Letters to the Editor

Readers write about critical thinking in election discussions, renaming the war on terror, and community college.

Critical thinking is essential to a democratic society

In response to Jack Schneider's Aug. 4 Opinion piece, "How to shape new U.S. citizens": The piece emphasizes the need to teach new immigrants more effectively, and, with an ever-increasing flow of new people seeking citizenship, we should be pleased with the changes in testing that are discussed.

However, with my 79 years of experience living as a native-born citizen, I believe we need to place as much emphasis on teaching (to all of us) the need for critical thinking. It ought to be obvious, merely by reflecting on the current presidential election process.

As an informed electorate, we need to have real answers and, for the most part, all we get are sound bites. Both of the candidates appear literate and prepared to provide answers, but the questions they are asked – over and over again – indicate a real lack of understanding of the more critical needs of our nation.

My journalistic mentor taught me, many years ago, if you don't know the answers to the questions you ask, you are ignoring the needs of your readers. Perhaps we all need to take time to give that advice an honest examination.

Sherwood MacRae
Cookeville, Tenn.

Renaming terrorism won't change war

Regarding the Aug. 1 article, "Rethinking the post-9/11 strategy": As long as American foreign policy uses violent means to democratize the Middle East, Al Qaeda will retain its ability to motivate resistance to the Western world.

The unpopular war in Iraq is the most recent example of the strong-arm approach Europe and the United States have used in the Middle East to gain control of its resources and its people.

Al Qaeda is not a recent phenomenon, but has its roots in the 18th century, when Napoleon invaded Egypt. The Middle East's long history of colonization and exploitation by the Western world finally exploded on 9/11.

Relabeling terrorists as criminals and calling the war on terror counterterrorism is just moving around the semantic dust. For peace to occur in the Middle East, our government needs to accept the fact that the Arab people are not potential terrorists, but self-determinists who are fighting for their identity.

Helen Logan
Fullerton, Calif.

Finding unity at community college

In response to Kathleen Connell's Aug. 4 Commentary, "Community college: a great return on investment": The comments about the advantages of the low costs, quality instruction, and nurturing environment at community colleges are right on target. However, the comments that these institutions lack a sense of community and have no sports or activities do not reflect our institution.

Because we have residence halls, musical and theatrical performing groups, and a full-scale athletic program with nationally ranked teams, students come to us to have the traditional college experience. Our alumni comment about the strong friendships they established here, and they come back for reunions with former classmates, teammates, and instructors. They have gone on to successful careers in medicine, law, engineering, banking, accounting, education, pharmacy, dentistry, and professional sports.

We, and several of our sister institutions, are far from the traditional view of the "local community college," where students only go to class. Our students "go to college."

Tommy Stringer
Corsicana, Texas

Director, Navarro College Foundation

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, 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. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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