Distortions discredit worthiness of affirmative actionWhy have...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Distortions discredit worthiness of affirmative action

Why have women succeeded so well while other minorities have not? The May 28 column ("Women and affirmative action") by Anita K. Blair, executive vice president and general counsel of the Independent Women's Forum, must be challenged and disputed because her conclusions are centered on several misunderstandings and a lack of information.

These represent postulations and viewpoints about affirmative action based on distortions promulgated by its enemies. One should not define the dimensions of affirmative action based on erroneous interpretations.

Quotas and goals are measuring tools that are intended to demonstrate whether there is any progress and take affirmative action beyond mere rhetoric and non-progressive reports. Numerical counts are a basic part of all endeavors. Basketball, football, baseball -- what is the final score? How many cars are produced by General Motors? The Census Bureau counts how many people are in the population of the United States. How much money do you have? How many people die of cardiac diseases, heart failure? What is the pupil ratio to classroom teachers? How much money does the state spend per pupil in the various jurisdictions?

Affirmative action has always existed, but for white males only. Affirmative action was expanded to reach African Americans. Later, other ethnic groups and females were added. Resistance and rejection tactics were used against females, both white and black.

White males dominated the legal and medical professions as well as the trades. Blacks had to struggle to get into almost every form of work and to receive equitable compensation. African Americans are still under-represented as physicians and registered nurses. Black males were more numerous in medicine and law than black females. This is changing. White males have lessened their resistance to white females. White female advancement would accrue to the financial and social well being of her gender group.

Complete acceptance is still elusive, but significant advances are being made.

There is an increase in white female-owned businesses. White ++ females are beneficiaries of affirmative action.

Prior to set asides, black businesses were confined to blacks and circumscribed by segregation, prejudice and discrimination. Black businesses find it difficult to practice exclusive preferences for African Americans because of the far-reaching dominance of the white male in most work categories. Consequently, white males play a significant part in many minority businesses.

Trained persons are naturally found among those who have dominated a trade or profession. Training may or may not reach the goal of a competent worker. Training is risky and costly. The white male perpetuates dominance by training his progeny for now and the future.

Statistics show that the African-American community produces more female college graduates than male. I assume that Ms. Blair's statistics on female college graduates are accurate. It is a change from the white male dominance. Slavery and segregation show why the dominance of the black female continues. The black hard-working laborer felt that his son, the black male, should work as he did while he sacrificed financially and worked hard to send his girl to college to become a school teacher or obtain a career in other social sciences.

Numerically, there was not a black male dominance to overcome in the numbers of college graduates by black females. There is an appreciable increase in black female physicians and lawyers. Affirmative action is still needed. Anti-discrimination laws in employment have been more successful in government than in private industry. White male goodwill and cooperation beyond resistance is an essential part of any affirmative action success.

Distortions are being used to discredit affirmative action. Legal requirements can begin momentum, but continued progress must be perceived primarily in the best economic and social interest for a diverse citizenry. White America will not continue to progress and prosper without more black participation and the contributions of other minorities.

Sidney Daniels

Baltimore

The writer is pastor emeritus of Emmanuel Christian Community Church.

Hillary wasn't trying to talk to ghosts

Some Republicans and other bashers are trying to make Hillary Clinton look like a spirit-chasing, table-tapping, ghost-hunting kook. The first lady consulted with Jean Houston, Ph.D., a well known personal-growth facilitator.

The process of internal role-playing, which involved historical figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, is not only a legitimate way of gaining psychological insights, it is among the most productive ways.

As a Baltimore-area psychotherapist who has written a professional paper relating to this type of process, I know how valuable it can be. I applaud the first lady. Some of her critics really need this kind of help, if they are not already beyond help.

ilton Rochkind

Baltimore

More highways increase sprawl

I hope Gov. Parris Glendening saw the irony of your placing his Opinion Commentary piece opposing sprawl across from your editorial praising the new roadworks for Routes 100 and 32.

