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Opinion

Readers React: Americans can have freedom or equality, but probably not both

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A motorist in a luxury SUV drives past a homeless encampment beneath the 101 Freeway in Hollywood.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Erin Aubry Kaplan’s argument about racism and inequality begins with a false premise — that the goal of America is equality rather than freedom.

Equality is impossible to achieve, whereas freedom is possible if a person makes good decisions.

Decisions have consequences, and an individual who continually makes good decisions can expect good consequences. The pursuit of equality sounds good, but it’s a black hole.

Robert S. Rodgers, Culver City

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To the editor: Kaplan is right, of course. Regarding racial and economic inequality, we’ve made inroads as a nation, but are maddeningly far from where we should be. I can offer only this.

I’m 70 and white, and I believe in social justice. It’s from where the other equalities flow.

You can force legal equality, as political leaders have done in the past with emancipation, court rulings, civil rights laws and more. But, it’s nearly impossible to legislate social justice. That comes from one-on-one interaction.

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I have noticed that Kaplan has slowly shifted her youthful stridency, over the years, to a more patient approach. Likewise, it’s up to those being snubbed in life to prove themselves to the seeming uncaring majority. This is unfair but true.

Since giving up isn’t an option, persevering one on one is the only way.

Spike Tucker, Lompoc

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To the editor: The link between racism and inequality surfaced in a recent exchange I read on Facebook.

The topic was homelessness in Los Angeles. The discussion was fairly robust but focused on the anecdotal experiences each contributor had from interacting with homeless individuals. Soon the racism surfaced with the comment of a white woman who wrote, “But let’s keep those borders open!”

Homelessness is such a complex issue, and to categorically put the reason in racial terms is what we commonly do today. It enforces the current attitude that people are not equal.

Kaplan’s urging to discuss whiteness (messy and a downer, as she writes) is what is needed today. I am retired now, but I come in contact with young people often. I can confirm Kaplan’s optimism about the positive course of our democracy.

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The pyramid on the obverse of the dollar bill depicts a structure that is unfinished. Let’s finish it right.

James Severtson, Reseda

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