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ISN’T SEGREGATION BAD?
I’ve been monitoring with great interest the proposal by Allan Woodson, Jim Forstall, and Gordon Smith to offer a “school within a school” to address the achievement gap [R.L. Nave, “The gap men,” July 6]. In what could be considered a revealing gaffe, Woodson initially referred to this project not as a “school within a school” but, rather, as the “African-American Boys’ Middle School.” He used the term repeatedly while on the radio, and he only later modified it by saying that he was assuming that the research would show that African-American boys would be the beneficiary of such a project because surely they had the lowest test scores. From casual observation it would seem that from its inception, this was a project exclusively for African-American males. I thought segregation was bad. I thought discrimination was bad.
Woodson says, “The facts are indisputable, and so it’s a choice.” The research has yet to be done so how can it already be “indisputable?” And as for the “choice”: Yes, it is a choice to participate, as long as you are the right color. What ever happened to living in a nation where children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”? Apparently skin color is the only variable under consideration. Under this program, and others like it, if you are a Hispanic child from a single-parent family, living in a home without electricity with a parent with a substance-abuse problem who is on public assistance, and have the lowest test score in the district, you are by definition categorically forbidden from benefiting from this program. However, if you are black and from a college-educated two-parent household that earns $250,000 a year and you live in Panther Creek, you’re in like Flynn. Now, it seems, the school is on hold, not because it is discriminatory but because of time constraints.
FIND ANOTHER HISTORY BOOK
It’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter to the editor, but I could not let the misconceptions and half-truths in Thomas Ganci’s letter go unanswered [“Letters,” July 20].
Ganci says, “It’s been clear for decades why we needed to oust Saddam Hussein.” Really? Then why was he not taken out in 1991? Could it be that President George Bush Sr., Ganci’s commander in chief at the time, decided that such a move was risky? Considering how the war has gone in the past three years, I’d have to say that the answer is yes.
Ganci omits some facts when discussing Saddam’s crimes. He does not say where Saddam got the chemical weapons to use against the Kurds. Perhaps he should find another history book. The Iran-Iraq War started in 1980, when the Iranians were holding 52 Americans hostage in Teheran. Throughout the 1980s, Iraq was seen as an ally against Iran, which was considered the enemy. It didn’t matter that Saddam was gassing the Kurds. Opposition to Saddam increased only when it became politically convenient. Why the big obsession with Saddam when there are many other bloodthirsty dictators in the world? Hitting closer to home, why was it important to save lives in Iraq but not in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina?
Ganci thinks we ought to protect the Persian Gulf, but we’re not doing a very good job of it. Gas prices are going through the roof, and the flow of oil in Iraq has not gone back to normal. Going to war for oil is expensive, both in terms of money and human life. We should instead look for alternative sources of energy. How’s that for saving 100,000 lives and also protecting the environment? That’s not a bad picture.
Ganci ends by stating his support for the president. I think he should try to understand what it is he’s supporting.
ANOTHER VET WEIGHS IN
I am a Vietnam-era veteran (1971-1975) and it absolutely disgusts me‚ when people (including “pups‚” or young dog‚ veterans) are overly seduced by the miracle of reading. There is a lot to be said for watching PBS and going to the movies. Thomas Ganci needs to back off (be polite in disagreement) and let veterans who served in a different war in a different time [than he did] have their say. Mr. Ganci must have picked up the abridged version of history; he only gives the facts that support his argument. If readers will make a quick visit to www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/longroad/etc/cron.html, they can read:
In 1959, Saddam Hussein fled to Egypt when he failed in an assassination attempt on then-Iraqi leader Gen. [Abdel Karim] Kassem. While in Egypt, he made several visits to the U.S. Embassy to meet with CIA agents interested in sparking Kassem’s overthrow. In 1963, when Kassem is assassinated by members of the Ba’ath Party, the CIA helps the Ba’athists by providing lists of suspected Communists for the party’s hit squads. They kill an estimated 800 people.
The 1979 president of Iraq, forced into early retirement, was Ahmad Hassan Al Bakr, who is Saddam Hussein’s cousin. He placed Saddam Hussein in charge of running the Iraq state-security apparatus to extinguish dissent when the Ba’ath Party seized power of Iraq in 1968. Power corrupts, and the dark side seduces.
We helped create the environment that led to Saddam coming to power. The U.S. government has a history of giving false excuses of why we try to control and manipulate other countries to make a world more friendly to U.S. interests, and it always comes back to cost us in lives of young American servicemen and women. Trying to control history changes history in unforeseen ways.
