I am a multiculturalist and a patriot for America and democracy. My father was a veteran and gave me the book “The Gifts of Babylon” to reinforce the value of conservative financing. My ancestors were born conservatives, and we continue to believe in fiscal accountability and separation of church and state.In my opinion to be an American you must respect a belief in the separation of church and state and to be on alert for unchecked tyranny.Respecting the belief of a differing opinion is a necessary skill for practicing democracy. The My Turn column (“Multiculturalists are a threat” Sierra Sun July 27) was a perfect example of the confusion around being American. At this stage of our American history, we Americans are learning the difference between selling democracy and practicing democracy. I’m a patriot without a hate-based belief system and that requires a lot of research. If someone thinks the left is anti-American, then I presume that someone has chosen information that is emotion mixed with propaganda. To support democracy we must all be vigilant about our information sources and particularly vigilant when the information supports our opinions.Mary FolckTruckeeRethinking extremismInstead of abolishing the “shameful” rodeo, why don’t we abolish extreme uneducated thinking. The recent writer of the letter “Rethinking rodeo” (Sierra Sun Aug. 5) obviously has never lived on or worked on a cattle ranch. She likely has no idea of how ranching life really works. Cowboys still have to rope, brand and tie cows. She also seems to have even less of an idea about how rodeo livestock live and work. She is correct on one aspect in her letter: Banning cruelty to animals is important. If rodeo was cruel she would be right on the money. The animals used in reputable rodeos, such as the Truckee Rodeo, are extremely well kept and cared for animals. Often the bucking horses are used for general riding and can be family animals after the rodeo season is over. The bull’s are usually in pasture for most of the year. The steers used for roping are not scared little animals, usually wearing head protection to protect them from rope burns. Spurs used in riding events are rounded trowel-type spurs to ensure no harm comes to the animals. Also, almost every rodeo event still has useful applications in daily ranching. The competition portion has always been a bridge, bringing ranching and rodeo families together with other residents of the community not normally in daily contact. Sarah JacksonTruckee/LoyaltonRodeo values its animalsRodeo represents a reasonable and acceptable form of animal use to the tens of thousands of participants and to the millions of people who attend rodeos each year. People are not attracted to rodeo unless they like animals. Healthy and strong animals are essential to a quality performance.A recent (“Rethinking rodeo” Sierra Sun Aug. 5) opposes the use of animals in rodeo. The writer made many strong and erroneous statements regarding that use. Animals benefit when people choose to play or work with them, no less in rodeo than in other activities, and more than in some animal uses.It’s obvious she dutifully copied misinformation from a source that she apparently thinks is reliable, but the writer should investigate the source, allow herself firsthand knowledge of rodeo, and become a credible representative for animals. The claims she made are outrageous. Since they are not true, her energies are wasted in meeting a need for animals. The writer needs to find a neglected animal and make a difference in its life. She won’t find it in rodeo.Many of the animals involved in rodeo are doing what they enjoy and they are treated well doing it. In many cases, rodeo animals are treated better than some house pets and live the lifestyle of a celebrity or star.Rodeo helps to teach people to enjoy, respect, and to appreciate all creatures. Many articles have been published about rodeo people and how they enjoy and respect their animal athletes. This is evidenced by the number of rodeo animals inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.People who make strong statements against rodeo should educate themselves by going to http://www.FriendsofRodeo.com and http://www.prorodeo.com.Individuals, like the letter writer, should get the facts and stop promoting opinions that are based on their ignorance of the sport of rodeo. Linda Burdick Executive Director Friends of Rodeo Organization Merced, Calif.