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Afghan interpreters deserve our help | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
Zachary Peterson, of Sharpsburg, Georgia, and other U.S. soldiers take part in an overwatch operation in support of Afghan soldiers this month in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.
Zachary Peterson, of Sharpsburg, Georgia, and other U.S. soldiers take part in an overwatch operation in support of Afghan soldiers this month in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. [ CAROLYN COLE | Los Angeles Times ]
Published Apr. 28

Save the Afghan interpreters

Biden to pull troops from Afghanistan, end longest U.S. war | April 14

The plight of present and former Afghan interpreters, who have helped our troops, is frighteningly real. If you are old enough to remember the haunting images of desperate South Vietnamese citizens grasping the struts of evacuating U.S. Army helicopters fleeing Saigon as it fell into the hands of the conquering North Vietnamese forces, you can understand what is about to recur. Many Afghanis will suffer the unspeakable cruelties that the Taliban will proudly display. We must put our politics aside and think strongly about the Afghanis that have risked their lives in service to this country and consider the price they have already paid for an opportunity in our country.

My dear friend and neighbor, retired Lt. Col. Ben T. (Ty) Edwards, was saved by Hakimi Qudratullah during an ambush in the Kunar Province in 2008. Two years later, Ty reached out to me, offering to share the special rehabilitation equipment in his home after I was paralyzed in an accident. During our friendship, I learned of Hakimi’s heroic efforts to save Ty and just how much Hakimi meant to him. It took 3 years from that point for Legislators and a retired general to get Hakimi a visa to come to Tampa. I met Hakimi and totally I was surprised by his knowledge, his confidence and his endearing personality. I conveyed Hakimi’s story to the CEO of a major U.S. wholesale distributor and explained that Hakimi needed a job if he was to stay in the US. In early 2013, Hakimi, fluent in four languages with experience in managing a NATO mine-clearing warehouse, sailed through his interview and was placed in a management training program. Eight years into his career, Hakimi’s had numerous promotions and directs operations at the company’s largest distribution center in California. He became an American citizen about as fast as humanly possible. He is a credit to our country and a wonderful example of loyalty and determination whom I hold the greatest admiration, respect and affection. I am told there may be thousands like Hakimi in Afghanistan.

These young men and women need a fair chance to be vetted and given an invitation to come to our country, if they feel they can assimilate into our culture. If you are a major company or a small business, please think about hiring and training a person that will be grateful for the opportunity to thrive, let alone survive. To learn more about how you can save an interpreter like Hakimi, contact “No One Left Behind” at nooneleft.org. Time is quickly running out.

Steve Hemingway, Tampa

Doing the right thing

Biden recognizes atrocities against Armenians as genocide | April 24

Regardless of political differences, I applaud President Joe Biden for recognizing the genocide of the Armenians by the Turkish military in 1915. Both of my parents and their families were victims during this most terrible time in our world’s history. My father lost his mother and twin sisters. His father was able to escape and settle in Buffalo, N.Y., and my father as a 9-year-old — on his own — joined his father soon after. My mother and her family were able to escape ,going through Constantinople (now Istanbul) and arriving in Brantford, Ontario. Most of the men were being executed during this genocide. Red Sunday will now be recognized as it should have been many, many years ago.

Joe Voskerichian, Tampa

The law and equity

Conservatives should support reparations | Gary Abernathy column, April 26

American civil law is divided into two branches: “law” and “equity.” The equity branch was developed to cover events that caused an unfair or unjust situation but for which there was no remedy at “law.” An equity court could provide a remedy based on what was fair and just. One of the concepts developed in equity was “unjust enrichment.” Where a person received property or a benefit at the expense of another person, equity would provide a remedy by requiring the person who got the benefit to either return it or otherwise make the loser whole. Such a remedy is not based on any wrongful conduct or obligation, just on receiving a fortuitous benefit at the expense of another. A classic example might be a roofer who accidentally puts a new roof on the wrong house. The roofer would have no remedy at law, but because the owner has received an unwarranted benefit (unjust enrichment) an equity court could provide a remedy such as giving the roofer a lien in the amount the owner’s property was increased in value. The wealth gap statistics cited by Gary Abernathy demonstrate how white people received a benefit (enrichment) to the detriment of Black people. So, helping Black people become more self-sufficient by bridging the wealth gap would not only be, as he posits, good policy, it would be entirely fair and just under ancient equity doctrine of unjust enrichment.

Edwin Bradley, Boynton Beach

Try living on $275

Florida Senate approves higher unemployment benefits | April 22

Gov. Ron DeSantis opposes the paltry $100 increase in weekly unemployment benefits that the state Senate has just unanimously voted for, and so does his party in the state House. If the Senate and a House majority have the power to adjust DeSantis’ pay, they should reduce it to $275 per week, effective immediately, and outlaw any private contributions to his family for living expenses or anything else. Push him out of the governor’s mansion and into a Tallahassee apartment. Let him see what he can find for that kind of money. He’s mighty strident about others’ “dependency” for a man who’s been living on the public’s dime since at least 2004 — nearly 40.5 percent of his life, with only a couple of very short breaks in that “dependency.”

Steve Douglas, St. Petersburg

Dealing the race card

Don’t play race card | Letter, April 26

Playing the race card works both ways. For example, calling Black athletes vulgar names for peacefully kneeling during the national anthem is playing the race card. Telling the four members of “The Squad” to go back to their country, when their country is the United States, is playing the race card. Claiming the birther conspiracy of our first Black president is playing the race card. Calling a senator “Pocahontas“ is playing the race card. And lastly, calling the coronavirus the “China virus” is playing the race card. Our country cannot heal and move forward unless we all take responsibility.

Eileen Stafford, St. Petersburg