bring me a rock.” We in the industry think about it for a while and offer a response that we think will refute or address the concern. Upon reviewing our submittal, the regulator will reply, “No, not that rock!  Bring me another rock.”

Now the technological development of an advanced technology and everyone’s aspiration for safer nuclear reactors admittedly requires creative thinking on the part of the industry at times.  Yet we all know the game and know how it is played. And it always increases the cost of electricity from nuclear power.
Joseph Somsel
Abu Dhabi, UAE

To the Editor:
Adam J. White’s analysis of Lina Khan was incredibly useful and informative. I stopped practicing law 25 years ago to join the federal government in a different capacity. White’s article and Khan’s history illustrates why we will always have to deal with a hard-core progressive bent coming from within and without the ranks of government.

Khan is very intelligent. But being super smart is not that impres-sive. In a nation of 340 million people, the top 1 percent of us are 3.4 million. Khan had no executive experience, had never led anything, had never solved any problems beyond how to get through finals week at law school or how to find herself a place to live and have the utilities turned on.  Now she runs a commission with more than 2,000 employees and the power to make the world’s largest businesses think twice, even three times, before acting (or not acting).  

These judgments require wisdom, restraint, and a healthy self-doubt about whether one can declare what’s best for 340 million Americans.  If that’s not the realm of hubris, hubris does not exist.
Galen McBride
Vienna, Virginia

On the ‘AsAJew’

To the Editor:
Eli Lake’s article was extremely enlightening (“A Brief History of the ‘AsAJew,’” March). I have listened to some of what Norman Finklestein has said since the Hamas massacre, and it’s clear that he is untrustworthy on every level.

I think you can abstract this “AsAJew” concept to a higher rung on the ladder: It’s the “AsAMember” rung.  Fox News does it when they find a liberal who now will speak out against the excesses of the left. And CNN and MSNBC are replete with AsARepublicans. AsAChristians are out there as well. They’re all playing a cheap, but often well-paying, trick of being a traitor. Making your living by selling out your family is the mark of a failed human being.
Mark Jordan
Goshen, Indiana

To the Editor:
I welcomed and appreciated Eli Lake’s piece on the “AsAJew” in the March 2024 issue. It reminded me, and perhaps others, of the common, analogous personage, who features regularly in media coverage: “IWasRaisedCatholic.”
Richard Garnett
South Bend, Indiana

Israeli Hostages

To the Editor:
As Seth Mandel makes clear in his article on Israeli hostage policy, there is no secret about what anti-Zionism actually means (“What Price Is Too High?” March). It means the blunt anti-Semitism that we are seeing play out on the world stage. Those who hated us still do, and they now simply feel more politically protected saying so now.

No matter the protestations of anti-Semites, Jews are not responsible morally for the horror that Hamas does, so long as Israel does everything it can to protect Israeli civilians and nothing intentionally to incite the killing of the hostages. Jews cannot use the hostages’ death to win a political victory, but they need not allow Hamas to kill more civilians to protect the hostages. Tikkun olam does not entail suicide or murder or the intentional sacrifice of civilians. It also does not require Jews to kill themselves to force others to do what is right.

Jews must accept the tragic. Hamas is evil and perpetrates evil. Consequently, we have to recognize our moral duty to save the whole body even if that means parting tragically with those who cannot be saved at an acceptable cost to that body. Hamas seeks to kill our children and our soldiers, but we would be immoral if we were to give Hamas more Jews as a means of rescuing those already beyond saving. It says in Leviticus 18:12: “And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to set them apart to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.”

It is halachically permissible to kill someone if the goal is to protect yourself or your family and not to kill that person. A surgeon is allowed to amputate a limb because the intent is to save a life, and the severed limb is an unavoidable way to accomplish the intended morally just goal.  This applies to all forms of doing harm: The intent must never be the harm but the good, and there must be no other way to do that good.
James Carmine
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

To the Editor:
In his article “What Price Is Too High?” Seth Mandel lays out the “conundrum,” or the “irreconcilable dilemma” that Israel faces in regard to rescuing its hostages. The truth is that all civilized nations may one day have to face this terrible burden. As Mandel notes, we ask our leaders to do everything to rescue their citizens but also to do everything to safeguard the nation they lead. When any civilized country fights a savage enemy, the day may come when hostages must be regarded as casualties of enemy action because the price demanded for their release cannot be paid.
J.P. Green
Lincoln, Nebraska

