A Special Field for “Commentary”?
To the Editor:
I have read COMMENTARY with some regularity of late, and let me say that it seems to show steady improvement. In the August issue I liked the article by Lewis Corey, with whose views I am well acquainted. Grattan was good and Martin on Ehrenburg (I think I shall refer to the latter in something I am just now writing). But the most stimulating piece for me was Elliot E. Cohen’s “Letter to the Movie Makers.” This kind of examination of art, fiction, and propaganda in American efforts to control or destroy racism is a very important contribution; perhaps as a type it should be the hallmark of the magazine. Of course, such articles need to be done thoughtfully, as indeed Mr. Cohen’s was. Current mores and culture are matters which Americans are prone to treat too casually even when their heart is in the right place.
I must register at least one nay. I happen to be well acquainted with the opinions of Carl Dreher, who contributed the article on “Racism and America’s World Position.” He is brilliant and, I must say, sometimes a persuasive (though more often exasperating) writer. I didn’t see the point of this piece. For example, if he’s going to use the Soviet Union as a model or a standard to shoot toward, he ought at least to take notice of what meaning pan-Slavism may have for the ideas he here expresses. (If it doesn’t mean anything let him say that and try to get away with it; but not to say anything in such a piece is to trade on the ignorance of the reader or on the probability that he can’t read current Russian journalism.) Dreher, I must say, though some of his opinions of American life are engaging, seldom misses a chance to redress the balance against America.
But the issue as a whole is stimulating. And as a parting shot, let me compliment you on the excellence of your book reviews.
Chairman, Editorial Board
The Antioch Review
Yellow Springs, Ohio