I feel compelled to respond to news articles which portray Jewish villages as "provocations" in areas that are predominantly Arab.
It appears to be a generally accepted view among most American journalists that Israelis (read "Jews") should not be permitted to live among Arabs.
How come no one ever asks why the reverse is not true? Why is it that Arabs living among Jews do not constitute a provocation?
Does a minority family living in a predominantly non-minority neighborhood "provoke" attack? Does a woman, by jogging past a group of men in the park, "provoke" sexual assault?
My point is that a Jew living in Hebron or Gaza or Jerusalem is inherently no more provocative than an Arab living in Tel Aviv or Haifa or Jerusalem.
When I visited Israel this past summer, despite all the tension and attacks, I was both pleased and disturbed to see Arab families enjoying themselves in Jerusalem's public parks, apparently free of fear or concern for their safety.
I was pleased, because this is the way it should be. I was disturbed, because the same does not hold for a Jew who happens to turn his car down the wrong street in Nablus.
For as long as Arabs have lived in what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (which is not nearly as long as Jews have lived there), they have attacked Jews.
It doesn't matter whether Jews are weak or strong, independent or subject, many or few, landed or not. Arabs need no more provocation than their simple, unmitigated hatred for Jews.
The real issue is not land, and it is not self-determination. The real obstacle to peace is Arab hatred.
With Jewish blood flowing into the street from the recent bombings, Arab passers-by cheered and celebrated. Is there any more evidence required?
To the suicide bombers in Gaza, a Jew in Gaza is no more a provocation than a Jew anywhere in Israel, anywhere in the world. No matter what Jews do in the name of making peace, it will never be enough, because what the Arabs really demand is for the Jews to disappear.
Norman B. Jaffee
How to Read
I would like to clarify misleading statements made by Baltimore County public school administrators in The Sun article "Alphabet Soup?" (March 19).
A statement attributed to Dr. Paul Mazza indicated that an analysis showed that schools with strong whole-language philosophies were not more likely to post declining scores than other schools. It was not mentioned that in his study 14 whole-language schools were compared to 14 randomly-selected schools, which were likely to have been whole-language schools themselves. His study compared scores among 28 schools in the years 1991-94. The new whole-language curriculum guide came out in 1992, and that is when the majority of county schools were expected to abandon structured phonics instruction.
Therefore, the majority of schools in a random sample from 1991-94 would have been using whole language. His study did not compare whole language schools to skill-based schools.
Administrator Dr. Richard Bavaria stated, "We're doing what it takes to teach kids how to read. For most kids, it takes the whole range of strategies." It is not true that the Curriculum Department endorses or provides the whole range of strategies. It is not true that the Curriculum Department endorses or provides the whole range of strategies. The department has excluded systematic phonics from the curriculum guide and does not recommend its use. This was done despite clear evidence from research that the best of both systematic phonics and whole-language are needed for children to become proficient readers.
Schools that wish to meet the reading instruction needs of their students must go outside the recommendations of the Curriculum Department to provide a program that contains systematic phonics, but there remains the problem of insufficient phonics materials on the county book order list and no in-service training in systematic phonics provided by the Curriculum Department. Individual schools must expend their own limited resources to provide what should be essential materials and training.
In my opinion, the children of Baltimore County and their educators are being hamstrung by a flawed reading curriculum before they even have a chance to get off the first grade starting blocks.
Catherine C. Froggatt
It was very nice to read the headlines declaring the baseball strike to be over. Many of us had been waiting since last August to hear those words, and it finally happened.
I would hope this has taught both the owners and players that a strike gains nothing for either party involved, just headaches for everyone, including the most important people, the baseball fans.
Let's not ever put the fans to this test again, for next time it %% could mean the end of baseball as we know it.
As a Baltimore Orioles fan, it means that if everything goes all right (cross your fingers and toes) Cal Ripken will break Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record on Sept. 6 at Camden Yards.
It was always felt this record would never be broken, but it was also once thought Babe Ruth's home run record was unbeatable.
