Holder on race: U.S. "nation of cowards" | Feb. 19, story
Not a good way to start a conversation
I am appalled that the first African-American U.S. attorney general would make such a broad and general statement as to call us a nation of cowards for avoiding candid discussions of racial issues. I find this an ironic statement from an administration of firsts — president and attorney general.
I am willing and intelligent enough to have the most candid discussion about racial issues with anyone who wants to have one. One reason many Americans avoid candid discussions is the fear of being called a racist if their views differ from the current sensitivity of the African-American guilt police.
Maybe we cannot have a candid discussion because it often means forcing a guilt trip on anyone who is not African-American. Maybe I do not understand "because it is a black thing." Then tell me, what is the "black thing"? Please tell me the current state of African-American affairs is not that "thing."
Maybe we cannot have a candid discussion about racism because it would mean that African-Americans would have to look in the mirror and see what other races of people see. It is not a pretty sight and pretending it does not exist is counterproductive.
Let us admit that we all have issues we need to address. Let us stop using slavery as an excuse for failures of today. Let us admit that electing an African-American as president is a step in the right direction. Finally, let us admit that the first African-American attorney general being able to call us a nation of cowards is not the right way to get the dialogue started.
Mario P. Rodriquez, St. Petersburg
Holder on race: U.S. "nation of cowards" Feb. 19, story
Attorney general should keep hands off our leisure
Attorney General Eric Holder, while satisfied with the configuration of the workplace, as mandated by federal standards, is now looking at what are proper associations for our weekends and leisure time.
Our weekends are usually devoted to family matters and sometimes gatherings of friends and acquaintances. These people consist of several races and religions who are drawn together to share our mutual interests and commonalities. We have not convened to discuss any differences we may have. I do not need a "shame on you" or "an attaboy" for our choices of friends and acquaintances.
I hope that the job of attorney general will keep Holder busy enough catching bad guys to stay out of our leisure-time activities. When President Obama is ready to appoint a "Social Secretary" Cabinet member, I'm certain he will do so.
Don Niemann, Seminole
If we don't talk about race, we're "cowards." If we do, we're racists. Can't win.
Sue Woods, Tampa
Rule of attraction
Our nation's first black attorney general made the statement, "The workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on weekends and in their private lives."
Hasn't he ever heard the cliche, "Birds of a feather, flock together"?
Donald F. Kelly, St. Petersburg
A new age, but an old stereotype | Feb. 19
An ugly image
After reading the cartoon, which was originally printed in the New York Post on Wednesday, I too agree that the cartoon (depicting a chimpanzee getting shot by police officers, who said: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill") was meant to be racist.
I guess that it was bound to happen sooner or later, since we now have a black president. And my guess would be that President Obama was expecting the bubble to burst — but of all times, during Black History Month, celebrated in February.
And even though we (supposedly) are in the midst of a new age of enlightenment, there will always be those who unfortunately cling to the ugly stereotypical past. So let us just consider the source, because no doubt, there will be more.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
95,000 waiting for gun permits | Feb. 19, story
Blowing the bucks
I love it! The state is having huge financial difficulties. Funding for schools has been eroded to the point of securing our state's low standing in education for years to come. Much-needed safety nets for poor children and those in need of medical care have been removed.
And what does the state decide to drop nearly $4 million on? The processing of gun permits. Now all we need to do is cut funding for law enforcement and we would have the trifecta: More guns, less education, and fewer patrols. If that doesn't reek of progress, I don't know what does.
Marc Jarke, Tampa
Just a theory?
When you read that many scientists do not believe in evolution, it gives credibility to the belief that evolution is not correct. However, there are a hundred times more scientists who believe in evolution and almost no scientists in the field of biology who don't believe in evolution.
Is something that is a theory really only a hunch? That may be a common misunderstanding of theory, but it is not the way scientists understand theory. The theory of evolution has been tested again and again by facts that continue to prove it. To almost all biological scientists the theory of evolution is a fact.
Thomas Viviano, Tampa
Online class needs reboot | Feb. 15, Bill Maxwell column
Blending can be a boon
Kudos to Bill Maxwell for venturing into the waters of academic online learning! Most faculty of his generation have firm prejudices in favor of the traditional classroom. Yes, online learning is not for all students or all faculty. As Maxwell experienced:
• Students who do well tend to be independent, experienced, aggressive learners.
• Faculty who do well tend to be Internet learners themselves, invest time in redesigning (not just reformatting) their courses for the rigors of asynchronous learning.
• Successful online learning requires that the institution make a clear commitment to support online education with faculty training, resources and rewards.
We all are wired differently for learning. No mode of teaching works for all students. Maxwell does not mention the success of "blended" courses, which use a combination of online and classroom (synchronous) learning.
Yes, students and faculty do have to work harder, but they are challenged to learn more deeply and broadly when more than one learning environment is used simultaneously. Actually the amount of "personal" contact among faculty members and students is increased by use of blackboard, e-mail, phone, etc. There is no place to hide in that kind of learning environment and it is not for passive learners or traditional faculty. So, don't just "reboot" the old courses — redesign them.
Merle Allshouse, St. Petersburg
We can't afford to go soft on drugs, Feb. 16, and Treat drugs as a public health problem, Feb. 15
You offered two recent opinion pieces about the drug war. One would continue this war; the other would treat drugs as a public health problem. In effect, the issue is whether to stop all use or to stop problem use. History teaches that the latter is more effective.
National Prohibition (1920-1933) failed because it tried to stamp out all drinking by prosecuting bootleggers. By the late 1920s the public had begun to withdraw their support for Prohibition because they saw 1) an alcohol-free America was not possible, 2) the illegal wealth enabled by Prohibition fostered street violence and official corruption, 3) it was costly to imprison bootleggers, and 4) there was a need for liquor tax revenue.
We ended Prohibition in 1933 and have learned to live with legal alcohol by focusing on problem drinking. While many of us believe alcohol regulation is still too soft, no responsible person has proposed that we try again to stop all drinking.
John Chase, Palm Harbor