Letters to the Editor
Readers write about war-hero candidates, youth voters, and school testing.
What being a 'war hero' means in politics
Regarding Charles Derber and Yale Magrass's April 14 Opinion piece, "What does it mean to call McCain a 'war hero' candidate?": If a hero is somebody who does something above and beyond the call of duty, John McCain himself would be the first to deny he did anything heroic.
Mr. McCain's father was the admiral who was directing the US Navy's war effort in 1967, the year McCain became a POW. Although the North Vietnamese offered McCain an early release from captivity, he refused. His duty simply dictated he remain a prisoner until all those captured before him were released. Thus he languished in the Hanoi Hilton until 1973.
Thomas P. Evans
In response to Charles Derber and Yale Magrass's recent Opinion piece: Finally someone has the courage to challenge the myth of a war hero. To vote for a "war hero" is to vote for an inflated relic of the past. The war-hero candidate is meaningless in a democracy, such as ours, that is devoted to the concept of world peace. Now, if we turn that around and say that we as a democracy are devoted to world peace through military victory, then the war hero is a viable candidate.
Regarding the recent Opinion piece on the meaning of "war heroes": Who should decide what wars are justifiable and what wars are not? The authors are saying it is OK to be a war-hero candidate from what they consider a justifiable war, but that it is not OK to be a war-hero candidate from a war they consider immoral.
A soldier in any war (justifiable or not) who shows unusual courage under fire is a war hero.
Regarding Charles Derber and Yale Magrass's recent Opinion piece on John McCain as a war-hero candidate: The authors omit the facts that by 1968, the Vietnam War had already been in progress for five "futile" years and that the "architects" had all been Democrats. Richard Nixon didn't win the 1968 election by "denigrating antiwar Democrats," because the Democratic nomination was given to pro-war Hubert Humphrey, vice president during the Johnson administration.
In response to Charles Derber and Yale Magrass's recent Opinion piece on war hero candidates: Few decisions are as important as those regarding life and death, yet we have come to idealize those who cede those decisions to others. Where is the honor in killing on command?
Pleasant Hill, Calif.
Youth voters are uninformed
Regarding your May 5 editorial, "To be young and voting": you call the upswing in youthful voting a good thing. However, you do not say if this generation is grounded enough in constitutional understanding, or disciplined enough to consistently vote for what is best for the country – as opposed to personal interests.
Indeed, the paucity of information supplied on the new voters indicates they may vote from uninformed enthusiasm.
Good teachers teach 'for' the test
Regarding Walt Gardner's "Good teachers teach to the test": Mr. Gardner makes one mistake in his piece. His description of what he did as an English teacher is not teaching to the test; it is teaching for the test. That one preposition is the difference between doing what is right and what is, as he notes, "indefensible." Sadly, what is indefensible is often also required by No Child Left Behind and school administrations.
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