The opening of the season has been moved back to April 26 and Baltimore opens its home season in early May, the time of my birthday. What a birthday present!
I would like to respond to the April 7 letter, "No Sympathy," from Bill Fritz of Bel Air.
I, too, share some of his comments regarding the players and the owners. However, I believe he has taken a cheap shot at Cal Ripken.
His observation was that Ripken's streak has already been tarnished because Lou Gehrig never had eight months of rest between seasons.
This would be valid if Ripken had been injured on Aug. 11, the day before the strike began. It was not reported in the newspapers that he had sustained an injury.
Ripken has shown great dignity and humility throughout the streak.
I don't believe the prolonged strike has tarnished Ripken's streak. I wish him well as he moves toward a new consecutive games record.
Arthur R. Ransom Jr.
The wild furor over the so-called "reduction" in funds for the school lunch program is missing the point.
School lunches will be provided next year at the same level of quality, if not better than they now are. The point is not a reduction in available funds. Actually more funds will be available. The point concerns the reluctance of the outdated liberals in Washington who want to tell local governments how to spend their own money.
Also involved are those local government officials who do not want to be responsible for administering funds provided through block grants. Such officials like to be in a position where they can say that they have nothing to do with certain programs, that the "feds do all that," and that local officials "can do nothing about it."
We are much better off if our state and local officials are held responsible by us, the voters, for how our funds are spent locally, rather than have some Kennedy- or McGovern- or Clinton-type liberal in Washington sitting behind a desk and telling Baltimore or Denton or Easton or Preston or Talbot or Caroline or Howard officials how and where to spend the money that is truly theirs.
If state and local officials want to be dictated to by Washington rather than being responsible to their constituents, then such officials, whether they be elected or appointed, should not be in office. It is as simple as that.
And by the way, why not visit schools at lunchtime next September and October and count the number of students going without lunch or starving to death in school cafeterias? Such talk is all a monumental farce and a desperate stab by worn-out liberals with their failed programs to hold on to power. Give us the block grants and let us locally decide how the money is to be spent. The savings will be enormous, and the programs will prove much more efficient.
C. R. Jones
When I read in Clarence Page's column (Opinion * Commentary, April 7) dealing with the many complications of implementing affirmative action policy in the promotional system the Chicago Police Department, that one solution (deemed possibly biased toward minorities) was to have "blind" oral interviews (where evaluators could only hear the candidate, not see her), I almost flipped.
What is our country coming to?
In the United States, the criminally accused have the right to face their accusers, but the evaluators do not have the right to face the candidates.
What is next? Pulling names from a hat?
Mr. Page writes that evaluators could hear "ethnic nuances" in the candidates' voices during the blind interviews, thus making the oral test potentially biased.
This of course assumes that all the evaluators were white and the only "ethnic nuances" detectable in the candidates' voices are those of minorities; and all minorities speak in a detectable manner.
I have seen and heard Mr. Page many times on televised news talk shows. Mr. Page speaks well. If I did away with the picture on the television screen, I doubt very much if I would know if Mr. Page were black or white simply by the manner in which he speaks.
Bottom-Line Fixation Threatens Nurses
As a participant in the Nurses' March on Washington, I was disappointed by the lack of coverage in The Sun and the superficiality with which the issues were reported.
I would like to clarify for your readers why nurses, a typically apolitical group, marched in Washington on March 31.
In an era of impressive profit-taking on the part of hospitals, managed care organizations and insurance companies, we nurses continue to quietly accept increasing patient loads, loss of hours without pay (when patient census is low) and the replacement of registered nurses with unlicensed staff.
In addition, we are expected to "float" from our area of specialty to other units without benefit of the four-to-six weeks of training generally required to become familiar with the routines and medications specific to that unit. It is not uncommon to have entire units staffed with "outsiders" -- competent nurses who have never worked on a given unit before.
We now "direct" patient care through the use of unlicensed care givers, some of whom have as little as six weeks of training. We are legally responsible for the actions, conduct and competency of these care givers.
Our concerns and complaints have been silenced by hospital administrations which have dismantled nursing departments, leaving no senior nursing personnel who would be legally required to advocate for our patients.