Seth Mandel writes:
There are many Israelis who agree with James Carmine’s ultimate assessment here, and this opinion is not limited to the hawkish Israeli right. The most common critique, across the ideological spectrum in Israel, is that Israel’s approach to hostages is the one area in which its military decisions aren’t determined by cold hard calculation. In fact, the problem defies calculation. That also makes it more difficult to predict how a hostage crisis will be resolved. Ehud Olmert walked away from a deal that was slightly less lopsided than the one Benjamin Netanyahu ultimately agreed to. The incentives in each case would have predicted the opposite—the hostage was taken on Olmert’s watch, and Olmert was an unpopular premier by the time he left office, so he had reason to make his last act something people would remember in a more positive light. Netanyahu, on the other hand, had for a long time opposed such deals. In fact, Bibi might have agreed with every word of Mr. Carmine’s letter despite making the opposite decision in the event. J.P. Green makes a similar point, and I think he gets at what is so difficult about this dilemma: It’s very tempting to keep putting off that determination by one day, which only makes it harder to eventually draw that line.

Milei at the Wall

To the Editor:
Meir Y. Soloveichik notes in his column on Javier Milei’s visit to Israel (“Do Cry for Me, Argentina,” March) that King Solomon called for “heaven…[to] do according to all that the Gentile calleth to thee for.” Well, within a week of Milei’s prayer at the Western Wall, two Argentinian hostages were freed in a daring IDF operation. It appears, perhaps, that G-d agrees with Rabbi Soloveichik’s assessment of Javier Milei.
Joshua Blustein
Chicago, Illinois

To the Editor:
Meir Soloveichik’s article about Javier Milei was brilliantly written. Thank you for focusing your attention on a Gentile who is capable of such deep empathy for our people and realizing what the Wall and Jerusalem mean to us.
Charlotte Katz
Hillcrest, New York

Journalism in Free Fall

To the Editor:
Regarding Christine Rosen’s excellent column on the current status of journalism (“Don’t Blame Us. We’re Journalists,” March), the operative word in her article is “mainstream,” as in mainstream media. Many smaller venues are doing just fine and thriving. One example is Bari Weiss’s Free Press. It has, in just a few short years, gone from nothing to a highly admired daily with more than a half-million subscribers, and it employs a large and growing staff. This just goes to show that quality and honesty still count somewhere.
Robert Friedman
Teaneck, New Jersey

To the Editor:
I enjoyed the critique of the “downward spiral” of journalism by Christine Rosen. One is certainly hard-pressed today to find any sort of unbiased news coverage. As Rosen notes, it all comes down to trust. Vietnam changed much in America, including trust in journalism. Walter Cronkite was labeled “the most trusted man in America,” and he offered a definition of sorts for that trust: “The ethic of the journalist is to recognize one’s prejudices, biases,” he said, “and avoid getting them into print.” His newscasts in the late 1960s, however, which included opinions on Vietnam and the 1968 Democratic National Convention, likely started the erosion of trust. I suspect that much of the guiding ethics in journalism today is dominated by DEI-type thinking.
Thomas J. Straka
Pendleton, South Carolina

To the Editor:
I thoroughly enjoyed Christine Rosen’s article about journalists. Most satisfying was the revelation of their unintentionally hilarious prescriptions for saving it. Perhaps there’s a similar article to be written about teachers and what they think would save public education. It might very well uncover a series of equally amusing answers.
Michele Schiesser
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Christine Rosen writes:
Robert Friedman is correct to note one reason for optimism in journalism as it exists outside mainstream media, including the Free Press. Also notable are the journalists who have created communities of readers on platforms such as Substack. These independent voices are crucial components of a healthy media environment; let’s hope more join their ranks. 

Thomas J. Straka’s mention of the Vietnam era is a welcome reminder that the challenge of preventing bias in journalism is long-standing. Today, as he notes, much of the profession has been overtaken by people with a desire  to be not reporters but activists for causes—and given the ideological bias of many mainstream journalists, that almost always means left-wing causes. This is how the profession devolved from seeking the truth to promulgating “my truth,” and why trust in so many media institutions has declined so precipitously.

I am grateful that Michele Schiesser enjoyed the journalists’ own prescriptions for saving their profession. Her suggestion to investigate what teachers might propose to reform their own profession would likely yield equally bizarre results. Both journalism and education would benefit from focusing less on theory (and ideology) and more on the cultivation of professional, principled study of the basics.

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