Bashing ArabsAs all Americans look to their...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Bashing Arabs

As all Americans look to their families, friends, churches, synagogues and souls for comfort from the Oklahoma City tragedy, we face as a nation another kind of silent and threatening tragedy -- a rampant, hateful and dangerous bigotry toward the Arab people.

I met a man today who actually spoke the words I am sure too many Americans feel. He said ". . . and it was a Caucasian American responsible for this -- somehow I wish it had been an Arab" (mispronounced as that word often is when used in a derogatory or ignorant manner).

Only a few hours after the bombing, the first news reports quoted a witness saying he saw "Middle Eastern-looking men" who seemed suspicious.

Certainly past unforgivable acts of terrorism by groups such as Hamas fuel this prejudice, as do movies like "True Lies" and other works of America's popular culture.

But too often, acts of "terrorism" obvious in Bosnia, Hebron and Waco are placed in another category -- only Arabs are capable of "terrorism."

Wake up, America. The bravery, compassion, sacrifice and sorrow that we saw in so many survivors and rescue workers in Oklahoma City exists among the Arab people in the Middle East and among Arab- Americans.

And likewise, the terrorism, hatred, evil and insanity, which we too often attribute to them, tragically exists among us.

Sherine Centenari

Baltimore

PG Lobby

I enjoyed reading William F. Zorzi Jr.'s April 5 column about how the Advocacy Group is not a typical lobbying firm. We are proud to help change the image of a profession that has been much maligned.

There are a couple of important items, however, that need clarifying.

First, the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police is not a client of the Advocacy Group, but rather mine personally. I have been its lobbyist for the past three years, and the FOP's contract is solely with me alone. The Advocacy Group does not get a dime from the FOP.

Second, Darryl Jones does lobby for the FOP, but not as a paid lobbyist.

Third, his letter to the editor in The Sun was about police labor contracts and how hard they worked to acquire those benefits. The letter was in response to an earlier editorial that referred to labor contracts as "sweetheart deals," not about the governor's top aides.

It is an honor to represent Prince George's County in Annapolis and we were very pleased to have played a role in helping to ease the county's fiscal crisis.

Leonard L. Lucchi

Annapolis

The writer represents the Advocacy Group.

Pounding the Table

Paul Slepian's April 23 letter reacting to my April 15 letter germane to Robert A. Gordon's racist exaltation of the prejudicial motif of Herrnstein's and Murray's book, "The Bell Curve," constitutes a classic example of rank arrogance and mendacity.

Mr. Slepian, a former instructor of mathematics at Howard University, appears to delight, based upon his letters of reaction to previous letters of mine published by The Sun, in non-sequiturs, obfuscation and ad hominem comments.

If, as Mr. Slepian alleges, that I did not make a correct and fair assessment respecting Mr. Gordon, a professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, and the authors of the Bell Curve, why didn't he take "overwhelming statistical data" to demonstrate the book is not racist?

He, obviously, does not do this, but proceeds to indicate that "Dr. Banks resorted to the fashionable but irresponsible charge of racism." In reality, there is nothing "fashionable" about racism in the American body politic, but a clear, present and painful reality.

Finally, I recall, as an undergraduate member of the debating team at Howard University, how the late Lewis Fenderson often cautioned us: "When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you don't have the facts, pound the table lustily."

Mr. Slepian's letter gave abundant evidence of the latter.

amuel L. Banks

Baltimore

Fund's Trouble

The letter from Gerald B. Johnston (April 18) concerning Social Security contains a fallacy concerning the initial purpose of Social Security.

When the idea of Social Security was conceived by Franklin D. Roosevelt it was solely intended to provide a stipend to the public when they retire from work. Thus it was, at that time, solely a retirement system.

Unfortunately the Congress has seen fit to fund numerous social programs, such as survivors and disability benefits, with funds in the Social Security Trust Fund. It is for this reason the trust fund is in financial trouble.

Of course, the two I have enumerated are only two of the many welfare programs Congress has funded from the trust fund. In order for the trust fund to regain solvency the Congress must face the unpleasant task and fund all of the programs properly or phase them out.

J. McComb Nichols

Towson

Audubon's True Focus

I cannot allow Peter Jay's gratuitous slap at the Audubon Society in his April 16 column to pass without comment. He must be attending meetings and getting newsletters from a chapter on another planet.

The Audubon Society of Central Maryland is not focused on population control or toxic waste; nor do we blame the things we do focus on (declining migratory songbird population, for example) on the ozone layer.

What we are committed to includes such things as care and restoration of some wonderful bird and wildlife habitats at our Audrey Carroll Wildlife Sanctuary near Mount Airy -- a former small farm where Mr. Jay should feel right at home -- and Audubon Adventurers curriculum materials provided to elementary schools through funds donated or raised at our birdseed sales.

Most of us are also birders, interested in rare or untimely sighting reports, our life lists, regional bird counts, etc.

But the big picture of our concerns would encompass protecting the varied habitats which sustain not only birds, frogs, turtles, butterflies, etc., but also people, an environment that ensures our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to see and marvel at all the creatures that share the world with us.

obin M. Kummer

Finksburg

Smoke Gets in their Eyes

I agree with Judy L. Gemma (Letters, April 26) that the smoking ban is legislative overkill. But I notice that she took great pains to distance her drug of choice, tobacco, from any other drug. (She laments that we waste our time when we should be dealing with "real" drugs.)

Someone should remind Ms. Gemma that tobacco is a drug, currently the most dangerous drug available to anyone at any price.

In fact, the number of deaths from cigarettes alone dwarfs the tiny number of casualties from all illegal drugs combined. If we are going to debate this issue, let's at least be honest about all the facts.

In my opinion, it's your own business what drugs you decide to use. If you want to kill yourself with whatever, that should be

between you and your creator.

No government should be allowed to legislate morality. But if you happen to be smoking at the next table, just try to blow it away from my direction. That's enough for me.

William M. Smith

Baltimore

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I would like to respond to Judy Gemma's letter since I am on the other side of the fence.

I have walked out of restaurants because I can't be accommodated away from smokers while trying to enjoy my meal. I also make a point to sit as far away from smokers as I can.

Cigarette smoke makes me physically ill, and while I'm all for stopping crime and against violence, she's comparing apples with oranges. When I don't want smokers around me, I am fighting for a problem that is very "real" to me.

House of Delegates Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. voted against the smoking ban in restaurants and continued to smoke because it was his right.

Today he's in a hospital bed after serious heart problems and surgery and now he says he will quit smoking.

If he had quit smoking years ago and if he had not voted against the smoking ban in Maryland, maybe he could now go to a restaurant and not worry about the smokers around him.

Maria Alvarez

Ellicott City

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