Justice Gorsuch: Wear a Mask, or Stay in Your Chambers

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  • How Best to Ease the Crisis in Afghanistan
  • Toxic Masculinity

  Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

To the Editor:

David Leonhardt (The Morning, Jan. 16) correctly describes Justice Neil Gorsuch’s lack of a mask in the Supreme Court hearing on vaccine mandates as “risky and disdainful of his colleagues.” As Mr. Leonhardt notes, the court asked that all reporters and lawyers appearing in the courtroom wear medical masks.

Justice Gorsuch’s action is also a public display of bias: He was wearing his opinion on his sleeve. His maskless appearance at a hearing about mandates — in this case vaccines, but similar issues have arisen around mask mandates — disrespects the notion of impartial justice. By his action, Justice Gorsuch advertised that he was unwilling to listen to other views, in which case he should have disqualified himself from sitting in judgment on a case involving mandates.

At the very least, he should have been the one to stay in chambers and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who participated remotely because of her diabetes, should have had the option of appearing in person at the hearing.

Julian L. Seifter
Wellesley, Mass.
The writer is a nephrologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

To the Editor:

I am disappointed in Justice Neil Gorsuch. While I don’t agree with how he was placed on the court or with his conservative ideology, I had previously considered him a man of integrity. That belief has been challenged by his apparent disregard for the feelings of his work family.

Justice Gorsuch should wear a medical mask at work out of kindness and respect for his colleagues.

Katharine H. McVeigh
New York

How Best to Ease the Crisis in Afghanistan

   Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The U.S. Must Work With the Taliban,” by Laurel Miller (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 12):

Ms. Miller presents U.S. foreign policy as either “allow the collapse” of Afghanistan or “work with the Taliban,” and advocates the latter. She perpetuates the myth that these are the only two choices we have.

That is not true. What the U.S. needs is a more nuanced foreign policy. Such a policy would hit the Taliban leaders where it hurts most, including putting on Interpol’s list known drug lords and terrorists among the Taliban’s leadership and freezing their personal bank accounts overseas. It would also work closely with our allies and international organizations to deliver much-needed humanitarian and development aid to Afghanistan.

It is the perpetuation of this irresponsible myth in D.C. policy circles that will give away the little leverage that the U.S. has left and seal the fate of 20 years of American investments in Afghanistan.

Rani D. Mullen
Chevy Chase, Md.
The writer is an associate professor of government at William & Mary.

To the Editor:

Laurel Miller’s guest essay is a cogent, realpolitik assessment of the catastrophic situation in Afghanistan. It appeals for immediate U.S. economic assistance to ease the threats of starvation and chaos faced by the people of Afghanistan.

While Ms. Miller does not hold out much hope that the Taliban will engage in negotiations that might alter the fundamental tenets of their religious and political beliefs, it should be possible to obtain assurances on operational issues. American release of blocked funds and direct financial assistance should be leveraged to obtain Taliban agreement on full access of aid organizations to provide food and health care for all Afghans, as well as enforceable assurances that allow Afghans to obtain visas for travel.

The United States failed to obtain basic humanitarian agreements with the Taliban before its withdrawal in August 2021. It should not fail again.

Edward A. Friedman
Hoboken, N.J.
The writer was director of a U.S. Agency for International Development program to establish a college of engineering at Kabul University in Afghanistan.

To the Editor:

Laurel Miller’s plan to give money first and hope for the best later is counterproductive and self-defeating. She concedes that the Taliban will never hand over remnants of Al Qaeda. She also concedes that the Taliban will never treat women in keeping with Western values. Despite her moral pleas, her plan would harm the very people she seeks to help by removing all incentive for the Taliban to change.

At this point, the Taliban need only money. They own the land now. Economic pressure is the only remaining tool we have to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe harbor for terror. It also is the sole remaining tool for the emigration of our Afghan allies left behind.

We tried Ms. Miller’s solution for two decades. We printed money that went straight into the hands of corrupt politicians, drug traffickers and, unfortunately, the Taliban. Concession-first diplomacy did not and will not achieve American interests in Afghanistan.

Andrew Darlington
The writer is a Purple Heart recipient who served two deployments with the Marine Corps in Helmand Province.

Toxic Masculinity

 Credit…Derek Abella

To the Editor:

“Toxic Masculinity Has Taken an Insidious New Form,” by Alex McElroy(Opinion guest essay, Jan. 15), is important and persuasive as far as it goes. But as a psychiatrist who always views the past as important, I would add that to correct this toxic masculinity, we have to start with childhood.

Mothers have to reinforce vulnerability in their boys, and fathers have to model it. At school, teachers need to positively reinforce this desired change in boys as well as support more assertiveness in girls.

Cultural values are also important to address, especially those that overvalue the macho male. Once a better foundation is laid, carrying that into adulthood will be easier.

H. Steven Moffic

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