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Unfair Political Labels

July 06, 1986

Times labor columnist Harry Bernstein's article "NLRB Shedding Ultra-Conservative Slant" (June 18) continues to showcase his keen eye for trends in America's labor picture as well as his expertise in this field. But it also shows an insidious bias. To make his points, Bernstein uses terms such as the following: ultra-conservative, far right, doctrinaire ideologues, extreme right, right-wing and far rightists.

These terms are, of course, highly descriptive. It is conceded that descriptive terms are the rightful tools of all newspersons. The problem is, of course, that all of these terms imply a spectrum or a scale with a left, middle and right. The farthest Bernstein goes to the left is to use the term liberal.

While the use of the above terms is no doubt satisfying to Bernstein, the reportorial fairness of their use is suspect. Logic would dictate that if there is an "ultra-conservative" there must also be an "ultra-liberal," and if there is a "far right," there must also be a "far left."

The article serves to advocate, rather than merely report, and many Times readers may not agree that pro-union articles are in the interest of the overall body of American workers. But back to political labels: Will Harry Bernstein or The Times ever describe someone as "ultra-liberal"?

SIDNEY P. ANDERSON

Long Beach

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