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Growing up black in America; Stephen Hawking and aliens; Tunisia today

January 24, 2011

'Anti-immigrant' is the wrong term

Re "Putting a human face on the immigrant," Opinion, Jan. 19

Most fair-minded individuals are open to developing a reasonable work permit process for hardworking, legal immigrants, and a path to citizenship. However, the continued use of the term "immigrant" provides a disingenuous way for the left to claim that anyone who wants strict border enforcement and respect for our laws is "anti-immigrant."

The fact is that many who are here illegally are drug cartel killers and others who are most definitely not "immigrants." A sizable proportion of our prison inmates are criminals who violated our immigration laws before engaging in more serious criminal acts.

If you want fair and honest debate on the merits, you can start by refraining from the use of politically-charged rhetoric to paint reasonable opposition as "anti-immigrant."

Robert Steele

La Quinta

Growing up black in America

Re "Black man's burden," Opinion, Jan. 16

As we celebrated and remembered the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. last week, Judy Belk's painful Op-Ed article reminds us we still have so much to do.

I remember in 1980 — when I taught at a historically black university in Texas — the confusion and the hurt that my young students would have when they asked, "Miss Hunter, why are white people so afraid of me?" I had no answer. These were lovely young men who were working hard preparing themselves for the future.

I will be holding Ryan and all the young men like him in my heart and recommitting myself to a future in which people are able to be who they are in freedom. King dreamed of this world, and I join him.

Laura Hunter


It is interesting to consider the irony when young Ryan Belk, who is black, said he could feel he was "making several white women nervous" while riding the BART in San Francisco. His mother stokes that feeling when lamenting how "society assumes the worst of them," meaning black men.

Are they not both assuming the worst of these women by presuming to know what they were feeling or that their perceived nervousness had anything to do with Ryan at all?

Jim Tetreau

Los Angeles

Little green envy

Re "Science star pulls fans to Caltech," Jan. 19

I admire Stephen Hawking and have enough smarts to not challenge him to a debate. However, I disagree with his comment, "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for Native Americans."

Avoid aliens? If Earth is visited by aliens, having such unbelievably advanced technology to make the trip, it would be them, not us, who would be in control of who avoids whom.

John Loggins

Rancho Palos Verdes

Living, tired

Re "Pushed to limit by age, illness," Jan. 18

When my father died of a stroke during carotid artery surgery at 83, my mother quickly descended into the grips of dementia. I was shocked to discover among my father's effects a note indicating that he was fully aware of the risks but chose to have the surgery because he could not face losing his wife to Alzheimer's — a diagnosis he'd known about but hadn't revealed to me.

As her condition rapidly deteriorated, she often told me how much she wished for "a pill to die." When she died at 84, I thought I understood fully the look of profound weariness on her face.

But now that I'm approaching 70, with my own set of physical problems, I understand even more why some seniors opt for suicide. It might not be a choice I'd make, but there comes a time when merely existing is so depressing that it's hardly worth the struggle.

Philip French

Palm Springs


Re "Tunisia as a tipping point," Editorial, Jan. 19

"The seeds of modern democracy were planted" not "during the 18th-century Enlightenment," as your editorial says, but a century earlier, during the 17th century Puritan revolution in England.

England had democracy, an elected Parliament and a full-orbed doctrine of religious liberty, human rights and independence of churches from the state in the 1640s. Richard Overton, Roger Williams and the free-church Puritans explicitly advocated religious liberty for Jews and Muslims as well as Christians, and they brought this to our 13 Colonies. They said Jesus made disciples by teaching, not coercion.

It's important to get this right so Christians as well as others support human rights, and so Muslims know they can have religious liberty, democracy and their faith too.

American Muslims know this and advocate it.

Glen Stassen


The writer is a professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Law and order

Re " 'This will never happen again,' " Opinion, Jan 18

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