Don't embrace harsh regime in Vietnam
Like Cuba and North Korea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ranks as one of the most repressive nations in the world. There have been no convincing arguments as to why Hanoi, unlike Havana or Pyongyang, now deserves our embrace.
Vietnam's rulers continue to hold power by denying citizens even the most basic rights.
They govern through prolonged detention without trial, religious persecution and the crushing of independent organizations. People are denied the right to vote in free elections. Workers do not have the freedom to organize into real unions.
Those who dare to speak out, such as Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Amnesty International's first and only member in Vietnam, languish in jail. Others are banished, tortured or re-educated. Some are killed.
It is true that business interests from several other nations are already exploiting these conditions for profit.
Yet there is no evidence that the introduction of market capitalism, by itself, brings with it freedom and democracy. In fact, business investment in Vietnam is helping to prop up a vicious dictatorship.
The United States, as leader of the free world, should adhere to a higher standard. Anything less is a betrayal of the values upon which this nation was founded.
Ernest R. Grecco
The writer is president, Metropolitan Baltimore Council, AFL-CIO Unions.
You reported that two black clergymen opposed a white police commissioner's appointment.
I am ashamed for these two men for their remarks. The mayor felt that Thomas C. Frazier was the best man for the job -- which is the best the mayor has done in a long time.
These two ministers who should be preaching equality in people are in my mind teaching racism.
We had a number of black commissioners, and we still have the same violent crimes and drugs on the streets. Give Thomas Frazier a chance.
As we celebrate another Black History Month, there is one name that we should get to know if by some chance we do not already: Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month, which first started as Negro History Week.
In 1933, Dr. Woodson wrote a book entitled "Mis-Education of the Negro." The book details the conditions under which African-Americans live today and relates solutions to solving some of the problems in the black community.
Rev. Vernon Johns tried to teach the so-called educated Negroes of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. to become producers in their community instead of consumers, as Dr. Woodson had done earlier, but the Negro elite of that day was not ready to accept the teachings of Dr. Johns.
Today, the black community has a shortage of leaders. There are many leaders who are black but few black leaders.Recently we have seen what is known as the "black leadership" scramble to please their white masters over something that was said to help educated black people.
Black History Month should be about educating all people about the achievements and contributions that people of African decent have given the world. From the great African genius, Imhotep, who gave the world the step pyramid and is now worshiped by the white community as Aescullapius in the Hippocratic Oath, to Louis Farrakhan, who is today trying to teach black people to respect themselves and become producers in their community instead of only consumers.
As Vernon Johns was disliked by the mis-educated Negro leadership of his day, Farrakhan is also by the African-American leadership of today.
It seems to me that the message is the same, only the messenger and the names have changed. What Carter G. Woodson wrote in 1933 still holds true 61 years later, but it would now be termed mis-education of the African-American.
Jeffrey A. Hubbard
As individuals we must be accountable for our actions. We must take time to examine the violence we are viewing on television.
Television shows violence in a questionable manner. Imagine a child viewing a television cartoon, Batman and exploration gun. What do they see?
Society and the media must educate people on violence and how to conduct their actions. Only then will violence be controlled in our society.
Love the children
I can remember the days when children respected adults as well as human life.
Children would make honest money by means of cutting grass, going to the store, helping the delivery man unload the truck or selling newspapers.
Their family activities included board games, charades, movies, bowling and skating. The neighborhood library would have free movie night weekly for the children.
Today, families no longer consist of mother, father and the children. Generally the mother is the dominant figure in the home. If she is working or receiving supplementary income and successfully raises the children, the father feels his responsibility to be a full-time active parent is eliminated.
Unfortunately, he often suffers low self-esteem, substance abuse and/or is irresponsible, leaving his family values for the streets.
The streets include many women who share no interest for the children, use or distribute drugs, who do not know how to be a parent and are not willing to try.
Society does not seem to care about you or your children, and we must claim our responsibility to and for our children.
If we are not prepared to put on our black suit and see our children at a funeral parlor, we will have to awaken our self-conscious mind, work on our self-esteem, and only then can we regain our children.
We must stop denying the responsibility to love and protect our children. If we go back to the old school of teaching the value of love, self-esteem, honesty, respect, unity and responsibility for our children, as well as ourselves, we can prevent future damage. Together we can have a bright future.