Editor: The nomination of Clarence Thomas to succeed the venerable, redoubtable, highly respected and admired Thurgood Marshall as a member of the Supreme Court has been an occasion for immense consternation and cataclysmic public ,X reaction throughout our nation.
In this conjunction, it is refreshing and a source of relief that the Senate confirmation hearings are now in progress. The wheat can now be separated from the chaff.
On balance, however, most black Americans who have agonized over Mr. Thomas' nomination, although not jubilant or enthusiastic, support Mr. Thomas and believe he will be confirmed. [But] I support the position set forth by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as a matter of fundamental principle, that Mr. Thomas should not be confirmed.
It is, to be sure, a source of profound admiration and pride that Mr. Thomas was able through his tenacity, determination and perseverance -- and the support of his granddaddy and nuns -- to rise from the abject poverty, institutional racism and exclusion of Pin Point, Ga.
However, his peculiar experience mirrors the experiences of countless and nameless blacks who have achieved a measure of success against institutional racism and societal encumbrances. The reality is simple: No person in our nation, black or white, male or female, is a self-made person.
Unless the "proverbial smoking gun" is found or some other damaging information is revealed, Mr. Thomas will be confirmed. If he should go forward, in spite of persons like me and organizations who oppose him as a matter of principle, it will not be an occasion for sackcloth and ashes or divisiveness among black Americans. Mr. Thomas should be voted up or down on the basis of his ability, judicial temperament and record.
Samuel L. Banks.
Editor: Why do we sell guns? Why do we need guns, basically? For food? We can buy it in the store. For housing? We use other tools. Protection from wild animals? They don't roam the cities, unless humans have turned into wild animals (animals usually kill only for food). For sport? We can capture the animal, permanently, with a camera.
Let's stop wasting life with guns. Stop selling guns.
Editor: The subject of your editorial of Aug. 31, titled "Pointless Parochialism," is extremely important and requires comment. The federal government has suggested moving 3,000 jobs at the Health Care Financing Administration in Woodlawn to Baltimore County or Baltimore City.
The issue is very critical to the economic health of each jurisdiction. As you mentioned, it could eventually be a $93 million federal project. I prefer it be located in Baltimore County. This would increase income tax revenue, not to mention the sales tax generated by construction workers buying items while on the job in Baltimore County. Then there is the projected $12 million annual sales generated by HCFA employees purchasing food, clothing, gasoline etc. The increase in the revenue base for Baltimore County would allow us to provide needed services without increasing the property tax rate. Yes, the same points could be made regarding the importance to Baltimore City. That's competition!
You are right to indicate your concerns about the competitors becoming too shrill in their attacks on one another. You are also correct in noting that the Baltimore metropolitan region's needs are ill-served by intra-regional parochialism. There is, however, no danger that this important asset will lose its Baltimore address." That is not the issue here. The issue is regional partnership, cooperation and collaboration.
You have written many times about the absolute critical importance of the need for cooperation between the city and the surrounding counties. It is clearly not productive for one jurisdiction to pirate another jurisdiction for jobs. Baltimore County has refrained from doing that. There is a higher standard of excellence on collaboration possible. The standard should be that when a business or other entry wishes to locate in a particular jurisdiction, that jurisdiction should do everything it can to attract that entity to its borders. If, however, that jurisdiction fails to secure that entity, then the first jurisdiction should refer the entity to the other jurisdiction in the region with the hope that the second jurisdiction might meet the needs and, therefore, at least keep that entity as an asset for the whole region. This higher standard of excellence has not been achieved on the HCFA issue.
There should be an agreement reached between all of the region's jurisdictions to strive for this higher standard of excellence. This can only be achieved through an outside institution acting as a broker for the governments in the region. Let this HCFA incident be the stimulus to create such brokering activity for the future.
Melvin G. Mintz.
Editor: We of Neurofibromatosis Inc. would like to thank The Sun for the enlightening article (Sept. 1) about neurofibromatosis. As the article stated we are here for public education, as well as support and medical referrals for neurofibromatosis patients and families.
The article omitted the Baltimore area address for anyone needing help.
The address is P.O. Box 20194, Baltimore, Md. 20194. The telephone number is (301) 828-4138. After Nov. 1, the new area code will be 410.
Good, Bad News
Editor: I was pleased to read your Sept. 7 editorial, which stated that, "after years of pressuring the old Soviet Union to let its Jewish people go, the United States now has a moral obligation to help defray the enormous financial burden of resettling them in Israel." However, I was disappointed with your conclusion that Israel should acquiesce in the Bush administration's request that Congress postpone debate on that issue.
After many years of prodding and assistance by the United States, the Iron Curtain has parted and unprecedented numbers of Soviet immigrants have flocked to Israel. U.S. intervention further precipitated the dramatic release of 15,000 black Jews from war-torn Ethiopia, which Israel promptly rescued and transported to her shores.
Israel has assumed the daunting burden of absorbing these immigrants -- a staggering $50 billion task. Israeli citizens, already among the most taxed people in the world, have accepted an additional 5-percent tax increase, while a record 20 percent of Israel's budget is dedicated to the absorption of refugees.
The American Jewish community, for its part, has already raised $2 billion for the cause, will raise an additional $1 billion this year and has agreed to guarantee or co-sign for $900 million in loans to aid in the absorption.
The U.S. government has been asked to assist in this humanitarian effort by guaranteeing a $10-billion loan package over a five-year period. As you have noted, this is not a gift or a grant, contrary to some other misleading press reports. Money will not be transferred from the U.S. Treasury. Rather, these guarantees are like the U.S. co-signing a mortgage loan for Israel. Israel, in turn, which has never defaulted on a loan, will use the guarantees to receive loans from American banks. Thus, servicing these billion-dollar loans would actually be a boon to American banks. Further, as Israel invests this money in housing and infrastructure, it will look to the United States for construction supplies and heavy equipment, further stimulating the U.S. economy.
As an American Jew, I take great pride and satisfaction in the efforts made to date by this country and the Jewish community worldwide to resettle these refugees. As an American citizen, however, I am offended that, after sending 500,000 of our men and women to defend various Arab countries, this administration allows its foreign policy and consideration of requests for humanitarian assistance to be dictated by the perceived reaction of some Arab countries whose national pastimes appear to be the conquering of neighboring Arab territory and the slaughter of innocent citizens.
It seems about time in this "New World Order" that the United States stand up and does what it believes to be just, decent and proper, without worrying about appeasing barbarous dictators.
ron U. Raskas.