NOT NEUTRAL ABOUT PARK
I have to take issue with the [description of Park as] “Springfield’s favorite indie band” [Marissa Monson, “Building a better Park,” July 20]. I haven’t ever heard of them, and I make it a point to see all the local bands. Most of them have at least one CD and most have more.
Who is this “Park” you so glowingly write about? Where is this “small makeshift rock club” that “overflows with fans”? I haven’t seen their name in the Pub Crawl section of your paper, ever. How do these guys rate “Springfield’s favorite indie band” when all of Springfield’s bands are indie? What of Debbie Ross or F5 or Inspected by Twelve?
How about highlighting some real Springfield bands, bands that play here every single week, even if they tramp across the country, like the Station?
NO TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION
Many excellent points were made in the commentary in the June 29 issue of Illinois Times about our nation’s immigration policy [Larry Golden, “The price of citizenship”]. My only criticism of the commentary was its virtual silence on the matter of “illegal” immigration.
I admire people who take the great risks, not to mention the costs, of crossing our border to get work so they can better the living conditions of their families back home. Working long hours in hot weather and then sending much of their pay back to their families is certainly to their credit.
Yet I do not like the idea of folks just walking into our country, without going through a checkpoint, no matter how hardworking they are or how decent a person they are. Except for the very early days of our country, every immigrant to the U.S. had to go through Ellis Island or the like. And I suspect it is that way in most other countries.
Not only is there an inherent threat to our security with illegal entries, but we should have a good idea of who is in our country. Along with student visas, touring, etc., people willing and able to work here should be allowed to come regardless of their race or ethnicity, provided there indeed are available jobs and within some reasonable overall limits so as not to increase our population faster than we can handle it. However, their entry must be open and cleared at the border.
CITIZENSHIP PROCESS “REWARDING”
I am writing in response to the commentary by Larry Golden, “The Price of Citizenship,” which ran in your June 29 issue. After reading this piece, I realized the need to clarify the process for becoming a U.S. citizen and to assure eligible applicants, who have prepared themselves for this important step in their lives, that the citizenship process can be very rewarding.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for providing citizenship to eligible applicants, along with administering several other immigration benefits such as asylum, permanent residency, and work authorization. Last year alone the Chicago USCIS office naturalized over 28,000 new citizens in the state of Illinois!
The decision to become a citizen of the United States is a very personal one that provides many new opportunities, including the right to vote. Once a person applies for citizenship the process may take between four and six months. As part of the process, the applicant will be fingerprinted to determine if there is a criminal background, since one of the requirements for obtaining citizenship is to be a person of “good moral character.” After the fingerprints have been cleared, the applicant is scheduled for the citizenship interview.
The interview is not a process in which an applicant is berated or belittled. We do not conduct interviews to instill fear in potential new citizens. The purpose of the interview is to ensure that the applicant meets all the requirements for citizenship and to maintain integrity in the immigration process. A person married to a U.S. citizen is eligible to apply for citizenship after three years in the United States as a permanent resident — generally permanent residents must wait five years if they aren’t married to a U.S. citizen. As required by law, our officers must investigate whether a marriage is valid when an applicant is receiving citizenship through a U.S. citizen spouse. A series of questions may be asked to establish the validity of the marriage.
During the interview, the applicant is also asked 10 questions in order to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the English language, as well as U.S. history and civics. Of those 10 questions, the applicant must answer six correctly. If an applicant passes the citizenship interview, the final step is the swearing-in ceremony. This is an emotional day for many, usually filled with tears of joy.
Each of our officers interviews approximately 15 applicants daily. During these interviews they hear stories of hardship and necessity. Oftentimes they are presented with words of gratitude towards the United States for adopting them. We are very proud of the work we do and the fact that we have the ability to make a positive difference in so many people’s lives. We welcome with open arms all those eligible to become United States citizens, regardless of their country of origin, and make it our priority to treat each person we encounter with dignity and respect.
We invite you to visit our Web site, www.uscis.gov, for information on citizenship eligibility, preparation guides for the citizenship interview, and applications.
Chicago District Director
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
YES, I KNEW TOM
Thanks for the commentary on Tom Fishel [C. Scott Stahlman, “Did you know Tom?” July 20]. I had the privilege to work with Tom when he was helping out at Lincoln Correctional Center. Tom was one of those people the state of Illinois should have more of. He was a true professional and a positive influence. He is missed.
THE END IS COMING; LOOK BUSY
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are starting to be released in the world! The hooves are pounding and thundering across the face of the earth! The nuclear time clock is striking the midnight hour! The nuclear holocaust cloud is hanging over our heads! The nuclear mushroom cloud will cover the earth soon! Only by the grace of God will man survive!