Gender Politics Down South

In "Dixie Politics: Boys Clubs Still Prevail" (June 10), the author is correct in her assessment that Southern traditions and its "good old boy" networks are preventing women from achieving positions in state legislatures and Congress. While there is a traditional Southern bias against women in the political ranks, there are other factors that exclude women from top positions. Southern male members of Congress stay in office much longer than those serving in other regions. In fact, six of the 10 longest serving senators have come from Southern states.

In addition, the recent growth of the religious right has further limited the opportunities of female candidates - particularly of pro-choice females. Overall, if the South was a nation, it would rank below Japan, most of South America, and Europe in percentage of female representatives. Unfortunately, the causes are difficult to abate because of the forces of time and culture.

George A. Dean

Southport, Conn.

Legitimacy in Cyprus

The author of "US Grabs Reins in New Drive to Reunite Cyprus" (June 6) does an excellent job presenting the opinions of the Turkish-Cypriot side, but forgets to ask the opinions of the legitimate government of Cyprus. For example, in her explanation of the brief history of the dispute, she fails to mention the ethnic cleansing that took place in 1974. Close to 200,000 Greek, Armenian, and Maronite Cypriots were forced to leave their homes. Thousands were killed and dislocated as a result of the fighting.

The Cyprus issue is not an odd dispute with "plenty of historical baggage" as implied by the article, but an invasion of a small state by its powerful neighbor. The Cyprus problem is not going to be solved until all refugees are able to return to their homes. The Monitor has taken a courageous stand in fighting against ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and supporting the human rights of oppressed people in Africa and elsewhere. Why does the Monitor seem to pay no regard to the violations in Cyprus?

George Nakos

Smyrna, Ga.

Giving the Clintons a fair shake

What a pleasure it was to read the article "Clintons as First Parents: Waltons of White House" (June 5), which actually reports something pleasant about the Clintons. I am sure many others are tired of the mean-spirited and constant attacks on the Clintons. I can remember back to the administration of President Coolidge; in all that time I do not recall seeing a president and his wife so continually assailed with suspicion, pre-judgment, and meanness. Thank you for a pleasant report!

Eleanor Miner

San Diego

Saving the Songbird

In the article "Requiem for the Songbird" (June 10) the author accurately describes the myriad reasons for declining songbird populations but fails to identify the fundamental cause - our steadily increasing human population growth. In turn, the author misses the most compelling solution - continuing and increased US support for international family planning programs.

The article points to the loss of habitat, due to forest fragmentation and farming techniques, as an explanation for the songbird's disappearance. This can be directly attributed to our growing population. High-birthrate nations often feel compelled to exploit their natural wealth, which turns native grasslands into cash crop fields. Their immediate need for food, jobs, public services, and infrastructure far outweigh the potential environmental consequences. To put a stop to the vicious cycle of deforestation, the US needs to support international family planning programs with increased funds and greater awareness.

Lise Rousseau

Boulder, Colo.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published in the Monitor and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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