Editor: Clarence Thomas attempts to discredit and destroy affirmative action by accusing it of being what it is not and never was intended to be. The authors and agitators for affirmative action were espousers of hard work and discipline.
Hard work and discipline may be of no avail when the deck was stacked against you in the not "too" distant past, and even in the present you may be denied an equal opportunity.
African Americans have been deliberately and by design shut out from many employment opportunities. Ever since 1619 there has been a long line of hard workers, laborers and skilled persons in the fields and factories from slavery to the present.
The fundamental difference between W. E. Dubois and Booker T. Washington was not basically over self-help and hard work. Dubois advocated full civil and political rights morally and legally. Booker T. Washington believed that somehow, through hard work and separation, blacks would earn respect and consequently be donated civil rights.
Black migrants from the South to the Northern cities predominately worked hard and helped themselves with the help of self, their families and others. They were still segregated and denied all but the most menial jobs with low and disparate pay -- the last hired and the first fired. The civil-rights movement brought about a new day and yet unrealized potential. It was a moral victory undergirded by the legal mechanism of equal opportunity and affirmative action laws and directives.
It is a bum rap to equate laziness and indolence and make the existence of these traits synonymous with affirmative action. Undermining the moral basis for equal opportunity leads to an erosion of the legal basis. Then people feel justified in not doing the right thing.
There has always been affirmative action for whites. Is it no longer needed for blacks? America is still race-conscious and African Americans would too frequently be denied equal employment opportunity without legal guidance. Even Clarence Thomas admits that he was helped by his grandparents and Catholic nuns. Nuns who were underpaid, but spiritually rich. Mr. Thomas got their extra help. He did not make it all by himself.
Rev. Sidney Daniels.
The writer is president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
Editor: About The Sun's Aug. 9 editorial, "Gun Safety in Montgomery":
I know the liberal, California-owned Sun is on a disinformation campaign against the National Rifle Association. But get honest. Everything this legislation calls for (teaching and reinforcing common-sense gun safety, development of material on how to safely store guns and ammunition, etc.) the National Rifle Association has been doing for years, and I know it's available to groups for the asking.
Let's try something different in Maryland. Let's use the available resources, not duplicate efforts, and save taxpayers money (that will really be different).
Raymond Tabak Jr.
Editor: The Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee released its congressional district plan Aug. 20. That was one week earlier than the announced schedule of Aug. 27.
This lack of adherence to the previously announced time schedule is only indicative of the lack of a fair redistricting program. After spending time and tax dollars to hold hearings throughout our state to listen to citizen input, this five-person committee could not altogether agree on the final report.
They did create a new minority district in the Prince George's area next to Washington, gerrymandered safe seats for the incumbent Democrat congresspersons, and pitted two of the three Republican congresspersons against each other in the same district.
By putting newly elected Rep. Wayne Gilchrest against veteran Rep. Helen Bentley, the Democrat-controlled committee wanted to undo what the voters of the First Congressional District did in the election of 1990 when they removed an incumbent Democrat from that office.
This committee violated a very basic rule as outlined in redistricting, i.e., keeping the districts geographically compact. If the committee has its way, it will be possible to travel across Maryland from the Eastern Shore-Virginia line to the Susquehanna River in the First District, then to cross the river and enter the Sixth District, travel to the West Virginia-Garrett County line and be in only two congressional districts. This would take hours.
On the other hand, in the Baltimore City and Baltimore County area you could visit five different congressional districts in the course of a half-hour. This shows what the committee really thinks of Baltimore. Now if this is not gerrymandering, what is it?
This is a perfect example of those in power staying in power by making the rules that fit their interests in their political game.
Editor: The proposed congressional redistricting plan is both bad redistricting and bad politics.
The plan to put Republicans Helen Bentley and Wayne Gilchrest in the same district, with the five Democratic incumbents in districts facing no opposition, is an effort to ruin Helen Bentley's political career. It's nothing but a political undermining of both Helen Bentley and Wayne Gilchrest.
One can see why this commission held its final meetings behind closed doors away from the public view. Democracy will work best when you maintain a viable two-party system.
Closing a Downtown 'Window'
Editor: Like many who opposed IBM's new high-rise overlooking the Inner Harbor, I feared the closing of the "window" opening downtown Baltimore to the harbor which had been a premise of the area's urban design plan.
We naysayers were also disturbed by the prospect of Baltimore's outstanding art deco monument, the Maryland National tower, being blocked from view by a much less distinguished structure.
Now that the new building nears completion, our naysayers' fears about its stylistic inferiority to the one it replaces on the skyline seem to have been justified. Critics were also right in predicting that the building would crowd the harbor front, shrinking its apparent size, and replacing a skyline of unmistakable identity with bland anonymity, interchangeable with Cleveland or Denver or Hong Kong. Was that the intent of IBM's multinational firm of designers?
C7 Next time we should listen to our local architects.