U.S. still needs

affirmative action

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, upheld a Michigan law banning affirmative-action programs in the state's college admission process. Dissenting, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "The Constitution doesn't give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against minorities." And Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "The Constitution requires special vigilance in light of the history of slavery."

Affirmative-action programs derive from the 1964 Civil Rights Act in an attempt to correct more than 400 years of discrimination. When compared against the time frame of slavery, these programs are still in their infancy. Their elimination is a tremendous barrier to minority enrollment in some of the nation's best schools.

For example, in the year before the state of California banned affirmative-action programs, minority enrollment in the University of California at Davis and Berkeley Law Schools was 10 percent to 12 percent, a fair demographic representation of the U.S. In the year California banned its affirmative-action programs, minority enrollment in these two law schools dropped to only 2 percent.

The Supreme Court refuses to recognize these harsh realities. Despite the fact that we have an African-American president, racism is still deeply embedded in the social fabric of American society.

I'm not suggesting that these programs are a panacea. But they do help minorities from all walks of life compete on a level playing field.

EDSEL COATES

Atlantic City

Holocaust program

taught crucial lesson

I was privileged this year to be invited to the 18th annual Yom Hashoah memorial program at Charles W. Lewis Middle School in Blackwood. Ruth Kessler, a child survivor and the keynote speaker, did a wonderful job telling her touching and profoundly sad story to the many children in attendance. There was total silence as she spoke. The children were all focused on her story of survival during the Holocaust against truly devastating odds.

As a child of survivors, I found this program quite meaningful and was honored to be there - not only for myself, but also for all of the family I never knew and lost during this awful time in history.

Kudos to educator Randi Posner and her committee for the many hours of selfless work from the heart that went into this program. It was all done for the children, who are learning that education is the precious key to putting an end to the hate.

There were 48 flags on display at the ceremony, representing the many students and teachers born outside of the United States.

We are more alike than different, and focusing on all of our many customs, traditions and history can only lead to loving, kind acts.

Our children deserve to learn that good will always triumph over evil, and that love is the most important and powerful emotion we have. With it, anything is possible.

ANNE KABO COHEN

Margate

Greed by corporations

and the rich hurts U.S.

Why have we lost our ability to provide decent health care, education and quality domestic jobs to the majority of Americans? Why is our government dysfunctional, illogical and clearly not representing the majority of our citizens? Most important, who or what is responsible for the deterioration of the middle class and, concurrently, the American way of life?

The answer: Large corporations and the ultra-wealthy. They would like you to believe that our current deteriorating course is the result of the ever-growing entitlement-dependent low socioeconomic class. I would argue that this is merely the direct result of the systematic destruction of the middle class by corporate America. After all, how can an impoverished and powerless class of people be expected to rise up and enter a dying middle class that is losing jobs and houses by the millions and can no longer afford higher education and health care?

Corporations and the ultra-rich would like you to believe that our people are polarized when it comes to national policy - liberals vs. conservatives. Average Americans, however, simply wish to raise their families in a free, healthy and safe environment and pursue the American dream. Unfortunately, our government representatives do not represent their interests.

The ultra-wealthy and large corporations buy elections, control politicians, change laws, start wars, manipulate the judicial system and guide the economy. This elite group of people simply made the decision to wield their power and influence to create a system for their own personal gain with no regard for their own countrymen. Our decline is the result of their greed.

FRANK DiFELICE

Little Egg Harbor Township

Legal marijuana

puts children at risk

In Colorado, it's legal to smoke pot, and two 10-year-old boys were recently caught selling marijuana they had taken from their grandparents' supply. A psychiatrist said grownups need to be taught "marijuana use is not suitable for children." Seriously? Adults need to be told this?

If a fourth grader brings a toy gun or, better yet, bites a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, he or she gets suspended. Zero tolerance. If students got caught with alcohol in school, it would go on their permanent records, and social workers would have a field day. People would scream for new laws to be passed, and heads would roll.

It seems to me the good people of Colorado and Washington state didn't think this through very well. I wonder what they're thinking now? It's bad enough we lose so many of our young for no good reason. I have children and grandchildren, and I want them to stay safe and live long and happy lives. Why would I jeopardize them in any way? As far as I'm concerned, if you want to legalize pot in New Jersey, I'd say you're crazy - or maybe just stoned.

ALAN W. CRANER

Absecon