Door reopened to commercial whaling? Your May 28 opinion article "Whales: beyond bumper-sticker chic," which provides a romantic view of the Makah whale kill, reflects a disturbing lack of understanding of the politics of whaling and the realities of what transpired during that kill.

The Makah have been lobbying for years to end the moratorium on whaling and are joined in earnest by the Japanese and the Norwegians, who have a vested interest in the resumption of commercial whaling. In granting the Makah permission to resume this practice, the US has opened the door for discussion on the resumption of commercial whaling.

Since the kill, several native Canadian groups have made requests for the same waiver as the Makah. The kill gives commercial whaling nations not only hope for the resumption of this practice, but precedent.

The whale they killed was well known to whale watching expeditions. She was a juvenile female who knew humans could be trusted. So she swam up to the whaling vessel expecting to have a peaceful encounter, only to have that trust breached by a harpoon and a rifle.

Add to this the fact that the US government has spent over $300,000 in tax money to support this hunt, and more on the Coast Guard, which was protecting the whalers over the past few months, and the entire situation is a total disaster.

The Makah whaling incident is neither simple nor romantic. We no longer require whale products to survive, and the populations of all whale species are tenuous enough without this additional pressure. It is a practice whose time is long gone.

Deborah Rivel, New York

Aid workers not racist

The May 27 letter "Racism and refugees" gives the false impression that the article of May 12 was revealing underlying racism among the aid workers ("Why aid workers call Kosovo the toughest case"). On the contrary, as anyone reading carefully would discover, those workers were deeply concerned and actively involved in the struggles of the African refugees.

As a reader of the Monitor and watcher of CNN, and a reader of the reports of the more active aid organizations, I am well aware of the work of the aid workers, and feel pain that they could be seen as caring more for white people, as the letter suggests.

I do believe the US government and those of some of our European friends do seem slow on the uptake in African tragedies, but this was not the subject of the article.

Mary Porter Wise, Miami, Fla.

Instilling wisdom about firearms

Your Home Front article "At home with guns" (May 26) provided long-overdue balance to the current hysteria about gun misuse and gun safety. It showed there are substantial numbers who have taught our children to respect guns as a tool that can be used responsibly.

I'm the father of three adult children, all of whom were taught to respect the proper use of firearms and the rules of gun safety. Like Bart McCollum in your article, I did not purchase toy guns for them as children so that they could "play guns." They were taught that when you pointed a firearm, it was for the purpose of hitting what you were pointing at. "People" are not a valid target choice.

I teach gun safety at a local school, where I see parents who "just want to have their kids understand about gun safety," without any specific interest in hunting. Doesn't that make more sense than teaching our children to fear something that they don't understand?

John V. Hanson, Morris, Ill.

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