When are facts about Nazis not facts?

Gerard DeGroot's opinion piece "History's elusive 'truth' " (Feb. 2) on David Irving, the leading so-called revisionist of the Nazi era, takes an even more bizarre approach to history than Mr. Irving himself in revising the classical conception of history that it is science applied to retrieving and interpreting the record of the human past.

To say that "there is no such thing as historical fact" is equivalent to saying there is no such thing as any kind of fact, since all factual knowledge about the natural world is derived from observation of that world and interpretation of it.

It is not surprising that in attempting to put a favorable face on Irving, Mr. DeGroot is driven to abandoning historical truth itself.

Lawrence Cranberg, PhD Austin, Texas

Gerard DeGroot's opinion piece "History's elusive 'truth' " should awaken and alarm lest we repeat history. It is important to get it right.

Reconstructing history to fit a generation's need to assuage guilt, or to further political goals, was cited appropriately in the article as a vehicle used by Nazis in the '30s.

The same thing is going on in our classrooms today as our history books are loaded with the view that the Civil War was fought over states' rights rather than slavery. Why? Because it lets descendants of slave owners off the hook and continues to ignore the plight of descendants of slaves. History repeats itself in the selfishness and cruelty of the past which the present should be correcting.

Jacquelyn Reid Lakeview Terrace, Calif.

Wanted: better-behaved athletes

Your article "Violence and culture of star athletes" (Feb. 7) at least takes the first step in stripping the myth regarding athletes and their behavior.

I come from an era, not that far removed, when we had role-model heroes from the field of sports. We followed their endeavor on the field or in the game, not in the criminal courts. You no longer need just good sports-stats books, but now must also keep your Black's Law Dictionary close at hand when you read the sports pages.

The new America has made criminals role models. It is now considered acceptable to forgive or forget athletes' various felonious activities. We no longer hold athletes responsible for their actions.

Until we vote with our feet, and withhold support for these sad excuses for our athletic best, the NFL will continue to stand for "national felons' league."

Gary Rog Hamburg, N.Y.

Educating about adoption

Regarding your article "Rescuing babies from abandonment" (Jan. 24): High school health teachers should be taught to educate their students about adoption.

Here in New Jersey, adoptive parents have visited senior health classes to introduce an adoption-awareness program for the past four years.

We have spoken to over 4,000 students, answered many questions, and changed views, regarding adopting and relinquishing a child, from negative to positive ones.

Many students did not realize that birth parents have the right to choose their child's adoptive parents, or that they can have some continuing contact or information as the child grows up. Before they heard our stories, they had thought adoption was the cruelest thing possible for a child.

The teenage boys especially were surprised to learn that they had rights as a birth father. These scared young parents need to know their options.

Pat Bennett Summit, New Jersey

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

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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