Comparing Milosevic and Hitler In describing US policies toward Yugoslavia, the author of the opinion piece "Standing firm on Kosovo" (May 19) appears inclined to oversimplify and confuse the subject.

The author claims that efforts to engage Slobodan Milosevic in negotiations are like "suggesting that in the middle of World War II, after the Nazi occupation of Austria, the conquest of Holland, Belgium, and France, and the fire bombing of Britain, we should have invited Adolf Hitler in for a chat about ending the conflict." Such a comparison is not tenable for, although the characters of the two leaders may be somewhat similar, the two wars definitely are not.

The author also says "Americans who have supported the air war are now becoming uneasy because Mr. Milosevic has not cracked." More likely, many Americans are uneasy about a military strategy that has not alleviated the Albanians' suffering and might in fact have increased it.

Anna R. Dadlez, University Center, Mich.

Too quick to control guns

Regarding your editorial "Useful Steps on Guns, Justice" (May 25): I disagree with your position that the bill narrowly approved by the Senate moves our society in the right direction.

Current federal laws make the possession of guns at school a felony crime. In 1996 and 1997 there were thousands of incidents involving kids with guns at schools, but the US Justice Department prosecuted only 13 cases. In light of this fact, I find the rush for more gun laws to be misguided at best.

More alarming is that the Senate's action appears motivated by chiefly political considerations.

Consider for a moment the concern about the media's role in copycat incidents. This concern seems well grounded, but should new laws be passed to muzzle the media in its reporting of high-school crimes?

And what if those worried about the copycat implications were to make their case loudly and persuasively enough to influence the politicians who pass our laws? Is the media prepared to tolerate such controls in the name of the "greater good" or in order to "save our children"?

Anyone who worries about the erosion of freedom of the press or freedom of religion should shudder when popular hysteria motivates our lawmakers to chisel away at other constitutional guarantees. Where is the sober, scholarly reflection on the long-range implications of the choices we are making today?

David D. Brown, Lexington, Va.

Coca-Cola in the classroom

The Monitor has found a jewel in Andrew Bard Schmookler, whose opinion articles are intelligent and timely. Three cheers for his opinion piece "Cancel ads in school" (May 25). It is plain that the almighty dollar is the reason behind corporate money for our schools. Corporations must not be allowed to buy our most precious assets, our children. If the corporate world really cared about the eduction of our children, they would donate their money with no strings attached.

Harriet C. Maloney, Bluemont, Va.

Debate without hyperbole My thanks to the author of the opinion piece on environmentalism and coal mining in Colorado ("Closing the gap between ideals and real life," May 18). Extremes such as those the author encountered in the Sierra Club ("Big Oil," "Big Timber," etc.) seem to be manipulative substitutes for efforts to present issues realistically. Would we pay attention without those catch words?

Janet Bailey, Aurora, Colo.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, we can only print a selection. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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