Bentley RebukedEditor: The letter "Irresponsible Talk" from...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Bentley Rebuked

Editor: The letter "Irresponsible Talk" from Dorothy Luckett was on target. However, it didn't go far enough. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley displayed her proclivity for irresponsible talk and action long before she called for "nuking" the Iraqi people.

She is a hip-shooter, a mindless flag-waver who shamelessly panders to the basic instincts (jingoism, xenophobia and racism) and a self-aggrandizer who is willing to shed all semblance of dignity in her efforts to grab the spotlight while making an ass of herself -- posing with a sledgehammer while smashing Japanese products and, now, as reported in The Sun, calling for "someone" to "go in and bump him [Hussein] off."

Representative Bentley has clearly demonstrated her contempt both for her constituents and for the very concept of representative government. She has no interest in doing the right thing; her sole concern is in saying and doing whatever will "play" in her district; she doesn't represent her constituents by making decisions based on the merits of issues; rather, she continually runs for re-election by saying and doing whatever her polls or political antennae tell her to do.

Harris Factor.

Columbia.

Use the U.N.

Editor: An intrinsic part of President Bush's "New World Order" is the right of self-determination. The moral outrage we feel toward Hussein's crackdown of the rebellious Kurds and Shiites cannot force the United States to become militarily involved. Our own history is filled with examples of governments we have created and toppled.

In the same way that Mr. Bush sought the sanction and cooperation of the United Nations in resolving the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the United Nations must be the body that we work through now. The direct participation of the United States would doom any alternative government to failure. The peoples of the Middle East must ultimately solve their own problems.

Direct humanitarian and medical aid yes, direct political and military involvement no.

Ronald W. Freeland.

Baltimore.

Another Answer

Editor: In an editorial, "Life Preserver for the Counties," The Sun has found the "answer" to balance local spending by stating that funding teacher pay increases at the expense of class sizes and jobs would be irresponsible and counter-productive.

All workers should be entitled to a cost-of-living increase, including teachers. Many of the teacher pay increases do not even reflect the increased cost of living. Most workers, from time to time, have the opportunity to work overtime at time-and-a-half pay, while many teachers work overtime every day for no extra compensation.

According to The Sun, it is an "either/or" situation -- cut jobs and increase class size or not fund negotiated teacher pay increases. There are other answers.

Over the years, the educational bureaucracy at both the local and state level has greatly increased. Meaningful education is reflected in teachers' working with students, and not in a bureaucracy that is most interested in rules and regulations which impact upon the teachers with an increasing amount of paper work. Save money and reduce class size, both, by reducing the educational bureaucracy and returning the bureaucrats to the ranks of the teacher corps from which they came.

Year after year, most school systems have taken the simple answer: not to honor the negotiated teacher pay increases. The time has come to tackle a more difficult answer: reduce the bureaucracy, save money, and reduce class size at the same time. Which school system is up to the challenge?

Ray Hofmann.

Baltimore.

Islam: Fallacies and Reality

Editor: Usha Nellore's March 27 letter, "Obstacles to Arab Democracy," portrays an inaccurate image of Islam. It could be a critique of the way some Muslims practice a portion of Islam, not at all a reflection of the spirit of Islamic laws which upholds human dignity and sanctity of life above all. In many instances, the writer is right on facts, but alas, wrong on inferences.

Ms. Nellore starts out by saying that the basic beliefs of Islam are "few and simple," yet she subsequently portrays them as complex, rigid and monotonous. My simple response to it is a verse from the Koran, "It is not righteousness that you turn your faces (in prayer) towards the East or West."

In other words, it's not the way you pray which is important to God; it is the way you act which is expected to be in good faith and in humility. Furthermore, the Islamic prayer is not a bit more complicated or rigid than a typical church or synagogue service.

Contrary to what Ms. Nellore claims, Islam preaches tolerance for other faiths and ideas. Religious tolerance actually is a part of a Muslim's faith. "Say not ill of their gods so they not say ill of your God," the Koran admonishes. Hindu, Christian, Jewish and other minorities have lived in peace in the Muslim-controlled lands for more than a millennium, a testimony to gentle ideals of Islam. Europe would have difficulty claiming the same for Jews.

It is a fallacy to assume that separation of church and state is quintessential to a just, humane and democratic society.

Democracy is an amoral system of government which is provided its human facade by religious laws and cultural traditions of the people it serves. In the United States, one of the "enlightened democracies" of the modern world, it is the will of the Christian majority which formed the basis of its laws, which in many instances favored the Christian religion.

For example, there is a national holiday on Christmas, not on the Jewish Yom Kippur or the Muslim Eid. Many insignias and phrases like "In God We Trust" and "So Help Me God" belie Ms. Nellore's claim that separation of church and state is contingent to the smooth functioning of a democratic society.

Shahid Mahmud.

Reisterstown.

Slow Mail

Editor: In The Sun April 10, a story appeared describing slow mail delivery in the Southern Maryland division of the U.S. Postal Service. Greg Whiteman, described as "communications director" for the division, blamed the Christmas rush and the Persian Gulf war for the problem. He was quoted as saying, "The operating system had no chance to recover after Christmas. It is no excuse for the slow service scores, but it is reality."

However, the mail service in Southern Maryland was slow long before either of those events, unless Mr. Whiteman means to say that it was Christmas of 1989 which was responsible for the backlog.

For the last several years, letters which I mail to Tennessee routinely take only two or three days to be delivered; however, letters sent to me from those same Tennessee addresses take at least seven and frequently up to 10 days to arrive, judging by the Knoxville postmarks.

Furthermore, it is not uncommon for letters to take two weeks to arrive, or to arrive out of sequence; one letter arrived last summer not only 15 days after it had been posted, but three days after a follow-letter posted a week after.

Complaints to the carrier, whose fault it isn't, unless, of course, she squirrels mail away for weeks out of pure contrariness, are pointless and counterproductive. Complaints to the branch office result in "we don't understand why you're having this problem." This is basically what Mr. Whiteman is quoted as saying in the article.

But I'm not having a problem. They are. And it's not "the Postal Service" either -- it's the local service.

I'm reminded of something I was told in Europe -- that northern Italians cross the border to post international mail. Perhaps, considering the severely restricted geographical nature of this state of affairs, I should consider getting a post office box -- in Baltimore.

Karen M. Davis.

Laurel.

End the Agony

Editor: I heartily agree with Kenneth Lasson's April 13 Opinion * Commentary piece, which speaks eloquently about our need and our power to save the Kurdish refugees.

I think we need a concerted national effort to make our voices heard so that our moral outrage as well as our humanitarian aid will be felt here at home and around the world. We cannot be silent while thousands of people are starving to death.

Marion Decker.

Baltimore.

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