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The First Lady

July 11, 1993

Why is it so often implied that anyone who criticizes or is wary of Hillary Rodham Clinton is an anti-feminist or intimidated by a woman in a position of power ("Hillary in the Hot Seat," by David Lauter, May 23)? I know many people wary of Hillary Clinton who are liberal-minded, pro-equality Democrats who voted for Bill Clinton. Here's the point: I voted for Bill Clinton, not Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is not an elected official or a "co-President." Nowhere did her name appear on the ballot. Her life and ideologies were not scrutinized by the media and public as those of the other candidates were. If we are now electing couples rather than individuals, why don't we just make it official and include spouses' names in the ballot box. LANSING MCLOSKEY Venice

I am disturbed that Lauter made use of the word feminazi as if it were a dictionary word rather than a slur made up by that arch-right winger Rush Limbaugh. Granted, Lauter put quotes around it, but that won't tend to keep it from soon becoming part of the language. The word not only insults feminists but also makes light of the atrocities of the Nazis and belittles the fate of 6 million Jews during World War II. Feminists are progressive by definition. To equate them with Nazis is nothing short of disgusting. PEG YORKIN FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION Los Angeles

How interesting that your cover photo of the First Lady shows her leaning so far to the left. GARRETT BURKE Los Angeles Editor's note: But it's to her right.

"She did not take her husband's name," the preacher shouted, referring to the First Lady. Well, the preacher needs to be set straight. There is nothing in the marriage contract stipulating that a woman must change her name. MARIE CATHERINE REYNOLDS Chino

Lauter called the First Lady the first in modern times to come into the White House having had an independent career. Even if we forget about Eleanor Roosevelt, what about Betty (Bloomer) Ford, the dance and fashion model? What about Nancy (Davis) Reagan, the movie actress? Were theirs not real careers? Or do these women predate modern times? JANET DIMAGGIO North Hollywood

Lauter responds: Both Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Reagan gave up their careers years before their husbands became President. Neither came into the White House from an independent career. Mrs. Roosevelt developed her independent career as a public figure only after her husband was elected. Any President is surrounded by influential advisers whom no one elected. Those who object to the influence of Hillary Clinton (or Nancy Reagan) but not to a Brent Scowcroft or a James A. Baker III or a Thomas F. (Mack) McLarty seem to be objecting to something other than non-elected status.

MULTIRACIALISM Why "begin . . . untying the Gordian knot of race" ("Shades of Black," by Karen Grigsby Bates, May 23) when we can cut the knot in half by refusing to label anyone, including ourselves? When each person sees every other person as an individual, rather than as a label, we will have solved the race issue. PAM WYLIE Fullerton

The term multiracial may be the ultimate explanation for blacks who "don't look black," much like the "colored" class in South Africa. However, as a light-skinned black woman I have no desire to be co-opted by this pseudo-racial classification. It isn't that I have no pride in my other blood, but rather that I was raised in a rich black culture and taught to be proud of it. It is important not to embrace too hastily the "multiracial" mantle, because in doing so we risk losing our commonality, numbers and identity. One of the beautiful and unique aspects of us African-Americans is our rainbow of hues. Our struggle against racism has been too long and difficult to be allowed to simply disappear into the melting pot. MICHELE KINGSLEY CHEVEREZ Santa Barbara

Bates has painted a portrait that reveals how thoroughly and effectively Americans, black and white, have been conditioned by centuries of racial bias. Because they attach so little value to anything African, individuals with a duality or plurality in their genetic parentage are rushing desperately to embrace the establishment of a new racial classification. With job and school applications now offering racial categories such as biracial or multiracial, people are hoping that checking any one of these categories will dilute the stigma they believe comes with African-American identification. In America, a biracial or multiracial child may have white, Asian or African genetic parentage, but he or she will have only one culture: African-American. No African-American, Hispanic-American or Asian-American will ever be acknowledged as white by American society as we know it, and checking off the biracial or multiracial box won't make it so. ROLAND S. JEFFERSON DOCTOR OF PSYCHIATRY Los Angeles

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