Suicide MissionEditor: The United States is giving...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Suicide Mission

Editor: The United States is giving $1 billion to the Soviet Union for food while we have over three million homeless in America.

If the Soviets were fully cooperating with us in the Persian Gulf, then I could understand our wanting to help them to some degree. However, Russia still has Soviet advisers in Iraq. This means that if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, then the Soviets will be advising Iraqi soldiers on how to use Russian missiles against our American soldiers and allies in Saudi Arabia.

Has our U.S. foreign policy gone crazy?

I can't believe anyone with a grain of common sense and sincere loyalty to our country could give their stamp of approval to the Bush administration's new foreign policy, a policy that looks more like a "suicide mission" instead of an "Operation Desert Shield."

Barbara Bloom.

Owings Mills.

Local Galleries

Editor: John Dorsey's article lamenting the closing of another commercial art gallery on Charles Street -- Dalsheimer -- was sad news shared by anyone involved or concerned with the area art scene. Baltimore's galleries collectively express the richness of a varied cultural community, and there is a net loss when any single gallery closes for whatever reason.

However, the reporting of this event, questioning the "viability" of Baltimore's commercial art galleries, was not appropriate or accurate. The premise that commercial galleries in this city are struggling, shoe-string operations, under-supported by the art museums and the public (as if they each had some moral obligation to do so!), couldn't be further from the truth in our experience.

While some years are definitely better than others, Bendann Art Galleries has had the good fortune to survive Civil Wars and world wars, recessions and depressions, inaugurations and assassinations, fires, floods and family feuds for 131 years by means of prudent ownership and management, exceptional employees and steady support by a loyal Baltimore constituency of private collectors and local companies for four generations.

Additionally, a week does not go by that we do not receive a phone call from someone referred to us by the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland Historical Society, Peale or Walters -- I call that museum support! Besides, we have never felt that the museums are obligated to us, but rather we are obligated to them, and we try to support them as much as possible.

Baltimore's commercial art galleries represent a proud past, a distinctive present and a bright future. Let's balance obituaries with success stories!

Lance Bendann.

Baltimore.

The writer is proprietor of Bendann Art Galleries.

USF&G;

Editor: What a shame to witness a fine Baltimore institution like USF&G; undergoing financial stress and retrenchment due to questionable management policies.

USF&G; was formed in the late 1800s and was built into a financially strong and stable company and had an excellent reputation in the insurance industry.

It took more than four decades to build this institution, and less than one decade to transform it to its present state.

Since many businesses in Baltimore have relied upon the financial strength and reputation of USF&G;, it is to be hoped that the company's present difficulties will not harm them.

I want to congratulate those members of the board who took the bull by the horns and had the intestinal fortitude to do what was necessary to salvage this great company.

vonne Hepburn.

Reisterstown.

Israel and Others

Editor: How dare your letter writer Ruth Nolte compare Israel to Syria, China and the U.S.S.R. with regard to human rights?

Though Israeli Palestinians have declared as their life's goal the destruction of their host country, though the Palestinians are avowed Jew-haters and have attempted countless suicide missions to kill as many Israelis as possible, Israeli doctors still treat Arabs in Jewish hospitals, the Israeli government still tries to communicate with its enemies in a civilized and restrained fashion when possible and, unbelievably, still takes into account world opinion.

When faced with a suicidal enemy, one's options are often limited. Unfortunately, errors in judgment may occasionally occur.

But to equate Israel with countries which have proved their total apathy toward world opinion and have no moral conscience is deplorable.

David Gordon.

Baltimore.

Tasteless Shot

Editor: Your Dec. 18 front-page portrayal of a pregnant Haitian woman lying dead in the street was execrable, exceedingly tasteless, gauche and abominable and with no redemptive value. It, too, bespeaks, in this instance, monumental insensitivity to fundamental human values and decency.

Samuel L. Banks.

Baltimore.

