Refusing to ActLetter writer Rabbi Manuel Poliakoff...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Refusing to Act

Letter writer Rabbi Manuel Poliakoff (June 13) solicits a stand against hate from the American public and opines that the American Civil Liberties Union is "most dangerous and pernicious because it provides an aura of respectability to the vicious, barbaric hate mongering crimes" associated with some segments of our society.

The rabbi goes on to elaborate that "no one has absolute rights" and that "a person's rights cease when they become detrimental to others."

Rabbi Poliakoff's wrath against the ACLU is unfounded. Actually, he should vent his anger against those in our society, including perhaps himself, who refuse to take substantive action in support of his own professed philosophy against those who are and continue to be detrimental to others.

The "lunatic fringe of the media and the National Rifle Association" are not the only elements of our society that are detrimental to others. We, the people, who refuse to act consciously and deliberately to, e.g., control abusive pregnancies do, in fact, present the appearance of condoning irresponsibility among those who are detrimental to others including the unborn.

Among others, abuses result from: chemically addicted parents, HIV positive parents, sexually active teen-agers, non-recovering alcoholic parents, single parents on welfare and poverty stricken parents who insist on continuing the reproductive process.

Does the rabbi believe that those who perpetrate such pregnancies have the same human rights the rest of us enjoy even though they are not hate mongers?

Should our society not require such pregnancies to be aborted in the context of their abuse upon the unborn as well as upon society in general?

I'm sure of the position of the ACLU with regard to the issue TC raise, and I would not castigate them for that position.

I would, however, remind the rabbi that I can continue to stand up against hate in conformance with the president's call but we must also begin to deal realistically with the social ills within our society that impact perhaps more critically upon human rights issues than those perpetrated by the extremists within the ranks of the NRA.

Sy Steinberg

Baltimore

Base Closures

Another round of military base closures. And we fret about the impact on our communities. But what of our children? What of our world?

Those who have chosen to work in the military defense complex of President Eisenhower's foreboding have done so under their own volition and must endure the trials and consequences of their acts.

And while we hate to see anyone who wants to work out of work, we must weigh this against the pain and suffering much of the world has received as social programs were cut, as multinational corporations have grown rich, as fear was institutionalized, as missiles have flown, as bombs have dropped.

American paranoia has suppressed freedom worldwide and misdirected the human, financial and natural resources at home for too many years. Billion-dollar ships plow the seas while the families on the bay sit idle with mortgaged boats.

Billion-dollar satellites watch over million-dollar tanks while children scour streets for food. Academies spend millions to graduate soldiers while millions of students have no money for school.

One hundred thousand dollar engineers design planes to deliver destruction with pinpoint accuracy, while cities can not get clean, clean water or clean neighborhoods.

The loss of these bases will be hard for some; however, it shall leave them no worse than the many more who have been subsidizing them. We all try to get cozy in our own communities but must now open the gate to others.

Schuyler R. Denham

Baltimore

Late Abortions

In her June 29 column defending Dr. Henry Foster and abortion, Ellen Goodman claimed that there are only a "minuscule number of late abortions -- four one-hundredths of 1 percent of all abortions."

Her percentage would equate to some 600 late abortions out of the more than 1.5 million performed yearly in the U.S.

But since the remains of more than 17,000 late-term aborted babies -- up to 30 weeks gestational age -- were found some years ago in a single storage container in Los Angeles, it is obvious that her percentage is far too low.

Furthermore, Ms. Goodman's suggested explanations for late-term abortions, because the fetus is "tragically deformed" or the "pregnancy threatened [the mother's] life," are seldom the real reasons why a woman has an abortion.

Many doctors now perform abortions at 24 weeks gestation or beyond, with no requirement of fetal deformity or "life of the mother" conditions.

A recent directory of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), an association of abortion providers, lists three abortion clinics that will perform abortions at 26 weeks gestation, two at "25-plus weeks," one at 25 weeks and 22 at 24 weeks. The only necessary requirement was money, and lots of it . . .

These atrocities are what Ellen Goodman defends as simply being an essential element of a woman's "right to choose." Is there no abortion performed so late that she can't recognize it as akin to infanticide?

James A. Miller

Gaithersburg

The writer is director of research for Human Life International.

Everyday Heroes

Is Capt. Scott O'Grady a "hero?" I think not.

Like all Americans, I am thrilled at Captain O'Grady's safe rescue, but I am amazed at the media's propensity for mislabeling.

Call the rescuers the heroes, as Captain O'Grady has. What is heroic about this young man is his modesty and his attributing his survival to God's will.

He knows what the media do not seem to know: that his survival was a blessing of fortune and good training. He might better be described as a lucky victim or a courageous survivor.

True heroism is doing something extraordinary for others or having the courage to speak unpopular thoughts.

Heroism is the Federal Express man who stopped to help a boy whose arm had been detached in a motorbike accident. Without worry of blood contamination, his own liability or the propriety of the situation, he calmed the 7-year-old, used his own shirt to fashion a tourniquet, knew CPR and applied its principles, ran to a nearby house to call 911 and probably saved the boy's life by his unselfish acts.

Heroism of a different sort was seen in The Sun, when Carl Rowan had the courage to say that the O. J. Simpson trial jurors are not in some sort of racial contest. They are victims of the unreasonable concept of sequestering people for indefinite periods of time.

Mr. Rowan noted that the reported fighting among the jurors over which movie to watch is natural, not racial.

The old adage "familiarity breeds contempt" certainly comes into play when strangers are forced into close quarters for lengthy periods. As Mr. Rowan remarked, this happens in real families all of the time.

It would be easy for journalist Rowan to jump on the bandwagon and decry the trial as one of race. But he is honest and true to his own common sense.

That, I think, is heroic.

Roger Simon, another honest journalist, wrote that Mickey Mantle's liver transplant -- after being on a waiting list for two days -- smacked of unfairness. Mr. Mantle should not have received preferential treatment in the medical community. No thinking member of the public could have avoided such a thought.

Mr. Simon had the courage to speak the truth: "Ordinary people have to wait months" for the same life-saving prospect. Yet to say this about a baseball hero (an oxymoron-- with the exception of Cal Ripken, naturally) takes courage.

All of us need to redefine the hero concept. Seldom does the label truly fit the famous -- the professional athlete, the actor, the politician, the general.

Nor are victims, even among the military, really true heroes. Often the ordinary man or woman, the laborer, the journalist, the clergyman, the teacher, the social worker or the conscientious parent deserves the accolades.

It is up to all of us to remind ourselves and teach our children that heroism has nothing to do with the television tabloid types who try to impose false standards on the collective American consciousness.

Heroism often goes unrewarded and unrecognized and it has usually little to do with televised images.

S. A. Fisher

Fallston

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