Let's bring together this divided house
Everyone I talked to on April 30 about the jury verdict in favor of Rodney King's pulverizers considered the acquittal astonishing, dismaying, embarrassing. I remember thinking, what an irony that Bill Cosby's show will close this night, with the Huxtables dancing out into the audience, metaphorically saying, "We black American Dreamers can make it, too; we are you." What a fairy tale.
Had I been in L.A. that night of urban meltdown, doubtless my own fright and pain would have had unwelcome racial overtones, including outrage over the whites and Asians (some especially sympathetic to blacks) who were slaughtered or suffered in the spree.
But from afar, the mayhem is chastening in an oddly unifying way. L.A.'s convulsion offers us all a ferocious lesson, coming just in time. At last there is no avoiding the affliction of segregation and the resulting racism, so perhaps now we have a chance to heal ourselves, to integrate.
For two decades now, the Republican Party has succeeded in ghetto-izing African Americans and impoverished urban Americans, dropping them from the American agenda.
The guilt-ridden Democratic Party was left stuck in the muck, until it, too, was on the verge of jettisoning the troublesome minorities and the inconvenient urban poor. Meanwhile, the unpopular minorities and the poor grow and grow, like Topsy, like the homeless, like the deficit.
Who isn't weary of all forms of racism? Who doesn't long for an America where sharing and caring are among our deepest values? I will vote for the candidate who works most sincerely to bring together this house divided. Our striving for excellence must embrace each of America's citizens.
Sarah Fenno Lord
Thanks to Royko
Mike Royko's column (April 7) was great. I agree with him 100 percent. People in this county are sick and tired of all the stupid questions that are asked of the candidate running for office.
We, the people, are only interested in what the candidates are going to do for our country to make it as great as it has been. Of course, we want a fairly honest man running our country, but we do not need an angel or a saint in the White House.
Also Mr. Royko's columns of May 4 and May 6 were great too. After listening to all the experts on TV and not agreeing with any of them about what was happening in California, I was beginning to wonder where I went wrong. Then I read Mr. Royko's columns and knew I was right. Thank you, Mr. Royko.
A test for racism is simply to switch the races in a given situation. Try it in the Rodney King case, from arrest to jury verdict: Suppose that the unruly fugitive had been white and the heavy-handed officers black?
Sidney Hollander Jr.
Truth, not violence
Like many earlier critics of those who would extend respect, compassion and justice to all sentient creature, Ann Landers BTC advances the stereotypes of animal advocates as terrorists, anti-science and anti-human (May 4).
It has been estimated that there are more than 10,000 animal advocacy organizations in this country, and it is unfair and misleading to focus on the most extreme viewpoints or tactics held within this diverse movement to exploit and sensationalize this controversial issue. It is too often an unfortunate reality that news is made by those who shout the loudest or say and do the most outrageous things.
The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), as well as a 1989 summit of national animal advocacy organizations, has unequivocally condemned acts of violence and terrorism against researchers as immoral and illegal.
While NAVS aggressively opposes the cruelty, waste and closed doors of animal research, we advocate a progressive science that utilizes valid alternatives to vivisection and educates the public so that they can make informed choices that do not perpetuate animal suffering.
A reasoned and fair examination of the history of animal use in the name of science will explode the myths that animal research is primarily responsible for health care advances, that the only choice is "your child or your dog," and that animals subjected to disease, stress, addiction, deprivation, burns, radiation and death are treated "humanely."
Today's major health problems (cancer, diabetes, AIDS, heart disease, etc.) will not be solved through reliance on archaic animal models but through alternative technologies that provide more accurate information on human health and diseases.
We are confident that once informed of the cruelty, waste and needlessness of vivisection, people will oppose it. We are convinced that the truth about vivisection, not violence, will ultimately empty the cages. For science and technology to realize a better world for future generations, compassion for all creatures must become part of the process as well as part of the goal.
Mary Margaret Cunniff
The writer is executive director of the National Anti-Vivisection Society.
Stories distort fathers' role
Recent media attention to the issue of nonpayment of child support does an injustice to the fathers who are committed to their children. The media reported so much about "deadbeat fathers" one would believe men don't pay child support.
While some are deadbeats, over 70 percent of noncustodial fathers do pay child support. These fathers are committed to their children.
Fathers United for Equal Rights of Maryland, Ltd. defines child support in much different terms than a mere formula applied by the child-support guidelines. Child support is the obligation and right to support our children morally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially.
Nonpayment of child support is much more rampant among noncustodial mothers than noncustodial fathers. There are federal, state and local agencies to help mothers collect back child support, yet these same agencies ridicule and discriminate against the custodial father.
We find activities such as the "Mother's Day busts" of fathers who are behind in their child support, or the publication of the names of the "Ten most wanted men" who don't pay their child support to be sensationalism on a grand scale.
It portrays the father as irresponsible and uncaring. It ignores the needs of our children to know their parents and to be nurtured by them and it reduces the role of the fathers to that of financial providers while eliminating them from their children's lives.
Dr. Louis Sullivan, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said he considered the rise in fatherless families "one of the most pressing issues facing our nation." Articles bashing fathers only add to the divisiveness and strengthen those who wish to continue destroying the greatest national asset we have -- the American family.
The writer is president of Fathers United for Equal Rights of Maryland, Ltd.
With the enchanting song that became her trade mark, "Falling in Love Again" (German film, "Blue Angel," 1930), softly playing in consort with the Hollywood legend, scintillating Marlene Dietrich, known for her European sultriness and glamour, passed away at age 90 on May 6, thus bringing the final curtain down on one of Tinsel Town's immortals.
Ms. Dietrich began her career as a violinist and made her debut as an actress on the Berlin stage. Born Maria Magdalene Dietrich (1901), she appeared in several silent German films before her mentor, Josef von Sternberg, cast her as Lola, the seductive temptress in "The Blue Angel," which led to a contract with Universal Studios.
Marlene, of the ample curvaceous body and shapely legs, was transformed by Svengalian manipulation into a shimmering, streamlined mannequin by von Sternberg, who guided his discovery in every facet of becoming an alluring movie star by establishing a permanent symbol of sex appeal and exotic fascination.
Ms. Dietrich's first American film, "Morocco" (1930) in the role of Amy Jolly, marked an auspicious beginning for her, since she was nominated for an Academy Award. Marlene's leading man? -- Handsome Gary Cooper.
Although her career had its high and low points, Marlene leaves us with such memorable films as "Destry Rides Again" (1939), "Kismet" (1944), "Golden Earrings" (1947) and the unforgettable "Witness For The Prosecution" (1958), a fine performance that was ignored by the Academy much to its lasting shame.
Marlene continued through the 1930's and 1940's, swaying seductively, dropping her heavy eyes, and speaking from thick wet rouged lips in a smoky, sexy voice, a la femme fatal.
Once, a cameraman was incapable of lighting her properly and Marlene was heard in desperation to mutter, "Where are you, Joe?" Perhaps, Josef von Sternberg will answer his protege's pleading sultry voice. Auf Wiedersehen, Marlene Dietrich.
Kelton C. Ostrander