Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Azeris in Iran, the censure of LeBron James for not acting on Darfur, the immigration bill, and the lack of political change on Capitol Hill.

Iran treats all its citizens equally, including Azeris

In response to the May 22 article, "Azeris caught in US-Iran tussle": By presenting an inaccurate description of the Azeri population, the article misstates the facts about the cultural and other rights of ethnic minorities in Iran, which are fully protected by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic and the various branches of the government.

The assertion of Azeris' "long-brewing frustration" is contradicted by another statement in the article that the Azeris "have a long history of being well integrated into the highest power structures" in contemporary Iran. As with the majority of United Nations member states, Iran is a multiethnic country with a proud history of tolerance, inclusivity, and participation in the political and economic processes by all Iranians, who are treated as equal before the law, irrespective of their ethnic background.

The claim of a "growing nationalist movement" along Azeri irredentist lines is unfounded. With their unflinching Iranian nationalism deeply rooted in history, Iran's Azeris have openly expressed their disgust at the US attempts to weaken Iran by sowing divisions among the Iranians by using the so-called ethnic card. Contrary to the article's assertion, Azeris are not "caught in US-Iran tussle," and the misleading headline papers over the article's content, which indicates the futility of the US's neocolonial "divide and conquer" policy vis-à-vis Iran and which is firmly rebuffed by all Iranians.

M.A. Mohammadi
Press secretary, Iranian mission to the United Nations
New York

Editor's note: While many well-integrated Azeris in Iran may not share the nationalist sentiments of Azeri activists, there is considerable evidence of simmering discontent over many decades. Ethnic Azeris' increasingly vocal demands for cultural and linguistic rights have been noted by groups such as Amnesty International, which reported in February, for instance, that hundreds of ethnic Azeris in Iran were arrested after demanding that they be allowed to educate in their own language – a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Chiding LeBron James about Darfur?

In his May 24 Opinion piece, "On Darfur, LeBron drops the ball," Jonathan Zimmerman calls Mr. James's actions "cowardly." I am troubled by this epithet that was directed at James – who is just a few years out of high school – because he doesn't take a written position on Darfur. James states that he doesn't have enough information about the issue to take a stand. I buy that completely. When I was a young adult, I didn't know about the Holocaust. James may not be a politically sophisticated individual, and to call his decision cowardly is inappropriate, to say the least.

Dan Cooper
Los Gatos, Calif.

Regarding Jonathan Zim­merman's May 24 Opinion piece about LeBron James and Darfur: I think there is nothing more obvious in denoting someone's character than when they are in a secure position in life and still cower when asked to take responsibility for even a small issue such as signing a petition on Darfur that is to go to the Chinese government.

Mr. James has shown his true stripes. And so has Michael Jordan, who "refused to endorse African-American Democrat Harvey Gantt in his bid to unseat Republican (and ex-segregationist) Jesse Helms in a racially tinged 1990 Senate race in [Mr.] Jordan's home state of North Carolina." Both sports stars are poor role models for those who make hard decisions every day in tenuous conditions.

Michael J. Burke
Stoneham, Mass.

The demerits of the immigration reform bill

John Hughes's May 23 Opinion column, "Merits of the bipartisan immigration reform deal," concludes that the current Senate bill may not be perfect, but it "already contains some remarkable compromises among liberal senators such as Edward Kennedy, conservative senators ... and the White House."

Mr. Hughes notes that illegals perform many needed services and that employers like paying them less than American workers. But this policy undercuts our own less-skilled laborers' ability to find jobs and receive livable wages. Moreover, America fought a Civil War to prevent the labor exploitation called slavery. Why should America be proud simultaneously to hurt its own workers and exploit others?

Hughes also notes that terrorists may be seeking to infiltrate across the porous US borders. When our physical and economic security are so at risk, it is difficult to take any comfort from this "remarkable compromise."

Moreover, the public has had no serious exposure to this mammoth bill. Similar promises of immigration law reforms never materialized. Many Americans have zero confidence in the glib promises of our current politicians. In the absence of an Abe Lincoln, we'd do well to put our initial trust in an honest fence.

Mark Sussman
Bellevue, Wash.

In response to John Hughes's Opinion column about immigration reform: I believe that merit should go to the government for at least trying, but that's as much credit as I would give them. The president and Congress are bowing down to special interest groups and big business.

We as Americans are a generous group, and we are willing to help our neighbors in need. But our Mexican neighbors are not suffering from a totalitarian dictatorship, a communist takeover, or genocide. They are suffering from a corrupt government that they were able to elect. We are not helping the Mexican people by giving them a handout.

The Americans of past generations and our own fellow Americans today are dying in wars for our freedom and safety. The least the Mexican people can do is try to fight for their rights in their own country.

I'm sure we need people to work here in the US, so we don't need a mass deportation. The US just needs to follow the laws it already has. But we also need an identification policy and perhaps a few other reforms.

Sarah Davoli
St. Louis

What political change on the Hill?

In response to the May 24 article, "US House leaders agree to fund Iraq war without timetables": Why did we elect Democrats to Congress if they simply capitulate and give the president exactly what he would have received in funding from a Republican-led Congress?

Why do we even bother with the expense of an election when policies don't change?

Richard Scherschel
San Diego

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 may appear in print or 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 Op-Ed.

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