Regarding Robert Klose's April 8 essay "Return of the prodigal letter writer": His defense of the aesthetics of old-fashioned pen to paper struck a warm spot with me. As a member of the US Navy I have stayed in contact with my mentors, senior officers who guided my career and former college professors, using old-fashioned mail.
From Algiers to Iraq, I found letter writing to friends a form of mental relaxation and a means of gathering the sights, sounds, and issues that faced me at the time. Many times I have been able to solve problems by describing them in a letter to a Navy, Marine, or Army colleague.
Despite the arrival of e-mail, deployed sailors and marines still yearn for the magical words, "mail call." It showed that someone cared enough to put thoughts on paper, place those thoughts and best wishes in an envelope, and mail it at the corner post office. I still read my spouse's letters from when I was at sea and treasure them.
Your April 9 article "Libraries that loan Picassos, not Grishams" showcases a model that American public libraries would benefit from emulating, especially as our culture becomes increasingly digital, dependent on the Internet and TV for information and entertainment.
While funding for libraries has fallen accordingly, one strategy could be to gradually restructure them to expand beyond simply providing printed materials to being egalitarian storehouses of culture, where patrons could borrow art and music to enrich their day-to-day lives.
The question stands, however, whether American philanthropists and funding organizations will step up to the challenge of creating such cultural storehouses for all Americans.
Nicholas J. Mattos
Regarding Jorge Castañeda's April 9 Opinion piece "Immigration reform would help warm Mexicans to US 'melting pot' ": Mexicans do not, as Mr. Castañeda writes, face "racism" in the United States, because Mexicans are not a race. They do, however, face ethnic or even cultural prejudice. To charge US politicians with "racism" is almost always an intellectual shortcut, a way of condemning those on the other side without having to actually identify their shortcomings.
Racism is a bad word and consequently those to whom it has been applied must also be bad - without proof or any real discussion. Castañeda's argument is a good one. He shouldn't weaken it by meaningless political jargon.
Green Valley, Ariz.
Regarding Colman McCarthy's April 7 Opinion piece "Extend Canadian decency to seals": I appreciate Mr. McCarthy's comments on the Canadian seal cull, but please note that the cull is not planned to continue indefinitely. The idea is to reduce the seal population to a more manageable level. Many states in the US need to do this to handle the huge white-tailed deer populations.
McCarthy might also examine who has been overfishing the cod off the coast of Canada. Much damage was done to those fish stocks in the 1970s from nations other than Canada.
Why do many Americans demand that one of the most respected nations in the world - Canada - be more decent? As an American studying in Canada, I think many in the US are too easily swayed by images of baby seals, when pictures of tuna or cod fishing would never have the same effect.
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