Free media in South Africa is safe

Robert Rotberg's Sept. 16 Opinion piece, "South Africa's free media have no friend in Mbeki," argues that President Thabo Mbeki and his government are threatening to turn out the lights on our hard-won freedom in South Africa.

This assertion is erroneous. Free expression is a core value of our democracy. It is entrenched in our Constitution's bill of rights as firmly as the First Amendment is in America's. It lies at the heart of South Africa's efforts to help renew Africa. President Mbeki's commitment to it is unswerving.

The essence of South African democracy is open discussion, hearing all sides, and consensus-seeking. There is no place for the stifling of criticism or dissent. Down that path lie instability, aborted development, and poverty.
Ambassador Sheila Sisulu
Embassy of South Africa

US-German affection will not dwindle

Regarding your Sept. 24 editorial "Germany's drift": A recent trip through the Rhine Valley revealed to me that the Germans have a greater love for us Americans than we credit ourselves with.

In the long run, no matter what President Bush or Chancellor Schröder may do, I think there is a vast amount of affection toward America, that will overcome all political posturing.
Jack Hedrick
Columbus, Ohio

Teachers need new approach

I very much appreciated your Oct. 1 editorial "Colleges are flunking." It rings a bell consonant with my experience of nearly 40 years of teaching.

I am a believer in the importance of research by teachers, and beyond that, research which is designed to keep the teacher up-to-date in his discipline and ancillary fields is desirable. Teachers need time to broaden their general knowledge, to work one-on-one with students, and personally grade papers and examinations.

The teacher who is concentrating on the publication of the results of intensive and narrow research, usually succumbs to the temptation of confining teaching to lecturing from the same notes year after year, and assigns classroom instruction responsibilities to graduate student assistants. The students suffer the consequences.
Harold E. Hill
Tulsa, Okla.

Gore stepped away with dignity

Regarding Godfrey Sperling's Oct.1 Opinion column "Comparative American dynasties": I must disagree with Mr. Sperling's assessment that Al Gore's "retreat from the spotlight after the election wasn't done with grace."

Mr. Gore's concession speech was very gracious and healing. I thought he was a fine role model for others who have had to face disappointment. From what I remember, Gore was a fine example of grace and dignity, just what a leader should be.
Vicki Cole
Manassas, Va.

Outdated ideas about women

Your Oct. 1 editorial "Growing a woman president" is out of date. Claims of female victimhood are no longer true.

You say voters are getting used to the idea of voting for women, as if there is resistance to officeholders who are female. There is not. Fewer women get to the top in politics or the workplace because they make different career choices than men.

You talk of an old-boy network, when there is no such thing. There is, however, a huge, formal, and growing old-girl network which consists of female-only business, professional, and academic organizations.
Mark R. Godburn
Salisbury, Conn.

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