A Nigerian Stands Up for His Own
As a Nigerian, I find the statistics offered in the opinion-page article "They Slip Out of Nigeria and Drug the World," Sept. 24, rather depressing. While I do not intend to speak for my compatriots who prefer to live dangerously, I think the point must be made that drug couriers constitute only a minute fraction of the Nigerian population. Nigeria is an otherwise great country, with enormous human and material potential, and in spite of its problems, it is unfair to dismiss it, as the author does, as a nation of crooks.
Surely, the Nigerians that go to southern Africa and elsewhere are able to succeed only because they have collaborators in those countries. Every one of them deserves condemnation, and I do think the author's research on the subject is either incomplete or he has chosen to lend further credence to an existing stereotype.
International responses to the drug problem will be more constructive if they are objective.
College Park, Md.
Defining civil disobedience
I am writing in response to the article "Wisconsin Protest Case May Signal Redefinition of Sabotage," Sept. 20.
The act of knocking down three transmitter poles at a US Navy communications center is not something I would characterize as civil disobedience.
Thoreau went to prison for refusing to pay taxes. Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail for refusing to stop legally held protests against racism in the South. Gandhi went to prison for refusing to stop legal and nonviolent protests against colonialism in India. Legitimate civil disobedience is not the violation of a reasonable law in order to draw attention to a larger evil - as is the case with knocking down Navy transmitters. Civil disobedience is the refusal to participate in laws or systems that are unjust.
Immigration law misrepresented
The story "View of Immigration Law, As Seen from the Golden State," Oct. 1, mischaracterizes the landmark illegal immigration reform law that was enacted Sept. 30.
Contrary to what is reported, the new law significantly stiffens enforcement of existing law barring hiring of illegal aliens by increasing interior as well as border enforcement. Specifically, the law authorizes hiring 900 new immigration inspectors over the next three years. And the law establishes new penalties for employers who knowingly hire an illegal alien who was smuggled into the United States.
The article also omits mention of the broad, bipartisan support in Congress for the new illegal immigration reform law as expressed in several votes this year. Final passage of these historic illegal immigration reforms followed votes of 370-37 in the House and 84-15 in the Senate. A week earlier, the House voted 305-123 for an even stronger bill. And last spring, the House voted 333-87 and the Senate 97-3 for even tougher reforms.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R)
House Subcommittee on Immigration
Reviving a 'Chainsaw Requiem'
As a professional forester, and one who spent two seasons logging on the Tongass National Forest, I feel moved to respond to the Sept. 24 story "Chainsaw Requiem." The title of the piece is emotionally charged, and by its words and graphics, the author predicts the outcome he desires.
He states that corporate investors are eager to harvest millions of acres, but only 1.7 million acres are open to harvesting.
Clearcuts are unsightly. Yet, contrary to public perception, clearcutting is a valid harvesting method, whose use often meets practical demands: They secure rapid natural regeneration with good stocking, they increase soil temperature to improve nutrient recycling, and the added sunlight encourages the more shade-intolerant Sitka spruce.
Stephen W. Weber
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