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The Baltimore Sun

Ethnic divisions extend beyond black and white

The brouhaha about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial remarks fails to take into account some fundamentally troubling aspects of America's racial wars and religious hang-ups ("Politics hit the pulpit," March 24).

Many blacks and whites seem to be caught in a time warp about race and religion, and ignore the changing demographics of today's America: the growing number of Hispanic, Asian and Arab Americans, the waves of immigrants who have no ax to grind with either blacks or whites, and the rising numbers of people from all different religions of the world, including many who belong to no organized religion and may be agnostics or atheists.

In fact, as a Hindu and an immigrant to this country from India, I do not see significant differences between a majority of blacks and whites in America when it comes to questions of race and religion.

Many members of both communities spout the same tired, old, narrow-minded rhetoric about race and religion and act as though no one else exists except the people who belong to those two communities.

And with a majority of blacks and whites being Christians, I think that most members of both communities would find it hard to accept a Hindu, a Muslim or an atheist for president.

Hence Sen. Barack Obama, who is supposed to be a post-racial candidate with an international consciousness, wears his conversion to Christianity on his sleeve and felt compelled to refer to this conversion in his speech about race in America.

And even as many blacks defend Pastor Wright I keep thinking that if this man were an imam and had said all the things he said about America in a mosque, most Christians, blacks and whites, would have skewered him and called him a mouthpiece for al-Qaida.

I think that black anger, even if it is justified, is too towering to be good for blacks, especially when it spills over into their interactions with all groups of people in America, even those with no ancestral links to the men who perpetrated slavery or civil rights violations.

And white guilt colors the workplace and penetrates so many areas of civic life that it hobbles newer immigrants and those unfamiliar with or oblivious to this tortured relationship between blacks and whites.

In a global economy, whites and blacks cannot afford either a continuing self-indulgent catharsis or an inexorable anger about racial issues.

Usha Nellore

Bel Air

Proud of lawmakers who rejected budget

Forty-one Maryland representatives deserve praise.

Standing up against the majority is not easy.

But in recent weeks, 34 delegates and seven state senators did just that when they voted against Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed budget ("Delegates approve $31 billion budget," March 21, and "Consensus is close on cuts to O'Malley's budget," March 15).

These people have various reasons for their vote, but each of them took a difficult stand, and I, for one, am proud of them and thankful they voted as they did.

As a state resident, a homeowner and a senior on a fixed income, I have found it necessary to make actual cuts to my normal spending - because everything costs more than it did even six months ago.

I think it would be good for our governor and representatives to think along those lines when they look at the state budget.

Why increase state spending at all this year?

How about keeping this year's state budget at the same spending level as that of last year?

Why do so many of those in Maryland government think spending can continue to increase and increase? What world do they live in?

I think the 41 representatives who voted against the governor's budget were trying to help the citizens of Maryland.

They seem to understand that the proposed budget is unreasonable given the economic issues we face in this state and this country at this time.

I'm just sorry they were in the minority.

Cynthia Jones

Randallstown

'Maverick' senator defends constituents

Judging from The Sun's article "Maryland's maverick is in a precarious position" (March 24), many lawmakers in Annapolis don't know what to make of individuals such as state Sen. James Brochin, so they call him "frustrating" and "wrongheaded."

I call him a leader.

In particular, he has been a tireless advocate for the children in Towson who are facing desperately overcrowded schools, even though this stance has put him at odds with County Executive James T. Smith Jr., another powerful Democrat.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller might have moved Mr. Brochin to the back row in retaliation for his independence.

But he stands front-and-center when it comes to representing the residents of our community.

Jamie Smith

Towson

New meters hassle patrons of the arts

Anyone who wants to enjoy a performance at Center Stage or the Walters Art Museum has to find a way around a new obstacle created by the city of Baltimore. It has placed new parking meters with a two-hour limit in the areas where many of the patrons attending Center Stage or the Walters would park.

So if you park at a meter for more than two hours, you may be rewarded with a parking ticket.

That leaves no time to have a cup of coffee or to grab a bite at the theater's cafe or any other establishment in the area - before or after a theatrical performance.

In fact, in some cases, you may risk a ticket unless you show up late for the production.

At the Walters, two hours is just about long enough to race through only the smallest exhibits and to choose between time in the museum shop or a cup of coffee.

Our daily lives are hectic enough as it is. And now we are expected to rush through our leisure time as well?

The two-hour parking limit certainly does not encourage people to visit downtown, walk around, browse and spend money. In fact, it guarantees that people will shop and eat where they don't have to rush and where they can park free of charge.

L. K. Brown

Baltimore

Obama's associates send wrong signals

I was appalled to see liberal media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and, locally, The Sun gushing over the speech about race given by Sen. Barack Obama ("Obama and his pastor," editorial, March 19).

For 20 years, the senator sat in the pews of this church listening to the man who married him and his wife, baptized his children and was his spiritual counselor. I find it very hard to believe that he either knew nothing of his pastor's vitriolic, anti-American rhetoric or that it had no effect on how he views the world.

While some may say that we should not condemn people for the statements of their associates, I find it troubling at the least and, frankly, scary that this man could well be our next president.

Meanwhile, the liberal media dote on his every word.

Mr. Obama may talk a good game about racial harmony and coming together as a country, but his far-left politics and his associations paint a much different picture.

Edward K. Leventhal

Baltimore

Most don't disown misguided friends

The recent controversy concerning Sen. Barack Obama and his former pastor has made me think about how the great majority of us deal with such relationships ("Reacting to Obama's words," March 20).

I think we should all ask ourselves if we have any family members or friends who espouse racist or unpatriotic views.

Most of those of us who are honest would have to say yes.

The second question should then be: "Do we speak out against those views?"

The answers would most likely be mixed.

The final question should be: "Do we break our relationships with these people?"

Most people honestly would have to say no.

We all have family and friends whose views are diametrically opposed to ours. But we usually look beyond these disagreements and focus on the things we like about these people.

I think its hypocritical to ask Mr. Obama to disown someone he disagrees with when we ourselves are so often unwilling to do the same thing.

Jay Ziegler

Catonsville

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