Editor: I would like to respond to comments concerning the Holocaust Memorial in the Opinion * Commentary article June 8 by Sharon Miller, identified as a partner in a Baltimore architectural firm.
Of course, Ms. Miller is entitled to her observation regarding the "concrete slab" which was the starting point for the Holocaust Memorial Plaza. However, perhaps her 20/20 vision may be the result of not being awarded the design?
And what does Ms. Miller suggest? Water! Does she really believe that the creation of the water fountain or its equivalent will solve the problem? I think perhaps it can only add to the problem.
Yes, the street people are creating dirt, debris and bodily waste. Yes, the location needs help. But, alas she says a fence cannot do.
Why not? Why not duplicate the fences of such camps as Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen and, horror of all horrors, include the barbed wire? Why not identify the various fences as examples of the fences which held Jews imprisoned until they met their fate?
And her suggestion that the "statue" was some sort of afterthought is totally unacceptable.
The Holocaust statue, by Baltimore-born and world-renowned Joe Sheppard, graphically tells only part of the story of Jews abandoned and children destined for the ovens.
Let's remember, too, that many survivors of the Holocaust and their children do not have the comfort of visiting the graves of their loved ones and that the Holocaust Memorial, as unappealing as it may be to some, does indeed provide some solace for the survivors in their grief.
Jack Luskin. Baltimore.
Editor: Your editorial of May 30, "Who Will Take on Mikulski?" demands rebuttal.
In the past, you have repeatedly stated that you backed a two-party system in the Free State, and now you close your most recent assertion with this paragraph: "Either we have a two-party system in the state or we don't. If the best Republican candidates duck hard races, we don't."
Let's briefly examine The Sun's editorial endorsement record over the past decade to see what your own track record on a two-party system has been.
In 1982, when Richard Bennett ran for state senator against the current incumbent, John Pica, you endorsed the latter, but decided last year that wasn't such a good idea after all. Meanwhile, Mr. Bennett went on to become United States Attorney for Maryland, the highest federally appointed post in the state.
In 1986, you endorsed Barbara Mikulski over Linda Chavez for the U.S. Senate, and in 1988 Paul Sarbanes over Alan Keyes that seat.
Last year, for county executive, you endorsed Elizabeth Bobo over Charles Ecker in Howard and Dennis Rasmussen over Roger Hayden in Baltimore County, but the voters wisely decided otherwise in both cases.
As for myself, I am no stranger to tackling tough, uphill races, as my trio of runs against Clarence Long will recall. In all my races, you were kind enough to endorse me, and I look forward to that same kind of support in the future.
It would be nice if other hard-working Republican candidates could expect the same! Either we have a two-party system or we don't, as you say. The ball is in your court.
Helen Delich Bentley. Washington.
The writer is a member of Congress from the Second District of Maryland.
Editor: Much as I commend you for your excellent editorial, "Ethiopia after Absolutism," allow me to point out a few errors.
Neither the Amharas nor any ethnic group is opposed to any Tigrean ruler as long as he measures up to the job and has genuine commitment for the integrity of the nation.
The two heads of state after Haile Selassie, Aman Andom, an Eritrean, and Teferi Benti, an Oromo, were well received by all Ethiopians until Mengistu Haile Merriam executed them. The so-called Amhara supremacy effectively ended in 1974 with the mass execution of the aristocracy. The emperor himself and the remnants of the "Amhara feudo-bourgeois elements" were systematically and brutally exterminated by Mr. Mengistu, who chose them for "special treatment" because of his visceral hatred of a race he considered superior to his "ethnic stock."
Hence, your description of the Amhara today as oppressors of the Oromo is flippant and misleading. To equate the Amhara with Mr. Mengistu is to confuse the prey with the predator.
"One Ethiopia" is not an Amhara-only movement. "One Ethiopia" is an expression of deep-seated, stubborn conviction ever-present through many centuries in the hearts of millions of Ethiopians of diverse ethnic origin, many of whom paid dearly with their lives to keep the nation united in one form or another. For not even one single group, including the Eritreans, not to mention the Tigreans and the Oromos, will be better off in the long run with a fractured, Balkanized Ethiopia.
