Elijah L. Cummings: a fine representative, a strong role model
The Sun tends to publish only negative information about African-American public figures. The article about Rep. Elijah L. Cummings' financial situation is a case in point ("As Cummings rose, financial problems grew," Oct. 17).
Did The Sun really believe that the general public had a right to know about Mr. Cummings' financial situation? If so, why?
Mr. Cummings financial problems do not appear to have affected his ability to represent his constituents. Moreover, many African Americans are proud of his accomplishments and view him as a positive role model for young black males.
Mr. Cummings' example offers a clear message: from humble beginnings, through hard work and perseverance, much can be achieved.
Although the article's intent was apparently to denigrate Mr. Cummings, it inadvertently proved that he is an individual of integrity.
It showed that he has not shirked his financial responsibilities to his three children. A substantial portion of his income goes to their education and support.
He obviously has not used his office as a stepping stone to wealth -- as many politicians have done. If he had, he would not be in this predicament. Mr. Cummings could also have filed for bankruptcy, but he is struggling instead to pay his bills.
My mother frequently said, "let your conscience be your guide." This is something The Sun needs to begin practicing.
If it did, it's unlikely decent and honorable men such as Mr. Cummings would be publicly humiliated in such a manner.
Peggy E. Randall, Randallstown
Although the article on Rep. Elijah L. Cummings' finances did nothing to make the reader wiser, it suggested something shady. The article belonged, if anywhere, in a gossip column.
Dorothy Siegel, Baltimore
Police shooting responses raise questions, doubts
I feel sorry for the family of Larry Hubbard or anyone else who loses a child to violence. But I cannot understand the reports of witnesses that officers punched Mr. Hubbard, tripped him and shot him while he pleaded for his life ("Police shooting report disputed," Oct. 9).
I do not believe that any police officer would do all that in front of witnesses.
And what were these "witnesses" doing while this was supposed to be going on -- just watching and listening?
Kathy Riley, Baltimore
Larry Hubbard was shot to death by Baltimore police on a public street, after fleeing from a stolen car and scuffling with the officers who tried to arrest him.
Tambra Eddinger was shot to death by Baltimore County police officers in her own bedroom, where she was cornered by police after her husband claimed she was abusive and armed.
Civil libertarians are in an uproar over the Hubbard killing, but did not much criticize Ms. Eddinger's killing.
Are we the only ones who think their different reactions to these two events are bizarre?
Marty Edmunds, Boalsburg, Pa.
In Holland, sex education fosters responsible choices
In a recent column, Tony Snow had a great time lambasting sex education in public schools and in pamphlets from the federal Centers for Disease Control ("Sex education policy promotes promiscuity," Opinion Commentary, Oct. 18).
It would be interesting to know how Mr. Snow would explain that in 1994 the Dutch teen-age pregnancy rate was about one-tenth that in the United States and the Dutch teen-age abortion rate was only one-eighth the U.S. rate.
This data comes from the report, "Lessons from the Dutch Abortion Experience" written by H. David and J. Rademaker in 1996.
According to that report, "The Dutch have easier access to modern contraceptives and emergency contraception than American youth" and "Sex education [in the Netherlands] begins at an early age, is nonjudgmental and positive in tone, and is an ongoing lifelong process."
I wonder if Mr. Snow got it backwards?
Dan Lynch, Baynesville
Julius Nyerere's legacy: unchauvinistic leadership
Julius Nyerere's legacy to Africa and the world is not any economic transformation to Tanganyika -- the country was poor when he became its first president and poor when he left office -- but his contribution to human relations ("Tanzania's Julius Nyerere," editorial, Oct 18).
Mr. Nyerere knew in the 1950s that his country would be the first of the multiracial societies of east, central and southern Africa to achieve majority rule under a largely black government.
He was keenly aware that the example he set with his country's non-African minorities could have a profound effect on the peaceful transfer of power in neighboring Kenya, Rhodesia and South Africa.
He formed a militant regional freedom movement to spur black rule, but insisted that its followers pledge to fight both "white racialism and black chauvinism" and adopt a strong program of civil rights to calm the fears of the white minority.
"We have fought our battle here against the injustice of a colonial system which qualified the 'rights' of an individual according to the color of his skin," Mr. Nyerere wrote, "Are we now to turn around and deny that principle ourselves, by discriminating against those whose skins are not black?
Mr. Nyerere governed by these convictions. Southern Africa and the world can be grateful for the role he played.
Robert C. Keith, Baltimore
Payne Stewart: a champion who will be missed
The death of Payne Stewart is a tragedy for golf. He'll be missed by fans all across the world.
Last weekend, my 4-year-old daughter noticed a commercial for the Professional Golfers Association which showed Mr. Stewart winning the U.S. Open. She said, "Hey, there's that guy."
Little did I know how much Mr. Stewart had influenced my girl. He was a great champion and a class individual.
Tim Smith, Bel Air
Source of Ur confusion goes back to the Bible
Hershel Shanks wrote in his column "Pope may err by going to Ur" (Opinion Commentary, Oct. 20) that the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq was probably not the birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham.
Rather, Mr. Shanks argues, the place the Bible says was Abraham's birthplace was another city by the same name, far northwest of the southern Iraqi Ur -- and no one seriously supposed the southern Iraqi Ur to be Abraham's birthplace until the 1920s, when archaeologist Leonard Woolley dug it up.
Mr. Shanks is quite correct in denying that Woolley's Ur was Abraham's birthplace. But the confusion long predates Woolley. The Bible itself refers to Abraham birthplace as "Ur of the Chaldees."
The ancient Chaldeans lived in southern Iraq, so Woolley's Ur is, in fact, the Ur mentioned in Genesis.
It was therefore the writers of the Book of Genesis, over two and one-half millennia ago, who first made the mistake of locating Abraham's birthplace in southern Iraq, a mistake which Shanks corrects.
But let's not be too hard on Genesis or Woolley; after all, to Ur is human . . .
Karl G. Larew, New Park, Pa.