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A movie poster for Gone with the Wind sits in a front yard of a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina in Chalmette, Louisiana, in St. Bernard Parish in 2005.

Lee Celano/Reuters

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Labour pains

Re The Pandemic Is Hurting Canada’s Working Mothers (Opinion, July 9): It is not new that women struggle to simultaneously pursue careers, raise children and maintain homes, and there remains an uneven division of unpaid labour for housework and care-giving. These problems have been amplified during the pandemic as children – and for some, aging parents as well – require 24/7 care at home. However, I believe it is a disservice to frame the problem as gender inequality in employment, because that does not recognize unpaid household labour as equivalent to paid employment.

Household labour is fundamental to our well-being as a society. So it is wrong to me that this work remains unpaid or often becomes a household expense, paid to institutions or individuals outside of a family when all the adults choose to work.

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It is unclear to me how the creation of social supports and programs would bring about better employment equality. It would seem to only mask and perpetuate gender inequality in household labour. All mothers are working mothers – the only difference is if our labour is considered paid or unpaid.

Irene Zeppieri Woodbridge, Ont.

This is our last dance

Re Under Pressure: Have We Arrived At Another Turning Point In American History? (Opinion, July 4): Contributor Jared Diamond urges his American countrymen to put aside their differences and restore his country’s greatness. The trajectory of its problems, however, will likely be heading downward for a long time before there is any recovery.

Mr. Diamond sees the richness of the United States as a strength. But wealth and the power it brings look to have been too tempting since this rich land was colonized mere centuries ago. Now, the rich and powerful are not going to stand by while their wealth and privileges are redistributed to all and sundry (even though there’s enough to go around).

Will the American people stand up and demand that their governments represent their interests? They haven’t so far – they seem too busy trying to get theirs.

Everybody has two index fingers. Expect a lot of finger-pointing for quite some time.

Richard Litke Stratford, Ont.

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I believe contributor Jared Diamond is in error when he states that “the U.S. enjoys permanent geographic advantages. It’s protected on two sides by wide oceans.” That advantage was more or less lost on June 13, 1944, when the first V-1 flying bomb landed on Grove Road in London.

Today, a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile could land on New York in minutes.

Paul Charlebois Mississauga, Ont.

People on the edge of the night

Re Peter Turchin Predicted Rising Inequality Would Spark Unrest In The West – But The Crisis Offers An Opportunity (Opinion, July 4): In 1972, when asked about the impact of the French Revolution, the late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai is reported to have said, “It is too early to say.” Although it was later discovered that he was actually referring to the 1968 protests in France rather than the events of 1789, the essence of his comment remains relevant and is a stark contrast to contributor Peter Turchin’s analysis.

Historians have been debating the origins of the French Revolution since it occurred. While Mr. Turchin’s work is clearly significant, I believe it is incredibly difficult to reduce history to clear factors that could be reproduced in a scientific fashion and which could allow for clear predictions. Historical events can never be neatly put in a test tube because of the many unseen factors affecting human behaviour. History is therefore often both an art and a science.

While Mr. Turchin is no doubt correct in his assumption that inequality does breed instability, it should not be determinative of an historical outcome.

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Suzette Blom Toronto, Ont.


Social unrest historically, as now, reflects not just income inequality but the perception that those with wealth are treated differently from those without it.

Donald Trump is not the only one who seems to be above the law. Your average Wall Street grifter escaped responsibility for the 2008 crash. Hollywood celebrities are not prosecuted for drug use, but a Black teenager with a joint goes to jail – or worse. Like aristocrats before the French Revolution, wealthy Americans can avoid substantial taxes.

Trump supporters in the Rust Belt in 2016 were not just angry over lost jobs, but reflected the belief that a corporate elite manipulated the economy against them. If the President is defeated later this year, those who succeed him will have to address not just the issue of income inequality, but of unequal treatment under the law.

Graham Taylor Professor emeritus of history, Trent University; Peterborough, Ont.

Give a damn

Re Gone With The Wind Is Terrible And Important, All At Once (Opinion, July 4): I believe the current condemnation of Gone with the Wind is a form of political correctness that dissolves our cultural heritage and flattens critical thinking. A form of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” We might as well throw out Shakespeare for The Merchant of Venice, Rudyard Kipling for The White Man’s Burden or Guy de Maupassant for Timbuctoo.

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Throughout my 84 years I have reread the greats and non-greats, coming away with a more informed picture of our cultural and social past. Unfortunately, it feels like the speed of the digital age has eliminated the empathy needed to reach a coherent conclusion about aspects of history.

Merlie Papadopoulos Montreal, QC


Columnist Elizabeth Renzetti believes in preserving Gone with the Wind despite its racist politics, as long as it is accompanied by an educational introduction. But I believe she is mistaken that the film, as art, is different from “racist” statues. The same argument should apply to both.

In Kingston, a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald stands on a high pedestal. Some want it removed due to his role in the creation of residential schools. Canada’s Indigenous people have suffered horrific pain and oppression. They have also demonstrated remarkable resilience and intelligence in the face of cultural genocide.

Instead of obliteration, let’s consider uplifting educational options, such as Indigenous artists creating adjacent installations that overpower the statue with messages of contemporary Indigenous strength and resilience. That should stimulate the conversation Ms. Renzetti calls for.

Mary Farrar Kingston, Ont.

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Lincoln link

Re Where Should We Look? (Letters, July 9): A letter-writer from Ontario learned in school that the definition of democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” I find myself wondering if he went to the same school as a friend of mine did in the 1960s (although, come to think of it, she went to school in Alberta).

Anyway, according to her, the title of her Canadian history textbook in Grade 12 was Our Neighbor to the North.

Hamar Foster Victoria, B.C.


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