Why China?In all the coverage of the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Why China?

In all the coverage of the Conference on Women in Beijing, it seems strange that few writers are raising an important question:

Why is a conference on women's rights being held in a country that forces abortion and sterilization on women because of population quotas and is known to practice infanticide on females because male children are considered more "desirable"?

Jennifer Sigman

Baltimore

No Monolith

Carl Rowan's specious Aug. 23 conclusion that "Jews . . . have some code of ethnic solidarity to oppose affirmative action . . ." is offensive and inaccurate.

The majority of the organized Jewish community championed the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and continues to promote affirmative action in the form of recruitment, training and similar efforts to foster equal opportunity.

Historically, many Jews, regardless of their party affiliation, have opposed quotas because of the potential they hold for further discrimination. At the same time, Jewish groups have been outspoken on the critical need to ensure that minorities and women are in the pool of candidates for both employment and educational opportunity.

Mr. Rowan, however, seems to equate Jewish opposition to quotas as tantamount to a fundamental antagonism toward affirmative action.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rowan's sweeping generalizations promote stereotypes and mistrust which can themselves form the basis of intolerance. As we well know, Jews are not monolithic in terms of either their views on affirmative action or their party affiliations.

David C. Friedman

Robert Keats

Washington

The writers represent the Washington regional office of the Anti-Defamation League.

No Gratitude

No one doubts Sen. Bob Dole's war record of sacrifice and bravery.

His grace under fire was displayed in a war in which the United States was attacked. He fought for everyone's freedom of speech and is a genuine hero. There were also plenty of heroes who never came back, but at least they understood what they were fighting for.

In his Aug. 21 letter criticizing Elaine Ross' letter about Bob Dole, Walter Boyd missed the point: The Serbs have not attacked us. Why should we rush to the defense of people who have committed the same atrocities as the ones being committed against them?

Why are we supposed to be the patrolman on the beat for the world? Why should our young men come home in body bags, while their sacrifice nets us nothing more than hate and loathing as per the sterling examples of Somalia and Haiti?

All we got for our body count in the Gulf War was a refusal by Saudi Arabia to allow us to take into custody the Muslim terrorist who murdered Maryland's own Bob Stethem because "they didn't want to offend their brothers."

All we gain from these maneuvers are decimated ranks and a decided lack of gratitude or even respect.

B. Zacharias

Baltimore

Fearless Pilots

I have been reading with interest various articles concerning the black pilots who trained at Tuskegee during the early part of World War II.

As an aerial gunner, flying in B-24s for the 15th Air Force, 464th Bomb Group out of Italy, we had groups of fighters escort us from our base to the various targets in Europe.

From my personal experience, and those of our crew and members of our squadron, we were most happy when we saw the red-nose P-47 fighters serving as our escorts during the period 1943-1944.

While all of the fighter aircraft in that theater of operations were excellent, we felt that coverage afforded by the Tuskegee Airmen was superior.

They were tenacious in combat and protected us, in our slow moving aircraft, from German fighter planes who were operating to destroy us before we reached our targets.

There is no question in my mind that we felt then, as I feel now, that a debt of gratitude was owed to these fearless fighter pilots who distinguished themselves during that period of time.

David H. Preller Sr.

Towson

Safe Numbers

I am writing concerning the Aug. 19 story, "Word from School for Dyslexics: Scores, Enrollment Spell Success." I was certainly pleased to see an article about the Odyssey School in your paper. Being a new school, which has only been serving the public for a year, every opportunity we get to alert the public to our presence is wonderful.

It is a shame, however, that by misquoting me, you may prevent some people from inquiring about our wonderful school.

"And while board members such as Mr. Jones are pushing rapid growth, Director of Education Catherine Rommel said, "I wouldn't want us to get much bigger than we are now."

Her quote should have read: "wouldn't want us to get much bigger than we are now until we move to a larger location."

This small omission has caused confusion, implying that the board and I have differing opinions when in fact our goals coincide. The quote also has the potential of discouraging prospective parents to apply to the Odyssey School when in fact would like to grow as large as our current building will allow. We have some openings that have not been filled for the 1995-1996 year.

Catharine B. Rommel

Baltimore

The writer is Director of Education at the Odyssey School.

Comparing Pictures

Now I've read everything.

