Courting diversity - in Africa and at home

Your Dec. 4 article "South Africa's island of white" reports: "Some residents say the recent bombings are a reflection of just how bad whites feel." These residents speak purely for themselves - right wing and Afrikaans. There are other whites in South Africa who embrace the exciting, flawed, but dynamic country in which we now live.

It may seem like picking semantic holes in your copy, but please avoid this casual use of language. It creates an unfortunate impression among those who don't know our country that whites are a monolithic block. Let me have the dignity of differentiation in 2002.
Mandi Kraft

Your Dec. 5 editorial "Courting racial diversity" refers to an upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding a case against the University of Michigan.

Your argument is that, "White applicants to the university's law school and its main undergraduate school argue that they were not admitted after less-qualified black applicants were given special consideration."

The definition of "less qualified" would seem to depend on the university's (and perhaps ultimately the Supreme Court's) objective. Is the objective to maximize incoming students' LSAT scores, or is the objective to graduate a culturally diverse, culturally aware group of lawyers?

If the second objective holds, the more diversity there is in the student population, the better, and a prospective student who can add more diversity may well be more qualified than another.

Ultimately, the question should be which type of graduates could best serve society.
Ted Bilek
Mt. Horeb, Wis.

The power of one

Regarding your Nov. 25 article "At a Kenyan crossroads, one cop does it right": This is one of the finest articles I've read in a long time. While I learned about some realities in Kenya, the focus was on how a single person can make an enormous difference. We need more such stories.
Joanne Baek
Redfield, N.Y

Bush's war on terrorism expands

In response to your Dec. 2 article "In Kenya, a history of attacks": These stories dramatize how President Bush's preoccupation with Iraq has helped make peace in Palestine part of the US war on terrorism. It is ironic that these links are fine with both Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Osama bin Laden. Mr. Bush is putting war with Iraq ahead of both fighting terrorism and promoting Arab-Israeli peace.

The process of shuffling multidimensional tasks to favor only one dimension, called repartitioning, has no simple solution, only compromises. Anyone with more than two years in the federal bureaucracy could have reminded the president of these trade-offs.
Grant Hilliker
Columbus, Ohio
Retired US Foreign Service Officer

Let students do their own work

Three cheers for Carol Zoref's Nov. 26 "Class Act" column (Learning) "Is that an authentic application essay or the work of a ghostwriter?" As a college counselor, I am fortunate to work at a school with a parent body that understands that applying to college can be an important developmental step for young people, and that it isn't simply about getting in.

Ms. Zoref's essay reminds us all that we need to empower the future leaders of tomorrow with a sense of integrity and self-reliance. As a wise educator once told me, "Never do for a student what they can easily handle themselves."
Peter Jennings
Concord, Mass.
Director of College Counseling

Concord Academy

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.