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<b>Cohen and race</b>

EDITOR: Richard Cohen's Tuesday column ("Politicians blinded under hoodies") criticizing politicians who wear hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin was misplaced as supposedly a second view on the Zimmerman case verdict (not the "Martin case"). Cohen's comments are really a denial of accusations that he is a racist "for recognizing the reality of urban crime in America."

He goes on to make the case for his detractors with such statements as: "the public knows that young black men commit a disproportionate amount of crime . . . the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males . . . we know them from the nightly news . . . race is a factor, without a doubt." Such statements surely cannot reduce the tension or the stereotyping.

Some facts need to be inserted: The classification of humans by "race" is erroneous, from a bygone era. Modern humans are all of one race distinguished only by their differences from other mammals. "Black" is a color, not a race; white and brown are shades of black.

In my town, there is a large contingent of so-called "Hispanics," another stereotyping; by language, in this case. Many of them have darker skin than I. What "race" are they? Cohen needs some education.

JACK RUSSELL STONE

Healdsburg

<b>Abuse of free speech</b>

EDITOR: I was tending to business near the Healdsburg Post Office last week. At the edge of the driveway, protesters were displaying depictions of Barack Obama with the beady eyes and mustache of Adolph Hitler.

I can find no similarities between our commander-in-chief and a tyrant who attempted to eliminate an entire race of people, let alone started a world war that cost 21 million lives.

I found this to be quite offensive. I'm sure that it was to other citizens as well. What would those dead at Hitler's hands think of this?

I am in favor of free speech; it is one of the fundamentals of our Constitution. People who are less than mindful of history have abused this right.

KEN FORBES

Windsor

<b>Worth dying for?</b>

EDITOR: Somehow I don't think James C. Pera's concept of patriotism ("Snowden's a traitor," Letters, Thursday) is the one to go with when we measure Edward Snowden's actions against those of a genuine traitor.

The names of men such as Hanssen, Ames and many others would more accurately fall under what we've been given as the standard definition of a traitor.

Although I'm in basic agreement with how Pera perceives what a patriot does and doesn't do, the facts he provides (by implication) in reference to the Snowden affair have no foundation in truth.

Since Pera does not identify the traitors he cites from previous decades, I'm left to assume his grasp of that portion of our history is somewhat deficient. Maybe he's thinking of Hanoi Jane.

Snowden is on the record as saying that he still believes America is a country worth dying for — take him at his word or not — but the next logical question I have would be whether I feel my government is worth killing for.

GARY KASTERNAKIS

Petaluma

<b>Saving beauty</b>

EDITOR: What a great idea. To link the Sonoma coastline with the coast's highest peak ("The last lookout," July 13). More than 6,000 acres of beautiful, wild landscapes preserved forever — another example of Sonoma county peoples' desires for its future.

Of course, there is the matter of money — $2.3 million for land that will link ocean to mountain. Happily, Sonoma County has an impressive record of support for protecting its handsome natural assets, efforts led by the Sonoma Land Trust. And such investments pay immediate dividends in natural beauty that all of us share every day.

DICK HAFNER

Healdsburg

<b>No right to object</b>

EDITOR: Your Thursday article about the Healdsburg flight school ("Flight school taking flak") failed to note that the Healdsburg airport is an island of city property surrounded by unincorporated county land. People such as Phil and Sylvia Hurst, Walter Maack and Robert Pousman who live near the airport and in the unincorporated county are not citizens of Healdsburg and, therefore, have no right before the Healdsburg City Council, and the council has no duty whatsoever to respond to their complaints.

Flight school operator Robert Markwood, however, has every right to be supported by the City Council. He is a client of the city. He pays a city business license fee and rents offices from the city. His pilot customers buy fuel from the city and use the services of other small businesses at the airport.

CURTIS ASHBECK

Santa Rosa