ResponsibilityEditor: Lauren Siegel's letter of June 13...



Editor: Lauren Siegel's letter of June 13 comparing the plight of the poor and homeless to the Holocaust is absolutely absurd.

What is troubling is the proliferation and activism of people like Ms. Siegel. A movement is afoot that releases members of society from their own responsibilities and places the blame on the government, business and productive members of society who must have caused other citizens to become poor and homeless.

I have serious concerns about people in our society who continually desire government to solve the nation's problems. It appears Ms. Siegel would rather see working people like you and me continue to subsidize, through tax dollars, a growing number of citizens who are failing to capitalize on the opportunities available to them. I think the ideals of socialism and communism have been found resoundingly unsound.

This country is the greatest country in the world founded on the principles of democracy and capitalism. Individual citizens are generous and compassionate toward their needy neighbors. To suggest otherwise and request further government intervention to solve society's problems is dangerous.

Without sounding insensitive, I believe the homeless problem has been overstated. Society will have its share of derelicts. What's more troubling though is the homeless mother with children.

But let's go back to the responsibility issue. Where are the fathers? Why so many children? Why are many unmarried? Where is parental and extended family support network? Where has individualism and initiative that made this country great gone?

Well, it's still here for the overwhelming majority of our citizens. Government should refrain from burdening these productive and responsible citizens with excessive taxation to solve Ms. Siegel's Holocaust.

When the government starts killing our innocent citizens, I'll be the first to stand up and fight. But, until then, I'll continue to fight against people who wish to impose a type of socialism on all of us.

As far as the desecration of the Holocaust Memorial is concerned, I agree with Ms. Siegel in part: the Jewish Community should not have to put up a fence. The derelicts should be kept away from the memorial, period.

David Ewell. Hampstead.

Eclipse Here

Editor: Luther Young's June 17 article and accompanying map by Elizabeth Landt describing the July 11 solar eclipse were both excellent.

For Baltimore, the eclipse begins at 2:57 p.m., reaches its maximum at 3:34 p.m., and concludes at 4:09 p.m.

Weather permitting, I will have a telescope set up at the foot of Broadway, in the square at Fell's Point, for the public to view the event.

The solar projection system I use is safe and allows at least a dozen people to simultaneously see the sun's image. This system also allows photographing the event without the need for special lenses or filters. As active as the sun has recently been, we may also see some sunspots dotting its disc.

While our 7-percenter will be a pale shade of the 100 percent total eclipse in Hawaii and Mexico, it should nevertheless be an interesting event to witness.

Some notes of caution, however. Do not look directly at the sun. Use a shade No. 14 welder's lens (not a No. 13 or 12, etc.), or project the sun's image through a pinhole punched in thin cardboard onto a piece of white paper.

Also, wear a hat and other protective clothing to ward off the direct rays of the summer sun.

erman M. Heyn. Baltimore.

No Nutrition Police

Editor: I am writing in response to "Wanted: Someone with sizzle to sell nutrition" (June 12). Clearly, Carol Tucker Foreman has taken leave of her senses by suggesting the government get involved in our personal food choices! Our government already imposes enough restrictions on the public, and I do not think the "nutrition police" would be tolerated for long.

Ms. Foreman suggests "taxing . . . heavily the foods that are bad for health" and selling high-fat products in "certain kinds of stores."

Ms. Foreman also suggests the president "regale the media with talk about nutrition." Wouldn't we all like to see the president continue his day job instead of becoming a nutrition messenger?

Similarly, Mona Doyle's idea requiring unhealthy eaters to pay more for their food would accomplish nothing and is simply ludicrous.

These women are obviously committed to their cause, but I feel they come dangerously close to the issue of personal freedom with the above ideas.

Who are we to make choices for others? Our society's responsibility lies in providing education and information, not in deciding what is right or wrong for another.

Try as we might, we cannot force an adult to eat his or her vegetables.

Melanie A. Cook. Baltimore.

Immoral Trade

Editor: For more than 60 years it has been against the laws of the United States to import goods manufactured by prison labor. President Bush recently said that "it is not moral" to remove the Most Favored Nation status from China.

The president elevates the tone of the debate in his decision to use economic persuasion in dealing with the government of China. Asia Watch, in a report dated April 19, reproduced official Chinese documents demonstrating the exploitation of prison labor to produce cheap export products directly aimed at capitalist receivers such as the United States.

President Bush's insistence on continued Most Favored Nation status promotes the brutality of a government toward its citizens. He had no patience with economic sanctions against Iraq, and selected war against a people "with whom we have no quarrel." He favors a second year of patience with continued economic friendliness toward China despite heightened citizen repression. Both choices promote a human violence that makes obvious his moral agenda is seeking some other result. There is a willingness to ignore our own import laws to meet these unknown goals.