In the never-ending recapitulation of the Shannon Faulkner-as-victim saga (formerly Shannon Faulkner-as-heroine), Gloria Ray Carpeneto in her Aug. 28 letter actually compares the photo of jubilant Citadel cadets rejoicing at the cadet's departure to "the photo of a naked child running, burning with napalm, or the photo of a young woman holding a dead student at Kent State."

These men were celebrating the preservation of the integrity of an institution they respected and revered. An institution where previously students gained admission without resorting to trickery, deceit or to scores of radical feminist lawyers.

By the way, I have a picture you might like to see . . if it's not too offensive.

It's of cheering women students at Mills College having a champagne toast following the decision that forbade men from attending their school.

Ray Gercke

Baltimore

I suppose there are many letters like mine, but when it hits home one feels the full impact. My wife received the news that she has lung cancer, that is a fast-growing cancer. To keep busy, I have been cleaning in the club basement and the porch where she and everyone smoked. Every time I rinsed the cleaning cloth and saw all the nicotine on the cloth and in the water, I had a lump in my throat. I was a smoker, but quit for the second time four years ago.

I just wish people would realize what a killer this can be and just give smoking up.

Jim Hamilton

White Marsh

Very Few Legal Gun Owners Commit Crimes

Carl Highsmith's Sept. 2 letter, "Ban Handguns in City, Region and State," shows an ignorance of the facts and a simplistic understanding of the problem of violent crime.

He starts with the assertion that the only purpose of handguns is shooting people, totally ignoring the fact that guns are used in self-defense many thousands of times a year, almost never requiring that the gun even be fired.

Although gun-control advocates usually cite a study showing 80,000 self-defenses annually, and gun-rights activists sometimes cite numbers as high as 2.5 million, most people familiar with the statistical data respect the several studies putting the number at about 800,000. Of these cases, one in a hundred involves shooting the assailant, and one in four hundred involves killing the assailant.

That 800,000 is approximately equal to the number of gun crimes annually, so one might conclude that banning guns (making them available only to those willing to break the law) could double the number of crimes. Of course it is not so simple as LTC that, but the problem is certainly more involved than Mr. Highsmith's assertion that the homicide rate would drop 60 percent by banning guns in the city.

He states that Washington, D.C., has a handgun ban, but is still one of the nation's murder capitals. He then goes on to explain that people go to Maryland and Virginia to get their guns. Based on this insight, he proposes a ban on handguns not just in the city, but in the region and state as well.

Since it is already illegal to buy guns in any state other than the one you live in, then these purchases are already illegal, and enforcement of existing laws should stop the problem. Why does he stop at the state or regional level with his ban? Clearly, Mr. Highsmith should recommend at least a national ban, if not an international ban. I'm sure that such a ban would be just as successful as prohibition was in eliminating alcohol, and the war on drugs is in eliminating drugs from our streets. If guns can be found anywhere on the planet, and people want them, criminals will be willing to make money smuggling them, and violence will erupt when criminals fight over the valuable profits from such a black market trade.

Mr. Highsmith is so close to the truth, then refuses to see it. As he says, areas in the country with strict gun bans have the highest per capita gun crime rates, and the neighboring areas with liberal gun laws have much lower rates of crime. Why do criminals break the law to get their guns elsewhere, then break more laws to bring them back to D.C., so they can commit crimes? Because they know that guns are illegal there, and their law-abiding victim is much less likely to shoot them.

Finally, Mr. Highsmith states that he does not want to deprive people of their right to sporting or hunting guns. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting or sporting. It is about protecting a basic human right to defend oneself, from crime, tyranny and foreign invasion. Mr. Highsmith proposes chipping away at one part of that right because a small number of people abuse that right.

There are 800,000 gun crimes a year in the U.S. That is a lot, and we should do what we can to reduce that number. However, to put some perspective on it, there are over 80 million legal gun owners and over 250 million legal guns in this country. If every crime was committed by a legal gun owner, and every crime was committed by a different person, only 1 percent of the gun owners would be involved in crime. Since most crimes are committed by repeat criminals, and those criminals by definition are not legal gun owners, only an insignificant fraction of a percent of legal gun owners will ever be involved in a gun crime. Because of the actions of that very few and of those already outside the law, Mr. Highsmith wants to restrict the basic rights of all who want to defend themselves.

Carl Aron

Catonsville

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