From Our Listeners

Letters: Obama, Guest Workers, Red, Barbaro

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Listeners respond to recent coverage of Sen. Barack Obama and treatment of Guatemalan guest workers as well as Susan Stamberg's "Valentine" to the color red and commentator John Ridley's thoughts on rating movies in which characters smoke. Frank Deford's request for suggestions on naming the brothers of the late racehorse Barbaro is yielding fruit — "Red Barbaro" is one suggestion — and we correct a reference to Iggy Pop in a story about rock music in TV commercials. We should have said he sings in an ad for Royal Caribbean cruise lines.


Time now for your comments.

I listened with incredulity. That's the way Deborah Wideler(ph) began her response to a story about Barack Obama and whether he's black enough to speak for some African-Americans. We got a lot of angry e-mails about that story.

Deborah Wideler, who lives in Westminster, Colorado, continued: Obama's appeal stems from what he says, not from the color of his skin. The point is not that he's black and I'm white. It is that we can work together to make our country better for our children regardless of their color.

In a story about alleged abuses of Guatemalan guest workers under a visa program known as H2B, we played this quote from activist Greg Schell.

Mr. GREG SCHELL (Attorney, Migrant Farmworker Justice Project):I have yet to find an H2B worker, in my years of experience - and I've been representing guest workers, either agriculture or otherwise, for 28 years. I have yet to see an H2B worker that has been paid correctly.

MONTAGNE: That quote brought several comments, like this one from listener David Dunn.

Mr. DAVID DUNN (Listener): Your story was lopsided and should be supplemented with facts to provide balance. I am an owner of a landscape-contracting firm in San Antonio, Texas. We began using the H2B visa program last year, and not only did we pay our workers correctly, they were paid more than 10 percent above what our local workers made. And we provided for their health insurance. Feel free to contact our H2B workers for their story. You would be impressed.

MONTAGNE: That from listener David Dunn.

Many listeners enjoyed Susan Stamberg's Valentine to the color red. In that story, we heard that in the Catholic Church, red associated with divinity. But some of you reminded us of a more specific connection. You wrote that red means martyrdom. It represents the blood shed by Christ and the blood of others who died for him.

A conversation with commentator John Ridley about whether movies whose characters smoke should be given an R-rating, that's an issue that's been raised by the American Medical Association. Well, many of you scoffed at the idea.

Give me a break, writes Jason Jones of Laurel, Mississippi. My family watches a lot of "I Love Lucy" reruns, hardly an episode goes by without someone lighting up a cigarette. Does the American Medical Association really believe that watching this would lead kids to try smoking?

Jones adds that many Americans are obese, so maybe one day we'll have R-ratings for movies that show unhealthy eating habits.

We have a correction now in a story about rock music used in TV commercials. We said that Iggy Pop sings in an ad for Carnival Cruise Lines. Wrong. We should have said Royal Caribbean.

Hundreds of you responded after commentator Frank Deford asked for suggestions regarding names for the brothers of the late beloved racehorse, Barbaro. Frank will read his favorites on Wednesday, March 7th. That gives you plenty of time to submit your ideas for names to, which is the same place to e-mail us about anything else on the programs. Just click Contact Us.

(Soundbite of song, "A Horse With No Name")

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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