Editor: Regarding the photo of a slain Haitian woman, what an undignified and shocking picture you chose for display on the front page of Dec. 18. If the picture was printed for shock value, then consider me shocked, dismayed, appalled, flabbergasted, etc.

I can't help but wonder if such insensitivity would've been allowed if the incident had occurred in the United States or if the victim had been a Caucasian female.

amie F. Evans.

Baltimore.

No More 'Psychos'

Editor: I must highly protest the use of the word "psycho" in the Dec. 18 Maryland News Watch section. As the executive director of a program which provides residential and rehabilitation services to recovered psychiatric patients, I have devoted my career to dispelling the myths and stigma of mental illness. Your using such inflammatory words makes my job all the more difficult and, more importantly, serves to propagate a stereotype. A little more sensitivity from Baltimore's only paper is certainly warranted.

Karl Weber.

Baltimore.

The Port Strike

Editor: I support The Sun editorial on the port strike.

When I lived in Norfolk, people promoted the cooperation between labor and management at their port and pointed out the labor disputes in Baltimore and made fun of them.

It disgusts me that members of Local 953, who spend more time striking over little things than working for the common good receive around $60,000 for not doing their required work. A cashier or a salesperson at a retail store could do a better job than a member of Local 953 for a lot less and without the whining and whimpering.

Richard Hughes, who is that local's president, will do more damage to the economic health of our state. His militant trade unionism is a relic of the past, when management and labor confronted each other. Because economic conditions require labor and management to cooperate, as they do in Norfolk, Mr. Hughes, like a leopard, refuses to change his spots. His threats of economic warfare to our state will cause a greater erosion of port traffic to other ports.

#Robert L. Hickerson III.

Elkton.

J. Edgar Hoover

Editor: I write in regards to Ray Jenkins' column of Nov. 17, entitled, "Hoover Revisited."

I found the article offensive, filled with false assumption and innuendo, character assassination at its worst.

I am an active duty FBI street agent, with over 21 years of service, but I write in my capacity as the national president of the FBI Agents Association, a professional non-government organization. I am proud to be a member of the premier law enforcement agency in the world, and J. Edgar Hoover as the first director until his death in 1972, dedicated his lifetime to making the bureau the best. He did what he thought was best for America.

Jenkins judges the actions of Hoover in the past and especially during the turmoil of the 1960s, by standards that are now prevalent in the 1990s. This is a mistake. Many things that were acceptable at times in the past history of our country are no longer acceptable by today's standards. For instance Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were both slave holders, but yet are and were respected founders of our country.

The author takes Hoover to task for maintaining a file on Pablo Picasso. Picasso, the article states, was an avowed communist. I thinkthe government had every right, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, to know who were communists. Yet Jenkins thinks this was a mistake, and one can only assume he lived in a vacuum in those years, and has forgotten communism was intent upon overthrowing our form of government. He further attempts to justify his naivete by stating Picasso "never set foot in this country" and thus no file should have been maintained. Using that logic the author would probably think it incorrect to have a file on Joseph Stalin also.

Jenkin's rancor in the article continued by accusing Hoover of being homosexual. Jenkin's proof of this is, "Several authoritative new books on Hoover pretty much confirm that Hoover was a homosexual." Since when is someone guilty of something because of what someone else writes in a book? Maybe this is part of the fantasy world Jenkins lives in, but most American citizens consider evidence before convicting a person. assure you I could not arrest a suspect and convict him of some wrongdoing based on what's written in "several authoritative new books," nor would I ever want to.

Jenkins continues by accusing Hoover of "inveterate racism which still infects the FBI." As a person who has lived in the FBI for two decades, I can say that this statement is devoid of truth.

J. Edgar Hoover was a great American, who served his country well. His legacy, today's FBI, speaks more than words of his endeavors. I think the vast majority of Americans have nothing but respect for the professionalism he brought to law enforcement. History will judge him well.

Larry W. Langberg.

New Rochelle, N.Y.

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