Avoiding the issues

I read Edwin Black’s op-ed column (“The problem is Obama’s initial attraction to his pastor,” March 21) and, as ever, appreciated the clear reporting style and multi-faceted perspectives on the issue(s).

From my perspective as a student of human behavior (and Jewish educator), and having been married for 39 years to my African American/Cape Verdean husband born in New Haven, Conn., in 1930, pre-affirmative action, I can’t help feeling that some of what Rev. Wright has said is close to the truths about racial inequality in the United States today. Inequality and persecution make for strange bedfellows.

Five years (plus one month) ago, I had the occasion to attend an anti-war protest at the Civic Center to stand against the looming war. I found it unnerving, however, that the anti-Zionists were present in full force. While the issue of race has been openly thrown upon the table, where are some concrete plans to change the growing gaps between the haves and the have-nots — from either candidate?

The issue of race may be divisive but in this political atmosphere it is diversion and an opportunity for more useless rhetoric between the leading Democratic candidates. Will the Democrats have a candidate that can be elected? Not if they keep dancing around.

Nancy Sheftel-Gomes | San Francisco, Director of Education, Congregation Sherith Israel

Talking about race

Thanks, Sen. Obama, for opening the door to a calmer conversation about the realities of race consciousness in America today.

Yes, race does matter even if we wish it didn’t, because we make it so. Same for gender, ethnicity, religion — everything we use to divide us. Wishing it weren’t so doesn’t make it go away; action does!

For 43 years Silicon Valley Conference for Community & Justice has been leading this kind of open conversation. Wherever we do, with students through civic, business and religious leaders, we see the positive effects. Together we can get beyond our fears. We actually can speak about these supposedly “intractable issues,” and we can do it in safety.

Thank you, Sen. Obama, for making an honest statement. We stand ready to discuss it with the community. We’ll all be the better for doing so.

Bart A. Charlow | San Jose, President, Silicon Valley Conference for Community & Justice

The bottom line

We all have to make choices about what we will allow into our lives. When a local progressive radio station started running nonstop programming attacking Israel’s actions (unfairly, I thought) I took that station off my radio’s selection menu.

So when Barack Obama says that his minister’s radical opinions don’t matter that fails to resolve the fundamental problem.

I have to ask the question: Why didn’t he just stop attending that church if the reverend’s opinions were truly unacceptable? And if Obama believed those opinions to actually be acceptable, then it shows weak character to evade responsibility for that choice. We can’t pick our uncles, but reverends can be replaced.

Ed Taub | Mountain View

Complex decision

Andrew Silow-Carroll’s squawk (“By disavowing his pastor’s views, Obama upholds his own morality,” March 21) about the “complexity” of Obama’s morality tells more about Mr. Silow-Carroll than he bargained for. Mr. Silow-Carroll cringed at his “right-wing-firebrand” rabbi’s rhetoric, and voted for this rhetoric with his wallet, being a paying member of the synagogue.

Here is a question for Mr. Silow-Carroll: Come November, will you and the likes of you go to the privacy of the voting booth, cringe and vote for McCain?

Sofia Shtil | Fremont

More than Israel

We appreciated Sheree Roth’s recognition of our organization “for all the great social action work they are involved in,” in her March 21 letter to j. titled “Omitting facts.”

We take issue with her criticism of Progressive Jewish Alliance, stating “if PJA chooses to represent Israel to the outside world, I hope that they will be knowledgeable and honest advocates of the Jewish people,” and her characterization of PJA’s statement on our Web site in favor of a peaceful two-state solution and eschewing all violence as “not yet past the pervasive Palestinian propaganda.”

PJA does not “choose to represent Israel.” If Ms. Roth had read our Web site, (www.pjalliance.org) she would have seen that PJA is focused on domestic social justice issues. Our work for economic justice, protecting low wage workers, anti-sweatshop activism, criminal justice reform and opposition to the death penalty, and support or marriage equality is anchored in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and in California.

Rachel Biale | Berkeley, Bay Area Regional Director, Progressive Jewish Alliance