Urban SacrificesAccording to Sen. Robert Dole and...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Urban Sacrifices

According to Sen. Robert Dole and others in Congress, there is no longer a need for President Clinton's stimulus package now that the economy has turned the corner.

I suggest that Senator Dole turn the corner of Fremont and Harlem Avenues in Baltimore City and look for any visible signs of an economic recovery. I'll save him a trip; there aren't any.

The Reagan-Bush era ushered in a period of laissez faire attitudes toward cities at a time when urban areas most needed outside help.

Cities like Baltimore suffered immeasurably as middle-class taxpayers left for the suburbs, leaving behind an overwhelmingly poor and dependent population. Meanwhile, money for planning and rebuilding inner-city communities slowed to a trickle.

President Clinton's stimulus package includes desperately needed money for the cities. Baltimore City stands to gain an additional $19 million in community development block grant funds, money which could be used to restore services and revitalize neighborhoods.

The stimulus package should not be viewed simply as an essential first step in reversing years of federal urban neglect. President Clinton has asked us all to sacrifice for the sake of a stronger tomorrow. The residents living near the intersection of Fremont and Harlem have sacrificed too many yesterdays.

Andrew Frank

Baltimore

Absurdity

I read Marina Sarris' article (Feb. 27) about Maryland's Senate voting to uphold the community service part of a State Board of Education requirement for students to perform some type of community service before they can graduate from high school.

I must say I agree with Sen. Frederick Malkus of Dorchester County on the absurdity of this requirement. As a member of the Baltimore City community I believe the best thing students could do for this community would be to learn how to read and write and make correct change. It would also help if they could fill out neat and complete employment applications.

I found the response by Sen. Paula Hollinger of Baltimore County in support of the requirement to the effect that community service will teach children to give back to their neighborhoods, in contrast to the "greed" that infused the 1980s, a typical liberal tax and spend Democrat's answer.

R. A. Bacigalupa

Baltimore

Gilman's Variety

I am writing in response to an article in the Today Feb. 22 headlined "Michael Douglas upbeat about ugliness in 'Falling Down.' " In it Stephen Hunter described the movie as one which exposes, in an effort to educate, the true race and class hatreds which are present in today's society.

In setting the stage for his article he did the very thing which led to these prejudices in the first place. He stereotyped a large group of people. He compared Michael Douglas' dress with that of a "Gilman sophomore," which he considers to be a bunch of rich kids going for the "prep-punk look."

While the description may be true for some Gilman sophomores, I can assure you that it is not characteristic of the whole class.

Gilman is a school which prides itself on its diversity of race, religion and economic background, and there is no single stereotype which can cover all of those who go to Gilman.

I hope that if Mr. Hunter holds any more prejudices or stereotypes, that he will refrain from publishing them in the future.

James McIntyre

Baltimore

Numbers Game

Many years ago, our political leaders decided to eliminate any evidence of literacy as a requirement for voter registration. Then during the Vietnam war era it was decided that if you're old enough to be drafted, you're old enough to vote, which is debatable logic at best.

Now we are about to allow the motor vehicles bureaucrats to administer that which is traditionally considered to be the most sacred right of all Americans.

Having eliminated practically every other conceivable assurance that voters will know what they are doing, the Clinton administration is now intent on eliminating the necessity to even care enough to register.

If individuals have neither the initiative to become registered on their own nor the intelligence to inquire about registering, how informed will they be as voters?

Will they have a basic understanding of the issues or will they be easily influenced by catchy campaign slogans, bumper stickers or the inflection in Peter Jennings' voice?

The kind of voters who must be led by the hand to registration are voters who base their decisions on capsule summations, biased reporting, ridiculous promises or even charisma.

Perhaps our elected officials would be less of a disappointment to us if they had been selected by informed citizens rather than by every possible warm body that can be pushed, dragged or enticed to the polls just for the sake of winning a numbers game.

Hobart V. Fowlkes

Baltimore

Another Motto

In regard to Maryland's "motto," how about "Fortibus in re, suaviter in modo"?

My Latin is 20 years in the past, but I believe a loose translation is "Strong in action, gentle in manner."

I think it gets the same idea across without offending the Language Police.

Tom M. Padwa

Baltimore

Harmony in the Balkans Is Meaningless

Erik Gordy, in attempting to downplay the effects and meaning of ethnic hatred in the Balkans (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 28), makes several mistakes that are commonly made even by the most prominent and capable Western scholars.

He views the situation from Western eyes, placing far too much emphasis on structures, events and tangible hallmarks, when in fact ethnic hatred is a matter of popular perception, carried on in the mind and transferred from one generation to the next.

Mr. Gordy also engages in wishful thinking, another weakness of Westerners who deal with Balkan subjects. But beyond that, he makes some major errors of fact, and these should be corrected.

First, he states that the Serbs and Croats fought each other only once, during World War II. Leaving aside medieval conflicts, the Serbs and Croats fought each other during World War I, when Croats served in massive numbers in the Austro-Hungarian armies. The Austrians' heavy use of Croatian troops to occupy a defeated Serbia and Montenegro in 1916-18 caused bitter resentment among Serbs and was a source of ethnic friction for years afterward in the first Yugoslavia.

Second, Mr. Gordy states that Croats and Slovenes fought on the Serbian side at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. The simple fact is that medieval armies routinely incorporated mercenaries, allies and vassals (some of them forced) of different ethnicities. Because some non-Serbs were there does not make Kosovo any less of a Serbian battle.

Third, the cooperation among the several ethnic parties in 19th century Austria-Hungary cited by Mr. Gordy has little relevance, given the fact that it represented pan-Slavist sentiment among detached intellectuals.

Fourth, democracy's dismal failure in the first Yugoslavia was as much the fault of various ethnic groups as it was of the Belgrade business interests cited by Mr. Gordy. Virulent Croatian opposition under Radic and others took root in the early 1920s, while other ethnic groups, like the Albanians, never accepted the new state.

Mr. Gordy's examples of current inter-ethnic cooperation, though valid, are grossly overshadowed by the violence of war. And that is precisely the point.

After this current round of Balkan fighting and genocidal savagery, you can be sure that close economic relations between the former combatants will resume.

Proximity and an interconnected economic infrastructure necessitate it.

But such harmonious relations in the Balkan context are, once again, meaningless. They represent only a lull until the next passionate, destructive outburst.

This may seem irrational from the Western perspective, but let us not forget that such relations were also the rule in the West until things were permanently changed by intensive industrialization and interdependence, and by the lessons derived from two world wars.

rage Vukcevich

Laurel

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