Philadelphia study only repeated a truth black...


Philadelphia study only repeated a truth black people knew

I read with a bitter smile your article ("Crusade sought to end racial disparity in death sentences," June 5). The article reported a new study on racial disparity in death penalty cases, which found that "black defendants in murder cases in Philadelphia are nearly four times as likely to get a death sentence as others."

Any black person in Baltimore could have told you that -- and not only about Philadelphia.

Why do we keep doing studies to prove what we know? More than 30 years ago, retired U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Howard, then a member of the Baltimore state's attorney's office, did a study, "The Administration of Rape Cases in the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland."

He showed statistically that black defendants were punished significantly more severely than whites and executed more often, that rapes of black women resulted in the lightest sentences -- if any at all -- and that rapes of white women by black men were the most likely to result in the death penalty.

When will we stop doing studies of the symptoms and recognize without question the undeniable existence of racism? It is endemic in our history, from the unbridled cruelty of slavery through the period of lynching to this very day. Unequal justice under the law is only a segment of institutional racism in this country.

We need to do some studies of white America to determine the cause and cure for the sickness that pervades our society, that motivates even the most well-meaning, humane white people, by their silence, to give racism their tacit support.

Eugenia Collier


Defense for officer who beat man having diabetic attack

I must come to the defense of the police officer who cited the gentleman for reckless driving, only to find that the driver was having a diabetic attack ("Deputies beat driver after mistaking malady for drunkenness, lawyer says," June 20).

Many things can trigger an attack, including hunger or the imbalance of sugar or insulin. The symptoms can be anything from blurred vision, irritability or even the look of having had too much to drink.

However, police officers take an oath to protect the public and assist where they can.

This officer was doing his duty, what he gets paid for, even if he mistook a medical problem for drunken driving.

Marge Griffith


How to worship is a matter of conscience

Those who take offense at the recent Southern Baptists' positive and courageous affirmation of the role of men and women in marriage should take a lesson from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Its 11th Article of Faith states, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all the same privileges; let them worship how, where or what they may."

Larry D. Kump

Falling Waters, W.Va

In the writings about the Southern Baptist declaration that a "wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of the husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ," I have seen nothing on the important point that Jesus, according to Christian teaching, was perfect as well as God.

Perhaps when men become perfect, as Jesus was perfect, their wives will submit to them graciously and perfectly without need of a Southern Baptist declaration.

Lucille Coleman


Nuclear power is the key to energy needs of future

Professor Anthony J. Baratta's Opinion Commentary article "Using Nuclear Power to Cool the Planet," (June 17) correctly states the urgent and immediate need to start the process to renew licensing for current nuclear plants.

The real culprit in poisoning the atmosphere is fossil fuel. Nuclear energy is the only realistic means to reduce and eventually eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels. Anyone who believes that reliance on renewable sources such as solar power, wind energy and biomass is the answer is living in a dream world.

Andrei Sakharov, the distinguished Russian scientist, stated at a conference: "The aversion people rightly feel for military applications must not spill over to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Mankind cannot do without nuclear power."

The risks of conventional fossil-fueled power stations are considerably graver than the risks of nuclear power.

Bernard Siegel


Criticism of top movies list was based on poor research

In Richard Roeper's article "Film pickers failed to do the right thing" (June 21), the author decries the omission of many minority artists from the American Film Institute's top 100 movies list. Unfortunately, he reveals a serious lack of knowledge of American film in writing a poorly researched, albeit politically correct, piece.

One example: "And a number of Native American actors had parts in 'Dances With Wolves' -- though 'Dances With Wolves' love interest, Stands with a Fist, was played by Mary McDonnell, who sounds and looks a lot more Irish than Sioux to me." However, Stands with a Fist is not a Native American character; she is a white girl who is raised by Native Americans after her family is killed.

A second example: Mr. Roeper belittles Sidney Poitier's performance in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," calling the film a "horribly dated . . . period piece." By definition, period pieces are dated.

Lack of minority representation in American film is an important topic, one that deserves careful and thoughtful discussion. It would be preferable for this discussion to be led by someone who knows something about American film.

Bill Adelman


India bears responsibility for problems in South Asia

You have vastly exaggerated the China factor in South Asia in your otherwise enlightening editorial "Nuclear sword over Kashmir" (June 11). It is on record that India, not China, started the 1962 skirmish (not a war) when the prime minister of India ordered the Indian Army to turn the Chinese out of (what he claimed was) Indian territory.

Naturally, the Chinese resisted and chased out the invading Indians. As it turned out later, it was a clever stratagem by India to exploit U.S. and Soviet antagonism toward China and acquire massive military aid from both Cold Warriors. For the past 36 years, there has been no conflict between the two countries, but this aid has been pouring into India.

Indo-Chinese relations have improved ever since. Until, that is, a few days before India conducted its nuclear tests. Suddenly, India's defense minister discovered that China is a threat to India. A study of the behavior of the two giants in the past would show that China is peace-loving and responsible, and India is not.

Soon after its independence, India occupied the sovereign princely states of Hyderabad and Junagadh. This was followed by its occupation of Goa, a Portuguese enclave. In the identical case of Hong Kong, China desisted from any such action. China is co-existing even with Taiwan, a recognized part of China.

It is not an external threat -- Chinese or other -- that propels India into spending ever-increasing amounts on its war machine while millions of its people spend nights on big-city sidewalks.

It is the fervor for establishing Hindu fundamentalism's supremacy and attaining the mythical glory of ancient India.

Abul Fazal Mahmud


Is there any doubt why Americans are cynical?

What a deplorable condition we are in when our congressional representatives in both chambers are unable to pass probably the most important health policy measure of this century: the tobacco bill defeated this month.

These politicians, who also cannot agree on campaign funding or term limits, have been coerced into opposition that requires pandering to special-interest groups. All this to raise money to be re-elected. Meanwhile, bipartisanship is almost nonexistent.

Is there any doubt about why the American people are cynical?

Combine that with Clinton spin doctors who have made a cottage industry of debunking the negatives about the president and then leaking to the media.

Forget the continuing sexual escapades, as well as a first lady who fancies herself to be the second coming of Eleanor Roosevelt.

If it weren't for an almost miraculous economy that placates everyone, we would be in deep trouble in Washington.

William H. Brown


Pub Date: 6/27/98

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