Helping the Enemy
Editor: I've been pondering the theater of the absurd. That's what television and, to a lesser degree, some radio and print news has become since Operation Desert Shield became the Persian Gulf war and Operation Desert Storm last month.
Consider the historical perspective. Let us say, for example, that the satellite and other communications technology we have today existed in 1942 and the media were called to a news conference at the headquarters of Adm. Chester Nimitz, the Pacific Fleet commander, in Hawaii.
I can hear the question now.
"Admiral, is it true that Ray Spruance and Jack Fletcher with the Enterpirse, Hornet and Yorktown are planning to ambush the Japanese fleet near Midway?" "I'm sorry," says Nimitz. "But I can't comment on tactical planning." In Tokyo, of course, the entire exchange is being heard and seen by the Imperial High Command.
Now, let's move ahead to late May 1944, at the Supreme Allied Headquarters in London. There's Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, affable as always. And there are the reporters with their cameras, microphones and recorders.
"General, the weather seems to be clearing over the channel. Does that mean you're about to begin the land battle for Europe? And I have a follow up. Do you still plan to land at Normandy?"
"No comment," says Ike.
But across the channel, Erwin Rommel and Gerd von Runstedt are standing on the beach and grinning in happy anticipation of the slaughter to come.
Alan R. Walden.
Editor: I will not shed one tear for the civilians killed in the allied bomb attacks on Baghdad.
Where was the public outcry when its government invaded Kuwait and murdered its people, including women and children?
The Iraqi government is uncivilized. It does not abide by the Geneva Convention.
Emma D. MacAllister.
Editor: The patriotism that has swept our country is very refreshing after two decades of mixed emotions over the Vietnam experience.
Everywhere one sees U.S. flags flying and yellow ribbons. On corners groups are gathered waving flags and holding signs urging passing motorists to tap their horns in support of our troops.
Although these are sincere expressions of love for our country and belief in the principles for which our military is now fighting, in reality they support our troops very little and require minimal personal sacrifice.
Whether we admit it or not, our present struggle in the Middle East is due in part to our national addiction to that region's oil. I believe Americans could better show support for our troops by observing the posted speed limits on the highways and roads. The states that recently raised their speed limits on highways to 65 should immediately roll them back to 55.
If Americans slowed down and reduced our dependency on foreign oil even a little, I think that would be a real message of support for our troops -- and a message to the world that in the future we will not allow a foreign commodity to determine our national policy.
Editor: Gov. William Donald Schaefer says he is upset because on the Eastern Shore we are "ungrateful" for all the things he has done for us, our ingratitude being proven by our failure to overwhelmingly support him in the general election. He says the reason we are ungrateful is that we are "clannish" and "parochial" and therefore we "resent" any change no matter whether it is good or ill.
His implication is that he has brought good changes. He cites his support for completion of the Kent Narrows and Vienna bridges, the "Reach the Beach" campaign, beach replenishment at Ocean City, the Chestertown Crab Feast and the Critical Areas Act as evidence of the beneficial changes for which we are ungrateful.
How stupid does he think we are? Of all the items cited above, most were pushed through not for our benefit, but for the benefit of western-shore tourists. Only two could even possibly be to our direct benefit, the Chestertown Crab Feast and Critical Areas. As for them, the crab feast was catered out of Baltimore and at $50 a head, far beyond the means of most local residents; while critical areas was carefully grandfathered to impose all its burdens on the shore while asking no sacrifice from the already developed areas of the state.
Trust me, the problems of the Eastern Shore are not going to be helped by the exhaust fumes of cars racing to the beach and a freeze on development. What we need is a de-emphasis of dependence on the seasonal tourist industry and planned development that will absorb the coming influx of suburbanites without destroying in the process the peaceful, friendly way of life they're coming here to find.
The fact that the governor cannot see this, and resents us because we do, is what in the end is most shocking of all. The governor got crossed by us because we saw through his fancy little shell game. Now, instead of taking his licking like a man, he wants to cry about ingrates, take his toys and go home. Fine then, I hope he stays there.
Christopher T. Gale.
Editor: "Suburban Foxes" by Don C. Forester (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 6) was a beautifully written nature essay. Mr. Forester is a literary biologist.
Mr. Forester should be told that not only are red foxes "equally at home in the suburbs of Towson or the farm fields of rural Harford county," but they are in the woods of Mt. Washington in Baltimore City, where I see them regularly.
Freida J. Eisenberg.
Power Plant Idea
Editor: Finally an idea that makes sense for the Power Plant -- the Information Power Plant.
The sense of excitement and the incredible appropriateness of such a plan leapt off the page as one read your article describing the proposal (Feb. 6). This unique building with its prime location has unlimited potential but previous ideas for its use were clearly losers.
Recognition is due to the state employee who submitted "a rough idea" last year. I hope she receives the credit she deserves for this outstanding idea.
Eric S. Waterman.
Male and Female
Editor: I had trouble getting past page 3A of the Feb. 10 edition. Specifically, I was repelled by the headline, "Female flight controller's worst nightmare came true in L.A. plane collision."
Did your paper mean to imply that the tragedy would have been averted if a man had been at that post?
This may seem like a picky point in these disquieting times, but impressions are easily formed and rarely rejected.
Nothing breeds hatred and repression more than generalizations, implied or explicit, based on such innate characteristics as gender and race.
Continuing to segment society should not be viewed as a positive goal.
Editor: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Forest, Park and Wildlife Service recently released results of a public opinion survey on the management of the Savage River State Forest (SRSF). These results are misleading because they are based on only a few select questions.
The SRSF Citizen Advisory Group, a group of local citizens appointed by the state to assist in the planning process for the SRSF 10-year management plan, was provided with the results of numerous additional questions from the same survey. These results paint quite a different picture than the results from the questions reported in the DNR press release.
The results as recently released by the DNR and published in local papers (based on only 187 responses) suggested that natural preservation and wood products were of highest priority to survey respondents. Those responding reported the following as highest priority: natural preservation, 34.7 percent; wood products, 22.5 percent; multiple use management, 17.1 percent. Wildlife and watershed protection were a priority to only 8 percent and 3.7 percent of the respondents, respectively; recreation to 5.8 percent; and hunting and fishing, a priority to only 1 percent of respondents.
The results of the questions provided to the SRSF Advisory Group (based on 296 responses) are in sharp contrast to those as reported in local press releases. When asked how important specific forest issues were to the public, 82.8 percent felt that forest watershed protection was very important, and 82.4 percent responded similarly for wildlife. Less than 2 percent felt these issues were not important. Other issues of high importance included forest aesthetics and fish. Wood products ranked second to lowest in importance, with only 44.6 percent responding that it was very important and 18.2 percent responding that it was not important at all.
Clearly, the results of these additional questions contradict the results of the questions previously released to the press. So which results should the public believe? The issue here is not which results are accurate, but why some results are published and others are not. If the public participation process is to work, all available information must be presented. One should also note that different responses may be a function of how a particular question is phrased, which I believe in part explains the conflicting results of this survey.
The DNR has admitted that the results of the survey questions are conflicting, yet is still using these results in developing broad management goals for the Savage River State Forest.
Molly G. McCarthy.