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What about "the huddled masses yearning to breathe free'?

Re: A moral duty, Feb. 9.

Martin Dyckman's column was a revelation of the injustice and persecution occurring in Haiti today. Then, to see the role our nation is pursuing gives one pause. What about the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free"?

For over a decade, it has become more apparent each day that our help goes to those from whom we will profit _ either financially or politically. As Dyckman points out, we eagerly give help to fleeing Cubans because we are constantly working to overthrow Castro _ for what reason?

It is horrible to think we are imposing sanctions on a country in such dreadful economic chaos. It is the poor who are most affected.

Our recent presidents are happy to intercede in other countries when our economic interests are at stake. Since we have none in Haiti, we reject their poor and return them, perhaps to death.

Elizabeth Leeds Tait, Redington Shores

With our unemployment rate as high as it is, we have no other choice than to send the Haitians back to their own homeland. They have to kick out the ones in power as we did back when we were under British rule. If they want freedom enough, then they should fight for it. Our forefathers were gunned in every battle, but the edge was always on our side. It was called freedom, period.

Joe Rinkle, St. Petersburg

News reports of the frustrated attempts by Haitians to seek safety on our shores have evoked memories of our own ancestors' pilgrimages, voyages that were rewarded with the protection and the promise of a life in America. How sad it seems to us that so shortly after Ellis Island has become a monument to the millions of hopeful immigrants who passed through its halls, we should read of people who fled the terror of a dictatorship and who risked their lives on a perilous voyage only to be rewarded with a return ticket and the likelihood of punishment as traitors.

We are not naive. We understand that the reports from Haiti are conflicting and ambiguous. We know too that our country has the right and the duty to secure our borders for the well being of its citizens. But in the name of God and all we hold precious, we dare not become so callous as to return human beings to a situation of probable execution.

It is our hope that the government of the United States will refrain from returning Haitian "boat people" until it has determined to its satisfaction and ours that there will be no reprisals against them. We expect that while under the jurisdiction of our government they will be treated with the compassion and respect that are the due of every human being.

Rabbi Earl Jordan, President,

North Tampa Clergy Association, Tampa

Re: Politics shuts out compassion for Haitian refugees, by Mary McGrory, Feb. 7.

While a majority of Floridians may feel compassion for the Haitian refugees, I simply refuse to believe that a poll that represents a true cross-section of our population would agree to accept the responsibility for these unfortunates. I believe that the New York Times used incorrect data or slanted its figures. Mary McGrory is wrong and Sen. Connie Mack shows his usual lack of good judgment.

At present we can't balance our state budget. We are reducing funds to our educational system at all levels. We can't find money for health care for the poor, and we are faced with increasing unemployment. We are forced to reduce services to all age groups of our population. How would we, the people of Florida, feed, clothe, house, provide medical care, find jobs for 20,000 to 50,000-plus undernourished, diseased (10-20 percent) refugees, very few of whom can communicate in English?

I believe you have a duty to put the record straight. Inform the New York Times and McGrory that they are incorrect in their stated assumptions in this matter. Frankly, I believe that they are guilty of promoting propaganda for their own political ends.

R.

H. Schade, Hudson

Re: Politics shuts out compassion for Haitian refugees.

Mary McGrory's Feb. 7 column speaks of compassion for Haitian refugees, and they, among others, do indeed deserve our compassion. However, I have some serious confusion about what we can reasonably do for all these people.

Why should we accept only those from Haiti who manage to get on a boat and travel a certain distance? Shouldn't we send our boats to a Haitian port and accept all comers? Only Haiti?

There are probably a billion people in the world who could qualify as political refugees. Should the only thing keeping them out of Florida be a lack of boats?

I suppose the number of illegal Mexican immigrants exceeds the combined quota for all legal immigrants. Remember the TV pictures we've seen of Mexicans invading the border check points? Is this okay because they didn't come in boats? These are surely economic and not political refugees.

According to news reports the people of New Hampshire seem to qualify as economic refugees, so let's keep them out of Florida. On the other hand, Floridians can qualify as political and economic refugees since we have a Democratic governor and he wants $1.3-billion in new taxes. Perhaps Florida Republicans should take to the boats and let the Coast Guard give us some compassionate care.

