Magazine | October 5, 2015, Issue


We Can Handle the Truth

Thanks to David Pryce-Jones for his article “The Truth-Teller” (September 7) about Robert Conquest, who exposed the atrocities of the Soviet Communists in the 20th century.

While studying for an advanced degree at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., I was required to take a course that focused on the ideologies of America’s adversaries.

We were assigned to read several books by Robert Conquest. The list of atrocities by Lenin, Stalin, and other Soviet leaders, which included the intentional starving of large groups of their own citizens, was at first hard to believe. I thought that Conquest had made up the numbers he reported, or at least exaggerated them. After cross-checking, I discovered that Conquest’s reports were accurate.

This experience made me realize that many Americans live in a Pollyanna-like world and do not realize the violent extremes to which totalitarian regimes will go to maintain their existence.

Bill Hestir

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), United States Marine Corps

Via e-mail

Nostalgie de la Boob

Reihan Salam (“The Naked City,” September 21) says that New Yorkers dislike seeing painted, bare-breasted women in Times Square because their “deeply held beliefs . . . have been badly undermined by a market-driven sexual culture, in which the symbols of intimate solidarity have been commodified and devalued.” Funny, I heard a guy say the exact same thing at the Pit Stop Bar in Greenpoint the other night.

More likely, though, what the desnudas undermine is New Yorkers’ belief in their own sophistication. Most of us are quite happy to direct tourists, with an air of easy familiarity, to cultural landmarks we’ve never visited ourselves, so it’s quite a comedown to be stopped every couple of blocks and asked, “Where are the naked women?”

We’ll miss them when they’re gone, though. As night follows day, the same New Yorkers who decry the “Disneyfication” of Times Square and long for the good old days when you could get mugged there, and who now say the desnudas are tacky and embarrassing, will call for their return when the entire area is turned into the world’s largest Chuck E. Cheese.

Mike Whitaker

Queens, N.Y.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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