The opinion-page column "Witch Hunting in the Soviet Union," Aug. 30, shows astonishing sympathy for the poor old Soviet Communist Party. Condemning the democratic revolutionaries in Russia and other republics for "witch hunting" makes the author sound like an apologist for 74 years of Marxist totalitarianism.What exactly is wrong with Boris Yeltsin's temporarily shutting down Pravda after decades of scathing propaganda and ruthless oppression? What is wrong with a vigorous ferreting out of those coup sympathizers who tried their best to turn the Soviet Union back into a gulag? Three-quarters of a century of Marxist-Leninist domination can't be undone in a week. The Soviet Communist Party's history is every bit as horrifying as that of Germany's Nazis. Would the author also condemn West Germany for banning the Nazi party or the postwar suppression of Nazi newspapers? Would she prefer that the Gestapo be "reformed" instead of obliterated? Would she also call the Nuremberg trials a "witch hunt"? J. D. Deming, Washington
Over-processed words The article "Complex Machines vs. the Writers' Art," Aug. 29, takes the words right out of my mouth, or at least right off my screen. I'm particularly suspicious about the much-celebrated proliferation of computers on college campuses. When I see students crowded together in warm computer labs trying to compose their papers, I wonder if the students are being served by the machines or to them. These word-processing factories, obviously designed to accommodate computer wiring rather than student writing, have replaced Thoreau's solitary cabin with what looks like an airline reservation center. In the pursuit of convenience and efficiency, we're unintentionally encouraging students to relinquish what writers have needed for centuries: a room of one's own. There is another problem with these machines. Back in the olden days (circa 1981) substantial revision was an annoying necessity because the first draft - hand-written or typed - was a chicken-scratched mess. But nowadays, pressured students punch out a first draft, press a button to correct their spelling, and presto - out comes a beautiful looking manuscript, no matter how carelessly composed. Colleges must more carefully consider the revolutionary effects of computers on students' writing and then use these machines to help their students write better rather than faster. Ron Charles, Elsah, Ill.
Where's pride in our work? Regarding the editorial "Balancing Work and Vacation," Aug. 6: True, some Americans, including many farmers, work long, long hours. It's worth noting that these men and women are proud of their work, and this farming sector of the US economy is a world leader - despite price worries and uncertainty of weather. Could the philosophy of high wage demands and shorter work weeks in many economic sectors, in reality, be contributing to the demise of US competitiveness? These demands have paralleled the fall of the US automobile and tractor industries. Whatever happened to the "joy of work" and recognizing the fulfillment and self-esteem that are products of useful work? If America isn't willing to work and enjoy it, other nations will, and our standard of living will fall. Robert R. Spitzer, Burlington, Wis.