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Sailors behaving badly onshore

Regarding Roberto Loiederman’s April 27 Washington Forum commentary, “They should’ve just paid the $800”:

This piece — and The Post’s decision to print it — is appalling on many levels. It is outrageous to use the Colombia scandal to glamorize prostitution, which is frequently linked to human trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.

Regardless of whether this behavior was acceptable more than 40 years ago when the writer was a seaman, the scandal in Colombia is a national embarrassment — not because those involved committed the sin of “not paying a whore,” as Mr. Loiederman wrote, but because it reflects poorly on our national character, undermines our foreign policy goals, may have contributed to sex trafficking and organized crime, and could have jeopardized the safety of the president.

The attitude reflected in this piece — a backslapping, frat-house, boys’ club attitude among members of the military and Secret Service — must be addressed so that the American people can have confidence in those we entrust to protect the president and represent our nation abroad.

Nita Lowey, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents New York’s 18th District in the U.S. House.

I would like to thank Roberto Loiederman for the delightful insight and educational lessons he conveyed in his op-ed piece on sailors who pick up women in foreign ports. Those of us who live in ivory towers hardly know how others live and adjust to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Mr. Loiederman educated us on this issue and didn’t pass judgment on others who have made survival decisions. To say the least, my husband and I had a jolly good laugh and learned about the life of merchant seamen and their culture.

Barbara McJoynt, Mount Vernon

I guess I need a remedial reading course because, until I reached the final paragraph of Roberto Loiederman’s piece, where he made a tepid disclaimer that “I don’t want to romanticize the seedy life of merchant seamen,” it seemed to me that he had romanticized the seedy life of some merchant seamen.

His analysis was based on contract, rather than moral, law and on the stereotypical drunken sailor image. In fact, many seamen act like ordinary tourists on shore, occupying themselves with clean pursuits such as shopping and sightseeing. As for The Post’s publishing Mr. Loiederman’s piece, that’s a whole other story.

Ernest C. Raskauskas Sr., Potomac

I was in the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1944 to 1947. What Roberto Loiederman said about merchant seamen was true back then. But what has been known, down the ages, is that these truths are only a part of the greater story.

There are men, and now women, who go to sea, accept its vicissitudes and do no evil acts. They remain anonymous. There are also men, and women, who go to sea, drink and consort improperly, and then go home to a pattern of domestic rectitude. Their divorces and scandals, when made public, do great damage to families and to the Merchant Marine.

Now, we have discovered, the Secret Service is embroiled in a mess involving drinking and prostitutes. I have always been proud of my service, but I have found that bad novels and a scandal-seeking media speak no good of those who serve quietly.

Bryant Hopkins, Arlington

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