From profiling to politics, race too easily dominates

Regarding your Dec. 4 editorial "Profiling with respect": There is no "profiling with respect" when it comes to any nonwhite person in the United States. Such an assertion can be made only by people who have never endured the indignation of being interrogated simply because of the color of their skin. We must ask: Were all malcontent white men from the Midwest "quizzed" after the Oklahoma City bombing that Timothy McVeigh masterminded? Quizzing Arabs is nothing short of out-and-out racism.

Trina Jackson Boston

In response to "Houston mayoral race as face of future politics" (Nov. 29): I recently was in Houston for 18 months, visiting from the United Kingdom. My perception is that the only person interested in turning the campaign into a racial one is Mayor Lee Brown. The radio ads I've heard him run promote the message "vote for me because I'm black like you." After talking with people of all races over the past year and a half, it seems the majority of people think Mr. Brown is a disaster. The June flooding has not been resolved, and Brown has made too few moves, too late, to help.

The press helps form impressions. Creating "racial issues" provides a great deal of power for both good and bad. I agree, there will certainly be more of a minority voice in major US cities, as there should be. However, we needn't escalate the psychology of "us vs. them" around the issue of race, in the US or in the UK.

Joann N. McLaughlin


What Palestinians think of the US

In "In war on terror, don't overreach" (Nov. 15, Opinion), John K. Cooley argues that "despite some early pro-bin Laden street noise by frustrated, mostly young Palestinians in the occupied territories after Sept. 11, even such extremist groups as Hamas and Hizbullah ... have avoided support for bin Laden & Co." This "street noise" was the jubilant demonstrations of Palestinians celebrating the attacks on America. Realizing the televised images would be disastrous for the Palestinian cause, President Yasser Arafat quickly muzzled support for bin Laden. Yet it remained.

On Oct. 12, James Bennet of The New York Times reported "only 7 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza felt that the United States would be justified in attacking Afghanistan, according to a poll taken just before the attacks began, while 1 in 4 thought the terrorist attacks against civilians in the United States were consistent with Islam." The poll was conducted by Dr. Nader Said, the director of the Development Studies Program at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah. If a poll taken by a Palestinian researcher reveals that some 25 percent of Palestinians think terrorist attacks against America was acceptable and in fact "consistent with Islam," how can Mr. Cooley argue that "extremist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah" do not support Osama bin Laden?

Randall S. Geller

Committee for Accuracy in

Middle East Reporting in America


Violinmaking article out of tune

Although I enjoy reading articles about violinmaking such as "Stradivarius: artisan or accidental chemist?" (Nov. 29, Ideas), I must point out the following corrections. It's not, as you have stated, Augustus Stradivarius, but Antonius Stradivari, and it is not Cremora, Italy, but Cremona. I must also say that the article trivialized Stradivarius craftsmanship. Suggesting that "he may not have had much to do with the otherworldly charm of the tones and baritones ... " is just not true.

Julie Katana

Stockton, Calif.

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