Race in News
Editor: A recent shooting at the Westview Mall inspired me to write this letter. News broadcasts and a subsequent article in The Sun demanded that I write it.
For the life of me, I do not understand why the perpetrators cannot be clearly described in the media. I am referring, of course, to the description of the assailants as either black or white.
This most recent crime was witnessed by dozens of people and yet we are not told whether the assailants are black or white. Why? Is it racist to identify the skin color in hopes that it might aid in the apprehension of that person?
Time and time again we are asked to be on the lookout for criminals such as these. We are usually given their height, weight and approximate age but rarely are we told their skin color.
This hypocrisy is disturbing. I, for one, am sick of it.
Editor: If the mark of a coward is to thump one's chest in the face of small-time adversaries while appeasing and conciliating larger thugs, then George Bush's political behavior fits that description to the proverbial tee.
When the Soviet bear was busy strangling tiny Lithuania for the crime of reasserting its independence this spring, the U.S. administration took the pathetic position of de facto neutrality -- even-handedness for mugger and victim alike.
When China's Communist rulers crushed the democracy movement with tanks last year, the president mumbled a few condolences, but then proceeded to offer high-quality military technology to the butchers of Beijing.
But when U.S. intelligence services had a falling-out with their former Panamanian asset, Manuel Noriega, that was a different story. Then we suddenly discovered that Noriega was both a drug-pusher and the greatest threat to our way of life since Chief Sitting Bull.
Then we bombed the stuffings out of pint-sized Panama and killed untold numbers of civilians to catch one man. The result? According to a recent AP wire, drug trafficking in Panama, eight months after Noriega's ouster, is significantly up.
Now, another "Third World dictator" has gotten out of line. It seems that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, none too appreciative of the financial warfare directed against his nation by the British colonial outpost of Kuwait, has over-reacted by deposing that feudal relic known as the Kuwaiti emir.
Now arises a chorus of denunciations, led by such noted defenders of national sovereignty as Israel (currently in its 24th year of occupying Arab lands), Syria (drug-and-terror masters of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley) and of course those implacable opponents of the use of force, the Soviets.
But it is virtuoso George Bush, always accompanied by that great string player, Margaret Thatcher, who hits the highest notes, shrieking that Saddam is "the new Hitler," while he himself apes the Nazi tactic of blockading food to civilian populations. Thus we defend our "principles," to say nothing of our oil.
All in all, the president's uncanny ability to selectively remember and forget the cause of freedom is strongly reminiscent of a typical schoolyard bully: He'll stand up to anyone, as long as it's nobody anywhere near his own size.
Editor: The September 2 article on Maryland State School superintendent Joseph Shilling by Will Englund strikes a positive note for the future of education in Maryland.
How did we get so lucky? A man from a farming background of hard work, a person who can give straight answers yet who is capable of imaginative vision and the will to change what is not working in our schools. He has the backing of Governor Schaefer and Walter Sondheim.
I like the fact that he has a brother and sister active in the field of education and that he has seven children. Thank God for Joseph Shilling.
Frances B. Lamb.
The Deeper Currents of the Gulf
Editor: If the United States and Iraq ultimately pull back from the brink in their standoff because, as Ray Jenkins speculates (Aug. 25), we pragmatically came to realize that we were being suckered into defending oil we don't use in behalf of allies (Germany, Japan, etc.) who wouldn't defend themselves. Or because Saddam Hussein discovered that, as Richard Reeves cautions (Aug. 26), the spoils of 20th Century warfare aren't what they've been cracked up to be, we will all breathe a sigh of relief.
Yet, having paid the emotional and economic price for our eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Saddam Hussein, Americans would do well to take the long view of the mess we find ourselves in and urge our leaders to be farsighted in seeking a lasting solution.
The fact is America is likely to find itself wanting to respond to a similar terrifying crisis in the future -- if not with Hussein than someone else in the Middle East -- because the current one is merely the outcome of a number of root causes, such as:
(1) The international free trade in increasingly sophisticated weapons of destruction; (2) the continued use of oil as a lever in international politics; (3) the obsolescence of an Arab nationalism predicated upon anti-Zionism and of Israel's opposition to a Palestinian nation; (4) and the genuine needs of the Iraqi people and other Middle Easterners living in poverty.
In this context, perhaps the one positive thing to have emerged from the present conflict is the collective response displayed by the United Nations. Where these deeper seated issues are concerned, let's hope it continues.
Baltimore. Editor: The present highway plans in the Northeast Maryland corridor are totally out of order. Widening I-95 and Belair Road will just create a worse gridlock situation. It will mean more and longer traffic jams.
What is needed is the originally planned extension of Perring Parkway as a limited-access road to the U.S. 1 bypass near Bel Air, along with good rail service that connects to Aberdeen, Havre de Grace and Bel Air. The funds saved on U.S. 1 and I-95 are the only ways to support what is needed. There are too many housing developments in the Northeast Baltimore County and Harford County areas for the state's road improvements to do any good.
Keats A. Pullen Jr.
Editor: President Bush says our military will get all the arms and equipment needed in the Mideast operations.
Does this mean that the Pentagon can now buy all the $700 screwdrivers and $300 toilet seats that it feels it needs?
Editor: The Sun reported on September 6 that according to the Kinsey Institute, 55 percent of Americans failed a survey about our knowledge of sex. I was horrified momentarily at our ignorance until I read the list of questions the survey contained.
The survey tests much more than our knowledge of safe or sane sex. Almost half of the questions test our knowledge of what other people are doing sexually. Eight of the eighteen questions ask whether we know who is doing which and with what and to whom. Does my knowing what percentage of other people have had extramarital or homosexual experiences actually change the way I should conduct my own sex life? I hardly think so.
Neither the roster of questions that the Kinsey Institute asked nor the results of this survey should motivate the public to fund the $20 million that the institute claims it needs to update the institute's original report. Nor should the results of the survey motivate a radical revision of the sex education courses presented in schools.
We do need to know physiological facts about reproduction, safe sex, and sexually transmitted diseases. Statistics on the average size of men's sexual equipment or on the number of women who participate in sex acts not involving intercourse does not constitute part of the vital knowledge that every American must know.