Fluent in English
It pains me to see several Miami Herald readers write so viscerally against Ana Menendez's June 11 column, English-only proposal will hurt our nation. I am a bilingual speaker. English is not my first language. People often point to me as an example of someone whose linguistic behavior in the United States is the right and commendable one.
I, however, don't see anything meritorious in the fact that I speak English fluently while other immigrants don't. I don't know a single immigrant or, for that matter, anyone who wouldn't like to speak English fluently. Given the opportunity, I'm sure every immigrant would gladly learn English.
We must all work toward a culture of patience, kindness and generosity, not one of harsh and exclusionary laws.
GIOVANNA POMPELE, Miami
UM unjust to students
Ana Menendez deserves the community's gratitude for exposing the University of Miami's unjust treatment of students who protested the salaries and working conditions of UM janitors and grounds-keepers (Janitor's won rights; students weren't so lucky, June 21).
Many faculty are disappointed and bewildered by the administration's persecution of students who worked for the welfare of others. Even some faculty, like myself, who were not completely sympathetic with some of the Service Employees International Union's tactics, deplore the administration's short-sighted punishment of our students.
The punishment is not only ethically questionable but also pedagogically wrongheaded and pragmatically myopic. Educators know that much of what we hope will develop in students' intellects and imaginations happens outside the college classroom. What are we teaching students by throwing them out of university housing for defending their beliefs?
Yes, in a technically legal sense, they broke some rules. But just how disruptive were they? What protests over the past five decades on major college campuses -- including those where President Shalala presided -- did not break rules and inconvenience others?
During the protests, I heard that groups of prospective students touring the campus were attracted, not repelled, by our students' demonstrations of altruism and courage. It is not too late for the UM administration to reverse its course of action. In my 37 years at UM, I have never felt such a reversal is so critical to the ideals of a university.
RONALD NEWMAN, associate professor of English, UM, Miami
Perspective on Local Terror Suspects
I am not afraid of seven men who sell shampoo during the day and leap over chairs and do jumping-jacks by night -- even if they did, on occasion, discuss ways to stick it to The Man. I am, however, nervous watching the FBI target struggling young black men from low-income neighborhoods and making terrorists out of them. The 9/11 hijackers didn't hang out in the 'hood. But as the arrests last week show, we get back from our communities what we put into them.
I know Buena Vista and Liberty City, and I've watched urban development in Miami. It destroys the positive culture and social networks that have evolved in low-income neighborhoods over the years. People are run out of these neighborhoods, which are left with no affordable housing. There is no concern for a social safety net, only for real-estate values.
The seven men, it appears, were trying to find meaning and purpose in a time and place that considers poor, immigrant and nonwhite men, at best, disposable and, at worst, an obstacle to progress.
If their resentment built up over the years, they were and are not alone.
They may have talked big, but they were not armed and dangerous. So far, I've seen no convincing evidence of a serious plot or threat. What we have seen is a preemptive strike against our own. Shame on us for spying on and baiting our citizens, rather than making good on our American promises: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Shame on us for congratulating ourselves for putting these men in leg shackles. I will not feel safer until I see politicians actively foster the politics of tolerance, inclusion, dialogue, unity and hope, instead of fear, selfishness and ignorance.
MARTHA OTIS, Miami