Letters to the Editor

Readers write about race relations, nuclear technologies, climate change, language, and Memorial Day politics.

Finding similarities with those who are different

As a white woman with a bachelor's degree in African-American studies, I found the May 24 article, "Unlikely Pioneer: Parker High's first white graduate," interesting. As an adult reentry student, my experience was different from that of Crystal Wadsworth, the white graduate of Parker High, because while the black students may have been my academic peers, most were the age of my sons. Perhaps for that reason, I call my experience a privilege rather than "an act of courage."

But, regardless of the label, I believe racism can be addressed one person at a time. I do not mean to excuse lax civil rights, but I discovered in myself that the personal is often intertwined with the political. I would have never called myself a racist – my godchildren are black – but every day and in every black studies class, I had to face the unconscious, cultural racism that had seeped into my white bones. The trend of resegregation in the North and South should not surprise anyone – it is most comfortable for us all to sit with homogeneous, like-minded people who agree on what is so. But from each unlike "other," we can learn how alike we all are.

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My hat is off to Crystal Wadsworth and to the friends she made at Parker High. They are all pioneers in personal responsibility, creating a world that works for everyone.

Marilyn Bouchard Lugaro
Huntington Beach, Calif.

Differences in nuclear technologies

Regarding the May 30 article, "China, nuclear tech, and a US sale": The concern of some that the technology behind the commercial reactor coolant pumps from the AP1000 reactor design could be used in Chinese nuclear submarines is not realistic. I have operated both nuclear-submarine and large commercial reactors, and little of the design of the 7,000 horsepower, garage-sized commercial pumps applies to the 400 horsepower trash-can-sized naval units.

Aside from the size, the naval units are variable speed to avoid making characteristic noise. A large single-speed pump built for maximum efficiency at its single speed has little carryover to a small variable-speed pump built to run silently.

Bill Brickenstein
Spring City, Tenn.

It's not just CO2 that affects climate

The May 17 article, "Small particles create big climate impact," was badly needed. It explains well that there are climate impacts from dust and particles from other sources – and not just impacts from CO2. Deposits of these particles on snow and ice help to absorb heat and contribute to snow and ice melt.

A mandated decrease in particle emissions from vehicles and power plants, which started following the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the enactment of related legislation, also has had a major impact on climate change. Cleaner fuels, filters, and the reduction of sulfur-dioxide emissions have contributed, too.

G. Stanley Doore
Silver Spring, Md.

No tears shed over lost Latin

I read the May 25 article, "Little bits of Latin we're losing." While I'm as fond as anyone of traditional forms, I must reluctantly say "good riddance!"

I write training documents consumed by a worldwide audience, so we are typically asked to write "that is" and "for example" instead of "i.e." and "e.g." to minimize confusion. And I can't think of a time that I would use "viz." or "No."

I must confess that when I see these little Latin tags in otherwise ordinary English text, I can only imagine the author grinning and thinking, "See how well educated I am?!"

Gary Sullivan
Germantown, Md.

Expanding opportunities to learn Arabic

The May 17 article, "Why the pool of Arabic speakers is still a puddle," notes that post-9/11 increases in Americans learning Arabic have slowed.

At The American University in Cairo (AUC), we see a more encouraging story. The number of students applying and coming to AUC's Arabic Language Institute for intensive and advanced Arabic has increased every year in the past five. As Arabic language programs at US universities expanded and improved, so, too, has the quality of students coming to Cairo for advanced study. There are currently 160 Americans engaged here at various levels of intensive Arabic and about 300 more learning the language as part of their undergraduate courses.

The Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), a consortium of 21 US universities, has been sending American graduate students to AUC for intensive, advanced Arabic for 40 years. Next month CASA extends that program to the University of Damascus; and our Cairo program will expand further as we move to our new campus next year.

Fluent Arabic is still all too rare a skill for American journalists, business executives, and diplomats working in the Middle East. But the opportunities for those who want to learn are still expanding.

Ali S. Hadi
Vice provost and director of graduate studies and research, The American University in Cairo
Cairo

Politics is part of Memorial Day

I am writing in response to Paul Morin's May 25 Opinion piece, "Keep politics out of Memorial Day." I must profoundly disagree with Mr. Morin's conclusions. I should probably note here that I come from a military family.

Military conflict is by definition a political exercise. While we might want to divorce the loss of life from the context in which it occurs, this is an unhealthy and ultimately self-defeating piece of mental gymnastics. It allows us to hide from some very unpleasant issues, but it doesn't make them go away. It allows us to honor the dead without considering whether or not at least some of their blood is on our hands. It allows us to salute their sacrifice, while avoiding the question "Was it worth it?"

I assert that asking the question "Was it worth it?" does not dishonor the service and sacrifice of our military forces – quite the opposite, in fact. I don't know of a single service man or woman who doesn't serve hoping against hope that their children and grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren won't have to.

When we send our service men and women to die in ill-conceived, ill-planned, poorly executed, and potentially counterproductive conflicts, when we follow bad leadership, when we refuse to stand up for what we feel is right – that is when we dishonor the service of all who came before.

Loré McLaren
Truckee, Calif.

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