Re: "You Can Go Ethnic Again" (by Beverly Beyette, March 13), as an American I would like to ask some questions and express my layman views on the article.
Why? Why do ethnic groups feel the necessity to be so concerned about heritage and cultural background? Why do they insist on maintaining the same prejudices and evoking prejudice upon themselves that their ancestors migrated to this country to escape? What is so important about being ethnic? Isn't being American enough?
Human relationship is what this country is all about. It was established as a haven for all oppressed people of the world to escape the prejudices of the past. It is the "melting pot of the world." Its society offers the opportunity for people to become one in a nation and under a government unlike any other in the world, but that opportunity will never be realized as long as people insist on separating themselves. The social structure is not to blame. It is not "society's attitudes toward ethnic and racial minorities" that creates problems, it is those who would hold themselves apart and maintain separatists in attitudes toward one another.
Only when ethnic groups become unbiased and tolerant of one another, only when the perpetuation of Old World prejudices and hatreds desist, and only when pride in being just Americans is considered sufficient will we become the one people for which this country was founded.
For 60 years, I have owed allegiance to none but my fellow human beings and my country and, by God, I am proud of my American heritage!
Welcome, Go Away
Regarding "Silva Letter Holders in an Immigration Limbo" (by Garry Abrams, March 17): Strange how all the illegals jump out of the woodwork and show us their Silva letters. I'm sad my country has so many aliens here now. I go down Vermont Avenue and feel I'm in a different country.
Strange these (people) don't go home and try to fix up their own countries. Instead they run here when the going gets tough, depress entry level wages, take housing intended for Americans and leave us new generations to import foreign cultures that have changed the face of America forever, and while my own government turns a blind eye.
Marina del Rey
If the Silva letter holders have never been given consideration in any immigration legislation, they are entitled to it and this country should now extend its helping arms to them. Perhaps now that Lady Liberty in New York Harbor is receiving a rejuvenation, it will be easier for her to lift her tired arms and again hold them out willingly to those who deserve to be welcomed to our shores by giving them legal status as citizens.
With all the terrible things going on in this world today, the Silva controversy offers us a golden opportunity to show to all nations that this country can still open its heart and welcome people who need help.
Music Hath Charms
Kudos to Jack Smith for his column on March 13. Too many journalists, especially music critics, forget that composers (and performers) of "serious" music are allowed to have personal lives. By describing the composer Hector Berlioz as a "passionate, headstrong, lovesick romantic . . . in pursuit of an Irish actress," Smith reminds us that emotions play a major role in the arts. Berlioz's personality shows in his music, as do those of Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mancini, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, et al. And the personalities of the performers are evident also; just listen to several recordings of the same work performed by different artists.
Smith's humanizing of music is warmly welcomed. We in the arts are real people. We spend many hours building confidence and competence, loving and hating, learning and longing. And we also move about quite a bit. It takes concentration and effort to get the music out, be it through an instrument or a pen. For me, personally, it's a combination of cursing and praying.
By describing what happened at the concert, Smith points out one of the greatest joys of music--watching it happen. I've learned more about music by watching musicians than by listening. Players' actions tend to reveal the emotions and intent of the written score. I would suppose that is the reason so many people continue to show up at the Music Center.
The Hollywood Pops Orchestra
As an ophthalmologist and radial keratotomy surgeon, I have serious concerns over the impression Allan Parachini's article ("Eye Surgery Pitch--Is It Hype or Hope," March 3) may have created among the public. While it may be true that some doctors have resorted to using rather unprofessional means of building their practices and have made exaggerated claims about the benefits of radial keratotomy, that does not diminish the value and importance of this procedure.
Radial keratotomy is not a cure-all. It will not guarantee that patients may throw away their glasses. Rather, it is a procedure that can significantly improve the eyesight of those patients who qualify.
It the past five years I have performed several thousand radial keratotomy operations. Of those, most patients have been able to do without glasses after the surgery. For many others, the surgery has meant significantly improved vision, though still requiring glasses for such activities as driving and reading.
Certainly since the surgery was developed there are patients who have suffered complications as a result. The message, as with any surgery, is to know your doctor. Do not take this, or any other surgery lightly, and most of all, beware of doctors who make claims that sound too good to be true. They probably are. Make sure your doctor informs you of the possible negatives as well as the positives. No surgery exists that does not have some possible risks or negative effects.
There are two "unknown risks" that continue to appear in discussions of radial keratotomy. The first relates to "unknown long-term side effects" of the surgery. I have followed patients for five years and have found that the microscopic incisions fragment and fade. The patients of Dr. Fyodorov have been followed for more than 10 years and no long-term adverse side effects have been reported. In addition, we ophthalmologists have followed corneal scars ever since corneal surgery for cataracts as well as for repair of traumatic wounds has been developed. Once these scars heal, they stabilize and do not change. Why then do some surgeons express concerns regarding the ultimate stability of these partial thickness incisions into the surface of the cornea?
Secondly, concern has been voiced relating to the predictability of the surgical result for a specific patient before the operation is performed. The statistical data obtained from my results, as well as those of many of my colleagues, has been documented to yield 90% predictability. The surgeon needs to be meticulous in planning the surgery and must use a systematized approach; the bottom line is that radial keratotomy is an efficacious procedure when performed correctly, but, as with any surgical procedure, there is some degree of variability and unpredictability.
Radial keratotomy is an exciting breakthrough. For some, such as fire fighters, police officers or airline pilots, it can be a career saver. For others it offers the chance for greatly improved vision without glasses or contacts. The value of the surgery should not be diminished due to irresponsible misrepresentations of the few.
RONALD P. JENSEN MD