Your editorial makes it sound like these projects will be the answer for Maryland's future. In reality, as only our governor seems to realize, these roads are the arteries that feed the cancer of sprawl and rob the blood supply of Baltimore. Inevitably, development will follow these roads.

One of the great justifications of Columbia was that it would enable the rest of Howard County to remain open and agricultural. These roads doom this vision.

I am especially disappointed that your editor was unable to point out any downside to the roads other than homeowner displacement. Those displaced are the lucky ones. The owners left nearby get no compensation for breathing exhaust fumes and hearing the roar of traffic forever. The surrounding land becomes no different from the rest of the state's sprawl and the city continues to suffer the losses.

Yes, Mr. Glendening is right. This is a crisis. So tell state road planners to stop. Tell the Department of the Environment to stop making exceptions, stretching the law and leaning over backward for projects that are known to be destructive and unnecessary. There's plenty of room for growth. Put it where the services already exist.

ouglas Carroll

Brooklandville

Police are PALs to youth of Baltimore

Congratulations to Commissioner Thomas Frazier and the Baltimore City Police Department for taking a stand and a step for our children with the Police Athletic League centers (news story, July 1).

By providing an outlet for youth to enjoy summer activities while establishing relationships with police officers who serve as mentors, PAL centers are playing a valuable role in the communities that they serve.

This should in no way be viewed as competition with the Department of Recreation and Parks, but instead PAL programs are very much needed to help support the children of Baltimore.

Linda M. Aina

Baltimore

I= The writer is executive director of One to One Baltimore.

Fitness saves health and lives

In 1964, a surgeon general's report began alerting the nation to the hazards of smoking. Now a new surgeon general's report is doing the same about physical inactivity.

It documents the large volume of scientific and medical evidence on the negative health consequences of physical inactivity.

It is estimated that as many as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributed to a lack of regular physical activity, with millions more suffering from related chronic diseases.

The health problem in Maryland is massive, with thousands here leading an inactive or sedentary lifestyle.

We all are concerned about health care costs, but clearly the most inexpensive and less traumatic way to reduce costs is simply to avoid diseases and injuries.

We know about such things as smoking and wearing seat belts. Persons who are physically inactive are taking as much risk with their lives and health.

The couch potato in all of us is creating a deadly serious health problem.

Fortunately, it takes only small increases in physical activity to start gaining health benefits.

I encourage everyone to look for ways to make physical activity an important part of daily routine.

Take the stairs. Join a health club. Walk the dog. Take an active interest in health.

Stephen Holt

Baltimore

Can take pride in infrastructure

Jacques Kelly's July 8 story on the Howard Street tunnel ("A dank relic lies below Howard Street") put infrastructure on the front page without the motivation of a spectacular failure. We need more reminders of the major civil works that often lie hidden, literally, beneath our feet.

The roads, sewers, bridges, dams and other elements of Baltimore's infrastructure should be a source of pride.

The city is, after all, the site of the nation's first commercial railroad, gas street-lights, fare-charging streetcars and many other milestones of what were then new technologies. Our museums devoted to some of these achievements are important attractions supporting our growing tourism industry.

But more important, infrastructure is a significant topic for Baltimore today, a support for the whole economy. The city is blessed with a wealth of public assets built by past generations. Managed wisely, this legacy will contribute to our future well-being. Misused, our infrastructure can become a drain on the public's spirit as well as its purse.

We should pay more public attention to the role our infrastructure plays in building and maintaining our community. It works at all levels, from local neighbors to our multi-jurisdictional region.

Studies by the National Academy of Sciences and others have concluded that infrastructure is too frequently "out of sight, out of mind." As a result, we fail to grasp the opportunities to adopt new management practices and innovative technologies that would give us a high rate of return on our infrastructure investment. As citizens, we must be prepared to make good decisions about infrastructure, and that means being informed.

Andrew C. Lemer

Baltimore

Israel has no divine right to land

George F. Will has taken leave of his senses. His June 24 column targets him as equally prejudicial and unreasonable as Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr. Will's unmitigated gall in declaring that Israel has some divine right to all of the land west of the Jordan River and complete domination over all of Jerusalem makes him a virtual war monger.

