Tim: ‘Got no problem with a rant against the greed that seems to rule the world. I was an auditor for most of my career and know full well about people whose greed allows them incredible blindness to moral and ethical behavior . . . IBM, Ford, whoever. Then, suddenly, bang, you hit me with Jay Leno and Republicans. What’s the connection to Hitler here? Wouldn’t it have been just a little bit closer to connect that old Democratic Bootlegger, Joe Kennedy, to such a tale (which by the way I don’t think would be appropriate either)? After all, if I recall my history correctly, he was a firm advocate of certain fascist views when he was ambassador to the Court of St. James. Andy, everything evil is need not be tied, however tenuously, to your hated Republicans.’

☞ I don’t remotely hate Republicans, Tim, and I’m sure Jay Leno doesn’t, either. The point is simply that in setting arsenic standards or salmonella inspections or air conditioner-efficiency standards, etc. etc., we really can’t be sure industry executives and their lobbyists will put the public interest first. Even the tobacco industry – so American you’ll find its leaves on the dollar bill – may not always have been forthright in its statements about life-and-death issues. So we really probably do want to be a little concerned about some of this stuff, and not leave it all up to industry, unfettered by government regulation.

Yes, I believe the election was stolen in Florida, and that the facts will bear that out – and see no reason why this can’t be a legitimate topic for discussion. It involves no hatred. I also find it dismaying that the President is acting as if he had a strong mandate to move the country sharply to the right – because I don’t believe he does. It saddens me to see the Korean peace process shut down, hundreds of thousands of college students denied financial aid, funding for alternative energy cut back, the global gag rule reimposed – or the nation’s first priority set as massive tax relief for those already doing so much better than everyone else.

But despite these disagreements, I have tons of friends who are Republicans – albeit mostly more moderate than the President or Trent Lott or Tom DeLay or Antonin Scalia. Indeed, even the Republican leadership must hold out some hope for me, as just last week I got a letter from ‘the Republican Leadership of the United States Senate’ conveying its ‘pleasure to inform [me] that at a recent meeting of the Republican Senate leadership, [my] name was selected to receive an invitation to serve in the exclusive Republican Senatorial Inner Circle.’

Jack Kouloheris: ‘You might take a look at what respected Holocaust scholars at various Universities have to say about the scholarship of IBM and the Holocaust. While I am in agreement with the general tone of your editorial, there is a danger in overpromoting someone who serious Holocaust scholars view as making sensational claims without following them up with the proper diligence. Also, see the reviews by Gabriel Schoenfeld in the New York Times [It concludes: ‘. . . there is room for a serious study of IBM’s complicated and by no means innocent relationship with Nazi Germany. This book, however, is not that study.’ – A.T.] . . . and by Richard Bernstein, also of the Times. Disclaimer – I do work for IBM. However, were I convinced this was an evil organization, I would leave at once. Noncooperation with evil is a moral necessity.’

☞ Thanks, Jack. I don’t think I implied that IBM is an evil organization now, or even that it was evil then – just amoral. The Bernstein review you cited says it was clear as early as 1933 that the Nazis were bad guys. Had you been running IBM in the Thirties, you might well have opted for noncooperation, although it would have cost IBM dearly. And therein lay the dilemma.

 

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