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Diversity, Democrats and War | The Nation

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Diversity, Democrats and War

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We've received numerous letters regarding William Hartung's "Keeping Hope Alive,", Al Ross and Lee Corkorinos's "Assault on Diversity. and our general war coverage. We've published a sampling below.

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Cairo, Egypt

The only purpose of this letter is to thank you for your opposition to the war against Iraq. I am a 26-year-old Egyptian girl, who has been raised and taught everything I know about democracy, humanity, freedom, love and peace by the hands of American, British and European teachers. I simply cannot convey to you or describe the sadness that fills my heart today. I have lost faith in all I have ever grown up to believe in. I do not want to talk about the miseries of the Iraqi people, or mixed feelings of anger, helplessness and above all shame and despair in the Arab world today. The cries of the Iraqi children and women, which you are not allowed to see on your television screens, are too painful and real to write about. I write this because you have given me hope in peace, and have reassured me that the American people can still stand for all they have taught me; that not all of you are like Bush and Sharon. You have pacified me and helped curb my growing anger toward the West in general. Thank you for "feeling" for Iraq, which is bleeding right now. May God bless you and those whom you love.

DEENA ALI SINGAB


San Francisco, CA

As much as I admire the commitment and honor with which William Hartung approaches the subject of the war, I cannot stomach his solution. He promotes the idea of electing Democrats, who mostly voted for the war, and for the tax cut for the rich, and who crow about halving a $750 billion tax cut, as if that were something good for the country. To vote, on the other hand, for the honest party, the only growing party, the party that's been against this war and the previous war, that opposed the tax cuts for the rich--in other words, to vote for the party that believes what you believe, the Green Party--now that's dabbling. March against the war. Then vote for people who voted for the war. That's hard-nosed politics. You can have it. "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don't want and get it."

You mighta heard this one before.

CHARLES DUPREE


Hobe Sound, FL

As I sit and remember the Democrats' total surrender to the Bush junta's move to invade Iraq...I question backing a candidate from the Democratic Party unless Robert Byrd or Dennis Kucinich are nominated. When I see Democratic presidential candidates willing to back up their rhetoric, I may consider lobbying my Green brothers and sisters to back a Democratic candidate. Why take a cheap shot in what was otherwise a well-presented argument and end it with a Democratic Party endorsement? The Democratics are as corporately owned as the Republicans. They just soft-sell their products, while the Bush junta shoves them down our throats. Break with the tired old neoliberal apologies and encourage the Democrats to stand up for what they really believe, if those beliefs aren't also for sale.

PETER H. SHULTZ


Sacramento, CA

As a university professor whose earliest educational experiences in the mid-1970s, at ages 4 and 5, were in run-down and overcrowded all- black schools that were basically holdovers from the Jim Crow era, (perhaps because blacks in Montgomery, Alabama, did not have many new options available even in the post-civil rights era for educating their pre-school age children); as a person who went on to two all-black Catholic schools from grades 1-12; and finally, as a woman who attended a historically black women's college, where I was able to participate in summer programs for minorities at two universities that facilitated my transition to a graduate school that was the first and only integrated school I have ever attended in my life; I am disturbed by the attacks on enrichment programs for minority students at a host of colleges and universities--programs that often provide a necessary bridge to avenues for higher learning--and by the widespread efforts to dismantle affirmative action policies. Increasingly, I have felt myself to be trapped in the pages of a science fiction novel, where I am living in a time strangely reminiscent of the post-Reconstruction era exactly a hundred years ago in terms of the range of legal and social retrenchments against African-Americans, which helped to create a separate and supposedly equal society. Only the time is now. As a literary scholar, these troubled times have also brought the famous words of James Baldwin to my mind a lot of late: "Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we--and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others--do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, recreated from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!"

RICHE' RICHARDSON


Burke, VA

The Michigan case is simple. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law. Promoting minorities over others solely on the basis of their skin color is the very definition of racial discrimination. Why not create admissions tests that investigate economic or social patterns instead? That would be legal even under the CIR challenge. As it is, proponents of the Michigan system are painting all blacks with a broad brush--that they all need help because they can't compete with whites. This is of course an absurd thing to say about minorities.

Do Michael Jordan's kids need affirmative action to get into Michigan? By your logic--that is, by the Michigan system--they get more points for being black (twenty out of 150; you could read the case to prove this) than a white kid from the inner city with a perfect ACT score (worth only twelve points).

Why can't you just accept that the Constitution says what it says? The authors of the article don't even bother to address the constitutional question at the heart of the case.

MICHAEL LONG


Zeeland, MI

As a liberal, I cannot think of a single policy of this (or the previous) Bush Administration that I have supported, and I truly believe a diverse campus provides the optimal setting for a liberal arts education. However, I am unable to support any system that takes the scientifically unsound concept of race into consideration. It has been shown that human DNA is over 99 percent identical, and people with very different shades of skin color can have a closer DNA match than those of the same "race." In these terms, race is a meaningless concept that divides us into arbitrary categories and creates an "us and them" mentality that has historically served as a way for those in power to divide the lower economic classes against themselves. Instead of using the intangible concept of race to create a diverse campus or work setting, doesn't it make more sense to use one's monetary wealth as the measurement for diversity? I submit that an affluent applicant, regardless of perceived skin color, has more in common with others of a similar economic background than those with a lower economic status. In terms of life's opportunities, the only color that really matters is green. The longer we cling to the outdated notion of race, the longer the true equality of a "race-blind" society will continue to elude us.

MICHAEL BUSSCHER

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