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Monitoring of Muslims violates core principles

So now we learn that the New York City Police Department's spying on Muslims extended as far as Buffalo. And this is only a couple weeks after reading in The News about the FBI's obsessive spying on local artists Milton Rogovin and Manny Fried, for decades, because the two had exercised their constitutional right to free association by joining the Communist Party and cared about poor people and unions.

Our country has a sad history of persecution of ethnic and political groups, all too often in the name of patriotism and security. Following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 by Leon Czolgosz, a self-proclaimed anarchist, Polish immigrants of first and second generation were watched and harassed merely because Czolgosz was a second-generation Polish-American. Unionists, Socialists, and Communists were attacked and sometimes deported during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s. Japanese-Americans in the hundreds of thousands were arrested and consigned to concentration camps during World War II, pandering to the paranoia of whites living on the West Coast.

Today, it is the turn of Muslims and people of Arabic ethnicity to face discrimination because of their religion or ethnic identity. Of course, it is all in the name of national security, and anyone who criticizes it is labeled anti-American. When will our country learn that individuals should not be painted by mere identity in a group, and that such behavior violates every principle our nation holds dear?

Todd Mitchell

Buffalo

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Circuses should stop using animals in acts

Don't get me wrong -- I applaud the Shriners for helping kids. But what about the animals being forced to perform at the circus? Help one and abuse the other. There are alternatives to not using live animals. Life-like puppets were used in the stage plays "War Horse" and "The Lion King" and they were so realistic that I was in awe.

Animals in circuses are hit with clubs and bullhooks, chained, kept in cramped cages, deprived of food and sometimes have their teeth and claws removed, to keep them in line. This is the norm, not the exception. When I see the ad of that poor tiger jumping through the hoop of fire, I can't believe this antiquated circus act is still in practice. Aren't animals petrified of fire?

Judith Manka

East Amherst

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Media pile on the right, give the left a free pass

After reading Jeff Simon's column, "Romney has trouble in the gagosphere," I wondered how long it would take for someone to speak to the media bias. As a conservative, I am well aware of the way Republicans and conservatives are treated. It is absolutely shameful how David Letterman and Jay Leno night after night pile on the right and give the left a pass. Letterman is the absolute worst. Everyone knows he is a liberal, although he often says he knows nothing about politics and has no horse in the race. Yet every single night, Letterman speaks of Mitt Romney and his dog on the car roof and his singing at a fund-raising event while at the same time playing President Obama singing with professional artists. I have to admit Obama has a pretty good voice, certainly better than Romney, but I don't think we want to elect a president because he has a good singing voice.

Obama has made plenty of gaffes, but you never hear about them. Remember when he said he visited 57 states and had one more to go? Remember when he said the Marine "corpse" when speaking of the Marine Corps? Remember when, after a devastating tornado hit Kansas, Obama said, "In case you missed it, this week there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed." He was only off by 9,988 as the twister killed 12 people. How about when Michelle Obama said, "For the first time in my life, I am proud to be an American" after Obama was elected? You did not hear very much about that, did you? The media have always leaned left, but now it's gotten to the point of not leaning, just falling over.

Nicholas Karam

Cheektowaga

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Why does Oates avoid mentioning Williamsville?

Martin Naparsteck's Travel article, "Looking for Joyce Carol Oates' Lockport," appeared in the Feb. 19 News. I realize that he was exploring the famous author's ties to Lockport, but I was left wondering about a couple of things.

Why didn't he do a more thorough investigation of Oates' life? He might have discovered that she graduated from Williamsville Central High School in 1956. She attended that school for three years and rode a yellow bus to school, not a Greyhound bus as mentioned. He may have been relying on her public recollection of her life.

Why is it useful for Oates to avoid mention of her years at Williamsville High School? I can understand that being from the mainstream might not seem intriguing and might not help one author appear different from others. But Oates is in the 1956 Williamsville yearbook.

Oates is a wonderful writer, and she is different from many other authors. I believe she would have been just as accomplished a writer even if she claimed Williamsville High School as her alma mater. Those who write of her past might find these additional details to be interesting.

Mary H. Fischer

East Aurora

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A ray of brightness has been extinguished

A terrible thing happened in Sloan recently, a decent man took his own life. Your reaction, "Decent, how so? He left his wife and children!" I worked alongside him at a very demanding employer and he was one of those genuinely nice people whom anyone would easily grow to like.

I never ever heard a bad word said about him. The pain he felt none of us can fathom. The point is, in this desperately troubled world, a ray of brightness and warmth was extinguished. The human race is now even further in the hole, and that is the real tragedy. Understanding, a beautiful thing.

Jon Leone

Niagara Falls

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If workers are unhappy, then find another job

In response to Catholic institutions having the Health and Human Services mandates imposed on them, the old adage is, "it's a free country." If you want birth control coverage or abortions or anything else, then pay for it yourself. The Catholic Church that I belong to does not believe in these mandates and should not be forced to cover them. If you do not like the health insurance the Catholic Church has, then find another job or buy your own coverage. I worked for a company for 30 years. If I did not like the insurance it gave me, it would tell me to look for another job.

Timothy C. Mahaney

West Seneca