Letters to the Editor for Friday, March 20, 2009
European and Mideast editions
(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)
NAACP suit applauded
After decades of immoral lending practices culminating in subprime mortgages by banks, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has every right to bring suit against lenders who did, in my opinion, target African-Americans ("NAACP suit claims lenders targeted black home buyers," article, March 15).
As a white Protestant male, I agree that this is a blatant manipulation of an entire racial demographic. Furthermore, this suit should not be limited to Wells Fargo and HSBC Holdings. There is a universal corporate responsibility that all financial services and banks have purposely neglected, costing millions of Americans of all races badly needed housing and jobs.
Wells Fargo’s statement that it has "been working with the NAACP" concerning matters involving lending is merely lip service at its most transparent. I feel strongly that the records shall speak for themselves, and it is only an open-book audit of their lending statistics that will shine the light on these companies as well as the nation’s financial system as a whole.
Up-and-coming citizens of the black community who are trying to establish themselves are vulnerable to predatory lending practices, as banks recognize a ripe profit to be had from those who are striving to better themselves and will take whatever rate is offered.
Enough! The hand that gives is above the hand that takes, and there exists nothing in this case to shield hard-working black people from being robbed of what is rightfully theirs.
Since 1914 the United States has been run on exploitative banking practices. The recent developments concerning the economic crisis and questionable lending practices are the shape of things to come.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Twyman
Naval Support Activity Gaeta, Italy
Why program is being dropped
The writer of "Reading Recovery strikes out" (letter, March 18) needs to come with more facts before trying to incite another academics vs. athletics debate.
Department of Defense Dependents Schools was in violation of Title IX by having more spring sports for one gender over the other. Usually, Title IX cases mean getting rid of minor male sports to give more females a chance to participate in sports, but DODDS was giving girls more opportunities by having softball as a varsity sport while boys had to toil on the Children and Youth Services diamonds. To keep costs down, they are using the same regional system that has worked quite well for basketball. Furthermore, not every school is fielding a team this season, so some schools are saving money.
Reading Recovery is being shelved due to the "powers that be" finding the program not cost-effective by serving a magic number of students.
As a prospective teacher going through certification, I completely understand the anger and frustration of cutting a valuable program that helps students, but as a volunteer football coach I understand the importance of providing extra-curricular activities, too. These are two separate issues that have no business being interlinked through unfunny sports puns.
Call it what you want …
I was so thrilled to read " ‘Person’ versus ‘fetus’ " (letter, March 17), from the lawyer who finally cleared up for us laypeople the difference between a person and a fetus.
After giving birth to several of these and even miscarrying (oops! spontaneously aborting!) several more, I am relieved to know that the Constitution and these lawyers have clearly laid it all out for us.
Funny that Webster defines fetus as a developing "human," which I assume is a "person."
Oh well, despite my ignorance, I shall still defend the rights of the unborn fetus, person, tissue blob — whatever you wish to call it. See if you can decipher this old saying: A rose by any other name. …
Ruling doesn’t make it so
I am responding to " ‘Person’ versus ‘fetus’ " that so casually dismissed the possibility of a fetus’ personhood just because the peremptory Supreme Court decided to declare it so.
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history knows that at one point, the Supreme Court also declared, in the Dred Scott case of 1857, that the atrocious practice of slavery was constitutional and that people of African descent had no rights of citizenship.
That egregious lie was based on their interpretation of the Constitution (in truth, though, based upon popular opinion, their own bias, and ideology) even though there was no more back then written in the Constitution about slavery than there is in the Constitution today about abortion. Thank God the 13th Amendment abolished that ruling and the rights of all people were later strengthened by the 14th Amendment.
It is especially egregious that the court would cite the very constitutional amendment that ensured the intrinsic rights of all people, regardless of color, using that to justify the slaughter of unborn children. Just as the court was wrong back then in ruling in favor of slavery (a practice that left a gaping wound on our society that has yet to fully heal), the court was also very wrong in Roe v. Wade, making it legal for a woman to arbitrarily take the life of the most innocent and helpless in our society, precious unborn children.
So, despite what the court rules, the writer’s own bias, ideology or popular opinion, stopping those little beating hearts is wrong, and the 40 million-plus babies killed since 1973 will leave another flagitious pockmark on our already-scarred nation, even if we change the legal terminology and call them "fetuses" instead of "people."
Sgt. Maj. W. Lee Ebbs
Camp Striker, Iraq
Problems with gays
The writer of "Heterosexuals needn’t worry" (letter, March 16) is way off point with his whole argument. It has nothing to do with homophobia [as far as] gays serving openly in the military.
