Roger Smith's op-ed column in the Feb. 18 paper should have been titled "Revisionist History," since he's trying to deny the obvious fact that the Civil War was fought because the South wanted to continue the practice of slavery. This is like arguing that mathematics is not about numbers. The pseudo-rational Mr. Smith soon descends into a broader diatribe about the cultural divide between "Christianity vs. paganism" among other things. What? There are probably 500 Christian churches in Chattanooga, but if the pagans are gathering anywhere, they forgot to invite me. Finally, in his closing, Mr. Smith leaves us with the famous quote from "Santiago." Who? The man's name was Santayana, and by the way, he was an atheist. It's always a good idea to get the quotation right and to attribute it to the correct person for it to have any validity. I would like to ask the [editors] who tacitly endorse this column by placing it right below the paper's masthead, why would you give this man a forum for such nonsense? The correct quotation is "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Indeed.
JOHN C. REIS, Chattanooga
In response to the letter, "In praise of Black Americans": The author points out a few achievements by a small number of successful black Americans to bolster his argument that they are the most successful ethnic group ever. Now the rest of the story. In the 1960s, the black birth rate of unwed mothers was around 23 percent. It is now around 72 percent. All informed persons agree children born to single-parent homes have a much greater risk of living in poverty and becoming wards of the state. Often these same children grow up in rough neighborhoods, and many drift into a life of crime. Did the author notice by any chance that all 32 of the worst criminals in Chattanooga are black? Wow, quite a success story. Success? Never has an ethnic group done more to bring themselves to ruination than black Americans.
JIM HOWARD, Chattanooga
Regarding David Allen Martin's commentary on boosterism, my husband and I moved here 14 years ago and love living in Chattanooga. We appreciate the natural beauty, the progressive spirit and the sense of community. At the same time, however, there's an aspect of living here that is also deeply troubling. Chattanooga is now known as the most Bible-minded city in the country. At the same time, the Ochs Center's reports on education and medicine reveal that when it comes to these basic services, essentially there are two Chattanoogas -- a distinct divide exists between poor, black Chattanoogans and more prosperous whites. The question that keeps echoing in my mind is what's wrong with this picture?
I am pleased with the rejection of the UAW by VW employees. However, I'm equally disgusted with VW's endorsement of UAW's self-interest. I'm also concerned that VW is aggressively pushing the European works council concept. A closer examination of this reveals it offers no economic advantages (except strikes, slowdowns, six-week holidays, and 32-hour work weeks). It is another example of a company trying to emulate failing European practices. The history-proven best labor practice in the U.S. is a union-free environment. This unique model stresses an empathetic and understanding management that is supportive of all employees. The success of world-leading American business is based on this approach. It seems that if VW needs American marketing to have success with its prospects, then it should embrace a proven American approach to employees.
DONALD LORTON, Chattanooga
The president is pressing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The AFL-CIO said that would propel 28 million families out of poverty and into the middle class. It went on to say the increase would add $25 billion into the economy and stimulate another 100,000 jobs. But the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated companies would lay off 500,000 in order for them to pay for their increased costs. This is government sticking its nose into our business once again. If workers are diligent, develop new skills or become more valuable, won't they get a raise anyway? If they are doing minimal work, are they simply owed a raise? If we just give everyone on the bottom a raise, will not costs go up, canceling the real value of any raise? If we raise minimum wage, are we not luring more illegals across the border? If we secured our borders right now, would not employers have to pay more as workers become scarce?
GERALD WHITELY, Ringgold, Ga.
How many times have we got to read stories about snake handlers; enough is enough! While I am at it, you also have a sports section. That's where football belongs, not on the front page. Sometimes it is silly what is on your front page. If Alison Gerber is the one making these decisions, maybe you need a new editor.
CHARLES O. MASON JR.