Senate vote shows hidden racial bias

The Senate's March 5 vote to block President Barack Obama's nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division stands as a classic case of the influence of hidden racial anxieties that need to be acknowledged and debated.

Adegbile's legal defense of our Voting Rights Act to the Supreme Court and his work with the NAACP's Legal Defense Division to uphold our Constitution's guarantees of equal justice for all citizens gives him impeccable credentials for this nomination.

But his minor role in the NAACP's obtaining a sentence change for Mumia Abu-Jamal led to a smear campaign against him using coded language that blocked his nomination among senators who lack the courage to live up to their pledge to uphold our Constitution.

Accusations of defending a cop killer sufficed for the senators to use the code words cop killer to rationalize their cowardice and deny any racial undertones.

That Abu-Jamal is black, and that Adegbile has a black father, cannot be ignored in so unjust an outcome for Adegbile's nomination. Denying the truth behind such unfairness only sends us down the slippery slope to loss of our Constitutional guarantees.

Marilyn Clark

Oakland

Israel moving ahead against all obstacles

As the Passover draws closer and Jews at the Seder tables will contemplate once again, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" here are some thoughts about "Why Israel is different from all other countries?"


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First, Israel is not just a country, it's an idea. The idea of gathering people of the same faith and the same fate at the land of their forefathers. The Nazi barbarism was mere catalyst of Israel's establishment.

Second, Jewish leaders have always been concerned not only with Jews returning to Palestine but also with living in friendship with Israel's neighbors. Only those oblivious to history can believe that a nation that lost one-third of its population may harbor plans of sending its sons and daughters to new wars.

Third, even in the most hostile environment, Israel contributes mightily to the world's prosperity, totally disproportional to her size and population.

Fourth, numerous groups and organizations, blinded by the primeval anti-Semitism, have continued to single out Israel for her alleged misdeeds, despite the discrimination, despotism and injustice all around the world.

Still, against all odds, the Jewish state is moving ahead heartening its friends and enraging enemies.

Vladimir Kaplan

San Mateo

Destroying ball field is a breach of faith

I attended a meeting for stakeholders sponsored by the Oakland school board, regarding the status of Rickey Henderson Field. The issue is not about the legitimacy of any stakeholder's claim for recreational space, but whether the district will keep its promises to volunteers and donors.

In September 2007, the district gave a group of dedicated volunteers the go-ahead to build a baseball field. The first game was played in the spring of 2008. Now, the district plans to destroy Rickey Henderson Field and build a "multiuse" field.

My children do not play soccer or baseball, but I have given my time and donated money to Oakland public schools. As such, I am a "stakeholder" in whether the school district honors its promises and acts as good stewards of the resources individual donors and foundations have so generously given.

If Rickey Henderson Field is destroyed, a promise is broken, volunteerism is chilled, goodwill is decimated and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donated funds are wasted.

Kristen R. Southworth

Oakland

Oakland squandered its amazing assets

What the heck is wrong with Oakland? We are a relatively small city blessed to have three professional sports franchises, a large seaport, sophisticated transportation system, an international airport and, arguably, the best weather in the world.

Yet, despite all of these incredible assets that on balance would make us the envy of the world, our city is a crime-infested repository of every sort of deviance imaginable, which the overwhelming majority of Americans consider to be off-limits unless absolutely necessary.

The provincial, perpetually effusive, Pollyannaish local-yokel crowd running this place cannot provide us with an adequate police force, compels us to navigate roads that are the equivalent of those found in a Third World nation, and countenances unimaginable carnage, filth and mayhem year after year after year.

Candidates for mayor should, in detail, explain how we can once again establish a semblance of civilization in Oakland. More police? Absolutely. How to pay for it or why is it that the town has been so amazingly mismanaged that maintaining a first-class police force is so challenging? Maybe the fools running the town have some explaining to do? You think?

Jonathan C. Breault

Oakland