Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Obama's speech and Burmese gemstones.

Reactions to Obama's speech on race

Regarding the March 19 article, "Obama seeks to clarify his views on race": Sen. Barack Obama's evasive speech did little to allay the concerns of the American public. Although he claimed to be absent with respect to some specific "sermons," Senator Obama could not have been ignorant of the overall hateful message of a church that he had been a member of for two decades.

Michael G. Brautigam

Regarding the March 19 article, "Remarks by Barack Obama: 'A more perfect union'": I appreciated Senator Obama's refusal to entirely condemn and wash his hands of Pastor Jeremiah Wright. In a political discourse that is too often cast in black and white terms, he carefully separated the clearly offensive moments from the good that Mr. Wright has done, showing us by example how we can lift up our neighbors with whom we sometimes disagree and learn to work together for our common goals.

Jerry McIntire
Viroqua, Wis.

Regarding the March 21 article, "Obama speech opens up race dialogue": Although I acknowledge Senator Obama's loyalty and love for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on a personal level, I am uncomfortable with his decision to remain affiliated with Mr. Wright's church. Actions speak louder than words.

I went through a similar experience of having to make a choice on loyalty versus integrity. My children attended a Christian preschool and I came to respect the pastor in charge of the school to the point of allowing myself to attend his Sunday services. After I listened to his messages and recognized that some of his beliefs were out of alignment with my values and belief system, I stopped attending.

His messages, rooted in judgment, anger, and fear, contradicted what I wanted to instill in my children: tolerance, love, forgiveness, and acceptance. However, to this day, the pastor and I remain friends on a personal level.

I would have been out of the realm of integrity had I continued to be a member of the congregation and by my mere presence affirm agreement with the pastor's belief system.

Donna Mejia
Los Angeles

In response to the recent article on Sen. Barack Obama's speech: Many must agree that the speech is of "long-term importance." Shouldn't we now quickly move on what matters most in making our choice – knowing in advance how the 44th president proposes to solve the problems of immigration, healthcare, the economy, and the war, just to name a few? Whichever candidate gives believable and practical specifics should win our vote and receive the full support of a unified nation if elected.

We also need to know what broad principles guide how the candidates approach problems, known or yet to come.

David K. McClurkin
Beachwood, Ohio

Boycott gems from Burma

In response to the March 11 article, "Who buys Burma's gems?": Buying any Burmese gemstone benefits one of the world's most despotic regimes. The issue of sanctions against Burma is as much an ethical question as an economic one. The list of human rights atrocities attributed to the military junta in Burma turns what should be an item of exquisite beauty into an object of revulsion.

After I testified in support of gemstone sanctions at a congressional hearing on Burma, a man introduced himself to me as being from Mogok, the source for some of the world's finest rubies. He said that when he was young, his family and neighbors were all in the gemstone trade, but the military regime had taken that away from them. Until the day comes that his people can benefit from the natural resources that are truly theirs, he believed no one should purchase a Burmese gem.

It is voices like his that send a clear message. A boycott of Burmese gemstones will make a difference to those who matter most, the people of Burma.

Brian Leber
Founder, Jewelers' Burma Relief Project

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