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In France, a Victory and a Warning

More from our inbox: Church Support of the ‘Big Lie’When Tragedy Strikes, Grandma and Grandpa Are ThereReturning to AustraliaRussian …

In France, a Victory and a Warning
25.04.2022 22:54
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More from our inbox:

  • Church Support of the ‘Big Lie’
  • When Tragedy Strikes, Grandma and Grandpa Are There
  • Returning to Australia
  • Russian Disinformation, Then and Now
  • Handwritten Archives, to Capture History
In France, A Victory And A Warning

Campaign posters featuring Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, in the French town of Roye, where two out of three voters backed Ms. Le Pen.Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “In France, Macron Defeats Le Pen for Presidency” (front page, April 25):

That the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen came as close as she did to defeating Emmanuel Macron in France is further confirmation that extremists are successfully normalizing autocrat-friendly nationalist messaging.

Ms. Le Pen, a longtime sympathizer of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, said in her concession speech, “The ideas we stand for are reaching new heights,” Le Monde reported.

As chilling as that sounds, she’s correct, and the world should pay closer attention. But for now, those in the West who embrace free thinking, democracy and even just a scintilla of globalism can breathe a very brief sigh of relief.

Cody Lyon
Brooklyn

To the Editor:

My dear French friends, you may have won a battle by re-electing Emmanuel Macron, but you are losing the war. So long as the reach of the bigoted right wing grows, France is losing.

When in the midst of a gunfight, and with the other side getting stronger, dodging one bullet is no reason to celebrate.

Peter Maille
La Grande, Ore.

To the Editor:

Has anyone noticed that Marine Le Pen, the loser, has actually accepted the results of the election and conceded? What a novel idea!

And Vive la France!

Irene Bernstein-Pechmèze
Queens

To the Editor:

I recall an earlier election when another Le Pen made it to the second round. In 2002, Marine’s father, Jean-Marie, was crushed 82 percent to 18 percent by the conservative Jacques Chirac. Leftist voters did their republican duty, voting against those who would put an end to democracy itself.

The French do not like Emmanuel Macron. But they remember fascism. Perhaps if Americans had such memories, they would better defend the democracy that they are losing, bit by bit, every day.

Bob Nelson
Yuma, Ariz.

Church Support of the ‘Big Lie’

Credit…Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Stolen-Election Falsehood Goes to Church” (front page, April 25):

You report that some evangelical pastors are hosting events dedicated to Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen and promoting the cause to their congregations.

To the extent that such a charge is true, do these churches still retain any semblance of a religious exemption from federal and state taxes, which prohibits political campaign activity? Just wondering.

Michael Peskoe
Miami Beach

To the Editor:

How do church leaders who preach from the new King James Version of the Bible — “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” John 8:32 — perpetuate a lie?

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Harriet Vines
Chapel Hill, N.C.

To the Editor:

Of all the scary articles in The Times about Ukraine, Russia, wildfires, climate change, Marine Le Pen, Ron DeSantis and more, I found the one about evangelical pastors by far the scariest.

Ellen Schaffer
Palm Coast, Fla.

When Tragedy Strikes, Grandma and Grandpa Are There

Mia Scala, 6, hugs her grandfather Angelo Conti, 74, while waiting for a Girl Scouts meeting to start.Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

To the Editor:

“When Parents Are Lost to Covid, Grandparents Step In,” by Paula Span (news article, April 14), not only recognizes the role that grandparents are playing in the wake of Covid, it also acknowledges that “extended family has always been the first line of defense in the wake of such tragedies.”

For my book on the history of American grandmothers, many of the 75 women I interviewed told about a 1950s grandmother who stepped up — took the grandchildren into her home or went to live in the grandchild’s home — when things fell apart because of parents’ death, divorce or illness.

None of the grandmothers had anticipated this refilling of their empty nests, all of them struggled with the responsibility, and all of their granddaughters-turned-grandmothers now look back with awe at what their grandmothers did for them.

One notable change from then to now: Grandfathers in the 1950s were not active in their care the way older men are today, another example of how feminism has improved family life.

Engagement with grandchildren is not just a delightful extra in family life, it is also a serious form of insurance. Should a tragedy mean that grandchildren must live with grandparents, that painful transition is eased if the elders and the kids have experience with one another aside from holidays and have built trust over time.

No grandparent wants the custodial job, but every grandparent should consider time with grandchildren as an investment in their security.

Victoria Bissell Brown
Havertown, Pa.
The writer, a retired professor of American history at Grinnell College, is working on a book titled “The Nana Project.”

Returning to Australia

Families reuniting at the Sydney International Airport.

To the Editor:

Re “A Post-Lockout Reunion of Yearning and Dread,” by Isabella Kwai(Sydney Dispatch, April 10):

The last time I had been home to Australia to see my entire family was in May 2019. At one point, over Zoom, my sister told me that it was as if I had flown to the moon and never returned.

The plane home in January was completely full of anxious expats and earnest American grandparents eager to see newly minted Aussie grandbabies. All the arrival hugs were tighter and longer than they had ever been. The smiles were wider and the welcomes longer — even from the custom officials! And maybe the accents were even broader!

And … yes … if I could have bottled the dawn laughter from the troop of cheeky kookaburras camped outside my Brisbane window just days before I returned to the U.S., I would have.

Patricia Ryan
West Lafayette, Ind.

Russian Disinformation, Then and Now

To the Editor:

The state-sponsored disinformation spread to the Russian people is an old game. In the 1930s my father traveled to Russia. As was required, he had an Intourist guide with him at all times. As they became more friendly, she started to ask him about life in the U.S.

“You live in New York,” she said. “Tell me about the skyscrapers that fall down.” He could not convince her that such things were not happening. She told him that all Russians knew about the frequently falling skyscrapers and was disappointed that he couldn’t be more candid with her about it.

The acceptance of such nonsense appears to be embedded by a long history, though the current pernicious version is surprising in an era of greater access to outside information.

Ty Dillard
Santa Fe, N.M.

Handwritten Archives, to Capture History

To the Editor:

Re “Preserving a Couple’s ’60s Insights,” by Douglas Brinkley (Arts pages, April 19):

Doris Kearns Goodwin sums up the special role of archives in the last lines of this excellent and informative article:

“Oh, how I love old handwritten letters and diaries. I feel as if I’m looking over the shoulder of the writer. History comes alive!”

How sad that in today’s world of computers and “no paper,” the progression from draft to final speech or report will no longer exist in many cases. The “delete” key has replaced crossing out, rewriting by hand and literally cutting and pasting.

Some of us fear that using only the computer means that there will be no file of marked-up notes or previous drafts for historians to see and then give us that looking-over-the-shoulder feeling. That will keep history from coming alive.

Sally Dorst
New York
The writer is a retired magazine editor.

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