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Letters to the Editor: Edgar Allen Poe warned us of the tragedy of a Trump presidency

Trump removes his mask
President Trump, having recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 and released from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, removes his mask before entering the White House on Oct. 5.
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

To the editor: David Ulin’s op-ed article “A tell-tale Edgar Allan Poe story for Trumpian times” resonates because it is painfully appropriate for our current circumstances, and because it evokes memories of one part of my teaching career.

“The Masque of the Red Death” was one of Edgar Allan Poe’s pieces that my students and I studied together in the high school American literature course I taught. We explored Prospero’s and his courtiers’ character flaws and sought to extract their meaning for us as readers. In today’s world, the comparison to President Trump is unavoidably apt in its reflection of a “ruler” steeped in arrogance and woefully disinterested in the suffering of “his” people.

But most affecting is this statement by Ulin: “The president literally got what’s coming to him. That’s too easy.” For me it’s an ongoing struggle to refrain from sinking to that level — Trump’s level — so I take comfort in completing and delivering my ballot and in the ever more difficult effort of remaining optimistic that the twin scourges of this administration and COVID-19 will pass.

Unfortunately, though, to Ulin’s question of whether it’s too much to ask for a direct and precise statement addressing the pandemic, the answer is this: With this president, it’s way too much to ask.

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Judith Powell, Long Beach

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To the editor: Like Prince Prospero, Trump’s fall will be because of his own hubris. When all you truly care about is yourself, you are incapable of dealing with any crisis affecting others.

Prospero says, “The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.” Sound familiar? Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

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In Prospero’s white castle, there were seven rooms, with one bathed in blue and one in red. Death entered through the red room, and all those who were protecting only themselves, including ballet dancers and buffoons, found that there was no escaping the Red Death.

The ebony clock has struck, and the arrogant wagers of denial will fall.

Jeff Rack, Altadena

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To the editor: In Tom Stoppard’s masterful reconception of “Hamlet,” the two bit players Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find themselves sailing off to their own executions after a series of plot twists. Only when they had passed the point of no return do they see they could have stopped the inexorable path to their demise: “There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said — no. But somehow we missed it.”

We Americans are the modern-day heirs to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. We have witnessed this lawless president, enabled by a lawless political party, hollowing out and corrupting our government. The Democrats’ two weak articles of impeachment were the equivalent of charging Bonnie and Clyde with reckless driving.

Trump’s towering high crimes and misdemeanors include taking migrant children from their parents, bypassing Congress and grabbing funds designated for national security purposes to build his fanciful border wall, violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, demonizing the media and brutalizing peaceful protesters in Washington so he could have his Bible photo op.

And then, of course, there is COVID-19.

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So here we are, pleading with Trump to say he would accept the election results if he loses, which of course he refuses to do, as he did in 2016, without consequence.

“There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said — no. But somehow we missed it.” Will we miss it again?

Mark Brodin, Newton, Mass.

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To the editor: What don’t some people get about wearing masks? They say it should be a “personal choice” and that being forced to wear one is an infringement on individual liberties.

OK, then the same logic applies to driving while intoxicated. If I want to do it, that’s a personal choice. The government should not be allowed to take away that liberty.

Guess what happened when drunk driving laws became strict? Rates of auto accidents and death plummeted. When people prove they are unwilling to do the right thing on their own, that’s when legislation regulating behavior becomes necessary.

Brian Gotta, San Diego


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