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Everybody's Column

Stop stereotyping Vietnam veterans

I am not a Vietnam veteran but I am grateful to them for what they did and for what they are still doing. Hollywood, the news media and a large part of the public look at the Vietnam veteran as one with long hair, wild looking and addicted to drugs. The typical Vietnam vet is just the opposite.

The Vietnam vet fought a long, dirty war against a cunning, cruel, smart and well-trained enemy. The press here unfairly vilified the U.S. soldier for a few isolated deaths of civilians, which happen in any war. Now, if a Vietnam vet does something wrong, it's blown out of proportion by the news media. Why don't the media ever report the good things these veterans are doing?

Vietnam Veterans of America has a food pantry giving food to needy people. It also has a motorcycle group that escorts funeral processions of veterans, sends an honor guard to funerals if a family requests it and meets returning service people at the airport waving American flags and saluting -- something they never had.

These are just a few of the good things my Vietnam brothers are doing. As for me, an old Korean War veteran who never saw the horrors of war, I say, God bless you and welcome home.

Lou Diakos

Amherst

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Allentown Art Festival is no place to bring dog

What makes people think that their dog wants to go to the Allentown Art Festival? Every year I've gone, I see people with their panting, overheated and confused pets doing their best to navigate -- with the guidance of a leash pulling them -- through the throngs of people. This year, there was a man holding a husky puppy. This little thing was obviously hot and uncomfortable, but the guy was getting a lot of attention, so there is that.

I saw an overweight black dog who looked like she was going to be sick. There was a little pug doing his best to step lively on the sweltering pavement. I saw a family with two huge Great Danes, and a couple with a puggle. Most were garnering attention; that must be it.

Please, please, find another way to feed your ego and don't subject your dogs to the heat and confusion of events like the Allentown Art Festival. Independence Day is coming up and, for those who don't know, fireworks can scare dogs to death, literally.

Leslie J. Lange

Freedom

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Government should not be run like a business

Our county executive has a policy in place that it is supposed to recognize and recruit the best and brightest to the region. Perhaps he should wake up to the fact that the best and brightest are already here. He should also realize that running government like a business is an exercise steeped in folly.

Look at what we've gotten from business in the past few decades. Enron, AIG and BP, to name just a few. The corporate boards, arm in arm with the political leadership across America, seem only happy to give away any decent-paying jobs to whatever Third World company they can exploit and extract the most profit from. They are also happy to write legislation favoring big business that puts profit before people. All this while the trustees can run a company into the ground, earn hefty bonuses and get the taxpayers to treat them to a bailout. The politicians so eager to assist the corporations in making this happen all have perks, benefits, paychecks and work weeks that laborers only dream of.

People from all walks of life want the same things that the upper echelons of society want to reserve for themselves. Before Chris Collins blasts public employees about the benefits they receive, he needs to look no further than his recently appointed executive from National Fuel, who boldly proclaims that it has paid a dividend for 108 years. This company has a monopoly on providing a service that is essential to living in the modern world. It is presently paying his salary while in his new appointment. I doubt that would ever happen in any company Collins would run, or maybe that is just the cost of running a business.

Joseph Verrastro

Buffalo

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Victims of sexual assault must remain anonymous

Confidentiality and anonymity are critical in order to maintain safety for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Victims of sexual assault related to their assailants deserve the same level of anonymity as other victims.

As a community, it is our responsibility to create an environment in which victims of domestic violence and sexual assault feel secure enough to reach out for help from systems designed to increase their safety. The media play an important role in creating this environment. When articles are published that directly or indirectly identify the victim, other victims in need of help learn to distrust the system and fear that their confidentiality may not be maintained. Often, they take longer to reach out for help than they otherwise would have.

The Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence urges The News to always consider safety first when deciding what to report and how to report it. We hope community members who are suffering at the hands abusers come forward and request help from the community of professionals willing and able to help. Calling the New York State hotline at 1-800-942-6906 is a great first step.

Kristen Luppino-Gholston

Remla Parthasarathy

Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence

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Witch hunt against Thomas is appalling

I begin a defense of Helen Thomas by criticizing her for the mistake she made phrasing her position, that Jews should leave Palestine and return to their original homelands, "Poland, Germany and America." More than 700,000 Palestinians have been displaced; their country reduced to one-fifth its original size. It isn't what Thomas said, then, that brought Ari Fleischer and Lanny Davis down on her; it is how she said it. And how she said it left her wide open for the kill. After all, doesn't she continue to express compassion for Palestinians and isn't that, in some circles, another mistake and the reason for the witch hunt?

Why didn't righteous Fleischer and Davis not express this contempt when President George W. Bush made the mistake of bombing civilian Iraqis; and when Rush Limbaugh was blatantly attacking African-Americans, Muslims and women? And where was this judicious duo when Pat Robertson was making a lunatic connection between Katrina and the justice of God?

Finally and importantly, when Charles Krauthammer and Alan Dershowitz viciously assail Arabs with vengeance, their religious background is never mentioned. Why is it, then, that critics of Thomas continue to make racist reference to her Lebanese heritage as if that in itself is justification for chastisement?

Fran Weiss

Williamsville

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