Feel-Good Apology and Affirmative Action

Congressman Tony P. Hall's essay (July 9) about the "long overdue apology" to blacks for slavery is another of the feel-good, politically correct ideas that whites seem to come up with when there are no third-world countries to beat up on.

While the thought behind it is commendable, the apology itself will do nothing to stop the onslaught against affirmative action programs that state legislators and corporations around the country are currently waging war against.

Texaco, Randall's stores in Houston, some car rental companies in North Carolina, the California college system, and Texas law schools are only a few entities that are not concerned with 100-year-old slavery issues, but are concerned with maintaining unequal opportunities in the present and the future.

Perhaps legislation attached to or proposed with an apology that would strengthen affirmative action for blacks, women, and other minorities would lend a lot more credibility to the latest "I feel your pain" tactic.

Barry Williams


Law schools and discrimination

Attorney Darien A. McWhirter ("Law School Test Gets a Failing Grade," July 7) does not provide statistics to prove his conclusion that the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is useless and discriminatory. His assertions may be true, but an informed reader cannot tell from his article. The relevant question is, does the LSAT test predict law school outcomes for whites, blacks, or anyone?

Clearly, if the LSAT fails for every group, it is at best a waste. If it predicts the outcomes for white students but fails for black students, then either the test is flawed for black students or the schools themselves discriminate against their black students.

It would be a shame to address the wrong issues in the debate about affirmative action and tests. Those who are our future lawyers deserve better, and so do we.

Roger Blomquist

Naperville, Ill.

Mr. McWhirter writes about "the drastic reduction in the number of African-Americans admitted to law schools" in California and Texas. He should ask why so many clearly unqualified black students were admitted in the past. And if anyone should sue it should be those qualified blacks who will suffer by being judged less qualified and able because of the assumptions of inferiority that underlie affirmative action quotas.

C. Thomas

West Pittston, Pa.

Keep religion free

With regard to your articles and editorials on recent Supreme Court decisions, the separation of church and state is one of the most distinctive concepts the American constitutional system contributed to the body of political ideas.

The First Amendment prevents combining the power of religion with the power of a national government and is not an act of irreverence but an act of confidence in religion to do what it does best - promote the civil morality necessary to democracy without being tied to the fortunes of political action.

As this country struggles to accommodate new cultures and religious groups, this "wall of separation" is perhaps more vital today than when it was articulated by Thomas Jefferson.

Those who attack the separation of church and state forget that meaningful religious freedom cannot exist without it. Voluntary support has benefited organized religion far better than prior systems of church establishment ever did.

Permitting public school counselors to enter parochial schools to assist low-achieving poor children in need of remedial education opens a small crack in the "wall." The end never justifies the means. More than 200 years of public policy dictate that tax money should be used only for public schools. We must adhere to the bedrock principle of absolute separation of church and state to guarantee complete religious freedom for all.

John V. Kavanaugh

Chevy Chase, Md.

* Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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