Affirmative Action: Discrimination Disguised

Affirmative Action: Discrimination Disguised

Regarding the opinion-page article "A Vote for Affirmative Action," May 26: My family has felt the sting of discrimination for many generations. My grandfather was a serf in Imperial Russia because he was a Jew.

My father could not be promoted in an aircraft factory during World War II because he was a Jew.

I know what it feels like to be the brunt of discrimination. My experience is certainly not as bad as my grandfather's, so things are getting better.

All this experience has lead me to the conclusion that discrimination is wrong. Whether it was done by the Cossacks of the czar, the captains of American industry, or bureaucrats of the state of California, it is still wrong. Just because my family has been discriminated against for generations doesn't give me the right to discriminate against others.

When I was young and stood up against those who wanted to keep blacks down, I was accused of being a "nigger lover," the worst epithet that a white person of my generation could be called.

Now that I am older and support the California Civil Rights Initiative, I am accused of being a racist.

Affirmative action is just the "new and improved version" of that old family favorite, "discrimination.

Richard F. Mittleman Downey, Calif.

The students from Stanford University favoring affirmative action should know that most senior citizens, like myself, routinely live a life of education and business in a very diverse and pluralistic society.

They must not have known that it was only in states south of the Mason-Dixon line, such as Alabama or Mississippi, where signs "White Only" were displayed. They never saw those signs in Palo Alto, Calif., or in hardly any city on the West Coast. Schools in New Jersey where I went in the 1930s were attended by all races on an equal basis.

Generation X students should realize that most Americans, except maybe those from the Deep South, are used to diversity and have lived in harmony with all races and religions for many years before their generation even came along.

And for young people to deprive anyone of education or opportunity because of the color of their skin (and, in too many cases, that is the end of affirmative action) is the worst kind of intolerance imaginable.

Robert A. Brown Arroyo Grande, Calif.

A need for both parents

I was dismayed to see the headline "Family Roles Unraveling," May 30, because it falls into the easy sexist trap of blaming women. The subhead "Global study says children at risk as moms become breadwinners," links negative images only to mom.

The article clearly indicates that fathers and mothers are both needed as breadwinners and caregivers to attain family stability around the world.

Carol A. Teicher St. Louis

Saddened by ignorance

I was saddened when I read the opinion-page article "A Snapshot of Racial Prejudice," May 22. Saddened, that an apparently sensitive, tolerant, and caring person could grow up in America and be so ignorant of common attitudes and behaviors.

Saddened, that because of this ignorance such a person was unable to recognize instantly what was happening and respond by saying that both he and his companion would go elsewhere to call.

I agree that we must "redouble [our] own efforts to judge and respond to all individually," but this is not enough. Those of us continually or newly shocked by similar and all-too-frequent incidents must tell our compatriots that we will not participate in their intolerance.

Virginia L. Hood Burlington, Vt.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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