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Quiet CampaignEditor: Mayor Schmoke's refusal to debate...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Quiet Campaign

Editor: Mayor Schmoke's refusal to debate all the candidates running for mayor may have been politically smart. But morally it was wrong and unfair, not only to the League of Women Voters, to whom Mr. Schmoke promised to debate all of the candidates, but to all the voters unable to hear where the mayor stands on the issues.

No wonder Clarence "Du" Burns and William Swisher have been getting the short end of the stick in this so-called quiet campaign.

When the man with the money, political backing and incumbency can't even keep his promise, no wonder it has been a very quiet campaign.

!Patrick W. Feuerhardt.

Baltimore.

Hot Nights

Editor: If A. G. Schoonmaker (Letter, Aug. 28) has been following The Sun's coverage of the deaths of Tiffany Smith and other children caught in night cross-fire, how is it he or she was not enlightened by N. L. Keller's pertinent Aug. 17 letter, accompanied by Larry McCusker's explicit drawing of conditions which exist for many?

When children are outside in summer at late hours and close to their homes, it is because the rooms inside are too hot for sleep.

If A. G. Schoonmaker and Paul Slepian (letter, July 26) have not had the experience of trying to sleep in a hot building, I suggest they try it. Thousands upon thousands of children and adults from all walks of life in this country sit outside, sometimes far into the night, waiting for rooms inside to cool sufficiently to permit sleep.

The criticism of the parents of these children who have died so tragically is unfair, naive, insensitive and downright cruel.

Sarah P. Simmons.

Ellicott City.

Baltic West

Editor: J. S. Ardinger's Aug. 30 letter reveals a pretty sloppy grasp of history on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Southern states were part of the original 13 colonies and signers of the Constitution they later sought to repudiate. They have nothing in common with the Baltic states, which were annexed by the Soviets during World War II.

pTC Our Western states, which were bought from France or wrested from Mexico, for example, had more reason to break away from a "powerful federal government" they had not asked to join than did the South.

California and Arizona have a lot more in common with Estonia and Latvia than do Georgia and South Carolina.

James M. Rice.

Bradshaw.

Japan's Atrocities

Editor: Inviting the Japanese to the activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the day in December 1941, when 2,300 men died during the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, is like asking the family of a criminal to sit at a dinner table with the family of the victim. Unless, of course, the purpose of that reunion is to say how it was, acknowledge the deed, stop the lie and go on living without it.

Silence over the atrocities committed during the war Japan started is a lie. Recently during a meeting with visiting members of the Japanese peace movement I was silent while I listened to the description of their work, their information and their veneration of the dead at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Like a coward I ascribed my silence to good manners.

While listening to them I saw the blown-up ships, dead or dying Americans at Pearl Harbor, the ones lost at sea, the uncounted bodies of those killed or tortured in Southeast Asia. Most of all, I saw the people on the Bataan death march: bodies of men who could have lived, fathered children, enjoyed or saved lives and couldn't because they died in a war begun by Japan to "secure its existence."

So my hat goes off to Roger Simon's Aug. 30 column and to the mayor of Honolulu, Frank Fasi -- the former for speaking up for justice and the latter for not inviting the Japanese who point out our sins but forget to tell their oncoming generation of theirs. I hope that enough families and friends of the fallen at Pearl Harbor will come to commemorate them and witness that those who start fire may get burned themselves in it.

E. Kristine Belfoure.

Baltimore.

Unionism Dying a Slow Death

Editor: Union executives do not truly represent the laborers of this country -- regardless of what they may claim.

Case in point is the Solidarity Day rally in Washington, D.C. From the glowing accounts in the press, one would think that the workers of this nation are collectively demanding "social reforms," including national health insurance. That impression is merely a con game being manged by union executives.

Some 250,000 union members were reported attending the rally. Considering the amount of time and money spent organizing the rally (including offers of free rides to and from), I am surprised so few union rank-and-file showed up. Remember, there are an awful lot of union members in this country and they are, by definition, very well organized.

One fact left out of news accounts was that probably more than 99.9 percent of the union rank-and-file chose not to attend. Frankly, had the unions spent as much time, energy and money organizing a high tea probably as many -- if not more -- would have shown up.

When union executives spoke at the rally, they gave thimpression that they were speaking for the majority of their members. It is little noted by the press that union leaders are elected, not on the basis of national politics, but on the basis of negotiating better pay and benefits from our employers.

In the five years I have been a union member, there has been no survey -- scientific or otherwise -- to assess union members' political concerns. Union executives have neither the mandate nor the means to represent us in politics.

In a great number of unions, mine included, membership is not voluntary. If you want to work for the company, you join the union -- and, oh yes, you will have your dues taken out of your pay check. If management tried to force us to belong to any organization, the union executives would turn beet red in paroxysms of indignation.

These same executives, however, have no qualms about forcing workers to join their organizations, and they certainly have no qualms about collecting dues. Individual liberties are judged important on an ad hoc basis. I hold this truth to be self-evident, that no worker can be truly represented by an organization he or she is forced to join.

Unionism is dying a slow death in this country, and that's a shame. Collective bargaining is needed as a check and balance to the excesses management has been known for. But as long as union leadership stays out of touch with its own members, unions are doomed. Long live collective bargaining. It's a pity we have to rely on the unions of today to provide it.

Jerry Watt.

Columbia.

Mencken Day

Editor: H. L. Mencken, one of the most important figures in 20th century arts and letters, is still alive in the city he loved more than any other in the world.

His house at 1524 Hollins Street is now a museum where Baltimoreans and others can see where he lived for more than 70 years and received such luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clarence Darrow, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Justice Felix Frankfurter. Tours are offered hourly every weekend.

Mencken left his literary estate to the Enoch Pratt Free Library, thus sealing a union between one of the world's great literary figures and one of the truly great libraries.

Saturday, Sept. 14, is Mencken Day at the Pratt Library. On that day, the Mencken Room at the Pratt Library headquarters on Cathedral Street is open for public view (this happens only on this day each year), and a splendid program of film and lectures about Mencken is presented in the afternoon.

It is one of the most worthwhile events of the year.

Dave Allen.

Lutherville.

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