The Aug. 1 article "Hunger is spreading in Africa" states that since 1970 the percentage of hungry people in sub-Sahara Africa remains at a stubborn 33 to 35 percent of the population. In the same time period, the population increased from 88 million to an estimated 200 million.
Thus, the article states, Niger's population is increasing by 3.3 percent per year and is expected to double in just 21 years.
Sending food to the region will not change the percentage of people starving in the next 35 years. Why not write about the truly desperate need of African women for birth-control services? Then, in 10 to 15 years, their children just might have a better life.
Food aid is temporary, while controlling family size is the only long-term solution. I hope and pray we don't remain satisfied with a 33 to 35 percent rate of hunger in sub-Sahara Africa while we excuse ourselves with occasional food aid.
In response to the Aug. 16 editorial "Heading Off Hunger in Africa": While international inaction during past food crises and famines has sometimes been blamed on poor institutional memory or the need to show photos of sickly and dying children in order to inspire citizens to take action, this cannot presently serve as an excuse in West Africa.
The media, governments, and NGOs have all clearly explained that lack of food availability and access could lead to the deaths of thousands in Niger, and now there is no time for forgetting before the next potential tragedy. Indeed, the next moment of need has already arrived at our doorstep.
Matthew J. Miller's Aug. 16 Opinion piece, "Indian mascots and common courtesy," on the right of native Americans to decide whether or not the use of native American mascots by college sports teams is offensive is a beacon of fairness, reason and, as he says, common courtesy in a nation largely devoid of such values in its public discourse.
Mr. Miller displays an uncommon willingness to step back, recognize his own limitations and advocate for the best possible (and most reasonable) answer to an issue that has long been a flash point for racial tensions.
The United States could use more Matthew J. Millers.
William O. Pate II
I am part Indian and am offended by the idea that a white male is offended for me. I have a voice and I can use it very well.
The University of Oklahoma used to have a mascot called "Little Red," but some white people decided that we should be offended and he was removed.
Oklahoma means "The Land of the Red Man"; I wonder when some white people are going to get offended for us again and change it to mean the "The Land of the White Man."
The white man has taken just about everthing the Indians have - why not what little pride we have left?
I would be proud to have Little Red ride across a football field again.
It's safe to say that somewhere someone will be offended by something. Not to make light of the latest instance - but what if I'm offended by blandness, not to mention the loss of my alma mater's mascot, the Seminoles of Florida State University?
Furthermore, if we're doing this to show respect for native Americans, I've got a feeling they'd rather have their land back.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, 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. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.
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 Letters.