William L. Weaver, Largo

American History Month

I think it is very commendable to celebrate Black History Month. But whatever happened to American History Month which we used to celebrate in February? Both are very important, but I feel January should be Black History Month when Martin Luther King's birthday is celebrated and February should be American History Month _ not just President's Day _ and only a day _ as we are now celebrating. Are we forgetting George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln and so many other Americans who helped to influence our country? Aren't their memories worth a month's celebration?

Please give equal time and credit to all famous Americans who have contributed so much in the formation of our country.

Lucy Myers, Dunedin

Confusing holidays

Here we are, another federal holiday. Our kids are in school. On Friday, which is not a holiday, they are going to have an out-of-service day and our kids will be home all day. Today (Monday, Presidents' Day) while we have the day off, the kids are in school, Friday, while we are working, the kids are home. Who is running this system?

Dan Morgan, Indian Rocks Beach

Look to our real heroes

The news stories concerning the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Alex Haley deserved a better fate. While many Americans are celebrating Black History Month, we once again find the death of a truly gifted man almost overshadowed by the antics of another "black man gone bad." It's a real shame that much of America will look closer at Mike Tyson as an example of what blacks are like and conveniently avoid giving the proper attention to the accomplishments of a man like Alex Haley.

So, to those of you who may be tempted to condemn a group of people for the actions of one person, let me simply remind you that Mike Tyson is no more an example of the average black man than Jeffrey Dahmer is an example for whites to follow.

Let us instead look to our heroes. The Tysons and Dahmers of the world will come and go, but the passing of an Alex Haley leaves all men a little poorer!

Vincent Roth, Spring Hill

A strong commitment

Re: The Endangered Species Act is in danger, Jan. 19.

President Bush and his administration are strongly committed to the protection of endangered species.

We also are deeply committed to jobs and a healthy economy, without which we cannot afford to protect endangered species or to carry out the many environmental protection measures that have become national policy over the past several decades.

Contrary to Jeff Klinkenberg's Jan. 19 column, Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan does not view reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act as an opportunity to weaken it.

What we want is a law that works to maintain biodiversity, protects threatened and endangered species and provides ways of maintaining our economy in harmony with nature.

I. Steven Goldstein, Assistant to the Secretary

and Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Department

of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

More on Buchanan, please

Re: Buchanan: Vowing to keep promises Bush broke, Feb. 2.

Ellen Debenport's front-page article on the Buchanan presidential campaign touched on some intriguing points. I'd have to agree with her political analysis: Patrick Buchanan is indeed attracting the support of an increasing number of what she identifies as "the frightened middle class."

Whether or not Buchanan is "a thinking person's Rush Limbaugh" is interesting speculation. Others might call it name-dropping. Limbaugh has said he considers Buchanan to be one of his "childhood heroes."

Nevertheless, I would have to agree that Buchanan "'also seems to be touching a chord _ an angry chord, to be sure _ in an increasing number of voters." The results of the all-important primary in New Hampshire add credence to this observation.

But, the next time Debenport reviews his campaign efforts, or selects topics from Buchanan's vast writings, she might consider doing a service to Times readers by shedding more intense journalistic light on his family history, his educational background and other significant "qualifications" for the job of being the president.

Thomas E. Nocera, Clearwater

The St. Petersburg Times has sunk to a new low with the recent cartoon by Don Wright trying to ridicule Pat Buchanan!

Pat Buchanan brings a breath of fresh air to the dull presidential campaign. He gives the conservative voters someone they can support.

Voters who want to stop wasting $15-billion per year on foreign aid; voters who want to see Americans helped before any monies are wasted on foreign aid _ these are the voters who will support Pat Buchanan for president.

Ralph Beck, Pinellas Park

A big if

I am in favor of Gov. Chiles' plan to increase taxes if _ and only if _ the proceeds go to the education of the children, be it preschool or later.

Christa Simmat, St. Petersburg Beach

Homeless war veterans

After viewing Primetime Live recently, I was shocked to learn that we have 200,000 homeless war veterans. Yet our president sees fit to pledge billions for foreign aid. Shame on you, George Bush. Don't you know charity begins at home?

Three cheers and a proud salute to the Center for Homeless Veterans in Boston, Mass. We are proud of you. Keep up the good work!

John E. Santo, St. Petersburg

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731. They should be brief and must include the handwritten signature and address of the writer. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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