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Precious LibertiesI realize that I am one...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Precious Liberties

I realize that I am one lone voice among the rising chorus calling for action in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, but I oppose the new expansive powers being proposed for the FBI and other federal agencies.

The thought of giving up some of our precious liberties frightens me more than a thousand mad bombers.

We seem to have a permanent disease in this country called "short-term memoryitis." We forget our history and the history of other countries so easily.

The aggrandizement of power in a centralized authority has always led to the inevitable abuse of such power. We fought a war against the abuse of power over 200 years ago.

The FBI had these proposed powers once before, and they were taken away 20 years ago because of abuse. Why do we seem to have to learn the same lessons over and over?

The worst consequence of the Oklahoma bombing would be our voluntarily giving up some of our liberty. Then, and only then, the nuts who did this heinous act will have finally won.

Tucker Clagett

Upper Marlboro

Public Courage

Robert McNamara's public mea culpa has stirred a lot of comment, mostly adverse, but it seems to me that almost all the rejoinders miss a crucial point.

Mr. McNamara explains his public silence on the futility of the Vietnam war as the result of his "loyalty" to the president. He seems unaware that such "loyalty" is inappropriate in the American system of government.

Mr. McNamara's defense is the same defense offered by Adm. John Poindexter and Lt. Col. Ollie North. Each of these gentlemen seem oblivious to the difference between an American commander-in-chief and Augustus Caesar.

An American citizen's loyalty is owed to the Constitution and the best interests of the American people, not to a president or any other officer.

Some might acknowledge the validity of this principle but then cynically question whether or not anyone has actually acted in accord with it.

There are at least three easy examples.

President Andrew Jackson summarily dismissed two cabinet officers because they would not support his program to destroy the Bank of the United States. They foresaw a financial panic if Jackson's order was executed.

Within living memory, a youngish Dean Acheson resigned his sub-cabinet post because he disagreed with Franklin D. Roosevelt's policies.

There are probably other examples of similar profiles in courage.

Mr. McNamara's "loyalty" to temporary occupants of the White House has obviously left him with a taste of bitter ashes which decades of otherwise good work could not dispel.

As an exemplar of what Americans should not do in public office, Robert McNamara has displayed a stark and instructive instance.

Nicholas Varga

Baltimore

The Real Cause for Alarm

Ron Smith's reputation as a popular local talk show host is well-known, yet his April 30 "Rejoinder" column offered another example of the polarization which characterizes late 20th century America.

Mr. Smith, like many other talk show hosts, is a master of labeling and using language to color the meaning of seemingly innocent statements.

He remarks on the widening gap between government and ordinary Americans. He phrases it as the ruling establishment and the "majority of ordinary Americans." At once, we are set up to see an adversarial relationship between the implicitly oppressive federal government and ourselves, the helpless, average citizens.

Perhaps it is this clever, prejudiced, language to which President Clinton referred in his speech.

Increasingly, the politically oriented talk shows exhibit a distrust of any centralized authority, unless it has to do with the military. Thus the need for militia groups to keep watch against the "dangerous" agencies of the federal government.

Moreover, it is only the "liberal" federal government which, because of its supposed encroachment on individual rights, will one day become a virtual dictatorship and turn the nation into a sort of monarchy. This, of course, must be stopped.

It is ironic that in the 1960s and early 1970s the federal government was viewed in much the same way by extreme left-wing liberals, hippies, college students, free thinkers and others who saw the impending doom and waved the banner of "trust no one over 30." They, too, feared centralized authority, especially the military.

It is difficult to know what to make of all of this. It is obvious that the rise of "push-it-to-the-limits" behavior concurrently with the growing paranoia around issues of authority is leading to more suspicion and distrust.

With it all is the escalation of violent behavior by individuals and groups, frustrated in making their views heard and respected.

Finally, there is the obvious economic aspect to what talk show hosts do on radio or television. Ratings are everything and the shows with the highest ratings succeed, while others go off the air.

Mr. Smith is a successful talk show host. So are Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones and many others.

Some have been accused of inciting individuals to violent behavior, as when Jenny Jones introduced a gay admirer to one of her guests, who subsequently shot the man.

Instead of blaming talk show hosts or anyone else, perhaps we need to take stock of how we handle difficult and complex issues and what we are teaching our children about them.

Talk show hosts such as Ron Smith are right to sound the alarm. The problem is that we must be clear about what the real cause for alarm may be.

Thomas Spacht

Baltimore

Lack of Respect as Child Breeds Hostility

What ever happened to "please" and "thank you"?

As a parent of two teen-agers who are striving for their independence, I wonder what has happened to the youth of yesterday that were filled with politeness.

Looking around me today I see a world of hostility coming out of these young faces and wish the clock could be turned backward to a place where children were secure in who they were.

What role models have our children been copying? It scares me to think that in a few years these teen-agers will be unleashed into the work force. How are they going to solve problems? Pushing and shoving seems to get results these days.

Just the other day my child had his pants pulled down by his peer in a room full of 36 students. When asked why he did it, the child replied because it was fun and besides he wasn't wearing his belt. What happened to respect or discipline?

For every action there is a reaction and consequence. If children want something they take it; if you don't give it to them, they take it or break it. Instead of saying "please," they wave a weapon in your face or verbalize a list of words that can't be published.

Society doesn't owe the children of today anything; the parents do. We need to stop the merry-go-ground and remember to treat our children with kindness, give them time to ask questions, spend quality time with them and just let them know that somebody does care.

Everybody is too busy working outside the home that we have forgotten what is important.

I have seen my children's peers do some pretty mean things to my children and others.

Don't they understand that what they do to one another also affects the way our children will turn out tomorrow?

Parents, please remember to not only tell your children what is right from wrong but take the time to share, and help them grow into productive, caring and responsible adults.

I understand that most parents must work outside the home, but don't sacrifice your children for the paycheck.

We need to go back and teach our children the basics. Success should not be measured by the house we live in or the car we drive, the trips to Disneyland, etc.

To see a child caring about one another and hear them say "please" and "thank you" shows me that the parents have succeeded.

Remember what we teach or don't teach to our children today will be what our nation will be remembered for tomorrow.

Marlene Rackley

Cockeysville

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