Ending racial divide needs patience, not polarizing

Leonard Steinhorn's polarizing opinion piece "On race, Rocker's hardly alone" (Jan. 19) adds no value to ongoing efforts to improve race relations in the United States.

Granted, everyone harbors some form of prejudice. It is a function of the fallibility of human nature. But this fallibility spans racial lines, and painting all prejudices with the same broad brush ignores the intergenerational, incremental improvement that is occurring among us with exponential force.

Every parent is, to a large degree, a product of his or her parents' modeling. Those parents who actively submerge whatever amount of prejudice may exist in their souls raise kids who are incrementally better. To those who suggest that this process is too slow, only one response is necessary: It is the only process that will work; patience is required; attitudes cannot be legislated.

I grew up in segregated (and then integrated) southern Louisiana. I know what kind of environment that was; I know what kinds of words and ideas frequented conversation and action. I also know that I rejected those words and ideas. My son does not hear or see any of it. At seven years old, he retains the innocence of his infancy regarding the racially and culturally varied kids he plays with. He'll grow up to be a better man than me.

News reports suggest that John Rocker's parents apparently raised him in a nonracist atmosphere. Some other vile person must have influenced his world view. There are winners and losers in this race against racism. To suggest that race relations of Y2K are the same as those of the 1940s or even the 70s is ridiculous. To suggest that submerged latent prejudices do not incrementally improve making matters better is impatient, ugly race-baiting.

To equate Rocker's blatherings with the silent personal stewardship of individual prejudices embedded in the rest of us is a lie.

Ron Duplantis Huntington Beach, Calif.

We have not finished the work of becoming a nation which "judges a man by the content of his character, rather than the color of his skin," but Leonard Steinhorn's attack on white Americans was hugely unfair, and it was not helpful.

Doris I. Watkins Orland, Maine

While John Rocker's bigoted statements are hurtfully ugly and ignorant, Leonard Steinhorn's opinions might be more dangerous. Few thinking folk look seriously to our professional sportsmen as informed and insightful seers of the human predicament, but we do listen to professors at institutions of higher learning for just that purpose.

R.T. Hoffman North Berwick, Maine

Eliminate sales tax

While I strongly agree to the need for fundamental reform in our cumbersome tax system, I challenge Murray Weidenbaum's premise in his Jan. 20 opinion piece "Taxing e-sales without hindering the Net."

On the question of whether to tax e-commerce or to exempt it, Mr. Weidenbaum says both answers have shortcomings, but he fails to mention that the real shortcoming is the combined federal, state, and local tax burden that now takes approximately half of everyone's earnings.

One small step toward equity between main street merchants who charge sales taxes and e-merchants who do not is not to add the regressive tax to e-commerce, but to eliminate it from all sales transactions and balance it by eliminating spending for wasteful, redundant, and unnecessary government programs.

Ned Vare Guilford, Conn.

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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