Why blacks can use the N-word

Regarding the July 15 Opinion "Racial double standards and Dusty Baker's quip": The point that somehow escapes the writer, while he highlights it very well, is that racial minorities can say things about themselves and know the context - and know that it is not threatening. When the phrase comes from a person from another race, it can be seen as offensive. It may not be convenient or politically correct, but decades of oppression take longer than one generation to assuage. Blacks can call each other "nigger" because they know it is not negative. If a white does so, it's usually intended to be offensive. Indians can call each other "skins," but whites had better not. Like it or not, it is the reality we minorities have to live with.
Lawrence Sampson, Delaware/Eastern Band Cherokee

Awake - and alert - before the attack

Regarding your July 11 editorial "When agencies sleep": I object to your using the Pearl Harbor attack as an example of "a lack of alertness - a blasé attitude toward the dangers inherent in a situation."

After having served as executive officer, my late husband took command of the radar company in Hawaii on Dec. 5, 1941 - two days before the attack. Radar sets did not arrive until August of 1941, and training began at once. The Opana site, where the radar blip was spotted, was not installed until after Thanksgiving. All other radar stations were shut down that morning. It took from 7:02 until 7:10 for the two privates on duty to decide to report the large echo to the aircraft information center where the lieutenant on duty - not asleep, as you say - had worked only once before.

Even if the lieutenant had notified somebody, there was no one with any knowledge of what was in the skies, no unified alert posture for Oahu, no distant air reconnaissance. One of the radar trainers told me: "Even if the attack had occurred during operating hours ... nothing would have been made of it." My husband and his men had been working 18-hour days, six days a week, before the attack, so that they could get operational.

Incidentally, the flight of B-17s arrived during the attack. I was there.
Bess Tittle
San Diego

A bird for the birds

Regarding your July 10 article "Starlings overstay their welcome": Thank you for the great story on the nastiest bird in the Americas. Your portrayal of this species is dead on the mark. Here in southeastern Washington this aggressive invader has decimated our native Lewis's woodpeckers, western bluebirds, and many other cavity-nesting birds. Worst yet, this repulsive bird is moving into the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, where it is now competing for nesting cavities with mountain bluebirds, hairy woodpeckers, white-headed woodpeckers, and small forest owls. It would make great sense for USDA Wildlife Services to concentrate on starling elimination instead of killing scores of our native protected fish-eating birds along the Columbia River.
Mike Denny
Walla Walla, Wash.
Blue Mountain Audubon

'The best meat is no meat'

Your article about "organic meat" ("Elite meat," July 14) was informative and interesting, but it did not stress the elementary fact that the best meat is no meat at all.

However healthily "food animals" are raised, they are not a necessary part of the human diet. The suffering to the animals raised for human consumption is about the same, whether they are raised organically or otherwise.
Charles B. Edelman
Los Angeles

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