How Can We Discuss Race If People Are Always Yelling 'Racist!'?

The recent letters attacking Tom Danehy were unfair. Danehy was not suggesting that no black person should ever give their child a creative name; he was writing about an individual friend (July 31). Tom had the child's best interest in mind, and he was thinking logically.

Danehy's reasoning was based on statistics and the child's future. It's a statistical fact that a black male in America is much more likely to end up in jail than a person of any other race. Add to that the fact that the child now has no father. That puts even more stress on the child. When you factor in the mother's poverty, that makes the child's odds of success in life even lower.

Tom quoted statistical research that said that children with "black" names are less likely to get hired for jobs than children with "white" names. He wasn't saying that it's wrong for this mother to give her child a creative name. He was just wondering if naming the child with a more common name was one way the mother could increase the child's chances of success. The kid's life is going to be hard enough. Why make it harder?

What Tom's article seemed to suggest was that there's nothing wrong with expressing one's culture, but, taking into consideration the child's future and all the factors working against him, perhaps this isn't the best time or manner in which to express it.

Black leaders are always calling for a more open discussion on race. If that is ever to happen, people need to stop yelling "Racist!" every time there's a concept with which they don't agree.

Bryan Smith

We're Uncomfortable Discussing Tom's 'Yin' Being 'Yanged'

In response to Tom Danehy's rant on all the crappy things about the Beijing Olympics (Aug. 28):

1. Opening/closing ceremonies: Do those Chinese know how to have a good time, or what? Outrageous, colorful, Orientally frenetic with music.

2. Weird-ass sports you've neither seen nor heard of: People playing their butts off in woman's team handball or badminton for blood and metals.

3. Women (or men) clean-jerking their own weight over their head: Enough said.

4. The thrill of agony: Watching the swan song of softball and athletes giving it their all in event about to be asterisked.

5. The thrill of agony, Part 2: In the heat of competition, American female gymnasts cheering on their Chinese rivals, who nearly beat them to the gold.

6. The TV technology: Where to begin? The underwater cameras tracking swimmers, the dolly work in the 100-meter dash putting viewers one meter off the runner's shoulder.

7. Math quickening: Trying to convert kilos to pounds or yards to meters was a math challenge I haven't faced since algebra at the U.

8. Zero terrorism: Except for the type that you might find on the streets of our fair city, when individual agony leads to random assassination.

9. China travelogue: What imagination in the building of the modern Olympic venues, and the awe of thousand-year-old buildings next door!

10. Good ol' American jingoism: We all had the chance to cheer on "our" athletes in a worldwide event and to allow the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" to bring a tear to the eye.

I appreciate you, Tom; let's give the upside a chance. You know, to keep your yin yanged.

Steve Shapiro

Can Obama's Light Shine?

Name any politician in the last 60 years who could fill a stadium, any stadium, to listen to an acceptance speech (The Range, Sept. 4). Only one politician comes to mind: John F. Kennedy.

He did it in Berlin. Barack Obama one-upped Kennedy by filling a stadium and delivering the goods in the United States itself: a great speech, performed by a master of rhetoric, in a time when rhetoric is a dirty word.

The Gettysburg Address was rhetoric. Obama's speech was rhetoric also, and it struck the same chord. A nation tired and drained from war, both economic and actual, finally got a glimmer of hope from a politician. For a moment, a light flickered. That light could truly illuminate the world.

Ken Bertschy

McCain's Pick Shows the Country Is Not His Main Priority

In her 1963 treatise, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt spoke most eloquently about the banality of evil. After having had the misfortune of hearing some of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention, I feel compelled to comment on the evil of banality ("Meet Sarah Palin," Currents, Sept. 4).

Aside from the expected cheap shots at the Democrats, Palin's focus appeared to be on underscoring how average she was, how ordinary she was, how she was just like the archetypal American Everywoman. Her talk was a veritable celebration of ordinariness.

By definition of the term, most of us cluster around ordinary, banal, average. This is just the way things are. It is an inescapable matter of mathematical truth. On the other hand, do we really want the people we entrust with leading this country to be just average? Do we really want someone who will be standing by to take over one of the most complex and intellectually demanding jobs on Earth to be of mediocre intellect, just like the average Joe or Jill? We've tried that for almost eight years, and it has not worked out well.

John McCain has said on numerous occasions the he puts America first. This is a lie. McCain may subscribe to an odious political ideology, but he is not stupid. He is well aware that Sarah Palin has neither the background nor the experience to be president, a position she would be a heartbeat away from should the Republicans win the election. Putting such a mediocrity in such a position demonstrates that campaign strategy is way ahead of America on his list of priorities.

David Kohn

Palin's Daughter Did Not Have a Choice

I am a woman, and I see nothing attractive about Mrs. Abstinence Only, Sarah Palin. Her poor daughter didn't have a choice--I mean this both literally and figuratively.

If you don't know you have access to or information on birth control, this is what happens. As far as Levi Johnston is concerned, I remember the term "shotgun wedding."

Jane Medlong-Howell

Reactions to Palin Hearken Back to Middle School

We've learned again that all the world is junior high, that the 13-year-old's ability to amuse her clique with deft disembowelment of her less "popular" peers still makes everyone want to be her friend, and that everyone who is not an insider will still cringe into the shadows so as not to be the next victim.

This morning, our nation has embraced cruelty, distortion and plain lies, gross extremism, manipulation and ignorance as the traits we want in our leader. The Cult of Palin is rising.

We deserve the consequences of electing Palin to the vice presidency, which could mean the presidency. We deserve the destruction of the middle class while her handlers complete their line-item deletion of the Constitution and consolidation of the nation's wealth (our financial security) in their few hands.

We are possibly the most irresponsible American electorate in a century or more.

Mary Wilson

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