Trump’s ‘Magical Powers’ of Declassification

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  • Censorship, From the Right and the Left
  • Republicans on Gay Marriage
  • Localize Development Aid
  • Art About Abortion

No credible evidence has emerged to support former President Donald J. Trump’s claim that he had a standing order to declassify everything he took from the Oval Office.Credit…Hannah Beier for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Court Lifts Hold on Sensitive Files at Trump’s Estate” (front page, Sept. 22):

Perhaps we made a mistake not electing Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He just revealed that he could declassify top-secret documents by just “thinking about it.”

Just imagine all that could have been accomplished by having Mr. Trump just think about ending the war in Ukraine, stopping climate change or taming inflation by using his magical powers.

We have a word to describe his beliefs: delusional.

Richard S. Emrich
Plymouth, Mich.

To the Editor:

Donald Trump claims that as president he declassified hundreds of documents by thinking about it. Perhaps unbeknown to him, President Biden has reclassified all those documents the same way.

Michael Katten
El Cerrito, Calif.

To the Editor:

I don’t get it. All the talk about whether the papers that Donald Trump transferred from the White House to Mar-a-Lago were declassified or not is surely beside the point. He should not have taken any papers with him; they belong in the government archives. Period.

Anne N. Thomas
Basking Ridge, N.J.

To the Editor:

The 11th Circuit’s decision reversing Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s ruling that the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago could not be reviewed by the Justice Department was a victory not only for the Justice Department but also for the federal courts.

The fact that two of the judges on the appellate panel had been appointed by President Donald Trump, like the tough questions posed by the special master, Judge Raymond J. Dearie, to Mr. Trump’s lawyers, belie the claims of cynics that federal judges are just politicians whose opinions will be influenced by their loyalty to the party of the president who appointed them.

John S. Martin
Fort Myers, Fla.
The writer is a retired federal judge.

Censorship, From the Right and the Left

Credit…Illustration by Rebecca Chew/The New York Times; photographs by chictype and Sezeryadigar, via Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Censorship Is the Refuge of the Weak” (editorial, Sept. 11):

You acknowledge that “political factions on both the left and the right” are pursuing censorship, but conclude that “only right-wing legislators are currently writing censorship into law.”

I condemn outright censorship and other less obvious attempts to limit speech and thought. But I fear that the left’s speech control is more pervasive, less easy to defeat and (so far) has been more successful in smothering free expression:

  • Which list would be longer: a list of conservative speakers banned, disinvited or shouted down on college campuses, or a list of liberal speakers?

  • Has the right been more successful in banning ideological opponents from prominent social media platforms, or has the left?

  • There are strident views expressed from the left that using the “wrong” pronouns is “hate speech” and “incites violence.”

  • Movies can’t be considered for the Oscars’ recognition of excellence starting in 2024 unless they “meet diversity standards covering race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability.”

  • And the scariest and potentially most damaging is the notion (from the left) that censoring misinformation and disinformation is not only necessary but also a service to the country.

I fear for free speech in our country, as I know many do. But straightforward attempts at book banning from the right are much more easily countered than the insidious, strident and smothering actions by the left.

Jeff Lynn
Burlington, N.C.

To the Editor:

There is a relatively simple cure to conservatives’ attempts to censor the types of literature that children read. People interested in encouraging students to explore banned books should publicize the specific names of authors and texts that are prohibited.

Students will creatively seek ways to circumvent censorship, and the unintended consequence of the strictures will likely be to popularize these books.

Pat Mattimore
Pattaya, Thailand

Republicans on Gay Marriage

Credit…Michael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock

To the Editor:

Re “Angering Some in Party, Democrats Delay Senate Vote on Gay Marriage” (news article, Sept. 16):

We’ve just learned that Democrats think that fewer than 10 Republican senators are ready to stand up for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would ensure the recognition of marriages of L.G.B.T. people and interracial couples across state lines.

Postponing a vote on this legislation would only obscure the character — or lack thereof — of candidates running for office. Voters should have a clear appreciation of how their prospective representatives will stand on this issue before the next election, not after. Those looking to put off the vote on this legislation are merely seeking to mask that critical information, and they shouldn’t be permitted to get away with that.

Ira Kawaller

Localize Development Aid

To the Editor:

Re “The Global Order Isn’t Working. It’s Time for Something Different,” by Darren Walker (Opinion guest essay, Sept. 20):

I echo Mr. Walker’s urgent call to localize development aid. In no other industry would we accept spending so much to achieve so little as we do with development aid.

Research we are conducting with Duke University has shown that the key to successful and sustainable development projects is that they are built on local ideas and leadership, and that the leadership has strong bonds of trust with the community.

In these circumstances development funds do not go astray and are not misused, and they support projects that are sustainable and answer to the priorities of the people most affected.

Donors seeking more success in localizing aid should not only listen more to Global South leaders but also actively seek to build trusting relationships with Global South partners that are strengthened through continued investment, growth and mutual support.

Pamela Nathenson
The writer is executive director of World Connect, a nonprofit that funds local leaders in emerging economies to advance development.

Art About Abortion

To the Editor:

While I was encouraged to read Deborah Solomon’s article “Abortion Art Inches Along Toward Acceptance” (Critic’s Notebook, Sept. 12), she did not mention a significant show, “Abortion,” that I curated in 2018 at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn.

Seventy-one artists from the United States and abroad participated; the work included paintings, drawings, video, sculpture, photography and performance. A full-color catalog accompanied the exhibition, and volunteers read aloud abortion stories that women contributed during the show’s run.

While the artists as a group may not have represented “the establishment,” quite a few of the names would be familiar to those in the art world. It was a true and wonderful mixed bag.

Yes, artists have indeed carefully explored the subject of abortion and made intense, compelling work about it.

Barbara Zucker
Burlington, Vt.

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