Letters: Hernandez Commentary; Elizabeth Hughes

We received many letters about a commentary from Daisy Hernandez about the shooting in Tucson, and, on the lighter side, on our interview with 8-year-old Elizabeth Hughes, who was singing the National Anthem at a hockey rink in Virginia when her mic cut out. NPR's Michele Norris and Robert Siegel read from listeners' e-mails.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

I'm Robert Siegel.

And it's time now for your letters. And first, we received many critical notes about a commentary on Wednesday's program. Writer Daisy Hernandez described her thinking when she heard about the shootings in Tucson.

Ms. DAISY HERNANDEZ (Writer): What I wanted to know was the killer's surname. My eyes scanned the mobile papers. I held my breath. Finally I saw it: Jared Loughner. Not a Ramirez, Gonzalez, or Garcia. It's safe to say there was a collective sigh of brown relief when the Tucson killer turned out to be a gringo.

NORRIS: Hernandez claimed that if the shooter had been Latino it would have fueled aggressive anti-immigrant talk and policies.

SIEGEL: Well Doug Robalin(ph) of Glenn Allen, Virginia, wrote this: While I can understand commentator Daisy Hernandez's relief that the Tucson shooter was not Hispanic, any sympathy I might have for her position evaporated when she referred to Jared Loughner as a gringo.

NORRIS: That word, gringo, led dozens of you to write to us. Jennifer Dahl(ph) of Sister Bay, Wisconsin, sent this: I can't believe you let her run with calling someone a gringo multiple times. It's a slur, bottom line, and don't we get enough of that elsewhere in the media?

SIEGEL: A few of you did write in to defend Daisy Hernandez. Here's what Kent Yoder(ph) of Glendale, Arizona, had to say.

NORRIS: As a middle-aged white male from Arizona, I have only this to say in response to Ms. Hernandez's commentary: Amen, sister. Amen.

SIEGEL: And our inbox was filled with many grateful letters about eight-year old Elizabeth Hughes. She sang the national anthem at a hockey rink in Norfolk, Virginia, last week. She was out on the ice singing, proudly, when suddenly her mic cut out.

Ms. ELIZABETH HUGHES (Singer): I was upset because I didn't get to sing my high note, and barely anybody probably could hear me. And I was just really disappointed.

NORRIS: She didn't get to sing that high note, but she did get to sing along -along with the crowd. That's because everyone the stadium joined in. When I spoke with Elizabeth yesterday, she finally got to sing that famous high note.

Ms. HUGHES: (Singing) O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

SIEGEL: Well, hearing that, Steve Drake(ph) of Midland, Michigan, wrote this: I think all the pent-up feelings from this week's events in Arizona, and all the political baggage that this tragedy revealed, were released in her little voice singing the song that makes us all Americans.

NORRIS: And Sula Cretze(ph) writes this: As I was driving home over the snowy south mountain in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with no traffic in sight, I couldn't resist honking my horn after hearing that delightful interview.

Robert, I guess that's a freeway moment.

SIEGEL: Thanks for honking and for writing. You can reach us at NPR.org. Just click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

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