We need to talk | April 1
A long journey to racial equality
Kudos to last Sunday's edition calling on us all to use the Trayvon Martin case as an opportunity to expand the dialogue on race with our neighbors. Besides the obvious tragedy of a dead child, my heart has been touched by the accounts from black mothers trying to make sense of how to protect their own children in the face of this apparent "anything goes" interpretation of the "stand your ground" law.
What do they tell them? "Don't walk in such a way that it might look like you have candy in your pocket"? On the day when black mothers no longer have to give special survival instructions to their children that white mothers do not, then — and not before — will we be able to talk about getting near to racial equality in our country.
Robert Reppy, Palm Harbor
We need to talk | April 1
Look to deeper problems
Eric Deggans' article in Perspective hit the problem right on the head. It's sad that it took the loss of Trayvon Martin's life to get us to the point we are at.
However, as Deggans points out, it is time to also move on. We should start to look at the high black dropout rate, black-on-black crime and the lack of understanding between blacks and whites in this country. Comments from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson do not help.
Rich Prestera, Treasure Island
10 lessons learned in Iraq | April 1
Parallels with Vietnam
As a student and teacher of U.S. foreign policy in Asia for 40-plus years, I found myself replacing the word "Iraq" with the word "Vietnam" for every one of the 10 points listed.
For example, lesson No. 8 refers to "our forces will go over the line, as they did in Haditha or Abu Ghraib" — or in My Lai, Vietnam. No. 5 states "don't listen to ambitious exiles … such as Ahmed Chalabi" — or members of the corrupt Diem regime in South Vietnam.
Walt correctly points out in No. 9 that "the invasion of Iraq" — and Vietnam — "was abysmally planned, and the postwar occupation was badly bungled."
And I certainly agree that "we ought to work harder on developing an approach … that minimizes the risk of getting ourselves into this kind of war again." Unfortunately, both Iraq and Vietnam serve as proof that history does, indeed, repeat itself all too often.
Wallace F. Witham Jr., Belleair Bluffs
Misunderstanding one another | April 1, Robyn Blumner column
Constitution comes first
Robyn Blumner points out that liberals are highly motivated by compassion, surely a worthy cause. A close companion to compassion is emotion, on which Blumner seems to base her support of the Affordable Care Act.
As she notes, conservatives are highly motivated by compassion as well; we are also heavily influenced by authority, as she also points out. I believe our responsibility to the authority of the Constitution outweighs the emotional appeal of "leaving children with pre-existing conditions once again without health coverage."
I would encourage Blumner to use her talents and emotions to motivate liberal political leadership to pass a law that meets the health needs of our country but is also constitutional. I believe that would be something on which both liberals and conservatives could agree.
Doug Meyn, Tampa
How appropriate that Robyn Blumner's April 1 column appeared side by side with the last half of Nicholas Kristof's much more even-handed treatment of the cultural divide that separates liberals and conservatives.
Whereas Kristof admits that Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind has helped "demystify" conservatives, Blumner's intellectually clumsy attack on prolife demonstrators proves she is content in simply reaffirming Haidt's thesis: that "many liberals find (conservatives) not just wrong but also bewildering."
So bewildering, it appears, that she commits a string of logical fallacies in rapid succession, first asserting that "these 'life' protesters (are) not concerned" with the plight of those who die from lack of health insurance. Not content with such a bizarre non sequitur, she immediately sets about topping it, stating matter-of-factly that prolife advocates care about human life only during its trip from the ovary to the uterus.
She then completes the hat trick with an overripe red herring, contemplating in quantitative fashion the relative cellular composition of a human zygote and a fruit fly — as if such comparison laid bare some readily discernible flaw in the proposition that, as noble a goal as universal health coverage is, no amount of coverage is of benefit to those deprived of life in the womb.
Jim Trachier, Tampa
Too many cars
I recently relocated to Pinellas County from New York City, where I lived for the past 19 years. Before that, I lived in San Francisco for 23 years. San Francisco boasts an excellent light rail system. I have also experienced such systems while traveling in Europe.
I have found public transportation in Pinellas County to be sorely inadequate, and feel that light rail is a highly effective option.
We are living in an area that is literally clogged with traffic and parking lots. Car insurance is as high here as in New York City. I look upon public transportation, particularly light rail, as a way to connect the two major hubs of Clearwater and St. Petersburg in a way that will service residents and businesses alike.
Opposition to light rail benefits the oil and car industry, not the public.
Elaine Forzano, Dunedin
School Board workshop takes closer look at guest speakers | March 31
Reach out to others
I am more afraid of conservative Christians being afraid of Muslim Americans than anything I have ever witnessed from any Muslim I've met, which has only been kindness.
There is something about irrational fear that begs for help and rescue. The best way to overcome estrangement and mistrust is to become acquainted with others who are "different" in order to find out what there is in common to share. Jews, Christians and Muslims are all Abrahamic faiths.
The school boards must allow diversity of guest speakers in the classrooms, otherwise our young people will not be ready to participate in a pluralistic democracy, nor to uphold it.
James Willingham, St. Petersburg