Slavery, Jews and history
"Jews and the Slave Trade" (Perspective, Feb. 13) by Yale history professor David Brion Davis was well-written, well documented and incisive.
What bothers me is that someone like Louis Farrakhan will, because he is media popular, get such a broad presentation of his pronouncements, whether factual or not, and Professor Davis' information so little.
I've read a number of books on the subject of slavery but have not yet read the two written by Professor Davis. At least half of my readings, perhaps as much as 60 percent, has been written by blacks; most by educators.
Jews as slave holders and traders have been written about before, but in my recollection was not a major factor in any of the writings.
One would have to presume that Jews, as a part of the world population, would indeed be involved in slave ownership and trade, but nothing historically indicates anything but a very small involvement at best.
In the more than a dozen books that I have read, I have noticed a lack of information and discussion, particularly by black writers, of the involvement of black Africans in the slave trade for some 4,000 years prior to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
As wrong as it is, slave trading has been an integral part of world civilization since at least 3000 B.C., and it is probably far older than that.
Internecine warfare on the continent of Africa resulted in a huge slave trade among and between the tribes. On our own North American continent, slave trading was rampant among the thousands of tribes that existed prior to 1492.
Everyone, you see, was involved in the buying and trading of slaves. Finger pointing has no validity in determining who was or was not guilty of such barbarity -- unless we point the finger at ourselves.
. A. J. Kilner
As a male growing up in Baltimore, I have heard just about every argument there is about what we should do about our children and crime. Institutions are pointing the finger at each other: from schools to churches, homes, etc. We are using labels to excuse our responsibilities.
We are all human beings who have a moral obligation to teach our children values and principles. This should be done whether in the class room, at church and at home.
There should be laws that ensure the right to an education of not just the three "Rs" but also how to treat others with respect. This seed must be planted throughout our society.
We take for granted that everyone knows how to respect oneself and others. But morals, values and respect must be taught.
Throwing it away
Am I missing something, or has the world gone completely mad?
The notion that Del. Leslie Hutchinson, D-Baltimore County, is deserving of a position that entails any kind of financial abilities, much less keeps her in the public arena, is absolutely absurd.
Whatever the outcome of her previous problems, it has been proven that the woman is totally inefficient and erratic in her ability to manage everyday life.
Her apology for her previous behavior is not an acceptable rationale to continue to give her any more responsibilities which she has proven she cannot handle.
Something as precious and vital to the state of Maryland as our Chesapeake Bay needs all the help it can get. Giving Leslie Hutchinson any say in this matter is the equivalent of throwing our money into the bay.
Deborah J. Wisner
It is incomprehensible to me that the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to require teacher certification for private and home schools, as proposed in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Proponents this bill say they are not interested in regulating private education. If this is so, why was the Home School-Freedom Amendment offered by Rep. Armey of Texas soundly defeated in committee?
Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester surveyed the results of 113 studies of teacher education and qualification. The vast majority of these studies showed no positive correlation between the teacher's educational background and the educational performance of the students. Higher teacher qualifications do not make better students.
Parents have the right to oversee the education of their children, whether they choose public, private or home schools. Let the government regulate its own distressed public school system and leave successful private schools and the flourishing home-school movement alone.
Agatha Christie's novel "Murder on the Orient Express" is famous for introducing a new concept to mystery writing. In the novel, an American businessman is killed and there are a dozen suspects. At the end it turns out that all the suspects are guilty.
In the Tailhook scandal, dozens of women were assaulted, fondled or groped. But of 137 Navy and Marine Corps officers charged with crimes, it turns out that none of them did it. All have been cleared.
This travesty of justice is all too common in America. Bedouin tribesmen and their daughters obtain more justice from their tribal sheik than Americans get from our criminal justice system.
Isn't it time we return to a criminal justice system that actually punishes the guilty? Our present system is a failure.
School wrecking crew
The continuing saga of the antics of the Maryland State Department of Education amaze, stun, amuse, anger and mystify this writer. Millions of state tax dollars are being spent annually on incredible tests that apparently few can pass.
Criteria are created that few can meet unless one is lucky to be in one of the posh suburbs. Threats of state takeovers are coming to fruition (Patterson and Douglass high schools) and this writer is becoming alarmed. Is all of this merely a subterfuge for the eventual state takeover of all schools? Who gave the political hacks -- Ms. Grasmick and Mr. Embry -- this power?
Mr. Embry talks about "saving schools" -- but saving them from what? Maybe we should be trying to save them from the likes of Ms. Grasmick and Mr. Embry.
The power given to these unelected nabobs is frightening and ominous. As a retired educator, I know that had I created such tests and standards I would have been fired.
The effects of these classist, racist and elitist snobs bodes no good. People do tire of being made to look like fools.
Living in the councilmanic district in which Patterson is located, I already see too much instability in my neighborhood as people move out of the city and state when their children reach school age.
George W. Jensen
Mandatory alcohol testing
In "Friend's death spurs children to lobby legislators" (Feb. 13) The Sun properly focused on the need for a law on mandatory alcohol testing of drivers involved in traffic crashes // resulting in injury. Passage of the proposal by Del. Phillip Bissett would help to close this escape hatch.
Increasing the proportions of testing for alcohol in the blood (BAC) among all drivers involved in traffic crashes would provide benefits in Maryland and nationally.
First, the U.S. Department of Transportation can only estimate the percentage of fatal crashes involving alcohol based on state reports.
In Maryland, BAC test results are known for three of every four fatally injured drivers but only three of every 100 surviving drivers.
Second, drivers who repeatedly drive while impaired or intoxicated by alcohol have only a slender chance of being observed and stopped by police.
A mandatory BAC test of all drivers involved in crashes can be the basis for a court referral to a certified alcoholism counselor, who can assess problem drinking or alcoholism.
Third, with steady progress in reducing drunk driving offenses and crashes, we must ponder how to reduce the fatalities that do not involve alcohol.
Passing additional laws aimed at reducing the drunk driving problem will also require enforcement, prosecution and adjudication, including referral to treatment, for those assessed as problem drinkers or alcoholics. Research shows that long-term savings can be achieved by providing treatment to chronic driving-while-intoxicated offenders.
Robert G. Kirk
The writer is executive director of the American Council on Alcoholism.