Ivory Coast locals have reasons to resent Europeans

Your Feb. 27 article, "Hearts heavy, whites feeling driven from Africa," about Europeans leaving the Ivory Coast is short-sighted because it ignores the fundamental reason locals have to resent those European implants, particularly the French.

What you fail to say is that those European expatriates remain among the privileged few 50 years after the independence of Ivory Coast, a country where poverty and the absence of democracy remain the norm. French firms enjoy lucrative contracts and there are significant differences in salary between locals and expatriates with the same levels of expertise.

No attempt to understand the current situation and build bridges for the future should ignore these realities. The looming question is whether or not the French government is ready to loosen its grip on its former empire in the name of peace. The forecast is not encouraging.
Daniel Edibe
San Francisco

I have read your recent articles about the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe. The racism against whites in the Ivory Coast and in Zimbabwe as well as the existence of slavery in other parts of Africa is distressing.

I may have black ancestry, but being called an African-American is no compliment. The negative connotation of "African" is sad. I'm glad to be an American in the United States.
Tamika Hatfield-Brown

Democrats can make room for debate

Regarding your Feb. 26 editorial "Divided Democrats": The most surprising comment to me was, "What will an antiwar candidate do, for example, if there is no war, or the war is over?"

The push for an attack on Iraq is but an expression of the Bush administration's foreign policy. No matter what happens in Iraq in the next months, the Democrats still can, and should, bring that doctrine of preemptive strikes and US military supremacy into the national debate. This foreign policy is setting our nation's course for the future.

Has the American public really had the opportunity to consider how this will affect our security and opportunities at home and abroad?

The Democrats have the opportunity to ask such questions and to put forth viable alternatives.
Marie Pavish
Richland, Wash.

Don't scoff at safe rooms

Regarding Mark Rovner's Feb. 26 opinion piece "Don't return that duct tape just yet": It's a bit misleading; there is some scientific evidence that safe rooms with duct tape could have some marginal value in the event of chemical release.I think the administration should be taken to task for they way they delivered the message, but some of these safety-preparation ideas are not as screwy as they seem.
James Jay Carafano
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Mr. Rogers, a welcomed visitor

I wish you had described Mr. Rogers's program differently in News in Brief, Feb. 28. To state that his aim was "to teach social skills to pre-schoolers" seems to miss Mr. Rogers's point. He was intent on introducing children to the world, not on teaching them how to behave. He dealt with loss, events frightening to children, the myriad personalities they might meet, difficult issues like divorce, and difficult feelings like jealousy and anger. Social skills may well be a byproduct of feeling good inside, but Mr. Rogers came into our homes as a nondidactic visitor, warm-hearted, wise, and full of good humor.
Jean Alderman
Framingham, Mass.

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