In the 1859 Dred Scott decision Justice Roger Taney wrote that a black man had no rights which a white man ought to respect.
In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) the Supreme Court voted to allow separate but equal facilities for blacks and whites.
In the ensuing era of segregation, we were not allowed to attend the better schools. Many of us had to travel several miles to attend school. We were not allowed to have good jobs. Most were reserved for whites.
During the civil rights movement, segregation laws were broken down. Affirmative action programs were instituted.
These programs forced predominantly white and male schools to admit women, Asians, Hispanics and blacks. They also forced firms to hire minorities. Affirmative action allowed minority businesses to receive contracts.
The results of affirmative action and of desegregation abound. Today almost no one is denied admission to a school because of his color. Minorities and women are everywhere in firms and government.
Despite this progress, all minorities still have a long way to go. Many of us have but a token presence in predominantly white institutions.
Many white Americans feel that we are receiving special privileges.
The only people who receive or ever have received special set-asides are those very white Americans who balk at affirmative action.
They don't understand that in the days of segregation, many less qualified white people were promoted over the more qualified minority people who trained them. Deserving blacks were consistently denied promotions because of their color.
Even in the 1990s, there are still those who systematically discriminate against minorities because of color or sex.
If those who do not like minorities want affirmative action to stop, they must learn to share their economic and political privileges.
If we are to truly call ourselves "one nation under God," we must remember Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Once we can forsake white-supremacist foolishness, forsake discrimination, forsake the concept of color and accept each other, we can scrap affirmative action.
Emory J. Mills
The opponents of affirmative action always leave out of their arguments the most basic factor in the whole situation: its cause.
Whites run the vast majority of businesses and institutions in this country and, human nature being what it is, they tend to hire other whites.
This fundamental bias has forced minorities to seek redress, to level the playing field, as they say. If there were no negative action in the first place, there would be no need for affirmative action.
The anti-minority bias is so deep and broad that we whites BTC hardly notice it. The same people who will scream in outrage at an underqualified black person being made a teller in a bank will not turn a hair when the bank manager's idiot nephew -- who couldn't even get through prep school -- is made a vice president.
Logically, anyone who opposes affirmative action should support an increase in welfare, because that is where the minorities will wind up. But who expects logic from a bigot?
Managed health care corporations present themselves as advocates for the patients' health interests, living up to the name, "health maintenance organizations." This was dramatically refuted in The Sun (July 7) which reported that health insurance corporations such as Prudential, Cigna and others have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in companies like RJR Nabisco and Philip Morris.
This is a shocking revelation that some health care corporations will do anything for a profit regardless of the health impact. Prudential and Cigna apparently agree with economist Milton Friedman's advice that corporations should shun any "social responsibility other than to make as much money for their shareholders as possible."
Although legal, the tobacco industry is in no way responsible or legitimate. Cigarettes kill when used as directed, and are by far our number one cause of death and disease. Although almost all smokers wish they could quit, about half will eventually die from their addiction. As documented by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the tobacco industry aggressively markets its products to children (understandable considering that minors under age 18 account for 70 percent of all new customers in this high-turnover industry).
Like the "combination veterinarian/taxidermist," health care companies are trying to have it both ways. We have already read about large HMO profits, but this gives a new meaning to "making a killing."
Lewis J. Rubin, M.D.
The writer heads the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Nuclear Weapons Will Be Needed until Useless
Paul C. Warnke's support of an absolute ban on tests of nuclear weapons (Opinion * Commentary, July 28) deserves some response.
His desire to proceed along a path assuming that the final goal of elimination of all nuclear weapons is possible is not currently realistic or practical.
His linkage of testing by existing nuclear powers to proliferation of weapons to new countries is a non-sequitur.
His assumption that we can maintain a reliable, credible nuclear arsenal by freezing in time our technology is dangerous.
Achievable goals are the significant reduction of the numbers of nuclear weapons, limiting the number of nations with nuclear weapon production capability and prevention of loss of weapons or components.
When the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in an arms race, a test ban (even when broken) served as a significant step in slowing the race and leading toward the goal of a reduction in the number of warheads in our arsenals.
Mr. Warnke's reference to the "fundamental incompatibility of nuclear testing and a nuclear non-proliferation" attempts to link two independent activities.
Nuclear powers have the goal of maintaining the minimum reliable nuclear arsenal to deter the use of nuclear weapons by others, defend itself against a nuclear attack by another and ultimately to inflict sufficient damage to another to terminate a nuclear engagement at the lowest level possible.
The public needs to be reminded that a nuclear arsenal consists not only of the intercontinental strategic weapons, but also a wide range of low-yield tactical weapons -- many used as the only reliable defense against incoming nuclear weapons.
Continued nuclear weapon development, supported by necessary low-yield testing, is an inherent requirement of maintaining a credible nuclear arsenal.
Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons should be a paramount priority among all nuclear-armed nations and their allies.
Those countries which have nuclear weapons realize the awesome responsibility they bear and should use all means, overt or covert, at their disposal to ensure the nuclear community does not grow.
Nuclear weapons are not an equal-opportunity technology. Those who have the technology should, within reason, do what is necessary to ensure the effectiveness and reliability of their arsenals.
The necessary size of a nuclear arsenal decreases when confidence in its weapons, both by their owners and other countries, increases.
The nuclear have-nots tend to fall into two categories: Those who are under another's "nuclear umbrella" and have no desire of having their own arsenal and those who wish to build an arsenal.
The latter must be discouraged unless the existing nuclear powers feel that their addition would further stabilize the nuclear balance.
The fact that countries that have the technology continue to develop it does not in itself alter others' desire to possess the technology.
The further development of nuclear technology does not in itself make the technology any more accessible to non-nuclear countries.
Mr. Warnke states that many top U.S. military leaders have indicated that nuclear weapons are not really usable military weapons, implying that they are not necessary.
On the contrary, the fact that military leaders see the consequences of use of nuclear weapons such that they choose not to use them means that the arsenals have served their purpose -- to be credible and unusable.
Defense policy needs to be built around the military capabilities of others, not their present intentions. For that reason, nuclear weapons will be with us until technology renders them effectively useless.
William J. Sheppard
The writer is a former systems analyst for theater nuclear weapons, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.