There is no just reason for relocating the American Embassy to Jerusalem. We must also blame our own Congress for such a deplorable mistake.

After Israel seizes East Jerusalem, its next move will be to build a temple next to the "Dome of the Rock," the Arab holy place. Then we will have a war that neither the U.S. nor the U.N. can control, despite our giving Israel more than $3 billion a year in aid and our latest military technology.

Philip F. Bennett

Towson

Apology due to teachers

In his nomination of the "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" for the Great American Novel (Sunday Sun, June 30), book editor Michael Pakenham saw fit to squeeze in a slam at teachers, when he said it was "faddish schoolmarms who have censored " that great and noble book from the reading lists and libraries of schools throughout the United States."

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In fact, the National Council of Teachers of English has publicly criticized and fought book-banning in our nation's schools and libraries for decades. The voices of censorship have come from parents groups and other members of the public.

Mr. Pakenham owes an apology to all the teachers in this country who strive to introduce students to the world of art, literature and ideas and who have worked for years in their own schools and in public forums to protect the democratic ideals of free speech and press.

Nadine G. Feiler

Timonium

VMI ruling not applied to women's colleges

Desperate to prove their relevance, radical feminists have bagged their biggest game trophy in some time -- the Virginia Military Institute and its all-male admissions policy. But who was the aggrieved party? Before the decision there were four all-male colleges in the United States. Now there are two, while more than 50 all-female colleges thrive.

But at least the egregiously wronged "daughters of Virginia" who wish to attend VMI (both of them) may now do so. Now, because of a ruling based more on political correctness than on common sense, VMI will offer a co-educational undergraduate education with some watered-down adversative military training -- an experience already available at more than 100 state-supported colleges that offer ROTC training. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is woefully mistaken to believe that women can be incorporated into the present VMI system. The lower federal court found that to do so would destroy "any sense of decency that still permeates the relationship between the sexes." But perhaps that is the true agenda of VMI's critics.

The VMI that Justice Ginsberg so warmly praised in her opinion is gone and single-sex education (for men at least) is more endangered than the timber wolf. As for the intellectually cheap comparisons to racial segregation made by VMI's critics, integration at VMI required no changes whatsoever in our system. But VMI can change. Indeed, we could become a center for the performing arts or otherwise drastically alter our mission to please the political will of the high court.

The new VMI will no doubt appear better to some, worse to others, but the same to no one. However, the women who enroll at VMI, as well as the men, will find that their goal of a VMI education (the one so highly praised) will forever elude them, for it is no longer present.

As bitter as I am about the court's prejudicial decision, I hope the trophy hunting stops here. Single-sex education is a remarkably effective form of education for some. Ask Hillary Clinton or another Wellesly graduate. Like VMI, many of the nation's all-female colleges limit admission to a single sex, receive government support in the form of research funding, scholarships and direct subsidies, but nevertheless deny their "incomparable" and "unique" gifts to 50 percent of the population because of their traditional (some would say outdated) mission of providing single-gender education. The inconsistency is blatant.

What the court has preserved for the daughters of the privileged is no longer available to the sons of the middle class. But I sincerely hope there is enough hypocrisy and elitism on the high court to allow that inconsistency to continue.

Given the tone of Ms. Ginsburg's opinion and the reaction of VMI's critics, I am optimistic that single-sex education will survive for at least 50 percent of the population who are able to afford the cost of these so-called private institutions. Because it seems that for this high court it is open season on bucks only.

Neal J. Naff

Baltimore

The writer is a graduate of the VMI Class of 1987.

Cartoon on the mark

I just had to write and say thanks to your cartoonist, KAL, for brilliantly capturing the essence of the Clintons' Whitewater quagmire in his June 20 cartoon.

If we look for a moment beyond all the political banter, backstabbing and babble and perilously slanted reporting, we find cartoonists are the most reliable purveyors of the truth.

Keep up the good work. I'm a Democrat myself, and I still split a gut laughing at it.

John Sealine

Ellicott City

Pub Date: 7/13/96

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