Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 21, 2006

Embracing diversity is our real strength

Immigration policy is complicated and certainly needs to balance our U.S. tradition of openness and fairness with legitimate concerns about security ("Bush plan gets cool reception," May 17).

In the current debates there are two metaphors operating - the idea of "America as a melting pot" and of "America as a salad bowl."

Each approach flows from our national motto, "E Pluribus Unum" (out of many, one), but they offer very different interpretations of that idea.

The "melting pot" is a metaphor for assimilation.

The problem with assimilation is that it tends to mean assimilation to a white, Christian, middle-class, English-only vision of American culture. This process requires newcomers to abandon deep cultural values and traditions of their own. Cultural loss is the admission price to the melting pot.

The "salad bowl" is a metaphor for diversity.

And while there is a majority American culture that identifies itself as white, Christian, middle-class and English-speaking, our measure as an immigrant-founded democracy is our inclusiveness and celebration of multiple American stories and identities.

You need more than lettuce to make a good salad. And our diversity makes us strong.

But diversity requires everyone, not just immigrants, to do some cross-cultural work.

I don't speak Spanish, but I'm planning to learn, and to teach my children.

This is not about giving up my American-ness; it's about opening up to a rich, multicultural society.

Joby Taylor

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Shriver Peaceworker Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Grant no privileges to the illegal aliens

With an election coming up for governor and other offices, I will be following each and every candidate very closely. And I want them to know that any candidate who votes for amnesty, work visas, driver's licenses, day-laborer sites or any other privilege for illegal aliens will not get my vote ("Senate votes for Mexico border fence," May 18).

If they want my vote, candidates need to promise to enforce the laws that are on the books. And I want tougher laws against employers who hire illegal aliens - for example, any employer who hires illegals should be barred from receiving city or state contracts indefinitely.

I view the United States as my home, and when someone enters my home unlawfully, that person should be treated as a burglar or a thief.

Those illegal immigrants are robbing me and others of the resources that could be used to help the law-abiding citizens of this country.

I cannot understand how someone who is in the United States illegally can feel he or she can demand anything at all or has any rights.

Tim Longmire Jr.

Arnold

Ehrlich may be right on assault weapons

I was interested to see Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (a gubernatorial hopeful) blasting Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. about assault weapons ("Spat over ad spotlights Ehrlich's gun position," May 16).

If Mr. Duncan is right, and those nasty-looking guns are so evil and threatening to society, then I am very curious about the increased criminal activity, carnage and massacres that were predicted and even promised by some people when the federal assault weapons ban expired and Maryland did not pass its own replacement, stricter assault weapons ban.

If Mr. Ehrlich has been so wrong in his position that there is no need for a Maryland assault weapons ban, where is the increase in criminal activity, carnage, devastation or massacres that we were promised?

Or could it be that the assault weapon bans are not needed and that the idea is just being used by Mr. Duncan as a sensational political tool?

Anne Edquist

Forest Hill

Support for schools at home is lacking

The Sun's editorial suggestion that we increase our commitment to supporting universal primary education for children living in the developing world was right on target ("Universal schooling," editorial, May 15).

As a Baltimore teacher, I could not agree more.

After all, a great nation that so clearly values education and has shown such a commitment to its own children should - oh, right, never mind.

Ruth Baker

Baltimore

Shooting epitomizes mental health woes

The death of Justin J. Fisher is not so bewildering to those of us who have been living with the issue of mental illness over a period of time ("Community bewildered by teen's death," May 17). But his death brings into stark relief the total abdication of responsibility by the health industry for those experiencing mental health crises.

Mr. Fisher's death was tragic and unnecessary. But the police are not to blame.

The police are forced to be first responders by a society that continues to see the symptoms of mental illness as criminal and aberrant.

Many of our current social crises in the social service and criminal justice areas stem from our misguided approach to mental health treatment.

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