In his April 3 op-ed, “We are not the virus, but we can be part of the solution,” Andrew Yang failed to recognize the fundamental reality of the racism that drives a teenager to call him by a slur, or the three men who glared at him with the accusatory look that he is to blame for the novel coronavirus. Those actions against him were not something he will be able to prove to those people to be wrong; they come from a fundamental dehumanizing perspective held by those people.

Mr. Yang said Japanese Americans proved their loyalty and demonstrated our American-ness by serving in the military. The service of Japanese Americans in World War II was out of a deep love for our country and its ideals. But the families of those who died in battle were still informed of their loss behind the barbed wire of American concentration camps.

More insidious was his promotion of the model minority myth. If we can prove our worth to white American society, then we will be accepted — at the expense of other minority groups ostensibly not as worthy of acceptance. Though Asian Americans are taking the brunt of the discrimination, immigrants have also been scapegoated, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories abound about the spread of the coronavirus.

Fear of covid-19 is inflaming fear of those of us who seem different. That doesn’t mean we need to change who we are, nor do we need to disprove someone else’s prejudices. We need allies to call out those who exhibit prejudice.

I am a proud American; I don’t need to prove it to anyone.

David Inoue, Washington

The writer is executive director for
the Japanese American Citizens League.

As a first-generation Chinese American, I am appalled and outraged by Andrew Yang’s comments on recent racist attacks against Asian Americans. Mr. Yang bent over backward to sympathize with and excuse the behavior of people making such attacks and insisted that Asian Americans must disarm such racism by becoming more visibly American: “We need to step up, help our neighbors, donate gear, vote, wear red white and blue, volunteer.”

Asian Americans have been doing, and are continuing to do, those things and more, but those acts of being “more American” have zero impact on people with bigotry and racial hatred in their hearts. Does Mr. Yang really believe that the 2-year-old Asian American girl and her 6-year-old sibling who were recently stabbed at a Sam’s Club in Texas would have been spared if only they had been wearing more patriotic clothing? 

It is especially telling that Mr. Yang mentions Japanese Americans during World War II, who “volunteered for military duty at the highest possible levels to demonstrate that they were Americans.” Yes, they did, and what did it get them? Internment in concentration camps.

Mr. Yang was blaming the victim at a time when Asian Americans are at their most vulnerable position in decades. It is not the job of victims of racism to act in a more pleasing way. It is the job of everyone to stand up to and fight racial injustice for all races and stop giving excuses for not doing so.

April Lee, Ellicott City

I need a new thesaurus to describe President Trump’s continued retaliation against and firing of patriotic Americans. Grotesque, disgusting, repellent, frightening, horrifying — these words just aren’t sufficient anymore.

Call the roll: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — who testified truthfully about Mr. Trump’s egregious corrupt behavior — and his twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, who did nothing more than be his brother’s twin. Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who was desperate to save his sailors’ lives. Michael Atkinson, inspector general for the intelligence community, who was the conduit for the whistleblower complaint that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Former FBI director James B. Comey; former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe; former European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland; former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Mr. Trump is firing anyone whose actions result in something negative for him. 

Where is the hue and cry from the GOP senators and representatives? Is there not one spine among them?

As I said, I need a new thesaurus.

Susan R. Paisner, Silver Spring

Dan Balz’s April 5 The Take column, “Once again, government is caught unprepared,” affirmed the reality for many who have served in government that its vast authorities and resources can be most effectively deployed when leaders demonstrate their unequivocal belief in the agencies’ missions, amplify their officials’ capabilities and skills, and empower both the organizations and individuals to act — not just react — in times of crisis.

Mr. Balz cited the Pentagon’s predilection for planning and its thorough preparedness for the last disaster, more than for the next. But its most impactful capabilities, unmatched by any other institution in government or business, are the ingenuity and resourcefulness of its mid-level officers, senior noncommissioned officers and technical experts, combined with its relentless emphasis on individual and unit training.

The Iraq War revealed this national asset, as thousands of lieutenants and captains, sergeants and civilians broke through the geographic and functional silos that often impede innovation by using their tactical knowledge and communications skills and systems to identify problems, convey data, improvise workarounds and share field solutions despite — not because of — the established hierarchy, technological norms and conventional doctrine.

When the Army War College and its sister institutions teach future officers the lessons of Gettysburg and other historic battles, they should compare the constructive experiences from Iraq and other recent countercultural revolutions in military and business practices, with the negative evidence that Mr. Balz distilled from today’s pandemic, for the sake of generations to come.  

Sandy Apgar, Baltimore

The writer, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment from 1998 to 2001.

Regarding the April 6 front-page article “At church, risking danger in a search for solace”:

I can understand the desire of many people who want to attend church services. I suggest another perspective: “Love your neighbor.” Stay home.

Bob Stoner, Cockeysville, Md.