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Mfume's Repudiation -- AgainI had hoped quite...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Mfume's Repudiation -- Again

I had hoped quite frankly that a letter like this would not have become necessary, but so much for positive thinking.

It appears as though whatever I say to repudiate the outrageous remarks delivered at Kean College by former Nation of Islam spokesperson Khalid Muhammad, it never seems to be enough.

In your Jan. 31 editions, columnist Dan Rodricks labeled me a "defiler of the cage" and said that my response to Mr. Muhammad's remarks were "inadequate." He wrote that the matter cries out for "full condemnation."

Apparently Mr. Rodricks had not read The Sun of four days prior, in which I am quoted as saying that the remarks in my opinion were "vicious, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist" and that they were "adorned with the same cloth of intolerance that allowed slavery and the Holocaust to occur."

Sounds like a full condemnation to me. But for Mr. Rodricks that was not enough.

On Feb. 8, columnist Michael Olesker (whom I respect) wrote, "Mfume, whose every previous action indicated revulsion for such sentiments, somehow now finds them difficult to repudiate." What a tragedy, I thought.

O.K. gentlemen, write this down for the record.

Every day since Jan. 21 I have said over and over again how outraged I was by the remarks that were spoken.

I have done this on ABC's Nightline, CBS Evening News, World News Tonight, Meet the Press, in the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Sun, USA Today, and the Baltimore Jewish Times, just to name a few.

I later went beyond calling the remarks "anti-Semitic, vicious, sexist and racist" and reminded people that they were also "anti-Catholic and homophobic." But that was still not enough.

So here it is again for all who will listen: "I repudiate his remarks a hundred times, no make that a thousand times. I'll write it on the blackboard a thousand times. I'll even swear on a stack of Bibles every day if I thought that it would be enough."

But I know that for some it will never be enough, and therein lies the real tragedy.

Kweisi Mfume

Baltimore

The writer is U.S. representative from the 7th District of Maryland.

Biased News

The words of former President Reagan ring true -- "there you go again!" Frank Langfitt's Maryland section front page article on Feb. 6 is titled "Gun control advocates, foes ready for battle."

However, close reading of the article indicates that this story only superficially attempts to deal with both sides of the gun control issue.

The legislative proposals of the gun control "advocates" are given much greater discussion than those proposals by gun control "foes."

In fact, although there are roughly equivalent numbers of bills currently introduced in Annapolis by both sides of the gun control debate, the text of your article mentions six gun control bills specifically, but only one gun rights advocates' bill.

In fact, one of the most important bills supported by gun rights advocates, allowing concealed carry permits to be issued to trained and licensed gun owners for the purpose of self-defense (House Bill 9), was not mentioned at all.

Furthermore, your graphics box, which mentioned seven pieces of gun control legislation, mentioned no gun rights or anti-crime legislation backed by gun rights advocates.

By now, your readers are surely well aware of your editorial page stand in support of gun control. But your news page policy should be different.

In a democracy, news organizations have a responsibility to present all the facts, or in this case the legislative proposals, in their news stories, so that informed debate can take place.

This issue does have two sides. Please allow both to be stated. Only an informed citizenry can be expected to engender informed policy and law.

Andrew Harris

Baltimore

Protect Yourself

In his Feb. 6 Perspective article, James S. Keat believes that he has the right to walk the streets without fear of being the victim of robbery or other violent crime. Maryland's highest court sees things differently.

The Court of Appeals has held that the duty of the state to provide protection extends only to the public at large. The police have no duty to protect any particular citizen.

Not surprisingly, communities that make it as hard as possible for ordinary citizens to own or carry firearms for their own protection also have higher than average rates of violent crime. Witness, for example, New York City and the District of Columbia.

If people cannot possess or carry firearms for self-defense, they become easier prey for the same type of people who abducted and robbed Mr. Keat.

When police departments, such as Baltimore's, are perceived as expending little effort to solve robberies or other violent crimes, criminals become even more emboldened.

Since the state has no particular duty (or the ability) to protect individual citizens against violent criminals, it should afford them the means by which they can defend themselves, should the need arise.

It is time for the General Assembly to either abolish the requirement for a permit to carry a handgun or to reform the process so that the criteria for issuance of permits is made purely objective.

Howard J. Fezell

Frederick

Money Unneeded

You show a bias between the views of Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., and Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve, favoring those of Dr. Greenspan (editorial, Feb. 2).

In other words, you favor less spending of money, regardless of how many people may be thus relegated to the scores of people already in the unemployed category.

It seems to have escaped the attention of so many otherwise erudite people, professional economists included, that we could have had a virtual utopia created some 100 years ago, as soon as it became apparent that food had at long last become abundant. It was reported about then that "excess grain was dumped into Lake Michigan."

But we all seem to have become obsessed with "money" ever since then, though money was supposed to be no more than a surrogate for scarce food and totally unnecessary when food is abundant, as it has been since then.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) enough for all the population can be produced today by only a small fraction of the work force.

So long as we focus only on GDP, then all other people are surplus and according to Dr. Greenspan's philosophy, are to be left ignored and payless, except through some inadequate and humiliating welfare or charity.

Many would prefer to demonstrate their skills at crime.

Even so, it nevertheless is possible to turn the table completely at this late date and eliminate virtually all the evils we experience today by spending money in the creation of new jobs far beyond that of creating GDP, focusing on people, instead of money, until no one is left unemployed.

Hyman Blumenstock

Columbia

Snow Plows

The city departments involved are to be complimented for their exceptional achievement during this period of snow and ice.

No matter how bad the weather during the night, as if by magic, the main roads were passable in the morning, and those of us who depend on the road were able to do business as usual without interruption.

Kalevi A. Olkio

Baltimore

The lessons of this winter should not be lost in designing future roads. Snow plows have pushed snow and ice to the side, but there is nowhere for it to go, so it intrudes into the lanes.

Four-lane roads become two lanes, two-lane roads become one lane, and traffic goes even slower.

All new roads must have at least a five-foot berm between the road and the curb or dirt. In the winter this provides a place to put the snow. In the summer the small shoulder is a bike path. All the time, it allows drivers a little room on the side.

Adding the five feet per side does increase the cost of the roads. But as we have seen this winter it will allow full use of the road

we paid for.

J. Martin

Reisterstown

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