Ambassadors of equality

Ambassador Theodore L. Eliot's concern about the implied racism of appointing ``ancestral ambassadors'' was well taken [``Ancestral ambassadors?'' Nov. 17]. Clearly, it would be condescending to assign Afro-Americans only to predominantly black countries or Asian-Americans only to Asian countries. Ambassadorial appointments should be impartial and colorblind.

When dealing with countries which view only Americans of European heritage as ``real Americans,'' it may be desirable to use ethnic criteria as one factor when selecting US ambassadors. But not appointing hyphenated Americans to their ancestral lands because they might be received as less than fully ``American'' has racist overtones. Edward Olsen Monterey, Calif. Professor of Asian Studies Naval Postgraduate School

Too many well-qualified blacks, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, and Mexican-Americans have been passed over for nomination to the Supreme Court as well as for ambassadorial positions. Whereas Anthony Kennedy seems to be the current Supreme Court choice, it puzzles me why the President's advisers could not find a Japanese-American, Chinese-American, Mexican-American, or black American, male or female, qualified to become a member of the Supreme Court. Such an appointment would show the world that America practices what it preaches: freedom and opportunity for all. Sheryl H. Clayton St. Louis

Digging out Good science reporting is an art, and the article ``Space-age dig in ancient Egypt,'' Nov. 10, is an excellent example of a difficult subject handled extremely well.

So I hope you'll bear with me if I clarify a paragraph which states that ``...in 1985, when the Washington-based National Geographic Society asked if it could excavate the second pit, the Egyptians responded with a categorical no....''

As the story points out so well, what we tried to prove on the Giza plateau was that archaeology can be nondestructive. At no time did we ever contemplate the excavation of the boat. We wanted to leave the boat in its original surroundings, subject only to the ravages of time, not man.

Accordingly, we pledged to the Egyptian government that we would leave even the atmosphere in the tomb as undisturbed as possible. It was with this understanding we proceeded, and I am proud to say succeeded. Robert Sims National Geographic Society VP, Communications Washington

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