"One Ethiopia" challenges its deverse peoples to transcend pretty racial and religious chauvinism and together to build a truly pluralist, secular nation with equality, freedom and justice for all.
"One Ethiopia" is justifiably skeptical of the new strongman, whose only known attributes so far are 15 years of collaboration with seccessionist forces in killing thousands of Ethiopian children who sacrificed their lives, not for Mr. Mengistu, but for the preservation of this very nation that is now entrusted, ironically, to his "care."
Being a Tigrean himself, his inability or unwillingness to try to keep the Tigrean-speaking Eritreans within some sort of political framework of Ethiopia will certainly diminish his credibility when and if at all he preaches unity and harmony among the various ethnic groups.
Moges Gebremariam. Baltimore.
'Win' a Sham
Editor: There is no doubt that the parade of American troops in Washington one weekend and New York afterward was a wonderful way of thanking the troops for their victory over Iraq. It tends to rally Americans around each other toward one cause: conquering Iraq. A parade means a pompous show. It was a show.
Victory is defined as overcoming of an enemy, or achievement of mastery or success in a struggle against the odds. Our American troops deserve to be well thanked for answering the call of duty, the planning and the hard work, especially in light of the few 200-odd casualties.
Victory came at a price, paid by the innocent Iraqi civilians. Some 100,000 Iraqi civilians died in the war. Many more died due to lack of food and medicine. Babies don't have milk. The ill don't have the appropriate medical care and the embargo goes on.
Victory was achieved with the price of immense suffering of the Iraqi people due to shortages of all kinds.
We celebrate victory that we deserve, but it's tainted by the many civilians killed, maimed and suffered. Above all, Saddam Hussein is still in power. The al-Sabah family is back in Kuwait, without a democracy.
The United States won a war against a weak enemy that was made to look big. Winning against Iraq is like Mike Tyson winning against me.
B. Pharoan. Baltimore.
* Editor: As millions of people celebrate U.S. involvement in war, I was struck by the juxtaposition of articles in the paper June 11.
Next to pictures of ticker tape, dancing soldiers and cheering fans was an article about Navy Lt. Jeffrey Zaun.
He simply said, "I don't ever want to kill again." He added that they (who say we "kicked ass") "didn't see the Iraqi mothers get killed."
War is not something to celebrate. Ask the people in Iraq who are fighting now to survive in a country devastated by U.S. bombs. Ask them if they are having a parade.
The recent parades make some people happy for awhile. They make some people media stars.
They also cover up what war is really about.
As a concerned U.S. citizen, a representative of this fine country, I would like to say, "I don't ever want to kill again."
I certainly don't want to celebrate it.
Laszlo R. Trazkovich. Baltimore.
Editor: Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned from the Keating Five case is that the need to raise obscene amounts of campaign dollars from private interests exposes all lawmakers to potentially ethical conflicts.
If Congress is genuinely interested in cleaning up the way campaigns are funded and winning back the trust and respect of voters, it must act seriously to shut down a system which encourages special interest influence and invites corruption. That goal will never be accomplished as long as access to public office is measured by the ability to raise money from wealthy interest. Only public funding of congressional elections will ensure that Congress works for the people.
Congressional leaders have pledged to clean up the corrupt campaign finance system -- and it's time to hold them to that pledge. Voters need to keep a keen eye on how lawmakers from Maryland stand on these issues. Will they support cosmetic reforms that perpetuate politics as usual in Washington? Or will they vote to end this system of legalized bribery and turn their attention to representing the voters who elected them.
David H. Halle. Stevenson.
Editor: What a wonderful, emotional set of reminiscences did Michael Olesker give us June 9 on the occasion of his son's graduation from high school.
All of those who have seen their children through high school graduations much have felt like kindred souls when reading this beautifully written column.
Frieda F. Eisenberg. Baltimore.