There are three columnists I invariably read every Sunday as they often offer daring insight into topical issues which very much needs to be said, but which is at the same time very likely to offend certain entrenched interests.
Two of these columnists are with The New York Times: Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman. The third is Bertram de Souza.
I was thus irritated by the remarks made in a letter to the editor published on May 19 in which a prominent national union leader took exception to what de Souza had written regarding the nomination of Tim Ryan as the Democratic candidate for Congress from the 17th District.
Among other things, Edward Fire said that "Mr. de Souza needs to descend from his ivory tower and get out into the real world with real people."
There are "real people" in the "real world" who do not subscribe to the theory that a former aide to Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. is the ticket to regrowth in the Valley, however formidable a campaigner he may be.
I suppose Mr. Fire meant that de Souza should have joined the bandwagon to elect a 28-year-old political neophyte with minimal experience in the working world rather than an experienced legislator, Tom Sawyer, former mayor of Akron, who could have been a real asset to the Mahoning Valley given his long tenure in Congress.
In his letter, Mr. Fire also inquired, "How in the world could Mr. de Souza overlook Sawyer's vote for NAFTA?" This question was phrased in such a way as to give the impression that a vote in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement was tantamount to a priest's having violated an altar boy.
Unions, such as the one Mr. Fire heads, are of course very opposed to NAFTA. But this is hardly the whole picture. In the balance, it would certainly appear that NAFTA has been an economic boon to all three nations involved. NAFTA may need reform, but not repeal.
Of course, Mr. Fire would possibly support construction of an impenetrable barrier all along our border with Mexico (as advocated some time ago by Rep. Traficant) so as to keep Mexicans out of the U.S. job market.
This proposal was of course too bizarre for even the remotest consideration. But America certainly doesn't need attempts at economic isolation as represented by Mr. Fire's vehement anti-NAFTA stance.
And given the measure of union support Tim Ryan received, this is the type of person to whom he will be very much beholden once in Congress.
ROBERT R. STANGER
Civil liberties worth giving up for safety
Who knew what, when, where post 9-11 terrorists attack on World Trade Center, is all of a sudden a big question.
What would have been the liberal and political pundit outcry if we detained anybody before a crime was committed?
We knew, what, when, where after 9-11 and the liberal outcry was whether we were violating anyone's civil liberties by detaining and questioning suspects.
The political pundits and liberal activists are more concerned with 1 percent of the population that break the laws instead of worrying about and protecting the 99 percent of the population that obey the law.
Most Americans are willing to give up a portion of their civil liberties to be safe on a plane instead of letting the civil liberties of a terrorists direct their future into a grave somewhere in Ohio
Students can already pray, just quietly and alone
Stephanie Day, in her May 17 column, informs us about the intentions of politicians to insert prayer in the public schools of all the people. Day is a junior at Springfield Local Schools and is editor of the school newspaper.
Day should understand that any attempt to allow prayer in the public school for any reason will be deemed unconstitutional. The fourth "R" belongs in the church and home.
No one will object if a pupil says "grace" quietly before a cafeteria meal. A pupil can legally read the Bible alone and quietly during his free time. A pupil can pray, but it must be in accordance with the instructions given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew: 6:5-8, quietly and not in a group.
The high school editor should realize that members of Congress have little regard for the Constitution as do most politicians. They pass laws and leave the courts to decide the constitutionality.
Religion is personal, private and most of all divisive. Have we learned nothing from religious history, past and especially present?
MELVIN S. FRANK
Memorial Day honors America's fallen heroes
Tomorrow, May 27, we mark the 124th anniversary of the first official Memorial Day observance of grave decorating with flowers and the American flag for those heroes who fell in the defense of this nation.
The practice of decorating graves was initiated in the South when Maj. Gen. John A. Logan on May 5, 1868, issued a general order designating May 30 as Decoration Day for the purpose of honoring all those Civil War veterans who died in defense of their country. The day is still referred to as Decoration Day or Memorial Day.
This day has a special meaning for families who grieve for a loved one. For many of us, our tributes will take the form of visiting gravesites, viewing or participating in a parade or spending time in private or community prayer.
We, as Americans, should be proud to remember and honor a friend or a loved one who has fought and died for us. This is the day we pause and think what could have happened to the entire world and this nation were it not for the courage and bravery of our men and women who served in the armed forces.
On this Memorial Day, area veterans extend a cordial invitation to our citizenry to participate in the many patriotic functions being conducted in this community including grave decorating, parades and cemetery memorial services throughout the community.
VINCENT J. DORIA
X The writer is service officer of American Legion Post 565.