Listening to Jesse Jackson

The editorial "The Jesse Jackson Dimension," March 27, is the first I've seen in a mainstream journal to assess accurately the message of Mr. Jackson's politics. Only generations of structural and "atmospheric" racism could make the general white public, including many liberals, view him with a special suspicion, until we finally, really, take the time to listen. Anne O. Dzawba, Westtown, Pa. Conservative and liberal distinctions

The Opinion page article "Why Cultural Conservatives Love Buchanan," March 9, is a disappointment. The author's use of "cultural conservative" may refer to a narrow slice of society, but has no general applicability to conservatives I know. The statement that "Next to abortion the issue that excites cultural conservatives the most is homosexuality," is absurd.

"Liberal" and "conservative" are not simple opposites. They are different facets of a complex set of attitudes and beliefs; and thus difficult to define. Oregon's Senator Mark Hatfield is a good example of a thoughtful politician with a coherent set of ideas that often frustrates journalists who cannot readily classify him in their narrow definitions of liberal or conservative.

The public dialogue necessary in a democracy is not well served by journalists who set up caricatures, whether of pinko liberals or of reactionary homophobic conservatives. Dennis Backues, Black River, N.Y. Melting pot or salad bowl?

I read with interest the special report "The Melting Pot in Public Opinion," March 27. Articles such as this help us to see what is good about our country and reinforce our best held values.

However, I would like to suggest another metaphor other than "melting pot." I believe that our country is more a "salad bowl" than a melting pot. The melting pot metaphor gives the impression that the ingredients melt together to make one homogeneous product; the separate ingredients give up their identity to achieve that homogeneity. A salad bowl, on the other hand, has a variety of ingredients each of which maintains its own identity. Walter R. Smith, Lynchburg, Va. Contacting Book Aid

Please make available an address for Book Aid, as mentioned in the Opinion page article "Slaking Russia's Thirst for Books," March 30. I am sure others would be as interested as I am in sending money to help send books to Russia. Helen M. Handley, New York, N.Y.

In response to reader requests, the address is as follows:Book Aid, c/o Waterstone's, 37 Ixworth Place,London SW33QH, England.

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