Instead we have MBAs, who have no clinical or patient care background, making staffing decisions.
Their myopic attention to the bottom line and their ability to turn a deaf ear to the chaos they have created through "restructuring," "right-sizing," "work redesign" and "patient centered care" programs, is unconscionable.
. . . We are specifically requesting legislation to determine and enforce safe nurse/patient ratios, legal protection in the form of whistle-blowing laws to protect nurses who speak out against unsafe conditions and for a reversal of a recent Supreme Court decision making all nurses "supervisors."
. . . The public can do much to assist us and themselves. When a hospital admission is required, ask for the Registered Nurse/patient ratios. Why? Numerous studies have pointed out that the single best predictor for positive patient outcomes is the nurse/patient ratio.
Nurses' hands are the last hands your medications pass through before they get to you. Nurses know your medical history and see you frequently, enabling us to observe changes in your condition, report them to your physician and act on them quickly. Nurses have the training and knowledge to recognize and respond to your needs.
Understaffing or staffing with unlicensed care givers dilute our effectiveness and short-changes you. Once admitted, ask care givers what their credentials are (we won't be offended!) and how many patients they are caring for. If you are not satisfied with what you are hearing, complain -- hospital administrations are much more committed to customer satisfaction than to nurse satisfaction.
Be assured that nurses will always honor our patient advocacy obligation. We're on your side, America. Help us to stay at your bedside.
Managed Care More Managing than Care
Tim Baker wrote "The Doctors Strike Back" (April 3) criticizing the patient access bill and extolling the virtues of HMOs. But, as often is the case, it did not tell the entire story.
The bill was of far greater value to patients than the multitude of existing laws that directly allow the legal profession to preserve its income.
I refer to the propriety of the confusing and constantly changing Medicare regulations, the current tort statutes that allow attorneys to extract 30 percent of liability settlements and the complex antitrust laws that prevent doctors from disciplining themselves or effectively competing with managed care plans which are given legal protection . . .
While Mr. Baker expressed his satisfaction with his HMO, there are a great number of patients who have been a part of managed care and don't like what they have experienced.
Many were forced to join HMOs because other plans were not offered (as Congress is currently proposing for Medicare enrollees).
They have experienced managed care at its purest and don't like what they see.
Restrictive gatekeepers do everything possible to deny timely care because it would reduce their financial kickbacks at the end the year.
Cumbersome paperwork is often needed to see appropriate specialists and then even more redundant treatment plans that have to be approved by nonmedical bean counters who delay approval hoping that patients get frustrated and give up trying to get care.
While many HMO physicians are competent and compassionate, many are contracted because they will accept minimal reimbursement with the hope of more controlled referrals.
Health care reform offers less reimbursement per patient with the promise of more referrals so that, presumably, the physician will make more money.
This often attracts less experienced physicians who are recently out of residencies and trying to build practices before moving on, physicians willing to see HMO patients at a loss with the understanding that the gatekeepers will also refer their patients with better insurance, and subpar physicians who can't get patients any other way.
Recently I reviewed a chart of a patient who had been denied timely referral to an ear, nose and throat doctor by his HMO
gatekeeper while he treated a sinus infection that would not clear.
When the patient's sinus cancer began growing through his cheek, the HMO doctor hurriedly referred the patient to an out-of-network specialist because the HMO specialist was on vacation.
When told that the patient then had a noncurable cancer, the gatekeeper asked if further tests and treatment could wait until the network physician returned from vacation.
This is not standard care but managed care. The tumor was so far advanced that it could not be successfully treated because of the delayed referral.
Unfortunately, with the increase in managed care, these stories are becoming far more common. Is this the kind of care Mr. Baker is referring to?
Was there a need for the patient access bill? Only voters of Maryland can decide . . .
Many patients do not understand the basic concept of an HMO. That is to enhance profit by restricting care. The rationing of health care increases profit to the HMO and its stockholders.
As recently cited in the Wall Street Journal, the HMOs are awash with so much money that they don't know what to do with it. Certainly, they aren't using it for patient care or fairly reimbursing their health care providers.
