In a 'who cares?' election, a need for civics lesson

Regarding "To many, president is no big deal" (Aug. 11): As a 70-something retired teacher of United States history, government, and citizenship, I found your article disturbing, but not surprising. Subscribing to three newspapers, mornings I read about the current presidential campaign. Then evenings, I watch the cable political pundits interview the candidates.

Although I agree with the article's assessment of youth's disinterest in politics, I am concerned about the seeming cause - lack of education in civics. Pretty scary, I'd say.

One of my fondest memories as a teacher of US citizenship - in a downtown Los Angeles adult school - is that of a 50-year-old Mexican-American shipyard worker, who, on the day he was sworn in as a US citizen, stopped on his way home and registered to vote. This was in the 1980s.

To all the more than 50 percent of Americans who don't exercise their franchise: Please don't come whining and complaining to this lady about what's wrong with the government.

Mary Meyer Pasadena, Calif.

The poetic pulse of politics

Thank you for keeping the well-crafted words and values of poet Robert Pinsky in the public eye. [Mr. Pinsky's column "The poetry of politics" ran in the Monitor during the weeks of the Republican and Democratic conventions.] His readings on public television these past three years have been a joy to hear as well as sharply honed reminders of what the human scene can be. The paradox of "jury duty" and "bloviation" in our society needs to be stated again and again!

Doris H. Thurston Port Townsend, Wash.

Restoring before the wrecking ball

Your Aug. 11 article "From basement to Broadway" about The Roundabout Theater Company's restored Broadway house and the "rebirth of Times Square" was informative and factual, with one exception.

It is a well-publicized myth that the Ford Center for the Performing Arts (former home of the musical "Ragtime") was renovated from two abandoned Broadway theaters on 42nd Street. The legendary Apollo and Lyric theaters were, in fact, demolished to make way for the new building. One outside wall and a couple of interior details are all that remain from the original structures.

This is an important distinction. Cora Cahan, president of The New 42nd Street (which the government founded specifically to protect these two theaters and five others) still claims her organization is bringing new life to seven of the theaters on this block. In the case of the Apollo and Lyric, "new life" apparently meant destruction.

Andy Buck Brooklyn, N.Y.

Portion of 'dirty diamonds'

In response to your July 28 article "Dirty Diamonds": The article states that so-called "conflict diamonds" account for 10 to 15 percent of diamond jewelry sold internationally. This number is incorrect. De Beers, which markets two-thirds of the world's diamonds, the British government, and human rights groups all acknowledge that 4 percent of world diamond production comes from areas of conflict.

Nevertheless, De Beers and the entire diamond community believe that even one diamond used to fuel conflict is one diamond too many. Therefore, the diamond industry has enacted strong measures to shut out illicit diamonds, including a chain of warranty from mine to market that will certify the legitimate diamonds that make up the vast majority of the marketplace.

Joan Parker New York Diamond Information Center

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