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Tom Yesterday
Whoever this Tom Tomorrow is, he should check his sources. Charles Taylor is not a "brutal dictator" and I find it offensive of you to just lump all "Africans" into one amorphous collection of people who "harbor al Qaeda" [This Modern World cartoon, Jan. 8].

Fact: The United Nations has paralyzed Mr. Taylor from protecting his own country from rebels by imposing senseless military sanctions on him. That's kind of ironic for a body that was set up with "the interests of the free world" at heart. Oil hungry America's favorite pastime is arm twisting.

After months of denial, I have accepted that there is absolutely no place for the African in America. That's OK. I didn't come here to be validated. I am just disappointed because all this time I thought The Independent was different. You beg to present yourselves as holders of a different viewpoint, on that while may not be popular, is necessary. When you aspire to such standards, more is automatically expected of you.

Be a little more sensitive. I am an African; Kenyan to be specific. My people have suffered much because of our symbiotic association with Israel and America, a relationship deemed unfavorable in the eyes of terrorists. Consequently, there have been two horrible terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil.

In the future, desist from generalizing. Get your facts straight. The careless nature of the caption in your cartoon is evidence of the casual nature that Americans seem to hold the rest of the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa. This might come as a shock to you but there is another Africa you know, not just the one you see on cable every morning or occasionally when Oprah or Sally Struthers have mood swings and feel charitable. I suggest you find out about it. Africa is not awash with tinpot dictators and anarchy.
–Davis Obenga, Raleigh

Editor's Note: The phrase "Report says Africans harbored al Qaeda" was a Washington Post headline in their Dec. 29, 2002 issue.

Agree to agree
Mr. Woolfe's letter concerning the top 10 reasons to vote republican is depressing [Back Talk, Jan. 15]. It bothers me because it is an almost perfect example of the current degradation of political discourse. Rather than discuss ideas, it is so much more fun to insult those holding contrary opinions. The implication that since those I don't agree with are selfish idiots is comforting. It must mean that I and those who agree with me are intelligent and motivated by what is best for the public interest.

I was not any happier about the election results than Mr. Woolfe. However if we want to see a different outcome next time, I would suggest that thinking about how the Democratic message can be improved would make more sense than insulting the voters for not doing what we want.
–Richard Wark, Durham

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