Buying PeaceLess than 50 years after the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Buying Peace

Less than 50 years after the end of World War II the world witnesses again the torture, rape and slaughter of innocent men, women and children. All this because they belong to the "wrong" ethnic group or religion.

About 55 years ago Neville Chamberlain returned from Berlin to London proclaiming that he bought peace (and let Czechoslovakia pay the price).

Modern day Chamberlains -- David Owen and Cyrus Vance -- tried again to buy the peace. This time the Muslims in Bosnia paid the price.

All this while the world debated, the United Nations passed toothless resolutions, while denying the Bosnians the means to defend themselves, and everyone proclaimed that "Yugoslavia has no strategic value."

We will pay dearly for our apathy in other parts of the world when other dictators try to take over their weaker neighbors. Today I am ashamed to call myself a human being.

Amnon Birenzvige

Joppatown

Cult Control

The completely misleading April 25 article by Timothy Miller regarding the "anti-cult frenzy" attests only to his lack of information.

No one is trying to convince the American public that every cult will lead to a Waco-type finale.

We do have proof of drug usage, rape, murder, medical neglect resulting in deaths, child abuse, financial ruin of some followers and many other violations of human rights occurring in some cult groups. It is clear that not all of the cult groups are "harmless, but small and socially marginal," as Mr. Miller suggests.

Mr. Miller worries that "thousands of religiously committed Americans will suffer unjustly" in the aftermath of Waco due to an anti-cult frenzy similar to the one that followed Jonestown. I am curious as to the type of frenzy that he is talking about.

What would Mr. Miller have said or done in the wake of the deaths of 914 innocent men, women and children? The fact is, thousands of cult members are already suffering unjustly every minute of every day and it is the cult leaders who are respon sible, not the anti-cult activists.

Mr. Miller equates deprogramming with vigilantism. While I am not in favor of violent deprogramming, the simple fact is that if there were no such thing as programming or mind control, there would be no need for deprogramming.

There is clearly a difference between coercive tactics and whole-hearted conversion out of one's own free will. I'm sorry that Mr. Miller doesn't know the difference.

Mark K. Powers

Baltimore

The writer is national director of Jews for Judaism.

There He Goes

After reading Professor Douglas Lamdin's thoughtful, factual piece (April 22 Opinion * Commentary) explaining why more school spending does not equal better public education, I turn the page to read that the Clinton administration plans to revamp America's schools with a $420 million package.

There he goes again!

Sally McCann

Baltimore

Roots

William J. La Cholter's letter (April 28) illustrated the problem with education in this "One Nation under God." It is indeed sad that a graduating senior from the University of Maryland does not know the wording, background or intent of the First Amendment.

I quote here, for the benefit of those who may not have recently refreshed their memory of this important statement: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Various state constitutions at the time of the Constitutional Convention and the ratifying of the Bill of Rights required that those serving in public office profess Christian faith.

Not until 1947 in Everson vs. Board of Education did the Supreme Court declare there to be a "separation of church and state" in the First Amendment.

Could the Founding Fathers and courts all have been wrong in interpretation? I think not on the basis of what has happened in the United States since 1947.

Some cite Thomas Jefferson as the "coiner" of the phrase about "separation." He did. But, read Jefferson's entire response to the Danbury Baptists in his letter of Jan. 1, 1802, and you will find intent clearly opposite of modern (post-Everson) interpretation.

John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

I humbly suggest that everyone read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and other early documents and find the "roots" that make this country great.

Douglas R. McLean

Glen Burnie

Gifted and Talented Are Not Snobs

In her April 21 letter, Doreen Griffin states, "the GT [Gifted and Talented] program has become a snobbish clique that makes other children feel like failures . . ." These accusations are ridiculous.

I am a student in the GT program, and I have yet to see a GT student taunting other students because of their lack of presence in the program. If she thinks it is more subtle, than I challenge her to present reasons.

The amount of work? If not having two to three hours of homework a night presents a feeling of inadequacy, than Ms. Griffin and "her own family and friends" need to rethink their definition of adequate.

There are many students who deserve to be in the GT program and are not, but there are also students who are in the program and should not be.

They are there only because parents or adults, like Ms. Griffin, see an above-average test score and think that that score qualifies that child to be in the program. There is more to it than that.

Also taken into consideration are the thinking skills, as she mentioned, past scores and grades -- sometimes as far back as first grade -- and recommendations from qualified people such as teachers and guidance counselors.

When the child does not succeed in the GT program, the parents place the blame on the other children in the program instead of themselves.

I also do not see how Ms. Griffin or her own family and friends come to the conclusion that "GT is an exclusive club . . . that makes other children feel like failures."

I am sure they do not have personal experience. If they are making these statements on only what they have been told, then maybe the children who told them this are the snobs.

There are snobs and cliques in every group whether it be GT, honors or standard.

The GT program is singled out simply because many students bTC feel left out or inadequate because they just do not meet the program's qualifications, and this frustrates them. It should be pointed out that this is not the fault of the students in the program.

Nicole Winik

Owings Mills

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Doreen A. Griffin states that the GT program has become a snobbish clique." As a product of that program, I disagree.

Students who are a part of the GT program often are looked down by the other students, forcing them to stick together. They are often rejected from most normal teen-age society because of their so-called abilities. In reality, many GT students are failing their classes under the tremendous work load.

Teachers have incredibly high standards for GT students as well. I lost track of how many times I was told, "You are GT; I expected better" -- even when giving my best effort.

What teachers and students fail to realize is that by elevating us for our intelligence and attempting to push us to achieve higher goals, they actually drive our ambitions into the ground.

And yet for all of this pressure, the GT program does not appear to have any real benefits worthy of the agony.

Students who enter the program are told that earning a B in their GT courses will be considered as highly as an A in a regular course would be by potential colleges.

Yet many graduates of the program can attest to the fact that they are passed over for scholarships, which are given to the students earning As in standard courses.

The GT program needs to be reviewed. But before you do, talk to some of the students who are a part of it. What you discover may surprise you.

Jennifer Schehlein

Baltimore

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