Now that our country's leader has concluded his brief visit to our beloved area, I'm left with questions:

Why did you come here? What did you accomplish (other than an attempt at a feel-good media event)? What was the financial cost to our community and the taxpayers?

And most importantly, why couldn't you make the effort to visit our veterans at the Canandaigua VA hospital, a mere half-mile from your main, invitation-only event?

Your actions spoke volumes. You wouldn't honor the men who did answer their call to duty, and your current budget proposal cuts veterans' health benefits.

March 19 was the three-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. Here are some other numbers for you to contemplate:

American military casualties in Iraq: 2,313 since the war began, 1856 in combat. American wounded: officially: 17,044, Estimated: 18,000 to 48,100. US military deaths in Afghanistan: 271 (source: http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/).

Iraqi civilian casualties: minimum, 33,679; maximum, 37,795; some estimates put the figure closer to 100,000 innocent Iraqi lives lost as a direct result of this insanity. (Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.net.) "We don't do body counts" --- General Tommy Franks, US Central Command.

It's time for Americans to demand that some deadlines be put in place; that the administration abandon this "stay-the-course" mentality and embrace the fact that not only does our battle in Iraq have no connection to the 9-11 attacks but the cost of this war, both in lives lost and financially, is reprehensible.

It's time to make a concrete plan to bring our troops home. At the same time, we cannot leave Iraq in its current state. Our leaders need to keep their promise to the people whose lives we have altered so drastically and help restore their infrastructure. They don't deserve what we've done to them.

Take action: write to your representatives, write to Washington, call them, e-mail them, and tell them enough is enough!

Rachel Miller, Canandaigua


In her letter about "Acting White" ("Black and White," The Mail, March 1,) Noel France makes some good points, but falls short in discussing the complex issue of race within the United States.

I can't speak with authority about white or biracial people. However, there is absolutely no doubt that where African Americans are concerned, "black" may not be the "sole identifier," but it is clearly the most dominant one.

Those of us who are conscious of the pervasive nature of institutionalized and individualized racism are also keenly aware that the vast majority of those who control the cultural systems of the US do, and probably always will, see us as "black" before they recognize any other attributes that we may possess. Many African Americans are clear about the necessity of facing this reality, and do not appreciate it when white people mistakenly believe they are paying us a compliment by proclaiming that they do not see skin color.

France is incorrect that "black does not even accurately describe skin color." Millions of human beings are indeed black. In fact, some are what many of us refer to as "jet-black." My father, and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and associates fit this accurate, culturally oriented description.

France is correct about the "need to challenge what it means to be black, what it means to be white, and what it means to use color to describe our state of being." At the same time, it is even more important --- particularly for black people --- to remain acutely cognizant that this "need" has gone unfulfilled for well over 400 years.

The bottom line is that focusing more on "commonality" than on "difference" serves to perpetuate widespread, deep-seated denial and "racist oppression." That is to say, downplaying or attempting to ignore problems such as institutionalized and individualized racism (based on skin color) helps (whether intentional or not) to guarantee its perpetuation.

Howard J. Eagle, Rochester


The struggle of the Iraqi people for the right to run their own countrywill probably result in this:

The US government will be forced to withdraw from Iraq after untold violence against the Iraqi people.The American middle class will continue to erode under the present US government's policies. Americans' lack of understanding of the Bush's imperialist policies will manifest itself in a move to a fascist or a totalitarian evolution of our country.And finally, everyone from the poorest to the richest in America will suffer the consequences of accepting what is now happening to our land.

Either we as a people take back the values of justice or we will sink in the sands of historical failure. We must elect honest people to lead us, people who don't give false slogans about freedom, but who truly care about fighting injustice and hatred andwho motivate us through their example of decent behavior toward other countries and ourselves.

Jack Disraeli, Norris Drive, Rochester


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