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    Letters to the Editors

    Reparations mean social justice

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 13, 2002

    Re: Reparations would mute the dialogue on race, by Stephen Buckley, Oct. 6.

    How can Stephen Buckley hope to enter into a discourse with those promoting reparations if he holds the appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as evidence that African-Americans are faring better in this country? Has the writer never heard the term "flunky" or the now taboo "token?" Exactly how have these two people ameliorated conditions for the oppressed in America?

    Buckley uses statistics to his advantage, citing the increase in median income for blacks. He does not mention that in the past 30 years the number of blacks in prison has increased eightfold. He does not consider that the public school system in this country has reverted to the segregated system -- only now the inequality lies hidden in superficially desegregated magnet schools.

    Furthermore, if Mr. Buckley had done his homework by investigating the local organizations promoting reparations, he would have known that the movement calls for social and economic justice for all those who are oppressed, including Hispanics and women.
    -- Michelle Barron, Tampa

    Time to flex U.S. muscles

    Re: Graham: Expect retaliation, Oct. 5.

    Gee, Bob Graham thinks that if we go to war with Iraq the terrorists will retaliate here in the United States. He seems to have missed the fact that they have retaliated already -- and we haven't gone to war. As for not starting another conflict while the war on terrorism is ongoing, I believe any reasonable, thinking person realizes that the war on terrorism will be going on from this day forward -- until the end of the world, no doubt.

    Nobody wants to go to war -- nobody wants to make the "first strike" -- however, the United States has sat back for too many years and let the world walk all over it. Unfortunately, times have changed, and if we have to be the aggressor and if it is for the greater good, then let it be.

    As for the United Nations, that organization is a joke. The United States sends men, money and equipment to every "sanctioned" action -- some of the other countries (if we are lucky) will send a few men. I don't think that the United Nations should have much say in the actions of the United States unless its members are willing to step up to the plate and do their part.

    I have a grandson in Bahrain, which I don't like. He is going to have to get anthrax shots, which I don't like. However, the time has come for the United States to flex its muscles.

    But I will give Graham credit for this: When the next terrorist strike occurs, he will be able to claim that he warned us and, of course, it will be all the fault of George Bush and the Republicans.
    -- Patricia Bass, Clearwater

    Trusting our government

    Can you imagine the reaction if all those currently opposed to President Bush and his plans to put an end to Saddam Hussein's regime and the threat of biological warfare suddenly found themselves involved with another major attack on American soil and having one hell of a time trying to breathe?

    Millions of so-called dedicated Americans would be saying: "How could the president let this happen, and why didn't he do something about it when he knew a chemical attack was imminent?"

    Isn't it possible that the individuals running our government have more information than the average citizen and truly are interested and concerned in keeping America beautiful and free, as all our military personnel, past and present, have done for each and every one of us every single day, while living in the greatest country in the world?
    -- Bud Peterson, Clearwater

    Fight to be free of fear

    Why have we turned from being a nation outraged at what happened on 9/11, to a nation waiting for someone else to tell us it's okay to defend ourselves? What has happened to our resolve to hunt and destroy the "evil-doers" that first attacked us? Why do we need to be convinced that it's in our best interest to take action before action is taken against us... again? Why do we need someone else's permission to defend the rights so many others have already fought and died for?

    Who among us would be willing to tell the next 3,000 helpless victims of terrorism that we're sorry we waited so long to act?

    Be proud, be diligent, be an American. Fight for the right to be free of fear.
    -- Michael Gentile, Tampa

    There's always a price

    Re: Wary of a son with a mission, Oct. 4.

    Americans once again are caught in the age-old debate about whether what goes on overseas has anything -- or if anything at all, exactly how much -- to do with us. Ellen Goodman's column, which unfairly questions the motives of President Bush in wanting to declare war on Iraq, fuels the debate by proposing more questions. "Is this a just war?" she asks. And is it "a necessary one"?

    In reference to World War II, Winston Churchill called it "the unnecessary war." It was unnecessary because Britain, France, and yes, the United States had been slothful in the mid 1930s. We debated while Hitler moved his army into the Rhineland even though Germany had been forbidden to do so at Versailles. We debated while the Nazis, who were at that point still very weak, could almost certainly have been stopped in their tracks.

    Is America's war in the Middle East necessary at this point? Or will we wait for another terrorist attack and be forced into war unnecessarily? We are the strongest country on Earth, and we, once again, have an opportunity to rid the world of a measure of its cruelty and pestilence. We have an opportunity to bring some good upon the world but there is a price to pay, as always.

    What the president will decide to do -- whom he will listen to -- is still being debated. I hope he will listen to his own heart, which so far has served him, and us, very well.
    -- Jan Avery, Clearwater

    Flush out the palaces

    There is a simple strategy that would enable America to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

    Iraq has agreed to allow inspectors to check for this weaponry everywhere in Iraq except Saddam Hussein's eight presidential palaces. It doesn't require a genius to figure out that this is probably where he hiding his lethal goodies, guarded by his elite troops, no doubt.

    This is where President Bush should order a pre-emptive strike, with no further delay. Also, these areas are likely to be free of civilians. We may catch Saddam in one of these palaces, or it may flush him out and facilitate his capture.

    In any case, it would certainly shorten a war and cause far fewer casualties on both sides.
    -- Marvin Katz, Oldsmar

    A last resort

    Re: CIA letter on Iraq fails to sway Bush, Oct. 9.

    The CIA director's letter to Sen. Bob Graham just emphasizes that the Bush regime is intent on war, regardless of reality.

    Let us give the administration the benefit of a doubt and concede there is some evidence that Iraq is a force of evil intent on terrorist acts using weapons of mass destruction.

    Before we commit the lives of our sons and daughters to a foreign adventure, let's reflect not only on the potential loss of American lives, but also the destruction of the quality of life for many of those who will return from the Iraqi deserts without any physical wounds.

    I remember my father, to the day he died, waking up with cold sweats, images of pulling days-old bodies from the waters around Saipan yanking him from his sleep.

    I am in touch with dozens of men with whom I served in Vietnam. The most common points of discussion are battling with drug and alcohol abuse, frequently directly traceable to attempts to forget scenes that will never fade.

    More than 30 years after returning home from Southeast Asia, I still have those nights I cannot sleep because the vacant eyes of a friend or a form in black pajamas with a bloody pulp instead of a face find their way from my subconscious.

    Yes, there may be a need to attack Iraq, but be assured, there is a price to pay by both those who don't return and those who do.

    War should be a last resort, not our first.
    -- Ric Moser, Hudson

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