Four R'sI read that the state has...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Four R's

I read that the state has come up with a way to save Patterson High School by dividing it into four academies: humanities, fine arts, technical education and career preparation.

This sounds vaguely familiar to me. From 1927 to 1931 I was a student at Forest Park High School, the first coeducational high school in Baltimore City.

Students there were offered four courses: general, academic, technical and commercial.

It boggles my mind that it has taken all these years of trial and error for the school system to realize that what we were offered 63 years ago was a system that really works.

Ruth H. Taylor

Towson

Simpson No Hero

I am appalled by the (July 7) comment in your letters to the editor section by a Richard Spencer from Towson.

He said O. J. Simpson's domestic exploits may "be limited to simple wife beating." . . There is nothing simple about an act as hideous as spousal abuse.

I'd like to compare [O.J. Simpson as a "hero"] to myself. As a decorated combat Vietnam vet, among other things, I and others carried wounded and dying men to waiting helicopters while under fire.

At no time have I even considered that event to be of heroic proportions. It was but a matter of taking care of business.

But I do consider that event and other exploits of mine to be a cut above carrying a football, hitting a baseball or shooting a hoop.

I personally cringe every time I hear the word "hero" used in describing an athlete. It is, without a doubt, unwarranted.

It is because of those who apparently are in need of others to make them feel alive or to give their lives some sort of meaning that O. J. Simpson and many other athletes are put on pedestals. . .

As for O. J. Simpson, who whined like a spoiled little kid when he was told he had to return to a holding cell, he's a sorry excuse

for a man, and he's sure no "hero."

Chris Keleher

Annapolis

Latvia Struggles to Regain Identity

I would like to comment on Richard Reeves' column "When the Cheering Stopped in Riga" (Opinion * Commentary, July 12).

This article touches upon Latvia, a subject about which Mr. Reeves obviously has very little knowledge. One has to research history to understand what is happening in that country today.

We have to go back to the beginning of World War II, when the two notorious allies, Hitler and Stalin, made an agreement according to which the Soviet Union invaded and occupied the three independent Baltic states -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- at about the same time Hitler occupied Denmark, Holland and Belgium.

The occupation of the latter countries has long since ended. The occupation of Latvia ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Nearly a half century of occupation has produced a devastating effect on this nation. The killings, deportations and forced Russification brought the nation almost to the point of no return.

Today only 53 percent of all the population is Latvian. The Latvians were about to become a minority in their own country.

The Russian colonists, who enjoyed a privileged status in Latvia, not want to go home. Some openly advocate disobedience and resistance to the new Latvian government.

Several propaganda campaigns have been launched to discredit the Latvian people. Numerous international organizations, including two delegations of the United Nations, have visited Latvia to investigate Russian complaints of human rights violations. No violations were found. On the contrary, it was found that there is no discrimination of any minority groups in Latvia.

Human rights, however, should not be confused with citizenship. No one can obtain citizenship on demand. It is conferred upon by the respective state after certain qualifications are met.

This is so in Latvia, as it is in the U.S. and any other countries. The Russian colonists, many of whom are hostile to the Latvian state, demand instant citizenship.

The Latvians offer them gradual citizenship. And here is the grist for the Russian propaganda mills.

President Clinton was very well aware of the situation when he visited Latvia. He had to perform a difficult balancing act.

The president had to side with the Latvians in their just demand to get the Russian troops out of Latvia. At the same time, he had to placate Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who had declared himself as the "defender and protector" of Russians living in the "near abroad." The line in the president's speech about the troop withdrawal was enthusiastically cheered. However, the line about protection of minority rights, indeed, evoked no audible response.

Latvians are struggling in the shadow of a wobbling giant to reclaim control of the land on which they have lived for centuries.

The Soviet Union has collapsed, but the dream of an Imperial Russia, inherited from the time of the czars, is very much alive.

The Latvians are fighting for the survival of their nation -- nothing more, and nothing less.

Mr. Reeves has jumped to conclusions without investigating the facts of the case. That is bad journalism.

Even worse, Mr. Reeves has overstepped the bounds of decency by comparing the Latvians with the murderous Hutu tribe in Rwanda. This is an insult that demands apology.

Karl Ritums

Baltimore

High Ranks

Judge Alexander Harvey II's recent order limiting personnel actions in the Baltimore City school system for positions above the "rank" of teacher illustrates a basic problem with the school system.

Everybody in the system is apparently above the rank of "teacher."

Thomas McCarthy

Annapolis

Reliving the 1930s

The recent statement by Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, "We will live up to our international responsibilities within our ability," regarding the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Germany to allow German troops to be sent on international peace-keeping missions outside of Germany, gives me the feeling of reliving Europe of the 1930s.

How ironic that the court's decision coincides with the departure of the last Allied forces from Berlin.

History must be repeating itself, for did not the chancellor of that bygone era also send his troops outside of Germany, to convince the world through Neville Chamberlain that the actions of the German army were to bring the world "peace in our time?"

President Clinton is right when he said on his visit to Germany that so many of our challenges are just to Germany's east. What are we going to do in central and eastern Europe?

The answer is not hard to find.

I have recently returned from Poland, having spent most of the trip in Wroclaw (Breslau in Germany). I had many opportunities to talk to German tourists who are coming regularly to visit.

PD It is amazing and unbelievable to hear them saying that the Pots

dam agreement is only a temporary arrangement, and the status of former German territory will at some point have to be "renegotiated" (read taken by force).

While having dinner in a restaurant one evening with two German tourists, I was asked if the Potsdam agreement was something Germany should live with, or do I know that Poland's population of 35 million lives on a territory of 120,000 square miles, while they, the Germans, with a population of 85 million live on 137,000 square miles.

Did I know of a country where 50 million people live on 17,000 square miles?

Had I not known about the German's territorial concept of lebensraum (living space), they could have made a believer out of me.

Poland will never relinquish the territory as stated in the Potsdam agreement, unless it is militarily defeated. According to my two dinner friends, that possibility is not out of the question.

Mr. Kohl's and President Clinton's ceremonial walk through the Brandenburg Gate will not be enough to pacify the Germans, for lebensraum will always be in the German dictionary.

Joseph Kryszpel

Baltimore

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