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Letters to the Editor


Where was Brown?
In your U.S. Senate endorsement [Sept. 4] you only mentioned two Democratic candidates by name, Erskine Bowles and Dan Blue. While you did make a strong case to vote for Blue over Bowles, you didn't explain why you would choose Blue over Cynthia Brown. I found it a surprising omission, especially since you have mentioned Cynthia Brown in past articles. I realize you don't have space to discuss everyone, but if you don't mention all the key competitors, you don't have a very convincing argument.

Guitar god
Hooray for the article on Glenn Wyllie ["Interstellar Overdrive," Aug. 21]--he is, in my biased opinion, long overdue for this sort of attention. But Edward Holm only got part of the story. In addition to his pedals, Glenn is also a luthier, handbuilding unusual but very playable electric guitars and sitars that are as different and cool as any of his fuzzboxes. (In fact, Mark Stewart owns one of Glenn's electric sitars, and used it on Paul Simon's last Grammy-winning album.) Glenn can also repair broken effects pedals (a rare art in any time), or take some cheesy guitar that's messed up beyond bother and make it work again. I don't know if I'd take a $40,000 D'Angelico to him for a fix, but if you've got a Teisco Del Rey or Silvertone that needs help, he's your man.

When I first arrived in Chapel Hill five years ago, Glenn (along with Bryan Gibson) was one of the first musical people in town I met. Since then, he's repaired or improved everything I've thrown at him, freely showed off his latest inventions, provided valuable insight and always listened to my ideas and opinions, no matter how goofy. He is much appreciated.

Understanding Sept. 11
I teach a class at Durham Tech in the humanities department on Islam and the Arab world. This is the first class on this topic at the college and I'm pleased to say that my 30-plus students are bright, eager to learn and seriously concerned about the looming confrontation between America and Iraq, which in fact may fast become one between America and a very significant portion of humanity that is capable of seeing through the hypocrisy of our foreign policies in the Middle East, especially under the Bush administration. In any event, I am an avid reader of the world's press as befitting a former journalist who has worked in the Mid East, but to date I have not read anything as excellent nor as accurate nor as hard hitting as the contributions of Crowther, Cheshire and Jennings in The Independent's Sept. 11 issue. You and your paper ought to be congratulated for a courageous contribution to a debate that needs to unfold clearly and rapidly in the U.S. and that may--if we are very lucky--forestall a disaster not only for America but for many innocent people in the Middle East, too. It is also comforting to realize that there is seriously intelligent life in North Carolina, notwithstanding sub-cretins in Raleigh and elsewhere who made an issue of freshmen at UNC reading an informative book about the Quran. Thank you!

Drawing the line
Mr. Miriello of Central Carolina Community College reports his "concern" about his ability to serve "the people in his community" that want to attend college, yet ignores the fact that these colleges were built and are operated using state and federal taxes with the intention of educating Carolinians ["Undocumented Students Kept Out of College," Sept. 11]. Kids from, say, Pennsylvania or Montana or Denmark or Korea or Senegal who might want to attend must pay higher tuition so that Carolina taxpayers don't have to subsidize their education. Carolina taxpayers simply didn't sign on to educate the entire world, and the line must be drawn somewhere.

Reduced tuition for citizens and legal residents is premised upon the fact that those citizens and their parents pay taxes to support the institutions in question. Your article cites complaints by foreign nationals, whose children have already received years of "free" public schooling here, that their children aren't eligible for almost-free higher education. Yet your article does not address whether the same people are paying income taxes or property taxes to support those schools. I suspect the majority are not, working as they reportedly do in industries and for employers who prefer to pay them "under the table," thereby depressing market wages for all workers, and avoiding payroll taxes (income tax and Social Security). And if, as we are told, a substantial percentage of an illegal worker's earnings are sent to his home country, little is paid in sales taxes.

While their advocacy groups routinely claim that illegal aliens "pay taxes too," the same advocates vociferously oppose any effort to gather hard data to provide a definitive answer to the question of how much illegal aliens cost our states in public services, overcrowding, and pollution, versus how much they contribute. (Hospitals aren't allowed to ask, but must provide free care. Elementary schools aren't allowed to ask, but must provide free education. And so on.) Until those important policy questions are answered, I see no problem with an illegal alien paying the same tuition at CCCC as a kid from Pennsylvania or Montana is required to pay.

P.S. The headline "Undocumented Students Kept Out of College" is nonsense. No one is being "kept out." They are simply being asked to pay tuition. Many of us who went to private schools spend 10-20 years paying off large education debts. Why should someone who is here in direct violation of our laws get a better break?

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