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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 22, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Obama’s inauguration, Cabinet choices

End the fiasco

Like so many other people who volunteered for the President-elect Barack Obama campaign, I feel a deep sense of disappointment with Obama’s selection of Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration [“Obama plans welcome event at Lincoln Memorial,” Politics, Dec. 19].

Warren was an outspoken supporter of California’s Proposition 8. Warren has analogized gays to pedophiles, and opposes a women’s right to choose, and has suggested that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be assassinated.

Being chosen to give the invocation is the highest honor a clergy person can be given in American secular civic life. What is Obama saying when he selects a man who opposes civil rights for gays, supports assassinating foreign leaders, and opposes a women’s right to control her own body?

Warren does have his good points. He supports lowering carbon emissions and fighting AIDS worldwide, but his basic values conflict with the constitutional ideals that have allowed our diverse society to flourish and evolve.

If Warren is a mensch, then he will withdraw from giving the invocation. This would be a graceful end to the fiasco.

— Joshua Friedes, Seattle

Show some respect

I am deeply offended by the selection of Rev. Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation. It’s one thing to be willing to listen to diverse opinions, but an entirely different matter to give unique prominence to someone who espouses the subservience of women to the state in regard to their reproductive choices.

Warren rejects homosexuals’ right to live in a state-recognized loving relationship, as if they were some kind of nonhuman species. This man shows enormous disrespect for his fellow citizens and their right to freely make their most personal decisions about love, marriage and reproduction.

If President-elect Barack Obama wants to reciprocate his welcome at Warren’s church, let him invite Warren to his own church. Putting Warren at the forefront of this most special inauguration is to lend Obama’s imprimatur to this man whose ideology includes disrespect for women, for homosexuals and for the scientific basis for making medical decisions.

Obama’s selection of Warren is a gratuitous insult to those who worked so hard to elect Obama.

— Elaine Phelps, Shoreline

A good example

As members of the education-reform community and representatives of some of the largest employers in Washington state, we are very pleased with President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for Education Secretary [“Arne Duncan: a reformer as U.S. education secretary,” News, Dec. 17] and the example he sets for Washington.

Duncan’s track record of dramatically accelerating student performance proves education leaders can effectively and creatively work around constraints, while simultaneously pursuing more-dramatic reforms to overhaul the system.

But what we think is most interesting about Duncan — and important for Washington state — is how he made lemonade out of lemons. Even though each Chicago school’s local governing board hires its principal, Duncan tightened up the selection criteria to ensure only highly qualified candidates can apply. He did the same with curricula. Each school selects its own reading program for example, but now a school must choose from a district-approved list.

Here in Washington state, where we’ve tinkered around the edges of school reform, the majority of children, particularly low-income and minority students, still attend traditional public schools operating under the constraints of union work rules, an inefficient allocation of resources and bureaucratic teacher recruitment and hiring practices.

Duncan’s ability to creatively work around constraints is an important and timely lesson for Washington educators and advocates given our current budget reality and other inhibiting political forces.

— Larry Ehl, Seattle

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