April 8, 2008

Erosia (letters to the editor) for 4-9-08

LEO welcomes letters that are brief (250 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to EROSIA, 640 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or e-mail to leo@leoweekly.com. We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.One On OneAttn: Ricky L. Jones: Ricky, racism is not dead (as discussed in your March 26 LEO column). It’s in vestiges of institutional barriers African-Americans face; in bright students who come to the university under-prepared, the public schools having failed them; in the disproportionality of white wealth, often linked to the failure of the banks after WWII to provide loans to AAs to buy homes, the principal centerpiece of wealth. It’s in the subtle comments of friends and associates. And I know my own heart from a lifetime of conditioning that requires constant vigilance. Yet, I think Obama reaches a lot of people when he describes race weariness. Public push-back is growing.As race gets isolated as the most important social barrier, many now talk about that weariness. Some describe their Appalachian poor upbringing, their out-of-wedlock births or being raised by a single mom. They want to point out that their struggles have value and merit attention also, but are minimized in discussions that privilege race. Most whites I know keep their racism in check. And many struggle to be fair in their dealings with people. In a recent class, I noted for students that we always talk about populations and trends, but in the real world, we meet people as individuals. The more we meet people in close encounters, the more barriers fall. We have to get to know each other as brothers/sisters, setting aside rhetoric and political debates that blame. I am not talking about Kumbaya sessions, but face-to-face encounters that open us up to greater understanding. Maybe Obama was right when he mentioned the “typical white person,” but perhaps the allusion wasn’t to our racism, but to a humanity that just wants to live in peace and have a share of the dream. One on one, most of us are willing to share.Terry L. Singer, LouisvilleCrissCrossedAttn: Mr. Bob Moore:A belief in the cross and the Bible is not the measure of a person’s moral compass and ethical standards. I’m sure you’re a good and honorable man, but there are many more good and honorable people in this country who don’t happen to share your religious beliefs and yet still deserve a good president. I’m truly sorry that you apparently can’t recognize that fact.Beth Jones, LouisvilleKeep ’Em Separated If Bob Moore has any understanding of civics and the nature of this Republic, he would understand that an individual who wants to replace our flag and Constitution with the Bible and a cross is not qualified to be the president of the United States. The “Founding Fathers” clearly understood that we need the Constitution precisely to avoid any other particular dogma from becoming the guidelines for our government. Not to mention that this is not the approach that would make one the “Commander-and-Chief of ALL Americans,” since we are vastly un-practicing, unaffiliated, agnostic, atheist and members of other faiths. If your perception is that all Americans are as devout Christian as you, you need to start venturing outside an obviously narrow social circle. If you are interested in a theocracy, you should check out Taliban-controlled Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia — different symbol and book, but the same general result.Rob Crehan, LouisvilleDoesn’t Add UpJCPS is in the process of selecting a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade math series. It will be paid for from a generous $25,000,000 grant from the GE Foundation. I am very pleased to see the GE Foundation’s interests in making more students ready for college through its College Bound Program. As a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Louisville, I, too, want to see better-prepared students. However, what I have seen in the math books used by JCPS, over the last 18 years as my children have gone through school, is a steady decline in content. For instance, this fall I examined the sixth-grade “Connected Math” book used by JCPS and found few, if any, instances of the use of an equals sign. All of the four K-5 math texts that are now being considered appear to be of the “reform math” type, which by design, are weak in content. No other texts that emphasize content were offered for public comment. Parents interested in the nationwide controversy surrounding reform math should read, www.math.rochester.edu/people/faculty/rarm/debate_appendix.html, including this excerpt: “... there is no body of valid research literature showing that any of these programs is an improvement on any competing, ‘traditional,’ program. ... In the time of these programs, numerous mathematicians have pointed out the visible absence of good mathematics contained in them, but their advocates have cited studies showing that despite the absence of content (something merely denied) the programs produce good results.” This is further confirmed in the final report of the National Math Advisory Panel, which was published in the last few weeks by the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf).R.W. Cohn, LouisvilleEvery Vote CountsThe Democratic Party will be treading in quicksand if they do not count every Democratic vote at the Convention. If the party decides to deny Florida and Michigan the right to be represented either by accepting the January vote results or allowing both states to revote, they will fail in November. Voters in both states will feel if you do not want my support now, you will not get it later. Remember Florida voters have been through this before, but this time it is some in the Democratic Party, not the Republican Party, who want to disenfranchise them.We have all heard why Florida and Michigan are presently being denied having their delegates counted. It is because, since both states moved their primaries up, the Democratic National Committee refused to seat their delegates. Sounds reasonable not to change the rules in the middle of the game, as they call it, until you see that the DNC did not refuse to seat New Hampshire’s delegates when they moved their primary up to Jan. 3, and they did not refuse to seat Puerto Rico’s delegates when they moved from a caucus to a primary and moved it up to June 1. Puerto Rico just changed its rules in March 2008.So why are Florida and Michigan being denied their right to be heard at the Democratic Convention? Why are these two states singled out when the other two are not? Why does Barack Obama not want a revote in Florida and Michigan? What is he scared of? Why does he not trust the people of Florida and Michigan? Hillary Clinton is right to call for a revote in both states. She does not seem to be scared of the competition of what voters will say.My question is, since when did a candidate running for president not want everyone to be able to vote? It was 2000 when George W. Bush did not want all the votes counted in Florida, and we all know how that turned out.Gregg Wagner, LouisvilleInspired CoincidenceBack in the early ’90s, I made a tour of the South Pacific and fell in love with the region, in particular Christchurch, New Zealand. I have walked the length of its Avon River and explored its Antarctic Museum. Christchurch was a key kick-off point for the expeditions to Antarctica. Locally, I am inspired by the high quality of living in Louisville — its parks, museums, etc. I am keenly aware and appreciative of the city’s relationship to Thomas Merton, and his and its to the sacred silence of Gethsemani.All of the above were factors to my emotional reaction to a personal incident that occurred during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Merton’s Epiphany.I chose not to take part in the late-afternoon activities at the Muhammad Ali Center. But I did want to be and was a part of the informal welcoming to the walkers from the Center to Thomas Merton Square. Charles Shaw and Mary Wood arrived. During introductions it was discovered that they were from New Zealand, and more specifically, Christchurch. Wood is a Sisters of Mercy member, one of the Catholic Sisterhoods. During my elementary school days, at St. William here in Louisville, I was taught by the Sisters of Mercy. I was and am in awe.Eustace Durrett, Louisville

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