Hounding Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi from the Republican leadership [front page, Dec. 22] has not made the United States any less racist.

The feeding frenzy, in which both conservatives and liberals participated, paid only lip service to pressing issues of civil rights. Of greater concern are federal and state laws that keep most minorities and women trapped in second-class economic, social and political positions.

I agree that Mr. Lott's praise of Strom Thurmond was wrong. Moreover, Mr. Lott finally seems to agree. In addition, the public discussion of how the evil of those bad old days still influences American society and politics has been welcome. However, it would be better to do something substantive about this lingering evil.

Instead of addressing the ingrained causes and effects of discrimination, conservatives and liberals made Mr. Lott a scapegoat. It costs less to change a Senate majority leader than to change the policies and practices of discrimination.

In ousting Mr. Lott, liberals gained a cheap victory and conservatives gained an easy out.

Mr. Lott lost, but so did all those who struggle daily against discrimination.

GEORGIA E. FULLER

Arlington

I am a liberal, but I take no satisfaction in seeing Sen. Trent Lott step down from his leadership position.

If there is any good news, it is this: A generation ago, Mr. Lott's remarks would not have appeared on anyone's radar screen, much less been so roundly condemned.

Maybe we are making progress after all.

JAMES CARLSON

Silver Spring

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With regard to Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) encouraging Sen. Trent Lott to resign as majority leader [news story, Dec. 21]:

During the 2000 Virginia Senate campaign, Mr. Allen was forced to defend his once displaying a Confederate flag in his home and keeping a hangman's noose in his law office [news stories, Nov. 1 and 2, 2000].

Mr. Allen may want to wash his own car instead of throwing dirt on someone else's.

ROBERT JACOBY

Annandale

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Sen. Trent Lott says that part of the reason people are out to get him is because he is a Christian ["Lott Blames Self for Stepping Into 'Trap,' " news story, Dec. 22]. To whom is he referring?

Muslims? Jews? Buddhists? I'd like to know, so I can keep an eye out for them.

WILLIAM BARNUM

Oak Park, Ill.