It is doubtful the president will have the decency to reverse his decision on China. We become equally responsible for allowing him not to have to. If we as a nation are ever to become what we pretend to be, we must demand that our leaders present a moral authority which protects life, and not a moral tone that encourages the molestation of it.

Hugh T. Skelton. Baltimore.

Old Roland Park

Editor: There is much to celebrate about the Roland Park of today. It is a neighborhood of spacious old homes, many of them dating back to the beginning of the century. The winding streets and lanes are laced with charming pathways that reflect the genius of the Olmsteds, the landscape architects whose legacy of natural beauty continues to surround us.

But there is another memory of Roland Park that reflects a narrowness of spirit that existed from its founding until the Supreme Court decision outlawed restrictive covenants. Until the early '60s, some home-owners in the community, mindful that "Negroes and Jews" at one time had not been allowed to live in Roland Park, continued to tacitly abide by the restrictions because they were afraid to displease their neighbors. When my family "integrated" Falls Road Terrace in 1964, a long-time resident congratulated us on having managed to cross the "Gaza Strip."

One of Baltimore's most eminent and respected citizens wanted to buy a home in Roland Park in 1958 but was told with effusive apologies that he and his wife attended the wrong house of worship. He remembers to this day the acute pain of being rejected for such a reason. Having served in World War II, what had he fought for if denied the freedom to live where he wanted in the city of his birth?

Today Roland Park is a healthy mix of whites of all religions and nationalities. Black families still remain few in number. But how much richer a community it would have been over the years if men and women of diverse backgrounds but united in their love of leafy streets and old-fashioned houses had not been turned away. The Roland Park Centennial is commemorating an innovative design concept, but it cannot applaud the desire of the original developers to create a neighborhood based on exclusionary principles that defied the Constitution of our nation.

! Janet Heller. Baltimore.

Urban Realities

Editor: Two articles in your May 27 Opinion * Commentary section -- George Will's stirring delineation of the indices of social collapse in New York City and Tim Baker's inspirational paean to the rebirth of Baltimore -- present two sides of a problem that must be faced by every American city today.

Both depictions are fragmentary. Despite Mr. Will's statements, New York is still the mecca for talented people who seek opportunities for a level of professional development, experience and exposure that is unlikely to be found anywhere else in this country. This city is still the glistening capital of culture and art whose universities, museums, libraries, concert halls, fashion centers, theaters, artists, opera companies, dance companies, orchestras and ideational vitality are unequaled.

Baltimore, for all of its undeniable charm and its phoenix-like re-emergence during the past 20 years, must gain control over incidents of violence and moral decay described daily by your paper depicting this city as the site of increasing murders, violence and destruction.

It is essential to recognize that universal societal sickness is soaking up irretrievable monetary, manpower, environmental and other resources of the country and crippling the chances for survival of the democratic ideals that are the basis for our form of government. No city can possibly cure alone such problems, which are fast becoming endemic and are infesting every one of our cities, counties and states.

We desperately need a national health initiative, like those now addressing cancer and AIDS, with our ailing communities as the patients, to attack the growing mental illness of our urban centers. If the approach toward elimination of these problems is not systemic, we must recognize that all of our current efforts toward solution are as effective as putting Band-Aids on cancers. The sickness will proliferate and destroy us all.

Why can't a national, cabinet-level body be developed that will use the resources of each federal department together in one coordinated operation, with powers commensurate with the urgency of this emergency and a time-frame that is pegged to the actual elimination of specific major problems (rather than setting deadlines by weeks, months, years or the expenditure of a specific allocation of funds)?

Why can't this body's solution strategy embrace concurrently those nationally erosive situations that continue to weaken the national economy, eliminate opportunities for employment, render our system of education less and less effective, impair social and mental/physical health, plague our environment, increase crime, mock justice and deny housing to many hard-working families and others who for various reasons must take to the streets? Such potent facets of societal suffering are bad for the country.

We must recognize that our national government is not a separate entity entitled to an existence apart from the problems of its citizens. We have a national government because we are such a large and diverse country. Let us not fool ourselves. The task of cleaning up this country belongs to us all. Right now. The leadership and the concentrated national deployment of our skills and resources to restore our ability for optional functioning vTC belongs to those whom we have elected to guide this country toward enduring peace and prosperity. Neither New York nor Baltimore nor any other suffering American city can cure itself by itself.

#Barbara Hill Dryden. Columbia.

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