Does determining who was 'first' in Americas matter?

Regarding your Feb. 11 editorial "What is 'native American'?": In a multicultural society like the United States it is amazing to see the semantic and political contortions over the Kennewick discovery.

The problem is that you have people raising peripheral issues like "who was first?" in the Americas, or the appearance of "Caucasian" features. Even if the person was a European traveler who lost his way, his descendants are overwhelming likely to be among the current native American population.

The study of the original peopling of the Americas can and will continue as we satiate our society's need for knowledge and discovery, but we should reject these scientists who distort true scientific inquiry simply to get their way.
Michael Connolly
Campo, Calf.

Clearing the poppy fields

Regarding your Feb. 11 editorial "Poppies for Bin Laden": A simple answer to the problem would be for the US troops or Afghans to spray all poppy fields with a defoliant, as the Colombians have done, or tried to do. Of course, a warning to all farmers should be given, and an alternative crop suggested, one which would help to feed the populace and provide a source of income to the farmers.
Kenneth Plumb
San Jose, Calif.

Still cheering for Dean

Regarding Dante Chinni's Feb. 10 Opinion piece "Deciphering the color code on the electoral map": I would like to remind Mr. Chinni that thousands of people, including myself, have been supporting and still support Howard Dean with our time, energy, money, and hearts. Thanks to people like Chinni, who are given a national soapbox, the best candidate for president was unjustly maligned.
Donna Hebert
Ventura, Calif.

Bush's credibility issue

Your Feb. 9 article "Flagging in polls, Bush fights back" is short on critical analysis and seems to reduce President Bush's problem to a public relations issue. He has a great credibility issue that, in all likelihood, will increase as more people become conscious of the manipulations of this administration to get Congress and the public to go along with its agenda - an agenda quite different from the one to which many people gave their allegiance.
Walter Hamilton
Sedona, Ariz.

Israel through a narrow lens

Regarding Helen Schary Motro's Feb. 6 Opinion piece "In Israel's quiet between bombs, an uneasy hope": Ms. Motro paints a picture of a pastoral, timeless Israel - its peace violently torn asunder by Palestinian terrorists. Her very emotive passages are designed to create sympathy for her besieged country in the minds of Monitor readers. In effect, given her narrow subject matter, the Monitor has granted proponents of the Israeli view of the conflict free space to promulgate a very one-sided view.
Barry Flanagan
Tucker, Ga.

Chinese dichotomy

Regarding your Feb. 10 article "Where are the Chinese-speakers of the future?": I'm writing to take issue with your statement that more people speak "Chinese" than any other language on the planet. What you call Chinese is actually several different languages that happen to be written using the same set of characters. The spoken languages, however, are often unintelligible to other speakers of "Chinese." It is for political reasons that we call all the languages dialects of Chinese. So the question probably ought to be, which language spoken in China should our children be learning?
Natalie D. Segal
West Hartford, Conn.

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