Normalize ties with Cuba, as US did with China

Regarding "Carter in Cuba: Then what?" (May 13): Former president Jimmy Carter's visit to Cuba is a hopeful sign that we may be able to develop reasonable economic and diplomatic relations with Cuba, but also a confirmation that the right-wing Cuba lobby in the United States will thwart attempts to alter the current "satanizing" of Fidel Castro.

I share the concerns of those who condemn the lack of human rights in Cuba, but I must point out that the US welcomes an expanding economic relationship with China, whose regime is at least as repressive as Mr. Castro's. One of the arguments for the expansion of relations with China is that it would have a salutary effect on efforts to improve the less-than-stellar Chinese performance in the areas of democratization and liberalization of human rights – but such an effect seems far in the future at this point.

If the liberalization argument works for China and the other repressive regimes with whom we have normal diplomatic and economic relations, why doesn't it apply to our relations with Cuba?
Michael E. Bradley
Baltimore, Md.

We should absolutely be working to normalize relations with Cuba. If we want to influence the practices within that country – which is currently posing no threat to the US – open Cuba to US tourism and watch Castro become irrelevant.
John H. Roberts
Sioux City, Iowa

City vs. state control of mascot issue

Your May 6 Editorial "In someone else's moccasins," concludes that it's best for the state of California to leave the issue to local communities and campuses to resolve.

The problem with that approach – as we know all too well here at the University of North Dakota, Home of the Fighting Sioux – is that minority rights, by definition, can always be trumped by the will of the majority.

A majority of Indian students here long have asked for the Sioux name to be changed. The university Senate passed such legislation by a very large majority back in 1993. Yet when the university president set in motion a process that the state board of higher education feared would lead to a change, it took that decision away from him.

On a campus where this issue has generated racist posters and taunts, vandalizing of the cars of Indian students who want the change, anonymous hate mail to faculty and others, and one known death threat, people welcome the pending move of control of this issue by the state of California. Minority rights have never been a matter of national consensus. If they were, there would be no need to protect them.
James McKenzie
Grand Forks, N.D.

The passing of a bill such as the one being discussed in California may set a precedent for all states to follow, but lawmakers and others must make sure First Amendment rights of American Indians are not being violated. The mascot issue needs to be handled locally, along with tribal entities. We're talking about a cultural world separate from the majority's theories – a world of Indian nations that live under their own sense of family structure and identity. When will we learn that they are sovereign people, able to handle their own affairs?

In addition, your Reader's Write column (May 9) printed a letter that addressed the issue of Minnesota students dressing up as cowboys and Indians, hollering "Get back to the reservation." I wanted to make sure it was clear to your readers that this practice has been eliminated and is no longer in use.
Betty Ann Gross
Watertown, S.D.Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe

Lake Traverse Reservation

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