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Keeping opinion makers honest I thoroughly agree with Paul Loeb's opinion piece on the current affectation of superior cynicism ("The cynical smirk that denies us the possible," July 26).

I find that people today often offer only two choices - a mindless optimism that ignores the data altogether and simply urges one to return to family values, protect the flag and "be positive!," or a superior and vacuous pose of witty but impotent criticism.

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The activists of the sixties dressed soberly, spoke directly, won Civil Rights legislation and, in the case of the students at Kent State, died, to successfully end a war.

It is convenient for many power centers to create a ridiculous caricature of the '60s that has far more to do with the '70s - a decade of exhausted opportunity and conservative backlash that attempted to commercially exploit the political activism that came before; and the '80s, which implied that our choices had to do with the "lifestyles" we could afford to maintain.

The affected, cool, superior opinionmakers of the present day will win more of my attention when they have demonstrated a commitment to something more inspiring than their stock options.

Jack Betterly, Troy, N.Y.

Nicaragua's fate at US hands

Your July 6 article referred to Nicaragua as Central America's poorest country ("Nicaragua, just two pieces of pie?"). Too few of us remember that in the early 1980s the Sandinista programs to boost literacy and health were lauded by the United Nations.

And too many have forgotten that it was the United States, first by the Central Intelligence Agency and then through our illegal support of the contras, that brought down the popular elected Sandinista government and destroyed Nicaragua's economy and its forward-looking policies.

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Yes, we were told that Daniel Ortega's government was "communist," but it was no more communist than the governments of France or Italy.

Our government destroyed the Sandinista government because it had ousted the US-supported dictator Samoza and was moving Nicaragua outside of the direct control of the US and US corporations.

David E. Christensen, Carbondale, Ill.

Public broadcasting donor lists

Regarding "Public broadcasting, Democrats, and 'the lists' " (July 21): It would appear that PBS has become a political tool instead of broadcasting news and information untouched by commercial broadcasting.

PBS espouses a political agenda wherever it can. We would support PBS if it was totally neutral. Since that is not the case, we believe PBS should not continue to be funded by the taxpayers. The very popular programs on the show would be commercially feasible at one of the regular networks.

Torkel and Darlene Edquist, Fairhope, Ala.

I do feel it gives a poor image of PBS for them to be known as selling donor lists to political parties. However, I cannot get as worked up over it as Congress.

Like everyone else, I receive dozens of solicitations from political parties, nonprofit groups, and others. It is a fact of life, and I know they have gotten my name from other groups with whom I have had some contact. Some are for causes or things I don't agree with. I sometimes wonder what I have done to lead them to believe I would be sympathetic to their cause.

Perhaps this is the answer: Don't read anything into it. Congress, are you listening?

William C. Arms, Tallahassee, Fla.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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