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With a Friend Like This ...

August 07, 2004

I cannot believe that "Blacks Have a Compassionate Friend in Bush" (Commentary, Aug. 2). President Bush won the 2000 election on a technicality because Florida disenfranchised many African American voters. He started his presidency on a bad footing with this constituency. Charles Sahm cites the No Child Left Behind Act as evidence of support for inner-city children, but he neglects to mention that this is an unfunded mandate. Sure, Bush can lecture about "accountability" in the public schools, but can you expect real results without funding the act or without thoroughly researching the challenges that inner-city students and staff face? Many in the education community call this legislation "No Child Left Untested."

Finally, Bush's record on the death penalty and the appointment of judges who support it and draconian drug possession laws is another reason why blacks don't have a compassionate friend in Bush.

When a disproportionate number of black men are incarcerated and practically every "free" black man in America is "suspect" because of policies supported by the current administration, how can Sahm say that Bush is a compassionate friend of the black community?

Adriana Maestas

Covina

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Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell are absolutely great people, great Americans, and they were chosen for their positions because they are black? No!

Here is a measure of Bush in the selection of his team. All of them, without exception, are brilliant individuals. The 1 million blacks in Los Angeles County, most of whom are slated to vote for Sen. John Kerry, should wake up to the fact that they have arrived as a minority when their own are chosen based on their excellence and excellence alone. Bush has done that, and that is a first. Blacks are acknowledged in the highest levels of government based on their excellence alone.

Does some credit go to Bush for this acknowledgment of excellence? Blacks everywhere should acknowledge this.

Otis Page

Arroyo Grande

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Bush repeats the myth that too many Americans take as gospel, asserting that the United States is "a republic founded on equality.... " This is simply untrue. The rights and freedoms enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were meant to include less than half the American population ranging over our original 13 states. These documents, however high-minded they may appear to be, were carefully crafted to keep the economic and political control in the hands of the elite.

Not only slaves and Indians were not to be treated equally in the new republic, but women, who in themselves constituted more than half of the population, were not given the rights of citizenship. Even many white males -- those without property, for example -- were not allowed the vote. And only the relatively wealthy were permitted to run for public office. This is hardly the record of "a republic founded on equality," however many times it is repeated.

Ronald Rubin

Topanga

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Isn't Bush the president of all the people, including those who find fault with his agenda? And I would say it is the president who is the one using the "war on terrorism" to stir up and coerce the American public. Inner-city schoolchildren don't need vouchers to go somewhere else. They need sufficiently financed programs that will upgrade their neighborhood schools; reduce class size; train enough teachers to be committed, knowledgeable and caring; and provide a well-maintained campus where education can thrive. Of course that would entail reducing or eliminating the Iraq war budget.

Our nation was founded on the premise of equality for some (well-off white men) while leaving out most of the population (Native Americans, slaves, women and poor whites). And it hasn't strayed much from that agenda.

Our "compassionate friend" needs reminding that we as a people remember the old adage about observing what people do rather than what they say, i.e., talk is cheap. We see that one people can have "sovereignty" turned over to them but remain an occupied nation. And so we tend to be aware of which compassionate friend is bringing gifts.

F. Daniel Gray

Los Angeles

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