- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blowing smoke

Virginia Group to Alleviate Smoking in Public (GASP) co-founder Anne Morrow Donley’s comparison of the House’s refusal to ban smoking to a willingness to allow slavery shows an astonishing lack of taste and perspective (“Effort to ban smoking rejected,” Metropolitan, Friday).

Working a second job as a bartender, I’ve often complained of late nights and demanding customers, but it’s never occurred to me to compare these annoyances to the plight of the millions of slaves who were held in captivity, torn from their families and forced to labor under threat of the lash.

I find her statement personally insulting, too. Given the rapid rates of turnover in the hospitality industry and the variety of smoke-free jobs it already offers, I don’t need the government to emancipate me from my masters.

Bar and restaurant workers are capable of deciding for themselves whether to work in a smoky environment.

If Miss Donley’s sincere goal is to protect workers from secondhand smoke, there are ways of accomplishing this that are far less coercive than a ban. Kudos to the Virginia House for blocking this latest assault on individual freedom.

JACOB GRIER

Arlington

A proud American

Reading the comments by 44-year-old Michelle Obama that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” woke me up much faster than the usual cup of caffeine (“Finally ‘proud’” Inside Politics, yesterday). I’m a few years younger than Mrs. Obama, yet within a minute I could think of many ways that I have been proud of my country.

I was proud of America when so many firefighters and police officers poured into the Twin Towers on September 11 to do their duty in the face of clear danger; I was proud of America the day I graduated from college (not Princeton like Mrs. Obama, but a small private college to which I paid my own way); I was proud of America when thousands of us sent money to help the survivors of the tsunami in Southeast Asia; I was proud of America when I stood beside my immigrant husband as he became a U.S. citizen; I was proud of America when we saved the bald eagle from the brink of extinction and brought wolves back to Yellowstone National Park; I am proud of America every time I see a parade or fireworks; I’m proud of America because my children have never had cavities because our ingenuity and free markets have given us the best toothpastes in the world.

Every day is a day to be proud and thankful to have been born in the United States.

GINA RIAZI

Silver Spring

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