Opinion | Is a Higher Birthrate Desirable?

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To the Editor:

Re “Why the U.S. Needs the Romney Family Plan” (column, Feb. 7):

Ross Douthat asserts that a fundamental goal of society is to reproduce itself, and hence that more babies are needed. I would assert that a much more important goal is preservation over the long term of the foundations that will permit sustained human society.

Our planet provides myriad ecosystem services to humanity and to the geobiosphere that supports us. If we persist in limiting ourselves to short-term, single-generational goals — maximizing our economic growth and continuing population increase — future generations are likely to suffer vastly greater declines than we can now barely imagine.

We humans are not good at maintaining such disparate contexts in our thinking. The many generations to come will surely judge us, marveling at our folly as they struggle to sustain what remains.

David Nygren
Arlington, Tex.
The writer is a professor of physics at the University of Texas at Arlington.

To the Editor:

Ross Douthat makes the excellent point that the declining U.S. birthrate may lead to “stagnation, loneliness, alienation.” But there is another serious consequence.

Our declining birthrate, if unchecked, will lead to a subsequent declining population, and therefore a declining economy. Population growth in a country as large as ours is the engine of a healthy economy, which requires workers, entrepreneurs and consumers.

For much of our history, America has supplemented its natural birthrate by welcoming immigrants; their ingenuity, drive and work ethic have fueled our national success. With a declining birthrate, we need them more than ever.

Susan Berg
Port Jefferson, N.Y.

Marine Vets in the Capitol Mob

To the Editor:

Re “Arrested in Capitol Riot: Organized Militants and a Mob of Radicals” (front page, Feb. 6):

About 30 percent of those people arrested in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol pictured on the front page are identified as Marine Corps veterans. These are people who tried to overturn a free and fair election and undermine our democracy.

Perhaps it’s time to review what values and skills are really being inculcated in the Marine Corps. Judging from the behavior of these individuals, the core values of Honor, Courage, Commitment are not being stressed or have been grossly distorted.

Nina Louise Frankel
San Francisco

How the French See Cancel Culture

To the Editor:

In “In Simmering Race and Gender Struggle, France Blames U.S. Ideas” (news article, Feb. 10), you write about attacks by French intellectuals on American universities, and you suggest that those attacks are led by “aging white male intellectuals.” In fact, there are more than a hundred women in our groups, the Manifeste des Cent and the Observatoire du Décolonialisme.

Canceling people by playing the race card and the age card and the gender card is a triple combo of bigotry: racist, sexist and discriminatory. We reject identity politics and communitarianism, as they reduce social debates to expressing mere identity postures, downgrading individuals to atoms standing for their communities and drowning ideas and values into an indistinct rumble.

Such a mentality is radically opposed to the universalist and democratic tradition embodied by the French conception of national belonging and citizenship. American intellectuals, too, have stressed how the bigotry of identity is plaguing academia and the world of culture.

So it’s not just a few old white Frenchmen who see the cancel culture ideology as a danger; it’s the legitimate concern of true democrats around the world.

Nathalie Heinich
Pierre-André Taguieff
Ms. Heinich is senior researcher in sociology at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris. Mr. Taguieff is senior researcher in the history of ideas at the center.

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