With all due respect to my colleague Bruce A. Birnberg, who takes our profession to task for defending ourselves from George Will's attacks ["Knee-Jerk Defensiveness," Letters, February], what possibly qualifies Mr. Will to comment on our profession? And who is next — Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Lou Dobbs?
Our work is arduous enough without having to stop and defend ourselves from specious attacks.
Barry Goldman-Hall, LCSW
San Jose, Calif.
Next Reentry Steps
The report on the NASW conference on prisoner reentry shows that the organization is moving in the right direction. What it lacked was any indication of the next steps or concrete suggestions for the many social workers in the field.
Corrections is a social welfare agency. Neither they nor other agencies usually take note of this. A lot can be achieved if agencies communicate:
- It is rare to find a person in prison who is a total isolate. Help with family connections is needed.
- People getting out of prison need identification so they can cash their release check and get a drivers license.
- Social Security records need to be checked. A few offenders have no number and a few have multiple numbers. Clearing this up before release helps both the offender and the Social Security Agency.
- There needs to be communication with the public welfare agency so that checks are not cut off too soon or not soon enough.
Harris Chaiklin, Ph.D.
The U.S. in the World
I would like to congratulate social workers for traveling to Cambodia and for the greater understanding they achieved between members of our profession in the two nations ["Cambodia Site Visits Called 'Life-Changing,'" February]. This is an integral part of the effort to create more understanding that will result in a more peaceful world.
Over the years I have heard estimates of how many Cambodians were killed under the Khmer Rouge. I saw no mention of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
Immense damage was done to the villages and cities of Cambodia, causing refugees and internal displacement of the population. This situation destabilized Cambodia and enabled the Khmer Rouge, a small political party led by Pol Pot, to assume power.
Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians may have died. Our government bears some degree of responsibility for those deaths also.
During the current era, when the U.S. has been responsible for the deaths — directly or indirectly, in the current War against Iraq — of an estimated 650,000 people and when an attack against Iran seems ominously on the horizon, social workers need to address the issue of the role of the U.S. in the world.
James A. Lucas, ACSW