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Racism and Russia

February 26, 1988

So we learn from your article "Black Russian" that there is no racial discrimination in Russia, and I am sure that you hope that all your readers will come to the conclusion that America needs to become more liberal and more socialist.

Perhaps we should learn how to deal with racial problems from the Russians and other Communist regimes. First, we could close up our borders and become much more selective about who may come and go except that this would deny our "great melting pot" heritage. We could force people to work so that they wouldn't be unemployed except that this violates our 13th Amendment.

The most resistant forms of racism are a result of fear. Fear of the crime and gang violence that is so prevalent in minority neighborhoods, of the disintegration of families and the drug abuse so common to minority lives, of mounting tax liabilities that are associated with the influx of immigrants, of the opportunities for employment or schooling lost to affirmative action, of a sense of community eroded by neighbors who no longer speak your language, of school resources exhausted by busing, chain link fences, security guards and bilingual programs.

And the biggest fear is that it is not getting better; that so many programs that attempt to seriously deal with these problems is denounced as racist or judged to violate the civil rights of minorities.

Of course in Russia they do not have a problem with civil rights because everybody is equal; nobody has civil rights.

The answer is not in expanding economic socialism nor in liberalizing our social conscience but rather in distributing the power (and motivation) of capitalism to everyone who wants it and in strengthening our commitment to the values of family and community. If we can force people to be socialists (through Social Security, welfare, public housing) why can't we force them to be capitalists?

TIMOTHY O'NEILL

Pacific Palisades

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