Not a Malcolm X
Editor: Your July 2 editorial entitled "The Clarence Thomas Nomination" was nothing less than amazing.
In your editorial you wrote, "Judge Thomas is closer in approach to Booker T. Washington than W.E.B. Dubois, to Malcolm X than to Martin Luther King, Jr."
To indicate that Malcolm X and Judge Clarence Thomas share the same views does a serious injustice to the legacy of Malcolm X! It is inconceivable to me that Malcolm X and Judge Thomas would share the same views about the Reagan and Bush administrations. I have heard about taking "editorial liberties," but that comparison defies logic, history and justice.
Whatever Judge Thomas is, he is by no stretch of the imagination a Malcolm X. "A Luta Continua," which means that the struggle continues for justice and truth.
Carl O. Snowden.
Editor: The American voter is fed up with the political apparatchiks in both parties whose objectives differ from those of the average voter.
After registering approximately 4,000 Marylanders to vote, I can assure you that the average voter is not apathetic. However, the body politic is frustrated and angry. Voters know that the main objective of incumbents is re-election at all costs at the expense of good government. The influence of lobbyists, the press and of the political "elite class" far outweighs the influence of the average citizen.
While there are movements springing up throughout America advocating term limitation, another method would be the adoption of the open primary.
Currently, 20 states out of 50 have an open primary. Secretary of State James Baker told me personally that the open primary in Texas definitely opened up the state to a two-party political system. The same is true in Virginia, which adopted an open primary system in the early 1970s and is now a two-party state.
In an open primary system a candidate may run in either party's primary with or without the party's endorsement. A voter is registered to vote with no party affiliation and can decide to vote in either party's primary at the polling place on election day not 30 days prior to the election.
This method of candidate selection supports the voter's right of freedom of association, expression and choice on election day.
Henry C. Marshall.
Editor: I invite the medical community to join me in applauding the recent decision by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to endorse screening tests for early disease detection. This decision, made in conjunction with guidelines provided by the American College of Physicians, is indeed an encouraging step in the direction of preventive health care.
The endorsement affects our patients primarily in the area of mammographic screening for early breast cancer. In 1983, the American Cancer Society recommended routine mammographic screening for patients without symptoms as the best method for detecting breast cancer early, when it is most treatable. However, the reluctance of third-party payers to support this effort has been discouraging to patients who choose to take an )) active role in disease detection and prevention in their own lives.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield have long been front-runners in health care issues. As an advocate of breast health education and care, I encourage other commercial insurers to follow their excellent lead.
The writer is medical director of the Johns Hopkins Radiology Galleria.
End the Struggle
Editor: Concerning the June 23 front-page story on the recent Custer monument controversy in Little Bighorn, Montana:
My paternal grandmother, Mabel Custer, because of a personal social consciousness, married a Delaware (Lenni Lenape) American Indian, Walter Harry Wilkinson. In the late '30s the family moved from central Pennsylvania to a farm in Randallstown. I attended Randallstown Elementary School. I remember my grandmother telling me, "When you go to school, don't say anything about your grandfather." "If you do, you will have to take the bus and go downtown to school." I, of course, could not understand the full impact of this warning until the events of the '60s.
Even though my grandmother was a strong woman with many remarkable resources, she could not stay the resulting on-going Custer/Indian family conflicts. I grew up constantly wondering on which side I wanted to be. I used up a lot of mental energy switching loyalties from one side to the other.
Finally, I realized that every culture has its best qualities. Sometime ago, somewhere in my mind, I did exactly what is now being proposed for the Custer battlefield. I built two monuments of the same size. One to the best of my American Indian family qualities and one to the best of my Custer family qualities. My personal struggle ended. The war was over.
Jill Ann Williams.
Editor: It is very clear that the name of Baltimore's new stadium is going to be boring.
Why not call it just what it is:
Baltimore Orioles Nest
Justice and Peace
Editor: I recently received a letter from an organization claiming to work for "justice and peace." Considering the deporable condition of the Middle East today, it congratulated itself on having opposed the gulf war.
The gulf war was the closest the nations of the world have ever come to backing international law. One can not always be for "justice" and "peace" at the same time and still believe in international law.
It is to be hoped that the human race will strengthen the international system so that such tragedies as the gulf war will not again be necessary.
Editor: Re your generous coverage of Dog Ears Ltd. (June 21), thank you for The Sun's interest in informing the public about dogs as working companions for people with disabilities.
To raise readers' awareness, however, it is important to note the nuances of language usage surrounding the issues of disability and animal rights. We must acknowledge that individual words have the power to create or destroy a concept.
For example, while I do indeed experience a gamut of challenges, discomforts and inconveniences due to a neurological disorder, I do not "suffer" from it as my primary identity. Too many of us (people with disabilities) have been perceived as too different for too long. Only when our abilities (despite our differences) are recognized and emphasized instead, will we have the same access and privilege that people with disability enjoy.
Secondly, I am not "confined" to a wheelchair. Nor am I "wheelchair bound." (Although the second phrase did not appear in the subject article, it is still in common use in the media.) Both of these phrases elicit images of imprisonment and restraint far beyond what is true for the vast majority of wheelchair users.
Much dialogue has been given to use of the word, "handicapped." Many of us find it offensive because of its origin (cap in hand, begging on the street) and prefer "person with disability." Hair-splitting time is here: We are not even "disabled" that term connotes that we are not able to do anything. In reality even persons with severe (and multiple) disabilities often accomplish a great deal. Helen Keller was an anomaly only by virtue of the times and social attitudes in which she lived. Thanks to her and Annie Sullivan, who blazed the trail for future generations, great numbers of us, regardless of our disabilities, achieve as much or more in our lives as anyone else.
I do not presume to speak for the deaf community, but most of my friends and I perceive the term "hearing impaired" as a euphemism. One might be deaf or hard of hearing, but "impaired" conjures inability, rather than a degree of hearing loss.
As for animal rights issues, simply put, yes I did pay money for the privilege of Sabrina's coming to live with me. Others pay money to doctors and hospitals to deliver their babies. Does this mean they own their children? Neither do I "own" Sabrina. And certainly, as a woman, under no circumstances am I her "master." Neither am I her "mistress." She is my companion and I am hers. We have a symbiotic relationship. And it is time to rid ourselves of cliches and exclusionary language such as "man's best friend."
Finally, for the record, Sabrina is not a "mutt," nor does she have a speck of brown in her coat. She happens to be mostly of Labrador Retriever lineage, and like so many dogs and people, ** she is possibly of mixed (and unknown) heritage. Her coat is yellow with white markings.
Thanks again for reporting on Dog Ears a fast-growing organization in need and deserving of whatever financial donations Sun readers can make; the organization is also seeking volunteer training assistants. Lee Rudolph and Debbie Winkler gift us with their kindness and insights as well as their superb dog-training skills. My gratitude to them is beyond words.