Letters: Palin As Feminist And Ethnic Studies

Talk of the Nation listeners were deeply divided by our Opinion Page segment about whether Sarah Palin is a feminist. Also, listeners wrote about whether or not ethnic studies should be taught in public schools, and who's to blame for the oil spill.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday and time to read from your emails and Web comments. Last week's Opinion Page did exactly what we'd hope, provoke thoughtful reactions. Meghan Daum of The Los Angeles Times argued that if Sarah Palin has the guts to call herself a feminist, then she's entitled to be accepted as one; listeners split.

Marsha Marshall(ph) complained, Sarah Palin is an opportunist. She has taken advantage of every open door that real feminists opened for her, but she's marching to a different drummer. Feminism has embraced a set of values that very much includes control over one's body, being pro-choice, as well as all aspects of one's life.

Linda Santer(ph) disagreed. Way to go, Palin, I say. She gives me apoplexy, too, but as a free choice proponent, I think it's dangerous to propose that one can't be a feminist and also be pro-choice. It's just divisive to start standing in particular what our club demands. Inclusion and fairness, that's what we feminists should expect.

Email is also divided over the new Arizona laws that ban most ethnic studies classes in public school.

May(ph), in Lansing, Michigan, wrote, I believe it's dividing the races. We as a nation have been trying for centuries to say race doesn't matter, yet ethnic studies separates them. Heritage, culture and the latter should be taught in homes, churches and through family, not in public schools.

But Jessica Douglas(ph), in Alliance, Ohio, argued, we do teach ethnic studies in our American history courses, white ethnicity's version of American history. Our history books conveniently leave out the struggles and input of those other ethnicities, even though they are an important part of American history. That perspective needs to be included even if they don't paint such a great picture of the majority group.

Finally, opinions continue to flow over the oil well that continues to spew crude into the Gulf of Mexico, and on who's to blame. At this point, it could be August before relief wells can stop the flow.

In terms of blame, Scott Crabtree(ph) in Portland, Oregon, pointed two fingers. The problem, he complained, is nobody has the expertise to cap an oil well at 5,000 feet in a timely manner. The government failed to recognize that when they permitted these wells to be drilled. Transocean and BP have prided themselves on drilling deeper underwater than anybody has never done before. Clearly, they blatantly neglected to consider the consequences.

And while many, including some of our emailers, argue that government should take over the containment efforts. Susan Drammond(ph) doesn't buy the logic. I'm as cynical as the next person, but I find it hard to believe that BP is not doing everything it can to stop the spill. What could possibly be their motivation for dragging their feet or not doing all they could to stop it? Alternately, it seems ironic that people who want smaller government and get out of our lives expect that the same small government to jump in immediately and fix this kind of problems themselves. What kind of logic is that?

One problem we can solve, if you missed any of last week's programs, you can always listen online or download the Podcast. Go to npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION for details. If you're not getting our email newsletter, stop by that website and sign up. We'll send you a preview of what's coming up on the show and how you can get into the conversation early. Again, npr.org and click on TALK OF THE NATION. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow me there, too, at nealconan, all one word.

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