Now the thrust of health care reform is toward capitation. This concept is similar to the federal government paying farmers not to plant their crops.
The insurers or managed care companies pay health care providers a fee per patient at the beginning of each month which is to be used for all the enrolled patient's health needs.
What is left of this money at the end of the month is the provider's take-home pay, whether the provider treats the patient or not.
In fact, it is in the provider's financial interest not to see the patient at all because he gets paid more for doing nothing.
Capitation benefits the insurance companies because they can accurately predict their costs. How does all of this managed care benefit the patient?
Is this what the citizens of Maryland, like Mr. Baker, really want?
Karl W. Diehn, M.D.
Professor's 'Vision' an Apologia for Racism
I read David Folkenflik's journalistic exegesis (April 3) of Robert A. Gordon, professor of sociology at the Johns Hopkins University, headlined "'Professor of hate' shares vision from an academic haven at JHU," with interest and amusement.
The "vision" of Dr. Gordon, stripped of euphemisms, pettifoggery and linguistic circumlocutions, represents an apologia for Richard Herrnstein's and Charles Murray's "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life," and is a paean to white racism, bigotry and societal exclusion . . .
The racist elements of "The Bell Curve" do not constitute a new dimension in American or world thought. In point of fact, the book would not even have attracted so much attention except for:
1. A national movement away from racial-ethnic inclusiveness and diversity, as reflected in the callous, vitriolic and obstreperous attacks on affirmative action.
2. The national meanness and racism shown in the current deliberations and actions of the so-called "Contract with America."
The attempt, historically, to depict the basic inferiority of black people has a long and ignominious history in our nation.
Thomas Jefferson spoke of the "peculiar odor" of black people and their inability to comprehend Euclidean geometry. Thomas Dew, professor of philosophy at William and Mary College, and John C. Calhoun, among others, in earlier eras of our history, set forth racist and scatological perspectives germane to black people.
In more recent times, Dr. Francis L. Lawrence, president of Rutgers University, spoke of the inferior "genetic hereditary" background of black people.
The same racist thought was propounded in the 1960s by Arthur Jensen, Edward Banfield and William Shockley.
None of them is a geneticist but nonetheless proceeded to expound on the genetic inferiority of black people.
In terms of Dr. Gordon's course, it would be of value to the 35 students enrolled in his class, as a matter of academic-intellectual honesty and balance, if they had supplementary readings such as Gunnar Myrdal's "An American Dilemma," the National Commission on Urban Disorders' so-called "Kerner Report," the National Urban Coalition's "One Year Later," Andrew Hacker's "Two Societies: Separate, and Unequal" and Joe R. Feagin's and Herna Vera Routleadge's "White Racism."
The basic flaw of "The Bell Curve" revolves around the following desiderata:
1. The book is a political polemic in which variability is reduced to the motif of genetic deficits.
What about the pivotal variable of environment factors such as racism, historic denial of equality of opportunity for black and non-white persons and institutional subordination? Herrnstein and Murray make the point that they did not address racism and other societal-cultural factors.
2. Herrnstein and Murray condemn what they call "the ideology of equality." Our national progress and prosperity came because of the opportunity, even with the highly significant labor and contributions of black and other ethnic-racial minorities, for white persons to move forward in the American body politic.
3. The posting of a "cognitive elite" as if cognitive ability constituted the special domain of white people.
Finally, the immense danger of racist pronouncements of "The Bell Curve" is that it establishes a climate or a mind-set which supports the debasement, traducement and institutional exclusion of people based on color, ethnic background or some other synthetic factor.
The Atlanta Constitution, in a lead editorial Oct. 14, 1994, made a cogent and highly pertinent observation: "The authors of 'The Bell Curve' pose as brave intellectual rebels, but there is little that is brave about stomping on the disadvantaged and pandering to the powerful.
"There is a long and discredited tradition of racists trying to cloak their prejudice in pseudoscience."
I, of course, concur fully with this assessment.
Samuel L. Banks