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Nomination a big step forward

Tell Billie Holiday. Tell Lester Young. Tell Malcolm and Martin. Tell Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. Tell Richard Wright and Zora Neale. Tell Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. Tell the Scottsboro Nine. Tell Emmet Till and his mother, Mamie. Tell the residents of the Ninth Ward. Tell Ms. Parks. Tell them Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

Whatever your party, however you vote, consider what this means about our country. How this new leadership reflects our deepest strength as a nation: that of possibility, of change, of improvement. That we can fix the things most broken in ourselves and in our society. That our diversity is our blessing and our strength. That we are moving, however often it seems that we are not, towards a time when racism will survive as a museum display and museum-goers will wonder how it was ever possible to treat people so poorly.

Start the story in 1621, when Anthony and Isabel arrived in Jamestown; the first couple to survive the Middle Passage, to be re-named, to labor and be sold. If you can, find a cotton field and lean over at an exhausting angle and pry open the sharp hull and tear out the coarse, sticky cotton ball inside. Do it once. Do it twice. Do it every day for the rest of your life. Remind all those who still feel disenfranchised that content of character really does matter more than anything else. Look good, look sharp, look up. The content of everyone's character matters now.

So tell Lady Day, tell Prez. In America in 2008, an honorable man is running for president. And his wife, Michelle, will be a great first lady.

Shannon Reilley, St. Ignatius

Arts an integral part of school system

Dear trustees,

I am writing this letter in hopes that you will move away from eliminating any of our remarkable fine arts teachers, and instead embrace the value of imaginative art, musicality and expressive arts in our schools.

Jim and I have entrusted the public education of our six children, ages 11 to 26, to the teachers of Missoula County Public Schools. Within these 21 years of schooling our children, we have watched a remarkable unfolding of interests and abilities in arts, sciences, languages, music, maths and general awareness of the world around us in travel and living abroad. In all of our experience we are certain that the expressive arts, the musical ingenuity, and creative continuum within the school environment has been the main support towards academic excellence in our family. The fine arts teachers in our schools are central to the education of children who will be innovative, compassionate, resilient adults in an ever--changing world.

The human ability to express emotion in art is so integral to our being that we often forget to acknowledge its importance. You who are entrusted to care for our children's education must remember to nurture the creative spirit.

Debra Sears and family, Missoula

Incident doesn't sound like self-defense

Regarding "Bear hunter kills wolf in self defense" (Missoulian, May 30):

This doesn't sound like self-defense to me when there are documented accounts of wanton wolf killings in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, since delisting of March 28. Seventy seven confirmed wolf kills since then? And these are just confirmed numbers by the state.

Many wolves are being shot for no legitimate reason at all. Take "Hoppy" for example, a well known and loved three-legged Yellowstone National Park wolf, shot for no reason the day after delisting (www.forwolves.org). In another incident, a wolf was pursued via snowmobile and then shot. Was the snowmobile driver in fear of his life? Is it better just to lie now and say it was self-defense when you kill a wolf? That is the oldest story in the book.

Has anyone thought of how difficult it must be to raise a handful of pups with just one mate? (I'm assuming the rest of the pack has been shot or trapped by now). When wolves are picked off one by one, of course they will go for the easier kill - to survive. Wouldn't you? In "Bear hunter kills wolf in self defense," it states that the killer shot the female running toward him. That leaves the male to care for pups at home. (It is that time of year.) Are the potential three to six pups at home still nursing? If so, that is an additional three to six pups dead. How will this species survive with these regulations? No other predators are treated this way.

It is a well known fact that there have been no documented intentional wolf/human kills of injuries in the lower 48, until now. Why would this change all of a sudden? Seems to me to be "open season on God's dog."

Heather Winters Jones, Missoula

Article marred by opinion

I was disappointed that what was otherwise an interesting article (Missoulian, "His Montana: World War II detainee Benedetti, 96, gives last works to UM," May 30) about an interesting individual was marred by an opinionated statement: "the racist policy of internment during World War II."

The internment policy was based on the fact that Italian nationals could not depart from the United States back to Italy due to the war and the Royal Navy's control of the Atlantic. The cruise ship Umberto Benedetti was on was unable to return to Italy without being sunk or captured and thus overstayed its allowed time, breaking the immigration law.

The same was true for Italian workers at the New York World's Fair who overstayed their visas. Thus, these people were moved to a camp run by the border patrol. This was not a racist policy, but rather a policy based on originally overstaying their permission to be in this country, and later, because they were foreign nationals from a country at war with the U.S.

Note that Benedetti was moved to Missoula in early 1941, nearly a year before Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war with the Axis powers. Note also they were released in 1944 after Italy changed sides.

Calling this policy racist is the opinion of the reporter and is not supported by the facts. We rounded up foreign nationals of all countries that we were at war with as a standard policy under international law. This included the diplomatic staff and workers in the German, Italian and Japanese embassies.

Other internees were of course rounded up after Pear Harbor, mostly notably Japanese and Japanese Americans, and moved to detention camps. There is no doubt that there was a racial aspect to the detaining of Japanese nationals and U.S. citizens of Japanese descent.

Michael Fussell, Missoula

Keep fairgrounds where they are

This is my opinion concerning the fairgrounds.

I had the honor of participating as a 4-H member, leader, FFA member, Beef Barn superintendent, judge, Country Fair and Fair Board member.

This was a place where leadership and hard work was stressed, where the family was safe, memories, friends, competition, laughter, tears, fair food remembered and sometimes experienced.

The fairgrounds: 46 acres of irreplaceable property. Convenient for all and accessible. Centrally located, close to banking, shopping, hotels and food.

County commissioners should represent those who elected them. I want the fair to remain on South Avenue.

Charlie Deschamps, Missoula

Company's work should give us pause

Revett Minerals is proposing to construct and operate the Rock Creek Mine, to extract copper and silver from beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

This mining company is currently managing the Troy Mine, a smaller project also in northwestern Montana. Close examination of their experience at Troy should cast serious doubt in their ability to safely function at Rock Creek.

Since reopening the Troy Mine in 2004, this company has had issues of subsidence, serious ground fall that tragically took the life of a miner. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued Revett over 140 citations and 25 orders regarding safety violations at the mine just since last July. The federal agency recently levied fines totaling over $500,000 for infractions involving unsafe working conditions at Troy.

Revett management has not protected underground workers from falling rocks or weakened underground supports. These violations show an incredible amount of negligence and disrespect to their employees and confirm that the dollar is more important than the lives of their personnel. With this degree of disregard for their staff at Troy, how can federal and state agencies trust that this company will protect the wilderness, water and two threatened species at Rock Creek?

The last thing working Montanans need is another mine operated by these people.

Karla Murphy,Missoula

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