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Letters: Knock on two older congressmen smacks of ageism

U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, 74, who is running for re-election, has been in politics for 36 years. File photo by Brian Jackson for the Sun-Times.

I am a 96-year resident of Illinois’ 1st Congressional District. In every election, I cast my ballot for candidates who represent the needs and interests of my family and community, regardless of political party.

So, Laura Washington’s column asking “How long is too for a Chicago congressman?” (Sept. 20) is a question I’d like to answer. How long is too long to fight for equal access to job, economic and educational opportunities; and the right to quality, affordable housing?

I have witnessed the committed service of Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis for more than 50 years. As young, unpaid community activists, they pursued the ideals of equality and justice. They continued as elected officials recognizing that political power provides the opportunity to make positive change.

Why is Laura asking, “How long is too long?” of two African-American congressmen? After all, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez was elected the same year (1993) as Rush. Sen. Richard Durbin began his time in the House in 1983 and in the Senate in 1997, the same year as Davis. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has served since 1983 and Ald. Ed Burke since 1969. Why is their service viewed as a strong commitment and capital to be spent on behalf of their constituents? Seniority is required to pass laws, secure funding and provide the currency of politics that improves people’s lives.

I’m surprised Laura asked that question of two African-American public servants and offered, as an alternative, someone who has yet to exemplify any level of commitment to the community. It’s not the age but the social, political behavior that people should recognize with their vote.

In my 96 years, I’ve never asked how long is too long to work to improve the lives of people in our community. A better question might be: When will ageism be as unacceptable as racism?

Timuel D. Black, Hyde Park

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Drug Take-Back Day

It is more important than ever to dispose of unused medications, especially prescription pain medications. Many abusers of prescription pain medications get their start in the family medicine cabinet, diverting unused or expired medications that began as someone else’s legitimate prescription. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses because of these drugs.

Abuse of prescription painkillers can lead to addiction to these substance, which too often leads to use of and addiction to illicit substances like heroin that are cheaper and more readily available. As we’ve seen in the news, this can affect anyone regardless socioeconomic status or neighborhood. Drug Take-Back Day, an initiative of the Drug Enforcement Administration is Saturday. I encourage anyone with unwanted, unneeded or expired medications — particularly prescription painkillers — to get them out of the house and to a disposal site, which you can find at dea.gov. Proper disposal has the added benefit of preventing medication mix-ups and keeping small children from accidentally getting into these substances.

Carol DesLauriers, director

Illinois Poison Center

Stop piling on the working class

Kudos to Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) for telling us like it is (“Mayor’s new budget slams poor, middle class” — Sept. 23). The mayor, like the governor, wants to place the burden on the poor and middle class. I hope they fight back and let the mayor know he needs to do better for the working class, stop burdening those who can least afford it and put the burden where it belongs: on the ultra-wealthy and corporations who are reaping record profits.

Ann Gutierrez, Tinley Park

Way to go, MJ

What is it that they say about karma? What goes around comes around, I guess. What was “grossly excessive” was Dominick’s yanking all their grocery stores with little to no notice, leaving many neighborhoods without any food options (“Dominick’s: $8.9 million Jordan verdict ‘grossly excessive'” — Sept. 23). Bravo MJ! We cheer you once again.

Deena Kaufman, Lemont

Turning away from child rape in Afghanistan

Our soldiers in Afghanistan have more to fear than ‘green on blue’ attacks in which an Afghan soldier we train uses his new U.S. toy to blow away his U.S. trainer. We’re hearing a lot lately that GIs intervene at their peril in the widespread practice of Afghan military commanders raping young Afghan boys for fun and sport. When two GIs did just that, one was demoted and one forced out of the military for upsetting the forces we hire to keep Afghanistan under U.S. domination without requiring a large American presence. The U.S. military claims it doesn’t specifically instruct our soldiers to look the other way when such horrific conduct occurs, but intervening or even complaining is not a good career move for any U.S. soldier contemplating a successful career. Ironically, the practice of boy rape by Afghan warlords was part of the motivation for rise of the Taliban, who outlawed it upon their ascension to power. Uncle Sam has returned Afghanistan full circle to that practice.

We’ve been squandering billions in Afghanistan for 14 years in addition to putting GIs in the ground for nothing. Now we learn that we’re continuing to fund and train our figurative bedfellows whose practices should cause revulsion.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn

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