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Differences about diversity

August 17, 2007

Re "Diversity may not be the answer," Opinion, Aug. 13

Robert Putnam's findings do not surprise me. I have felt for decades that the politically correct hyphenation of Americans promotes alienation and separateness. When we put more emphasis on where people come from than where they are now, it inevitably erodes the "sense of 'we.' " There is only so much diversity -- of viewpoints, values, customs, priorities -- a system can tolerate. We must start celebrating being Americans instead of incessantly reminding ourselves and others of our origins. I came to the U.S. from Hungary during the 1956 political uprising. I became an American citizen the day I was eligible. I've been an American -- not a Hungarian American -- ever since. Not only is this the way it should be, it's the only way that ultimately works for our country and everyone who lives in it.

Marta Vago

Santa Monica

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Putnam's massive diversity study certainly contains interesting findings. It could be that the level of distrust in American society is so high now that it may have a positive relationship with a number of other variables, not just diversity. Twenty-five years ago, I co-wrote a book that examined distrust between blacks and whites and between blacks of differing socioeconomic status. Perhaps one kernel of our findings is that distrust mapped well with perceived power -- that is, those with less power, whether black or white, tended to distrust those with more perceived power. Given that, I think one hoped-for outcome of increasing diversity is more power-sharing. Based on Putnam's findings, such power-sharing does not seem to be happening.

Philip S. Hart

Los Angeles

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It seems unfathomable that the normally astute and observant Gregory Rodriguez can get this latest take on diversity's problems so wrong. There is a good reason why people in Los Angeles distrust everyone, including their own ethnic groups, and why people in South Dakota trust all their neighbors no matter the ethnic group: The people in Los Angeles live in a city and the people in South Dakota live on farms. Rodriguez twists himself into pretzels trying to ignore this basic observation so he can chastise the pro-diversity crowd for wrongheadedness.

Jeff Poggi

Angelus Oaks, Calif.

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