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Feeling threatened by fearWhile dining at the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Feeling threatened by fear

While dining at the Inner Harbor the other evening, my companion pointed out a crowd of young men walking past the window where we sat.

They were dressed in black leather and had shaved heads. It wasn't until they passed and I saw large, white swastikas adorning their backs that I realized I was seeing skinheads.

This wasn't television with its way of making awful things seem faraway and unreal. There they were in the flesh, eight of them and two of us, two gay men eating dinner together.

I felt immediately threatened, because neo-Nazis hate homosexuals as much as they hate Jews and blacks. Part of me wanted to flee the danger of a possible confrontation, but most of me wanted to beat some sense into these idiots.

I imagined myself shaking these guys by their tough leather jackets while screaming something about how many people lost their lives through genocide under the emblem they were shamelessly wearing. The fact that I'm writing this now tells you I didn't attempt this.

Instead I rationalized -- which is much safer and usually keepme out of trouble. I told myself they had the right to wear whatever they want and that they weren't breaking any laws.

I still find myself profoundly confused by anyone embracing an ideology of hate.

I wonder: Are these young men playing a role in a show of teenage rebellion? Or do they even really understand the implications of the symbol?

Yeah, I think they are rebellious teens and I think they do understand the symbol well enough to know it represents hate.

What keeps the neo-Nazi philosophy alive is people feeling threatened by others who are perceived to be different -- not because of their actions but because of superficially gathered perceptions.

I guess a lot of people think that the gentle gay men they've met don't hate. Well we do hate. But having been on the receiving end of hatred long enough, one begins to see hate for what it really is -- a primal primitive defense reaction that has no purpose in contemporary society.

When this happens the only thing left to hate is hate itself.

arl B. Knudson

Baltimore

Pernicious lie

In attempting to prove the media liberally biased, Ambler Blick made this statement: "If the errors and miscalculations of Attorney General Janet Reno and Defense Secretary Les Aspin had been committed by Republicans, the demand for their heads would still be sung."

I have to look at actions of President Ronald Reagan, running up record deficits and saying the mere fact that Congress approved his requests lets him off the hook. Wouldn't liberal media show the enormity of his deficits and the vacuity of his excuses?

Consider Lt. Col. Oliver North. He sold arms to a sworn enemy and got off on a technicality. Wouldn't liberal media use Olliemania to show the utter hypocrisy of conservatives?

We also have President George Bush.

Fresh off the mother of all victories in the Persian Gulf, he lets Saddam Hussein off with a slap on the wrist. Wouldn't liberal media say that since he chose not to win anything worth fighting for, for reasons that he should have known before he launched Desert Storm, the war itself was unnecessary?

All three were Republicans, yet I don't hear anyone singing demands for their heads. Does Ambler Blick believe that the bias on some mundane stories outweighs their neglect of the whoppers?

The only way you can explain it is that the talk of liberal media is the most pernicious lie of the post-Vietnam era. It makes the others possible.

Paul O'Brien

Baltimore

Open and fair

As a teacher of history in the Baltimore County school system for more than three decades, I would like in this letter to expand on positivism, both philosophically and pedagogically, in relationship to Dr. Stuart Berger. I believe letter writers should be objective and ready to accentuate the positive -- when possible.

Recently, I was selected to represent my high school in a county-wide meeting with Dr. Berger at Western School of Technology.

Numerous county high schools were represented. Dr. Berger made it clear from the beginning that he wanted to hear realistic and serious concerns from teachers. He allowed teachers the courtesy and right to discuss openly any topic on their mind.

Very quickly, there developed a consensus that teachers were operating in a democratic arena. I found Superintendent Stuart Berger to be open and fair with the teachers present.

ohn A. Micklos

Baltimore

Many reasons for disruptive behavior

I read with great interest your Dec. 3 editorial, "Schooling disruptive students," and generally agree with your position and observations.

I take issue, however, with your unfortunate labeling of disruptive students and their families.

You make the statement: "Bad kids and their inattentive parents, so it seems, are everywhere." There is an implicit assumption that children evidencing disruptive behavior are "bad" and they are surely a product of uninvolved parents. This assumption is highly counterproductive and, in my opinion, inaccurate.

It is time to dispel popular myths and you can assist. Let me explain.

As an administrator in Baltimore City Public Schools, the issue of students who present troubling behaviors takes the greatest share of my time and energy. I served this state as the specialist for students with emotional disturbances and learning disorders, well as the chair of the State Advisory Council on Troubling Behaviors. This group recently submitted a report to Dr. Nancy Grasmick that was loaded with practical recommendations to attend to this ever growing and alarming problem.

Children are not inherently "bad" or socially maladjusted. I would argue that many of these students are quite adjusted to their circumstances. They must survive the indignities of a culture that favors a privileged few and shows its disdain for huge population segments.

While I agree that parental uninvolvement or "dysfunctionality" can contribute to the impropriety of student behavior, I know of too many instances where families of high regard can produce children with enormous troubles. The causes of troubling

behaviors are as varied and complex as this society and human physiology, so I would caution against such easy and stereotypical explanations.

We should support alternative options such as Dr. Grasmick's.

What we must agree on, however, is that our educational systems must be more proactive in their approach to behavior and classroom management, and must support their faculties with vigorous training and sensible resources.

Robert P. Solomon

Baltimore

No littering

I saw a sign yesterday while driving north on I-83. "Littering $250 Fine," it read in bold black lettering.

The fine, which may dissuade some motorists from littering, is undermined by the fact that the law is rarely if ever enforced, however.

According to the state police, anything thrown from a car window is litter and warrants a citation. That includes cigarette butts and the contents of ashtrays.

Think about that the next time you are driving and see amber sparks bouncing across the lane in front of you. If you can't break the habit don't break the law!

David B. Owen

Baltimore

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