Regarding "Cross burning: free speech?" (June 4, Editorial): Since Sept. 11, the United States has labeled terrorism as a crime of sufficient stature to go to war against it. Terrorism, as defined by Webster's is "the use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, especially such use as a political weapon or policy." Cross burning is an example in US history of one segment of our population terrorizing another.
In the past, cross burnings preceded the lynching of blacks, the bombing of churches, and the subjugation of an entire race of people. This was terrorism. When crosses were burned, deadly harm followed. The memories of these acts of terror do not fade, nor should they, nor should acts of terror be protected by the First Amendment.
I abhor the message cross burning carries, yet as an American I must defend free speech. Cross burning is similar to the use of T-shirts and bumper stickers. Even though I may not agree with the message, people have a right to voice an opinion no matter what it is.
However, we should be aware of the group mentality that governs cross burners. Cross burning conveys a message most of its proponents could not vocalize alone. People often carry out acts in groups they would never commit as individuals. People who burn crosses fear the diversity which made this country what it is today. They fear most what they can't or won't understand.
Charles R. Dickens
Regarding "Affordable housing the nest still unbuilt" (May 29, Homefront): Marilyn Gardner's column was right on target. On average in the US, a person has to earn an average of $13.87 an hour almost three times the federal minimum wage to be able to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
At the US Conference of Mayors' National Housing Forum last week, at which the mayors urged Congress to address this crisis, they announced their support for the creation of a National Housing Trust Fund that would build, reconstruct, and preserve 1.5 million units of affordable housing in the next decade.
More than 2,300 organizations, elected officials, and religious leaders countrywide are also calling for the establishment of this fund. And in Congress, 27 senators and 176 representatives are cosponsors of National Housing Trust Fund legislation.
Given its support, it is clearly an important initiative to follow. We must continue to fight for housing for all US citizens. Readers who care about the affordable housing crisis in their communities are urged to visit www.nhtf.org to learn whether their congressional delegation is on board and how they can join in.
National Low Income Housing Coalition
My husband and I had to live in a too-small apartment for four years. But we planned, saved, and budgeted, and we are now homeowners. And we did it without government assistance.
There is a right for shelter, but a house? I don't think so. To tax money out of my pocket so my husband and I have to postpone having a family and give it to someone who is not working toward, and making plans for, affording a home, is theft. To drain those who do plan and save, and to give to those who don't only supports laziness.
There's no "right to" something you can't afford. There is a right to shelter which should be found through friends and family, not at the forced expense of a stranger.
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