Reparations to blacks will give US a moral boost

Recent articles on black reparations ("Campuses struggle to define free speech" March 27 and "Movement to pay slavery reparations gains" Jan. 12) rekindled an interest of mine, as a white, in improving our nation through this unique way. Many unpopular movements turn popular based on an enlightened sense of justice.

We've granted financial compensation to the descendants of Japanese families interned in World War II. This act of Congress didn't by any means erase the past, but it did give us as a nation a psychological and moral boost. It was right and we felt cleaner and better for it.

Now how about compensation to our black citizens in the form of grants of public and private funds to shore up inner-city housing and education? It could be that payment to blacks for past mistakes and neglect will someday actually occur in the United States. Affirmative action may have run its course and reparations may finish the job of racial equality.

Robert C. Goodspeed St. Louis, Mo.

Spy-plane saga may improve relations

The spy-plane encounter off Hainan island has wider meanings for improving US-Chinese relations. "Routine" electronic reconnaissance of enemy territories was invented in World War II and perfected in the cold war. It was prudent in those conditions of actual or impending assault by either side, but it became doctrine over 60 years. It was a cat-and-mouse game at sea and in the air around both US and Soviet borders.

China has been objecting to our monitoring its frontiers, in which the specifics of location and tactics are less important than our injury to China's dignity. Despite rhetoric about Taiwan, there is no imminent or credible threat of Chinese assault on our vital interests.

Only the Bush administration's loose talk about China as competitor, not partner, explains its increased challenges to our flights. Our talk of a Chinese menace can be self-fulfilling with Bush enthusiasm for national missile defense, selling weapons to Taiwan, and breaking off talks with North Korea. Strong states make their own disasters.

Grant Hilliker Columbus, Ohio

Why no outcry for Serbian churches?

Regarding your March 14 opinion article "The Buddha tragedy and beyond": The Taliban's destruction of enormous statues of Buddha in Afghanistan has generated international outrage. By way of contrast, a deafening silence surrounds the plight of Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo. More than 100 churches, many medieval, have been either destroyed or severely damaged since the start of NATO's occupation.

There is a concerted campaign by Kosovo Albanian extremists to eradicate the province's 1,000-year-old Serbian legacy. Fortunately, the three most important medieval monasteries - Gracanica, Decani, and Pec - have so far been spared, but what will be their fate when KFOR eventually departs?

Misha Simic Bedford, United Kingdom

Community colleges deserve praise

Your March 20 article "Community colleges can be the best, but get the least respect" provides an accurate insight into fallacious perceptions concerning community colleges. As an individual whose community college studies eventually helped prepare me for graduate studies at a top business school, I have benefited first-hand from the quality learning environment, dedicated faculty, and committed students that you refer to. The lack of respect often shown towards community colleges is not justified.

Gregory Rice Oakland, Calif.

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