Where it's due
Your article on Johnny Carson ("The highs and lows of late-night TV," Feb. 5) failed to give him credit for a significant achievement: the breaking down of the barrier to using vulgar language on television. Mr. Carson brought all his considerable powers of humor, sarcasm, and ridicule to this task. He made fun of his producers, used the "bleep" to devastating effect, and often held up an ostensibly pornographic picture with its back to the camera while he chuckled about the silliness of it all. It was a very successful campaign which, in a morally sane world, would have cost him his popularity.
-Chadron Orton; Delhi, Calif.
Worth the cost
A national apology for slavery in the United States would cost absolutely nothing and would be worth every cent ("Saying sorry," Feb. 5). Professor Swain points out that virtually every government action intended to help minorities has had the opposite effect. Perhaps the best thing the U.S. government can do for African-Americans is adopt policies in strict agreement with the Constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law.
-Leon Billig; Burnet, Texas
Would Ms. Swain also be willing for all descendants of slaves to proffer a thank you to people who gave more than an apology? My ancestors gave the lives of their sons, husbands, and fathers to free slaves. I believe an apology would be cheap compared to their blood.
-Diane Poythress; Glenside, Pa.
Thanks to Marvin Olasky for asking all the right questions. Ms. Swain's vision for reconciliation and a national apology is too idealistic and farfetched. It's not clear on what authority Ms. Swain claims that a national apology will bring healing, nor is it clear who would stand with her-certainly not the current crop of black American leaders who have already voiced demands for redistribution of wealth and reparations. Besides, who in black America could accept such an apology for a whole race of people and then render forgiveness for all time? Finally, it appears that the Bush administration has already made startling gestures toward repairing the "fractured relationship" with Republicans. It has received nothing but humiliation and rebuke in return. Ms. Swain might explain why the only serious, public acknowledgment of that fact has come from Don King.
-Joseph A. Rogowski; Richmond, Va.
True, heartfelt reconciliation does not trickle down from the top but needs to start in the heart of every American. Slavery was an atrocity, but I think that enough time has passed that slavery should no longer be blamed for the problems that plague our countrymen today.
-Melissa Holman; San Antonio, Texas
Not so fine
Andree Seu's commingling of replacement theology with a skewed sense of justice does a disservice to those Israelis and Palestinians who truly desire peace ("Fine distinctions," Feb. 5). Israel's existence was indeed birthed in struggle against a colonial occupier, but so was America's. Israel's agenda since independence has been peaceful coexistence; the Arab states have attacked Israel in each of its wars since then. By contrast, the Palestinians, chiefly Muslim, who strap explosives on their bodies and engage in "combat" with grandmothers eating a Passover meal, do not wish to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors. This is evil, and it must be opposed by all, including Mrs. Seu's besieged Palestinian Christian students at the Bethlehem Bible College.
-Mark Kellner; Rockville, Md.
Thanks to Andree Seu for "Fine distinctions." How long will it take Western Christians to realize our "brothers in Christ" have many faces and many nations of origin? A similarly remarkable example of this truth are Christians living in North Korea, as noted by Priya Abraham in "Death by experiment" (Feb. 5). Time for many in the United States to grow up.
-Mona Esse Ruse; Allegan, Mich.
Thank you for the insightful article on Israel and Palestine. I have often been disgusted by Christians who seem to believe that the Israelis can do no wrong. I have been equally frustrated with liberals in some churches who insist that wrongs against the Palestinians justify their belligerent actions.
-Joshua Klatt, 18; Sebring, Fla.
Fortunately, those of us on the playing field here in Israel can tell the difference between a fanatic and a believer in democracy, a determined murderer and one protecting his borders and his family. I would have thought that after Sept. 11, every American would surely understand the difference. Apparently not.
-M. Rombro; Kiryet Arba, Israel
I take issue with Joel Belz's characterization of Peggy Noonan's remarks concerning the president's inaugural address ("The great divide," Feb. 5). I understood her to mean that the president's speech gave a near-messianic impression of the U.S. role in the world, particularly in the Middle East. Our military cannot eradicate all evil from the world nor install universal freedom. If flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom, how much less a political entity, however well-intentioned?
-Gary D. Robinson; Conneautville, Pa.
Three cheers for Joel Belz and his defense of religious language used by President Bush.
-Anne Robertson; Bothell, Wash.
I find it astounding that Michael Shiavo even gets a hearing in his case to get legal sanction to starve his wife, Terri, to death ("Two steps back," Feb. 5). I find it ludicrous that the Florida Supreme Court overturned "Terri's Law" on the grounds that it violated the separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branches. By legislating from the bench, judges have been violating it for years.
-Glenn Tuley; W. Melbourne, Fla.
So South Carolina cannot issue a pro-life license without one for the other side. Those who oppose the choice of life should be offered a "Choose Death" plate, or at least, "Don't Choose Life."
-Don Codling; Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia
I wholeheartedly applaud "Strength, courage, love" (Feb. 5). It is a biblical call that many Christians need to be reminded of, especially when our forays into politics, society, and culture confuse our calls and our comfort zones. That insidious label of "haters" should not be so easily justified, especially since Jesus tells us that "all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another."
-Matthew Loftus; Bel Air, Md.
Your picture of the flaming street preacher helps to spread misconceptions. I use a bullhorn many times to preach the simple gospel of Jesus Christ and find whether I'm quoting John 3:16 or warning of judgment to come, the reaction is the same; some mock and some believe. This is true whether I use a bullhorn or a tract.
-Keith Simmons; Milltown, Mont.
I was devastated to read "Mercy for the living" (Jan. 15). I use John 10:10 as the litmus test to determine where things come from: good from God, bad from the devil. Please cancel my subscription.
-Jennifer Nederhoed; Kalamazoo, Mich.
The title of Francis Schaeffer's overview of Western history was How Should We Then Live? ("Schaeffer revisited," Feb. 12, p. 44).