I have been to almost every base in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. I will tell you there are not enough showers to pick and choose. Openly gay men will be in the shower with other men they are going to find attractive.
When guys start hitting on each other, if they are straight or not, in the shower, people will complain about sexual harassment. Then you are going to have people argue that men and women should be allowed to shower together, and we know they will find each other attractive.
Temptation will run crazy and, when people are caught, there will be sexual harassment and sexual assault charges coming out, ruining people’s careers and lives.
You cannot say that homosexual men or women can shower with homosexual/straight women and then say that heterosexual men and women cannot shower together.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements, here at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, people sleep in a big warehouse-like structure with bunk beds. Separating sleeping areas are wall lockers. Not much privacy. Where are you going to put homosexual men? If you allow them in the same sleeping area, then you have to allow males and females in the same sleeping area, even if that means one sex is on the top bunk and the other sex is on the bottom bunk.
Sgt. Jason U. Willis
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Unhappy with Stripes’ changes
It seems only two or three months ago when Stars and Stripes changed the layout of Page 2 from that of quirky advice column, odd story of the day, and a look into various cultures with "What’s up with that?" to what we were told is a more streamlined continuation of the cover story.
In my March 16 edition of Stars and Stripes [and the March 17 Pacific editions], there are six headlines on the cover, none of which relate to the article on Page 2.
I don’t recall any letters to the editor against anything previously on Page 2 or even the "Bizarro" comic (which was replaced by the Sudoku puzzle).
After sacrificing so many of my favorite parts of the paper for a (now obviously) trivial streamlinedness, there’s a sense of betrayal when that promise isn’t upheld less than three months later. I do still enjoy my daily read, but some of the changes/mistakes of late have really gotten to me.
Jerry E. Dotseth II
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Is drug another Agent Orange?
Our superiors have mandated that U.S. Army civilians and soldiers take suicide prevention training.
When suicides surpassed combat deaths in January, the Pentagon suddenly took notice. That they want to address the issue and spark awareness comes as no surprise: Suicides in the Army have risen four straight years. The suicide rate is double that prior to the Iraq invasion and has even surpassed the civilian suicide rate — the first time since the Vietnam War.
The new suicide prevention training is an interactive, new-age approach to engage viewers and listeners. Despite being several hours long, the general notion is that it’s some of the Army’s best training. The Army’s recent $50 million partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health has certainly improved upon its less-engaging PowerPoint briefs of years past.
But if prevention is at the very heart of this issue, shouldn’t there be more questions answered, namely, what is the cause? Evidence suggests that the anti-malaria drug Lariam (mefloquine) triggers mental problems in patients with no history of mental illness. These include suicidal tendencies.
In a 2005 Stars and Stripes report ("For troops struck down, malaria bites") on U.S. soldiers administered the drug, Dr. (Maj.) Imad Haque said, "I tend to have really vivid dreams after taking [Lariam]." That report notes that the Department of Defense requires troops to be screened for psychiatric issues prior to being prescribed the drug. But what good is a psych screen, given that the drug induces mental illness?
Nearly two-thirds of Army suicides occur in Afghanistan or Iraq. The Army, however, continues its use of Lariam in those areas. Soldiers and their family members deserve answers: Is there any correlation between those with mental health issues and the prescribed drugs they are taking? Do we have another Agent Orange on our hands?
Nathan Van Schaik
Promoting religious programs
I agree wholeheartedly with "Chaplaincy programs for all" (letter, March 19). Very few spiritual support programs are secular-based. The problem is, Christian-oriented spiritual programs exclude, as the writer pointed out, a percentage of non-Christian members. Often they are purposely advertised as secular events.
The Military Marriage Seminar retreat targets military audiences and once had training materials posted on the Internet for event organizers that gave guidance to downplay the Christian aspect of the seminar in order to capture a larger audience. Only once attendees had paid the fee and were in attendance was that aspect to be gradually revealed. Many Christian organizations’ motivation is to gain a secular audience and then attempt to convert them. For many Christian organizations this is a fundamental principle: to convert nonbelievers and bring them into their fold.
Even "generic" prayers at unit events often use coded language that promotes Christian expressions of faith, sending the message of exclusion to members of other faiths, or the nonchurched. The messages that bother me the most are (1) the arrogance that Christian faiths are right in an absolute sense and all other faiths are condemned and (2) all others need to suck it up, not complain and go with it because we are a Christian-based military. Both are obviously false.
There is no room for the dominance of one specific religious model in our military. Our great Air Force needs to be above religious endorsement. The promotion of religious programs in our military needs to target specific religious audiences and not be promoted to all members.
Master Sgt. Jeffrey L. Thompson
RAF Alconbury, England